Tag Archives: Roman History

Game of Thrones Season Finale: A True Roman Ending

Posted on 18. Jun, 2015 by in Roman culture

Anyone that knows me and my blogger style know that I love looking at pop culture and seeing

how Ancient Rome or the Latin language resonates within it. So this week is no exception, I will

be looking at the Season Finale of Game of Thrones. Just like everyone else that watched it, I

was excited and pumped! So let’s do this…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~XXXXXXXXXXXXXSpoilers Below.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, here we go! Now while I want to talk and dish about all the fan theories concerning this

scene- let’s just focus on the scene and what it mimics from ancient history.

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Now if I was a meaner person I would have entitled this post: Et Tu Olly? But that may have made some people quite upset.

 

Here is the scene I want to focus on- and you guess it- Jon Snow’s “final” scene (no pun

intended). Here is a clip from HBO’s Game of Thrones:

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Now, I couldn’t have been the only one that noticed the UNCANNY resemblance to ANOTHER

famous stabbing murder-right? Julius Caesar? March 15th 44 B.C.E? In the theater of Pompey?

Here is a clip from HBO’s Rome:

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So, let me get this straight…

Jon Snow vs. Julius Caesar

1. Both men in power- Lord Commander vs. Dictator or Rex (King).

PICTURE

2. Both “Murdered” by stabbing (Jon Snow was stabbed by four knives before losing

consciousness & Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times.)

3. Stabbed by “friends” or “brothers.”

4. Both betrayed by one person they thought wouldn’t betray them (Jon Snow-Olly & Caesar-

Brutus).

Morte di Giulio Cesare ("Death of Julius Caesar"). By Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798

Morte di Giulio Cesare (“Death of Julius Caesar”). By Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798

*However, it should be noted that Olly was a show creation and not part of the books. What

other purpose does Olly serve in the series other than an empathetic reminder of the cruelty of

Wildlings AND to serve as a Brutus type figure.

5. Both considered “traitors.” Jon Snow betrayed his Night Watch and Brothers. He betrayed

their ultimate neutrality in the book. Caesar betrayed the senators by betraying the Republic.

Ironic Moments:

1. Jon Snow is ultimately betrayed by Bowen. “The final straw for Bowen (Old Pomegranate) is

when Jon reads aloud a letter sent by Ramsay Bolton and Jon states intention to march on House

Bolton at Winterfell, threatening the neutrality of the Night’s Watch. Bowen and fellow

conspirators stab Jon Snow several times” Bowen who is known as the Old Pomegranate, which

is considered a food of the Underworld and Pluto.

La Mort de César (ca. 1859–1867) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, depicting the aftermath of the attack with Caesar's body abandoned in the foreground as the senators exult

La Mort de César (ca. 1859–1867) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, depicting the aftermath of the attack with Caesar’s body abandoned in the foreground as the senators exult

2. Caesar’s last words is a topic of much discussion. However,Suetonius reports that it was

Greek “”καὶ σύ, τέκνον” meaning “You too, child?” I find this to be somewhat ironic, because

Brutus is not a child. Thus, this term child must be a term of endearment or Caesar’s thoughts on

Brutus.

2a. For Jon, he does not utter last words- but it is not hard to imagine that he thought something

similar with Olly delivering the final blow.

Conclusion:

This, as always, was fun to write and explore. If you would like to see some other comparisons I have found between Ancient Rome and GoT (Game of Thrones) here.

Discovery of the Month: Nero’s Revolving Dining Room

Posted on 27. May, 2015 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

Today we will be starting a new monthly post (like the text spotlight posts) in which we relive and explore the discovery of a Roman artifact, place, or item. Today, we will be focusing on the fabled rotating dining room of Nero!

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The legendary dining hall has been discovered in Rome’s Palatine Hill. The dining hall was discovered whilst archaeologist were excavating the Golden House (Domus Aurea) which was built for Nero (54 to 68AD).

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome

Suetonius

Gaius Suetonius Tranqullus

According to the Roman historian, Suetonius, the dining hall is said to have had a revolving wooden floor in order to allow guests to gaze upon all facets of the room including the painted ceiling with stars. Furthermore, it was described as have panels from which flower petals and different types of perfumes would shower upon the tables.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the recently departed head of the British School at Rome, an archeological institute, said: “People have been trying to find the rotating dining room for a long time. We don’t have much idea about it except for what Suetonius tells us. It could have had a revolving floor, or possibly a revolving ceiling. “If they really have discovered it, that would be exciting.”

