strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
I can't help feeling today rather like the Italian allies apparently felt on the eve of the Social War in 91 BC. They fought alongside the Romans on campaign, and were therefore profoundly affected by Roman foreign policy. Rome's enemies were their enemies, and Rome's campaigns were their campaigns. But they had no vote in Rome, and thus no say in the decision-making process that lay behind declarations of war.

Velleius Paterculus describes their situation thus:
In every year and in every war they served with twice as many foot and horse as the Romans, and yet were not given the right of citizenship in the very state which had reached through their efforts so high a position that it could look with contempt on men of the same race and blood as if they were outsiders and foreigners. (Roman History 2.15.2)
Their reaction was to rebel against Roman power, causing warfare throughout Italy: an action which in fact resulted in them getting exactly what they wanted, since the Romans realised that extending the vote to the whole of Italy was a small price to pay for peace and stability on their doorstep.

I'm not saying anything of the sort is either desirable or necessary now - it would be far better if the United States simply stopped throwing its weight around so much, and dragging the rest of us into its ill-thought-out wars. But I empathise with that sense of frustration. Today the world's future is being decided by the electorate of one nation. And all the rest of us can do is stand there crossing our fingers.

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strange_complex: (Claudius)
2050 years ago today, folks.


(If you're confused about how the maths add up, there, remember that there is no Year 0).

To mark this momentous occasion, let's see if you know more about Julius Caesar than the average first-year Ancient History student:

[Poll #947018]
Answers and explanations will be posted later today.

GIP

Thursday, 20 October 2005 11:55
strange_complex: (Fortuna coin)
Allow me to introduce my new icon: Fortuna. She is the Roman Lady Luck, and is here to plug a long-felt gap in my icon collection. Henceforth, when people are doing exams, going for job interviews or simply heading out on an important date, Fortuna will be there to help me wish them good luck appropriately.

In fact, the coin I've taken her from is a rather interesting one, and worthy of comment in its own right. Let's take a look, shall we?

Sicinius' Fortuna )

The Fortuna coin is one of two major types produced by the moneyer Q. Sicinius in the crucial year 49 BC (the other one being a rather ravishing Apollo, with references to his struggle against Hercules for the Delphic tripod and an interesting role to play in contemporary jostling for his potential as a political icon). It's an aesthetically beautiful piece, but one rich with political symbolism as well.

49, you see, was the year that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and marched towards Rome to engage in conflict with Pompey and his 'Republican' supporters. The stakes were high: these were the two most powerful men in the Roman world, and whoever won would establish his dominance over both his fellow aristocrats and indeed the entire empire.

Sicinius' coin in this context )

Sicinius' faith, of course, was misplaced. Within a year, Pompey was dead. What happened to Sicinius himself is, as far as I know, unrecorded, but once he'd placed his name on coins which supported the Republican cause, it's unlikely to have been a happy ending for him.

Still, the coin as a whole is a fine work of both public relations and the die-cutter's art. It deserves replicating and commemorating. And I hope it will be more lucky for all of you than it was for Pompey.

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