FORWARD BASE B

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Category Archives: ancient world

Plato, Democracy, and Mob Rule

By the 4th century BC, civilizations had already existed for at least a couple thousand years.
By then, most of the basic patterns of civilization were ancient news.

Plato’s observations about governments over 2,000 years ago might seem disturbingly familiar to us now.

Humans may boast of mechanical technologies such as airplanes and atomic bombs, but social technology, the ways we organize haven’t changed since the very first farming villages:

“Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its basic principle.  Aristocracy ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle within which power is confined; oligarchy ruins itself by the incautious scramble for immediate wealth.  In either case the end is revolution.   When revolution comes, it may seem to arise from little causes and petty whims…when a body is weakened by neglected ills, the merest exposure may bring serious disease.

Then democracy comes…But even democracy ruins itself by excess-of democracy.  Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy.  This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses.

As to the people, they have no understanding, and only repeat what their rulers are pleased to tell them.  To get a doctrine accepted or rejected it is only necessary to have it praised or ridiculed in a popular play.
Mob-rule is a rough sea for the  ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course.

The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so loves flattery…that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the ‘protector of the people’ rises to supreme power.

Plato complains that whereas in simpler matters—like shoe-making—we think only a specially-trained person will serve our purpose, in politics we presume that every one who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state.  When we are ill we call for a trained physician, whose degree is a guarantee of specific preparation and technical competence—we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one…when the whole state is ill should we not look for the service and guidance of the wisest and the best?   To devise a method of barring incompetence and knavery from public office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good—that is the problem of political philosophy.”

-Plato as quoted, paraphrased, and summarized by Will Durant

The Story of Philosophy
Will Durant, 1953, Pocket Books, Washington Square Press
Excerpts from pages 20-21

How Trends In Education Forecast the Decline of the Roman Republic

“If we bear in mind the principles that governed the education of young men in Rome…
These derived chiefly from tradition, from the way in which the son of a country landowner gradually adapted himself to his father’s lifestyle accompanying him on journeys, observing everything he did, and then attempting to do it himself under his father’s supervision.  It amounted essentially to learning by observation and imitation…
This kind of education was continued in the city too, above all in politics, the chief sphere of activity for members of the nobility.

The nobility appreciated the importance of this largely practical patriarchal education.  This is clear from an edict issued by the censors in 92 BC, banning recently opened schools…

We have been informed that certain persons there have instituted a new kind of training for the young…the young who attend their schools are said to spend whole days in idleness.  Our ancestors determined what children should learn and what schools they should attend.  This new fashion, which is at variance with the uses and customs of our ancestors, neither pleases us nor appears to us right…

Whole days spent at school turned young noblemen into schoolboys, alienated from practical life and forced them into idleness.  Instead of being confronted as individuals with models to be emulated, they were thrown together with their own kind and with teachers.
The young gentlemen were offered little that could command their respect…
What probably told most heavily against the schools was that they estranged the young from their natural environment…

Preparation for adult life did not allow the growing boy much chance to enjoy a carefree childhood and youth.  Many demands were made on him, but this meant that at an early age he was taken seriously.”

Caesar: A Biography
Christian Meier, 1982
Excerpts taken from pages 58-60

My Commentary:
Observe how today’s education system infantilizes young adults, separates them from the adult world, and leaves them with other young people as their role models instead of mature people who’ve gone out into the world and accomplished.
The result is a petty royal court culture in schools ruled by a few top athletes and cheer leaders who’ve never done anything to earn their high stations.  What lesson does undeserved adulation for an aristocracy of useless socialites teach growing children about merit and hard work?
A republic that adopts such a system goes into decline as it slips into this indulgent debauchery, wasting its human capital before it’s even budded.

How Fleeing Ancestral Parasites Enabled Civilization

“The extraordinary variety of human parasites that exist in Africa suggests that Africa was the principal cradle for humankind, for nowhere else did the adjustment between human and nonhuman forms of life achieve anything like the same biological elaboration.

Many of the parasitic worms and protozoa that abound in Africa do not provoke immune reactions.
Opportunities for transfer from one host to another multiply with increased human density…when a critical threshold is surpassed, infection can suddenly develop into runaway hyperinfection.  Such epidemic situations seriously interfere with normal activity…

This…can soon reduce a population until the local density sinks safely below the threshold necessary for hyperinfection.

