strange_complex: (Claudius)
[personal profile] strange_complex
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.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 08:36 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh - something I'm reasonably confident I do know about Roman history. That and being an Iron Maiden fan, I read up on the Ides of March some time ago :)

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 08:40 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was hoping you'd do something to mark the occasion.

Also, tricky poll that you almost tripped me up on!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:03 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Asterix Romans)
From: [identity profile]
Yay icon! I'm afraid I don't have a Julie, but I'm more and more feeling the need for a Cicero. I think he'll be my next icon, when I'm given another space.

People are doing pretty well on the poll so far, actually. I don't really mind whether they spot the full range of right answers (she says, cryptically!), but as you doubtless well know, there is one wrong answer to this question which crops up regularly in first-year essays and really makes me want to tear my hair out!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:07 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think I avoided the wrong one, but am now having doubts that maybe another one might be right as well as the one I chose. But I'm not sure he could hold both titles at the same time as I'm not really sure what one of them means.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:12 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Urbs Roma)
From: [identity profile]
I would stick to your guns. With reference to my comment above, you've successfully avoided the pitfall, and picked out the most important right answer. I'll explain what the remaining titles mean later on, when people have finished answering.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:16 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think you know what I'm thinking :)

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:25 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know what you mean, of course - but these days I wonder if that wrong answer is as definitively wrong as we professional (or semi-professional in my case) Classicists tend to say. I'll argue this at greater length when you post the answers.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:37 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Claudius nobody's fool)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, no - I know. I'm going to cover that in my explanations too. But believe me, most of those first years are not saying it as the result of a carefully reasoned consideration of the terminology!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:46 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm starting to wonder if I should have chosen two answers instead of one.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:54 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Lee as M.R. James)
From: [identity profile]
There are two correct answers on the list. But I wouldn't expect most people to get both of them - you'd have to have studied Ancient History formally to know about the second one. The important thing is that you got the main one right - and didn't make the mistake many of my first-years make!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:40 (UTC)
ext_15802: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Ooo, I have a chance of being right.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:43 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Today's also the 90th anniversary of Nicholas II of Russia abdicating the throne.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:28 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Penny Dreadful)
From: [identity profile]

Oh, so it is! Didn't know about that.

Should I be worried that I initially read your comment as 'Today is the Goth anniversary...'

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 16:13 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

It seems this day isn't a good day to be a ruler.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:02 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm... now I'm confused. I'm pretty sure I know the one he wasn't, but I was also pretty sure he was the other three.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was confident but now I'm not....

I suspect I fell for a trap.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:52 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Claudius nobody's fool)
From: [identity profile]
As I said to [ profile] rich_r above, do not worry! You haven't fallen for a trap at all. It's more like you have scored an A, but not quite an A* - and I would honestly expect very few people to make the A*. I will explain the full picture later.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:21 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not a clue... um... but it is true that he had a roman nose like in the comics right?

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:39 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Cleo wink)
From: [identity profile]
Well, it was as Roman as the rest of him!

But in the terms you mean, I'd say he pretty much did, to judge from his coins (

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:21 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Though geekily I can make a correction that it is only 2050 years ago today if you allow a lot of corrections for sliding calendars.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:41 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Farnsworth don't aks me!)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I know! This comes up with a vengeance every time I try to celebrate Claudius' birthday ( on the 1st August - see conversation in the notes of that post, half of which is missing because my correspondent threw a strop a few months later, and not only defriended me, but deleted every comment he'd ever maade in my LJ. Ever.

Thankfully Julius Caesar had at least sorted out the tricky issue of leap years by the time he died - but yes, further adjustments have been made since, so it all gets a bit confusing!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:07 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good lord! I had no idea it was such a contentious subject!

These romans are crazy.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:24 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Obelix boar)
From: [identity profile]
Or, as the wonderful, wonderful Italian translation has it, "Sono Pazzi, Questi Romani!" One of my favourite puns, ever.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 12:26 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm guessing there's absolutely no point in trying to explain that to someone with no Italian and absolutely minimal latin (as in two years of school latin in the mid 80s)

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:02 (UTC)
ext_15802: (asterix)
From: [identity profile]
Look at the initials...

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:04 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It forms the same initials as SPQR their slogan but this doesn't help me as the words themselves I don't know. :-)

Your knowledge cannot harm me, my ignorance is like a shield of steel!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:11 (UTC)
ext_550458: (F&L Geek pride)
From: [identity profile]
That's all it is. The words just mean the same as the English you quoted - 'These Romans are crazy!'