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5 Animals used in Ancient Warfare

Posted on 29. Apr, 2015 by in Roman culture

DISCLAIMER: Since this is a Latin blog, I have chosen only to focus on animals used in Roman battles or wars. Thus, I understand that some of these animals have older warfare uses, but the focus here is on Roman period uses.

1. WAR ELEPHANT

Roman mosaic at Ostia Antica, Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons &Marie-Lan Nguyen

Roman mosaic at Ostia Antica, Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons &Marie-Lan Nguyen

Animal: North African Forest Elephant, Carthaginian Elephant, Atlas Elephants, “Hannibal’s Elephants”

Alive or Extinct: Extinct from over-exploitation

Year: 218 B.C.E

Hannibals route to Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Albalg.

Hannibals route to Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Albalg.

Battle or War: Second Punic War at the Battle of Trebia.

How was it used: A war elephant was an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, breaking their ranks and instilling terror. Elephantry are military units with elephant-mounted troops.

Sources: Polybius & Livy (here)

Fun Facts:  The favorite, and perhaps last surviving elephant of Hannibal’s 218 B.C. crossing of the Alps was an impressive animal named Surus (“the Syrian” or “One-Tusker”), and may have been of Syrian stock, though the evidence remains ambiguous.

Before crossing the Alps, Hannibal had to cross the Rhone River. Credit: War elephants depicted in Hannibal Barca crossing the Rhône, by Henri Motte, 1878. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Before crossing the Alps, Hannibal had to cross the Rhone River. Credit: War elephants depicted in Hannibal Barca crossing the Rhône, by Henri Motte, 1878. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Advantage or Disadvantage: The elephants had such a difficult time crossing the Alps due to the terrain, cold winter weather, and the fact that roads had to be built for them to cross. This wasted a lot of time and resulted in the surviving elephants being quite famished. However, the surviving elephants were successfully used in the battle of Trebia, where they panicked the Roman cavalry and Gallic allies.

 

The Elephant Battery in Peshawar in 1880's. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

The Elephant Battery in Peshawar in 1880’s. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Last Used: Although, the elephant that is being discussed is the North African Forest Elephant, I believe it is important to know in general how elephants were used within war or battle.

In south-east Asia the use of elephants on the battlefield continued up until the end of the 19th century. One of the major difficulties in the region was terrain, and elephants could cross difficult terrain in many cases more easily than horse cavalry.

During World War I, elephants pulled heavy equipment. This one worked in a munitions yard in Sheffield. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

During World War I, elephants pulled heavy equipment. This one worked in a munitions yard in Sheffield. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Into the 20th century, non-battle-trained elephants were used for other military purposes as late as World War II,particularly because the animals could perform tasks in regions that were problematic for modern vehicles.

2. War Pigs

Courtesy of Mental Floss.

Courtesy of Mental Floss.

Animal:  The pig or boar

Alive or Extinct: There is no certainty as to the species of pig or boar, so in general pigs/boars are still in existence.

Year: 275 B.C.E

Pyrrhus and his elephants. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Helene Guerber.

Pyrrhus and his elephants. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Helene Guerber.

Battle or War:  Pyrrhic War

How was it used: War pigs are pigs reported to have been used in ancient warfare, mostly as a countermeasure against war elephants. Ancient historians confirm that elephants were frightened by squealing pigs (and rams with horns), and reported that the Romans exploited squealing pigs (and rams) to repel the war elephants at Pyrrhus.

Sources: Pliny the Elder (“Natural History” 8.9.27), Aelian, (“On Animals” 1.38),   Lucretius( De Rerum Natura 5.1298-134)

Fun Facts: Historical accounts of incendiary pigs or flaming pigs were recorded by the military writer Polyaenus and by Aelian. (Note: The following video shows Rome Total War custom battle between War Elephants and War Pigs. While, it is not historically accurate. It is a bit a fun.)

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Advantage or Disadvantage: The elephants bolted in terror from the flaming and/or squealing pigs, often killing great numbers of their own soldiers by trampling them to death. However, there is some uncertainty as the war elephants could flee in either direction stomping and killing soldiers.

Last Used: There is no evidence that the war pig survived beyond antiquity. This, of course, is a logically deduction as its primary purpose was to defeat the war elephant. However, another reason why it may have not succeeded as a new and productive tactic is due to its uncertainty.

3. War Dogs

Cave canem mosaics ('Beware of the dog') were a popular motif for the thresholds of Roman villas. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Cave canem mosaics (‘Beware of the dog’) were a popular motif for the thresholds of Roman villas. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Animal: The Dog

Alive or Extinct: Alive

Year: 231 B.C.E

Battle or War:  A war against the Sardinians.