The establishment of human hunters at the top of the food chain…did not…do much to alter these age-old ecological relations.  In triumphantly claiming a new niche, humanity did not, therefore, transform the system as a whole.

Until relatively recent times (say five thousand years ago), human communities in Africa played a comparatively modest role amid the abundance of other life forms.  Humans were the chief predators, to be sure, but remained relatively rare in the balance of nature.
It is…mainly because sleeping sickness…remains so devastating to human populations that the ungulate herds of the African savanna have survived to the present.   Without modern prophylaxis, humans simply cannot live in regions where the tsetse fly abounds…Within the tsetse’s range, something resembling a pre-human ecological balance survives to the present.

In leaving tropical environments behind, our ancestors also escaped many of the parasites and disease organisms to which their predecessors and tropical contemporaries were accustomed.

Humanity’s place within the balance of nature in tropical regions differed fundamentally from what developed in temperate and Arctic climatic zones.
The array…of infections and infestations was vastly diminished from what had thriven in the tropical luxuriance of humanity’s oldest habitat.

Thus humankind’s biological dominion in temperate climes assumed a different order of magnitude from the start.
Humanity was in a situation like rabbits met when introduced into Australia.  Lacking both natural predators and natural parasites in the new environment…

Food production permitted a vast and rapid increase in the number of people, and so sustained the rise of cities and civilizations.”

Plagues and Peoples
William H McNeill

Excerpts taken from pages, 19-30 in no exact order so long as I put the main idea out there as succinctly as possible.
This guy is brilliant, but he really needed an editor.

Why the Roman Republic Collapsed

“An order usually fails when the community is no longer able, with its help, to perform its tasks more or less satisfactorily, or at least without causing major damage.
The late republic could no longer do this.  It could no longer contend with the social problems at home or the military and administrative problems abroad.  For any attempt to solve them only increased the power of individuals…This led to fierce conflicts, to restrictions…to growing inefficiency and thus to the disintegration of the inherited order.  The senatorial regime was not designed to cope with the problems that now faced it.
Time and again it showed itself to be superannuated.  Yet it could not be easily replaced.

Hence a great crisis arose, the main feature of which was that for a long time no alternative could emerge.  An alternative did emerge in the end…

It is wrong to transfer the notion of revolution, informed as it is by nineteenth-century experiences and expectations, to Roman conditions…the people cannot be seen as a new force that set itself up against the old one represented by the Senate…
What we observe is rather the contentment of all who were powerful… and the powerlessness of all who were discontented.
This was because the whole existence of Roman society, indeed its identity, was so bound up with the inherited order as to block off any thought of change…

The oligarchic republic could thus be replaced only by a monarchy.  Yet this became possible only when society had been so weakened by protracted civil wars as to recognize that things could no longer go on without a princeps…

The republic thus destroyed itself.  It had to, for otherwise nothing new, no alternative, would have emerged.  And it destroyed itself even though no one desired its destruction.”

Caesar: A Biography, Christian Meier, p. 491-493

In short:  Where there is a power vacuum and things aren’t getting done…it must eventually be filled.

The Worldwide Trend of Political Centralization Is Past High Tide

Ever since gunpowder, most inventions have served to centralize more power in the hands of the state.
This trend culminated in the 20th century with technologies such as mass media, mass surveillance, airplanes, and tanks.

Now, with social media, smartphones, and the internet, power is moving back into the hands of ordinary people.
The printing press ushered in political strife across Europe as people suddenly had better access to information.
The same is now happening with new technologies and we see decades long, stable regimes suddenly toppling as the availability of information reaches a tipping point.

Monolithic governments full of bureaucrats are continuing to decrease in effectiveness and importance. These large bodies are now too slow and unwieldly to keep up with commercial enterprises or even the ordinary man on the street.
Events now breeze past these governments before they can even begin to react. The governments haven’t changed…since ancient China bureaucracies have been all about trading speed and flexibility for dependability and security. The world has changed and old school government ministries can no longer keep up.

Culture at large is moving away from the control of a few sources towards a great age of fracture.

Though the traditional culture has died out, new, vital cultures are coming into existence and they will make populations ever more difficult to control from a centralized source.