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 14:03 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aha... thank you. *grin* It makes sense now!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:01 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You missed off the fith option: "...bleeding profusely".

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:26 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Vampira)
From: [identity profile]
As, indeed, were half the conspirators, according to Plutarch (*.html#66.9)!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:10 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So much for my powers of observation - I've only just realized that's a Brutus coin, not a Caesar one. (And raises all sorts of interesting questions about Brutus' use of his own portrait, which was of course Caesar's innovation, and thus this coin shows Brutus buying into the idea of the personality cult that, in theory, he and the other assassins rejected when they stuck the knives in ...)

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:32 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Penny coin)
From: [identity profile]
Dude, put your glasses on! It's only one of the most famous coins ever to come out of the Roman world. As this article relates (, good copies can sell for over $100,000.

You're right about the portrait issue, of course. Interestingly, if you look closely, Brutus is also sporting a beard - which at this time = mourning. I'm not sure if it's meant to indicate that he mourns for the death of Caesar, but nonetheless had to do it to bring about the liberty referenced on the other side, or he's mourning generally for the condition of the state and what's happened to him and his fellow-conspirators since the assassination. Probably the former, I think, but could be either.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 11:54 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I went and took this very quickly before being really awake -- or having any caffeine -- so I'm using that as an excuse. I hope to hell I got it right, all things considered! I ruled one out absolutely (the one my students always get wrong), one I was pretty sure of, as it was a real title and last time I heard, it was granted several times by the Senate; one I assumed I was right about, in terms of a military title, but now I'm not sure; and one I really wanted to check, because I'm pretty sure it existed in a more nebulous form before Augustus, but was not used as a title qua title until he appropriated it ...

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:25 (UTC)
ext_550458: (All roads lead to Rome)
From: [identity profile]
I can see the lines you're thinking along, although of course I can't really comment properly yet, until I 'officially' declare the poll closed and give the answers. But basically, you have nothing to worry about, and I'll explain the finer details (as I understand them, anyway!) later.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 14:03 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, that's probably to the good. I have to remember that Ancient is my second exam field, anyway. The PhD systems are so different between here and the UK -- do you have to do exams at all?

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 14:19 (UTC)
ext_550458: (K-9 negative)
From: [identity profile]
Not written ones. Usually PhD students here have to submit a substantial section of written work and face a panel interview about it, around a year or so after they've started, to confirm their PhD status. If they don't perform well at that stage, it might gently be suggested that they pursue an M. Phil. instead. Then after that, it's just submitting the thing itself, and passing a viva voce examination on it at the end.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 14:46 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was in a PhD program that handed out the MA along the way, so we had two years of coursework, three language exams, written and oral exams in one's two major fields (so for me, Ancient and Medieval), and then a public defense of the PhD prospectus (having succeeded, one was then granted the MA). They've recently added a thesis defense, but that did not exist in my time. Thank goodness funding came with the first 5 years of that!

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:16 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've never studied Roman history (except for fun) and can barely remember any of my Latin but if the second option means what I think it means then I'd go for that one too.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 13:26 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Latin admirable sentiment)
From: [identity profile]
Good logic! ;)

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 16:50 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Do you find, by the way, that your students often confuse the one thing that Caesar definitely was, with a certain Greek word that begins with a tau?

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 18:18 (UTC)
ext_550458: (Augustus)
From: [identity profile]
Not really, but I think that may just be because I don't tend to set essay titles that would bring it up. Julius Caesar comes up in all sorts of contexts, and is often incorrectly glossed when he does. But I guess the confusion you're referring to would only really emerge in an essay asking directly about ancient systems of rule.

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 20:12 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I get it even on the ones that have to deal only with Rome. Sometimes, it's the adjective, which is irritating, but sometimes, it really is, "Julius Ceasar [sic] was a ..." Or Sulla, or Augustus, or ...

I should point out that I give about five minutes' very lecture, with much writing on the board, on each term, and on how they are very specific to their time and place, and cannot be used interchangeably. Of course, I also tell them that the may not use the term 'Dark Ages' to refer to anything but Greece/Ionia between 1100 and 800 (ish) BCE, or much of late 5th-early 6th c. Britain, but ...

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2007 20:13 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
of course, now that I think of it, an essay comparing the Gracchi and the Pisistradids might get some interesting answers ...


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