Mosaic at Pompeii.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Marie-Lan Nguyen

Mosaic at Pompeii.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Marie-Lan Nguyen

How was it used: Romans, dogs served most often as sentries or patrols, though they were sometimes taken into battle. Written accounts by the Roman writers and historians Plutarch and Pliny exist, and Strabo, a Greek historian, described the dogs being “protected with coats of mail.”

Sources: Livy (Book 22)

Fun Facts: War dogs were used by the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Baganda, Alans, Slavs, Britons, and the Romans.

Advantage or Disadvantage: The Roman consul Marcus Pomponius Matho, leading the Roman legions through the inland of Sardinia, where the inhabitants led guerrilla warfare against the invaders, used “dogs from Italy” to hunt out the natives who tried to hide in the caves

Last Used: Contemporary dogs in military roles are also often referred to as police dogs, or in the United States as a Military Working Dog (MWD), or K-9. Their roles are nearly as varied as their ancient cousins, though they tend to be more rarely used in front-line formations. As of 2011, 600 U.S. Military dogs were actively participating in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

4. War Horses

Re-enactor as Roman cavalryman. Courtesy of WikiCommons  & David Friel & FLickr.

Re-enactor as Roman cavalryman.
Courtesy of WikiCommons & David Friel & FLickr.

Animal: Horses

Alive or Extinct: While it is unclear which species of horse was used by the Ancient Romans. It is clear that horses are in general not extinct.

Year: 9 August 48 BC

Battle or War: Battle of Pharsalus (For the logistics of the battle, the video below goes into a greater detail than I could.)

How was it used: In antiquity, horses have been used to simply riding, transportation, cavalry, chariots, and as beast of burden. Cavalry was not used extensively by the Romans during the Roman Republic period, but by the time of theRoman Empire, they made use of heavy cavalry.

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Sources: Plutarch Pompey 65.5

Fun Facts: The saddle with a solid framework, or “tree”, provided a bearing surface to protect the horse from the weight of the rider. The Romans are credited with the invention of the solid-treed saddle.

Advantage or Disadvantage:When Pompey determined that his cavalry had been routed by an inferior force (Caesar: 22,000 Infantry & 1,000 Cavalry; Pompey: 45,000 Infantry & 7,000 Cavalry), he fled and retreated. Thus, it proves the importance of cavalry forces but not necessarily the size.

Afghani and United military forces on horseback in Afghanistan, 2001. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Afghani and United military forces on horseback in Afghanistan, 2001. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Last Used: Today, many of the historical military uses of the horse have evolved into peacetime applications, including exhibitions, historical reenactments, work of peace officers, and competitive events. Formal combat units of mounted cavalry are mostly a thing of the past, with horseback units within the modern military used for reconnaissance, ceremonial, or crowd control purposes.

5. Pigeons

Pigeons with messages attached. Courtesy WikiCommons.

Pigeons with messages attached. Courtesy WikiCommons.

Animal: Pigeon

Alive or Extinct: Alive and Well.

Year: 58–50 BC

Battle or War: Gallic Wars

How was it used:  Pigeons have long played an important role in war. Due to their homing ability, speed, and altitude, they were often used as military messengers. The Romans used pigeon messengers for over 2000 years ago. In Ancient Rome, within many texts, there are references to pigeons being used to send messages by Julius Caesar.

Roman Mosaic from House of Faun. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, Jastrow.

Roman Mosaic from House of Faun. Detail of middle bird possibly being a pigeon. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, Jastrow.

Sources: Frontius (Stratagems Second book, XIII, 8)

Fun Facts: Pigeons have been used to great effect in military situations, with 32 birds awarded the Dickin Medal.

Advantage or Disadvantage:  This one is a bit tricky, because while it would be advantageous to have information reach allies quickly and secretly. Pigeons are noticeable and could be intercepted.

Last Used: During World War II, the UK used about 250,000 homing pigeons, They ceased being used as of 1957.

 

 

 

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

THE TORTOISE

Tortoise or Testudo Formation. Rendered on Trajan's Column. Courtesy of WikiCommons & CristianChirita.

Tortoise or Testudo Formation. Rendered on Trajan’s Column. Courtesy of WikiCommons & CristianChirita.

While the tortoise was not used as the animal, it inspired a famous formation known as the testudo or tortoise formation.

A demonstration of a reenactment event can be seen here:

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