Here’s to cultural Balkanization:

What Water Purification and Asian Glow Have In Common

“As population density and travel increased, fermented beverages such as beer became a way to transport a nutritional food stuff as well as a source of safe liquid refreshment. There was an old adage “…the water can kill you but the beer won’t.” People in the West did not realize that boiling water could purify it…

But what about people in Asia?…all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid resulted…

Thus, two vastly different cultures separated by thousands of miles developed distinctly different ways to deal with polluted water for consumption…

It has been found that approximately half of the Pacific Rim Asian population (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) possess an atypical alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) known as ADH2*2 that leads to unusually rapid conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde … After consuming one or two alcoholic beverages, they may experience symptoms which include dizziness, nausea, headaches, an increased pulse, occasional extreme drowsiness, and occasional skin swelling and itchiness. These unpleasant side effects often prevent further drinking that would lead to further intoxication…

Could it be that a culture rich in an alcohol tradition evolved in the West to deal with the problem of poor potable water quality; while in the East, to deal with the same problem, a culture evolved centered around tea because of the presence of a mutation in a gene?”

LINK

Or more likely and way too non-PC for the New York Times, Europeans started out like Asians and evolved a higher tolerance to alcohol. Those who could tolerate alcohol better avoided intestinal parasites and had the vitality to sire more children.

According to the PC narrative of course, human evolution came to a halt a few tens of thousands of years when “modern humans” emerged completely formed and have stayed static ever since.

Also, some have supposed that the burst of productivity that came with the industrial revolution was in part a result of Westerners trading alcohol for tea as the drink of choice.

Nanotechnology in Ancient Times

“According to a 2000-year-old recipe for hair dye, the ancient Greeks and Romans were harnessing a scientific force that they had no idea even existed – they were using nanotechnology on their very own heads.
The Greeks and Romans used hair dye with some measure of frequency, most often for the purpose of dying their gray hair to black. Their dry mixture contained ingredients such as slaked lime and lead oxide, which – when exposed to human hair for approximately 3 days – causes nanocrystals made from lead sulfide to form inside the shaft of hair.
This reaction is caused when sulfur from the amino acids that are naturally present in hair keratins mix with the lead in lead oxide – initially, this is what causes the hair to turn black, but it apparently also causes lead sulfide nanocrystals that are highly similar to those found in modern, advanced scientific processes!
In simpler terms, the chemical compound that forms inside of the human hair is what colors the hair without damaging it – and the process by which the hair is dyed black is very similar to modern nanotechnology. Fortunately for the Greeks and Romans, this kind of lead-based hair dye is safe for human use, since the compound typically has trouble penetrating the skin.
Interestingly enough, the chemical engineering that came from this dye process – where the tiny crystal structures line up to form ‘quantum dots‘ – is something that scientists have admitted is a “current challenge in nanotechnology”, and is actually a process that researchers are currently trying to figure out how to develop on their own.”

LINK

quantum dots picture

These substances were colored by quantum dots in a modern laboratory. The principle at work is related to that used in ancient hair dye

Averroes: An Islamic Philosopher Who Influenced Christian Theology

“Averroes is generally regarded as the greatest of the Islamic philosophers of the Medieval period and indeed one of the greatest Medieval philosophers. Nicknamed ‘The Commentator’ (because of his incisive commentaries on Aristotle), Averroes’ thought has two main strands…
Christian Averroists represented the most radical assimilation of Muslim Aristotelianism, adhering to Averroes’ supremacy of reason over revelation and the theory of the eternity of the world. Such heterodox views brought Siger and the Averroists into conflict with the Established Church and many of their propositions were rejected in the Condemnation of 1277…
The influence of Averroes (and also of Avicenna) on the development of Later Medieval Christian thought is therefore unequivocal. But this intellectual debt to Islam is very rarely mentioned in our times. When one considers the further development of the modern West, based on a paradigm of rational enquiry, it is Averroes who seems to best anticipate this model within the medieval epoch.”

LINK

Averroes

Averroes

Classic Tropes: The Red Shirt

“He’s dead, Jim.”

