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Roman Empire and Middle Ages

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posted on Oct, 31 2004 @ 08:08 PM
The Roman empire was a bunch of brutal soldiers, who went around taking everyone's money. The Roman senators were rich, corrupt politicians. However, the empire did have great propogandists both past and present, who still talk about "the glory of Rome". Don't believe the propoganda. The peasants probably weren't too happy about having to pay huge tributes to Rome.

The Greeks were really the one, who invented science and philosophy. The greatest philosophers weren't during empires, but were members of more democratic city-states. There, they pioneered growing olives to the point, where average man was able to make a decent living.

The Middle Ages only became bad, after the backlash of the elites. They worked hard to manipulate Christianity, and use it to attack intelligence. For a long time, they tried to lock away all information about the world. People have rebelled at various times, and others have escaped for a time.

posted on Oct, 31 2004 @ 08:35 PM
My appreciation for a truly interesting and intelligent thread. I suscribe to the belief that the fall of the Roman Empire wasn't wholly attributable to the Germanic tribes, although they played an important role in reducing it. Don't forget, too, that the Eastern part of the Empire, the Byzantine Empire, out lived the Rome-centered part for centuries, so in a real sense, it didn't actually end with the fall of Rome.

My take on it is that it simply grew too large and diverse to hold together. Communications technologies were too slow to exercize effective command and control over such large territories, and the centrifugal forces of divergent cultures and economic interests could not be managed without the command and control.

I also like the contributions to this thread that point out how the Roman Empire is still with us in many ways. You may be amused by the following brief history of the railway guage. My apologies for not providing the source; I've lost track of where I got it, nor do I vouch for its authenticity.

Romans Designed our Railways

Does the expression, "We've always done it that way" ring any bells? The North American standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4' 8.5". Now that's an exceedingly odd number. Why is it used? Because that's the way they built them in England and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways and that's the gauge they used.

Why did the tram builders use that gauge? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

And why did the wagons have that particular wheel spacing? Because if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
The initial ruts in the roads were formed by Roman war chariots, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for, or by, Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

So, the North American railroad gauge derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

There's an interesting extension to this story about railroad gauges and horse's behinds.
Notice the two big solid fuel booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank of the Space Shuttle. These rockets are made by Thiokol at their factory in the state of Utah. The engineers who designed them might have preferred to make them a little fatter, but the rockets had to be shipped by train from the factory in Utah to the launch site in Florida. The rail line from Utah to Florida happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.

The rockets had to fit through the tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, which is about as wide as two horse's behinds.

So, a major design feature of what is, arguably, the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass.

posted on Oct, 31 2004 @ 10:02 PM

Originally posted by amantine

There was no religious censorship I know of, like in christianity, and there were quite a few secularizing voices.

I have to differ with you there.

The Romans, particularly the aristocracy, hated Cleopatra vehemently for introducing "foreign" cults to rome. Julius and Marc Antony had both tried to introduce the worship of Isis, I believe into the temle of Hera.

This was one of the major causes for popular support for Brutus and the conspiracy, the populace rejected the foreign elements imported by the flavian dynsasty.

Many Romans felt that the Egyptian deities would be powerless away from the nile, and would offend the gods and ancestor-spirits of Rome. They frequently DID launch pogroms against non-classical religions.

And take a look at the resistance to the Bacchus/Dionysus cult. It was as feared in Greece as Christianity would one day be in Rome.

Anyway, I just felt like that is a generalization that needs to be re-examined.

posted on Oct, 31 2004 @ 10:19 PM

Originally posted by Blackout

Now as we all know, much of the Middle Ages were basically wasted for lack of better words. There were constant wars and the majority of the population was forced into peasantry. Intelligence and science were making no advancements whatsoever.

Here's another generalization that flies in the face of historical fact.

A major mechanical revolution took place in the Middle Ages. The classical Romans did not know how to harness a horse to a cart without chocking the horse. This is why statues of chariots always show the horses writhing so much. The padded horse collar was a product of the middle ages. So was carbonized steel. So was blown glass. So was crop rotation. And modern banking, including the personal check, and double entry bookkeeping. And Algebra.

I recommend you look at this excellent book: "The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages," by Jean Gimpel.

The middle ages (say Ninth through 14th centuries) actually represent a flowering of the classical spirit within a Christianized Europe. That civilization was practically destroyed by the Black Death. In 50 years, three quarters of Europe's population was dead.

The people of the Rennaissance had to rebuild the economy and sciences almost from scratch. They viewed everything that their predecessors had developed with suspicion, because their presumably evil actions had brought down the wrath of God upon Europe

The Renaissance also saw the end of feudalism, since so many manors were depopulated that the previous economic system practically ceased to exist. Thus, Rennaisance writers looking back over their shoulders assumed that everyone before them had been a slave who never travelled more than a few miles from their native hut.

A brief reading of Geoffrey Chaucer (who was only re-discovered in the 1800's) shows how uninformed such a view is. Chaucer lived to be 80, and so did his mother. So, the standard of living allowed for a "modern" life expectancy. The people in Chaucer's stories, even the yeomen, are capable of quoting the classics, and referring to theories of medicine and alchemy.

The presuppositions on this thread strongly flavor the discussion, and it seems like you may have already decided what conclusion you want to reach.

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