Never injured or even critically injured. Always dead outright. This has been the sorry fate of red-uniformed security officers in the Star Trek Universe. Even when the actual red shirts went out of style, you’d always know in shows such as Voyager: A new crew member shows up who we’ve never seen before on a ship that supposedly only contains 150 people. We know this character will either die on an away team or from an exploding control panel.

Red Shirt Pieta

Red Shirt Pieta

TV Tropes has long proven a favorite site of mine for ironic humor.
Some other fun entries.
Space Jews
Black Dude Dies First

You can look up favorite movies, games, books, and graphic novels to see a long list of all the tropes that apply.
Even better, you can find all kinds of stories about how the tropes have been ‘averted’ or ‘played straight’ in real life.

For every trope there are aversions.

Here’s a Red Shirt from real life.

Mr. Garibaldi

Mr. Garibaldi

Instead of getting instantly killed, he helped create the modern nation of Italy; a nation without precedent since the Roman Empire.

Even in the time of Rome’s power, a unified Italian peninsula was largely held together by force.
The Southern portion was distinct because much of the area had been populated by Greek settlements.
Indeed, modern day Southern Italy was known as ‘Greater Greece’ and Republican Rome had to fight a series of bitter wars against the Greek city states that held sway there.

It’s from these wars that we get the term, ‘Pyrrhic Victory.’

Pre-Politically Correct History: Eugenics and Hindu Caste

“The caste system had the eugenic value of keeping the presumably finer strains from dilution and disappearance through indiscriminate mixture; it established certain habits of diet and cleanliness as a rule of honor which all might observe and emulate; it gaver order to the chaotic inequalities and differences of men, and spared the soul the modern fever of climbing and gain; it gave order to every life by prescribing for each man a dharma, or code of conduct for his caste; it gave order to every trade and profession, elevated every occupation into a vocation not lightly to be changed, and, by making every industry a caste, provided its member with a means of united action against exploitation and tyranny. It offered an escape from the plutocracy or the military dictatorship which are apparently the only alternatives to aristocracy; it gave to a country shorn of political stability by a hundred invasions and revolutions a social, moral and cultural order and continuity rivaled only by the Chinese.”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Despite all the flaws and cruelty we’ve seen come from the Hindu caste system there’s something to be said for making sure people spend more time getting things done rather than putting all their energy into competing for status.
Also, compared to the constant uncertainty of existence in our own society there is something to be said for being born into a trade union that has real leverage.

Though we must be mindful of the sort of strife that is typical in Indian society, surely there are important lessons to learn from them as well. Lessons that can put the barbarous excesses of our own system in perspective.

Finally, results matter. Hindu society has proven far more stable for far longer than our own.

Another Excerpt on Hindu Caste and Eugenics from 1927

Mohism: One of the Major Philosophies in Chinese History

A major force in Chinese society for centuries but now pretty much long extinct, Mohism looked to ‘universal love’ as its cardinal guiding principle.
In many ways it seems to have been just about the polar opposite of Confucianism:

“A ruler may have strategies in war, but courage is the fundamental value. A funeral may have many rituals but mourning is the fundamental value. Scholars may have knowledge, but applying the knowledge or practicality is the fundamental value. If the fundamentals are not strong, good works cannot be done. Mozi taught that a good man must discipline himself: he should avoid listening to malicious gossip, avoid cursing, avoid murderous thoughts. Mozi taught that the poor should display purity, the rich should show benevolence, to the living show love, to the dead show mourning. The foundation of all human motives should be immeasurable love.”
LINK

Its influence undoubtedly never completely faded from Chinese culture as with any of the ancient Greek philosophies in ours. And I suppose we could not call it a failure unless we were prepared to call Ancient Egypt or Rome the same.

Reconciling Jared Diamond With HBD

In his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond comes up with a multitude of convincing explanations as to why some human populations ended up creating civilizations and others did not.
Among critical factors he identifies:
-Availability of large domesticable animals for riding, carrying, ploughing.
-Availability of promising wild cereals.
-New crops shareable from East-West (same seasons) as opposed to the considerable seasonal obstacles of sharing from North-South.

Diamond has some fascinating insights but from page 1 his mission is to argue that all human populations are fundamentally the same. Despite doing much to create good discussion, he’s more interested in upholding his personal ideology rather than searching for a whole truth that may not fit his desired specifications.

This seems to come in part from the erroneous but entrenched assumption that major change in human populations takes tens of thousands of years.
This notion is nonsense of course. The nature of the human race shifts every single generation. As societies change the rates of success of different survival strategies must change with it.

I’ve seen that Human Biodiversity adherents tend to deride Diamond for his simplistic views on human genetic differences.
However, I see no need for this.

Diamond for the most part seems to have everything pretty much right but screws it up with his wishful thinking.

The horse and wheat make huge differences in making one society more complex than another.

But we can just as easily note that a more complex society selects for people who think more abstractly and on a larger scale.

If we want to reconcile Diamond with HBDsphere, why not just formulate it like this:

Wheat, the horse, or an East-West continent resulted in more complex societies. In more complex societies, higher reasoning ability increased the odds of reproducing. Today, we predictably see some major differences in reasoning ability between historically isolated populations. Overall, higher reasoning ability tends to correspond with societies that have had more complex systems of organization, for longer.

Democracy At Its Worst: Why Athens Fell

For years, Athens had two dominant men, the conservative Nicias and the flamboyant Alcibiades who countered each other’s designs at every turn.

Nicias wanted to mostly focus on defending Athenian territories and ending war with the Spartan alliance if possible.

Alcibiades wanted to take the fight to the Spartans.

Had either of these men gotten their way, it seems likely that Athens would have survived.

The combination of both fighting for power at every turn destroyed Athens.

When Nicias succeeded in making peace with the Spartans, Alcibiades sabotaged the peace.

When Alcibiades wanted to fight in Sicily, Nicias tried to sabotage him.

The ultimate worst case scenario of democracy followed:

Nicias made a public speech in which he proposed an absurd force both in size and composition that would be required to invade Sicily.
His intent was to discourage the public from supporting the expedition.

Instead: the masses loved his idea. They loved it so much that his absurd proposition became the actual Athenian force.
Nicias, who wanted to halt the entire operation was elected to be one of the generals commanding the expedition against his will.

Things could still have turned out alright.

But even as the invasion fleet was headed for Sicily, Alcibiades was recalled to Athens for accusations of treason and sacrilege.

They were still arguing over who was in command and sabotaging one another while on the way to battle!

Alcibiades had to go back home to stand trial: he was the guy who had wanted a Sicilian Expedition in the first place!
And Nicias was now commanding an expedition he had actively opposed!!

Knowing he would likely face death and disgrace back at home, Alcibiades escaped and actually defected to the Spartans.

Now not only was the huge Athenian invasion force already a confused mess, Alcibiades was in Sparta giving the Spartans valuable military intelligence and advising them to send their own expedition to counter the Athenians in Sicily.

Even now things might not have been a total disaster but bad decisions continued to combine to create the perfect storm.

Not only did the Athenian invasion force fail: it was wiped out.

And so an enormous amount of wealth and a large portion of the entire male population of Athens had just been flushed down the toilet.

Athens was doomed.

LINK

Also most of what I’ve written here I got from reading Donald Kagan’s Peloponnesian War.

Nicias

alcibiades

Alcibiades

Pre-Politically Correct History: Primitive Languages Lack Abstraction

“The languages of nature peoples are not necessarily primitive in any sense of simplicity; many of them are as complex and wordy as our own, and more highly organized than Chinese. Nearly all primitive tongues, however, limit themselves to the sensual and particular, and are uniformly poor in general or abstract terms.

So the Australian natives had a name for a dog’s tail, and another name for a cow’s tail, but they had no name for tail in general. The Tasmanians had separate names for specific trees, but no general name for tree; the Choctaw Indians had names for the black oak, the white oak the white oak and the red oak, but no name for oak, much less for tree.

Doubtless many generations passeed before the proper noun ended in the common noun. In many tribes there are no separate words for the color as distint from the colored object; no words for such abstractions as tone, sex, species, space, spirit, instinct, reason, quantity, hope, fear, matter, consciousness, etc.

Such abstract terms seem to grow in a reciprocal relation of cause and effet with the development of thought; they become the tools of subtlety and the symbols of civilization.”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Why We Use A Decimal System

Most cultures around the world independently arrive at a decimal system for counting things?
Why is this?

Because that’s the number of fingers on our hands. Childish and simple, but the truth. Look at a synonym for a number in our language: a ‘digit.’

Thus, can we say a decimal metric system is necessarily more ‘rational’ than a standard system largely based around numbers like 12 and 16?

Ancient Mesopotamian cultures based their numeral system around the number 60, evenly divisible by 12.

Computers are set up to do many things in hexadecimal, base 16, rather than the base 10 preferred by its ten-fingered users.

Why?
It makes best mathematical sense to use numbers most easily divided and factored as a base.
Thus a race of aliens with 13 fingers might also create computers that use base 16.

If we were to suppose the divine is reflected in the nature of the universe, Would humans in the image of the divine have had 12 or 16 fingers instead of 10?

Reconstructing Ancient Irish Musical Instruments

When Food Reveals Etymology: Photography and Cephalopods

Once, in Northern Italy, I ordered a dish with black pasta that gets its color from cuttlefish ink.

This pasta was referred to as ‘nero de sepia.’

At once it became clear that sepia is a cuttlefish.
And to my amusement I realized that the washed out brown color, sepia was undoubtedly derived from the color of cuttlefish ink.

How many people working with photographs know that they’re talking about a cephalopod?

Pre-Politically Correct History: The Fall of Babylon to the Persians

“Within thirty years after his(Nebuchadrezzar’s) death his empire crumbled to pieces…The army fell into disorder; business men forgot love of country in the sublime internationalism of finance; the people, busy with trade and pleasure, unlearned the arts of war. The priests usurped more and more of the royal power, and fattened their treasuries with wealth that tempted invasion and conquest. When Cyrus and his disciplined Persians stood at the gates, the anti-clericals of Babylon connived to open them to him, and welcomed his enlightened domination.”

-Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

The Achievements of Augustus Caesar

History of Currency – Aztecs

In Aztec culture, trade was an important part of life. Yet, it was conducted somewhat differently than the “traditional” way. For one, the Aztecs had no metal money. They did have a currency, however. Cacao beans were treated as a precious substance by the Aztecs, who used them to make chocolate. Link

Quachtli was a standardized length of cloth that came in different grades. Its value was rated by how many cocoa beans it could be traded for. A small cape made of first-grade cloth with a fine, or tight, weave would bring the highest price: about 300 cocoa beans.

Used by all classes in Aztec society, tajaderas, or hoe money, was made of thin copper and had a standard weight and size

A man could sell his child for up to 600 cocoa beans. Girls drew the highest price and were usually sold as sexual slaves. Boys were bought as field workers or slaves; the average purchase price for a boy was 100 cocoa beans.
Link

Damnatio Memoriae: When “He Was An Asshole” Just Isn’t Enough

Even Good Leadership Fails If Most People Are Idiots

Fabius Maximus was a Roman general who knew better than to risk everything and engage Hannibal in open battle.

But his fellow Romans would have none of it. They called him, Cunctator, the delayer, the wimp, and had him removed from command.

The military disaster of Cannae followed: 80,000 Romans slaughtered. Among their number was a sizeable fraction of the entire class of nobles who had laughed at Fabius Maximus. History drips with irony.

Fabian Strategy: Wearing Down the Enemy(i.e. modern warfare)

Alternatehistory.com: Fabius keeps his command, no Cannae

fabius maximus

Pre-Politically Correct History: Dysgenics, Immigration, and the Fall of the Assyrian Empire

“The Assyrian armies…were weakened by the very victories that they won; in each victory it was the strongest and bravest wo died, while the infirm and cautious survived to multiply their kind; it was a dysgenic process that perhaps made for civilization by weeding out the more brutal types, but undermined the biological basis upon which Assyria had risen to power…

They had brought into Assyria, as captives, millions of destitute aliens who bred with the fertility of the hopeless, destroyed all national unity of character and blood, and became by their growing numbers a hostile and disintegrating force in the very midst of their conquerors.”

-Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

How often do we see this kind of deeper analysis in modern day scholarship?

Gladiator: The Real Story

He(Commodus) renamed Rome Colonia Commodiana, the ‘Colony of Commodus’, and renamed the months of the year after titles held in his honour…

I always think of poor dear Commodus when I change the name of my capital city/planet in turn based strategy games.

Megalomania to the point of bathos and hilarity.  I love it.

Flavor in Ancient Rome

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