Daily Life In Ancient Rome

When studying ancient Rome, it is useful to pay particular attention to the first and second century A.D., a time when Roman wealth and influence reached its height. Historians are lucky that this generation of the Empire has bestowed us with the most comprehensive of records detailing Roman life. 


Daily Life In Ancient Rome by the great French historian, Jérôme Carcopino, is a fascinating reconstruction of this era. Below I’ve written about the note-worthy sections of his classic history book.

The Splendor of the Urbs


Trajan’s forum – peerless in grandeur as a display of wealth and military success – was an open administrative, commercial and civic center built in 106-112 AD by legendary architect Apollodorus of Damascus. The genius in the creation of the triumphal arch, Trajan’s column , the markets and the immense porticos left Romans of the later empire feeling impotent before the achievements of their ancestors. 

Society and Social Classes


During the first and second century of the ancient Roman Empire, there was a confusion of social values. The families of the patricians and the senators were wearing thin. So, there was an urgent need for new blood drawn from the humbler strata to revivify the aristocracy. 


Of course, drawing this new blood from the second-rate masses eventually exposed the Roman fatherland to great dangers and contamination. What a deadly paradox it was – for men of honest concern for the health of their government to delegate it’s administration to men fit for little more than slavery. 


As always happens when born slaves break chains and seize the levers of power, the middle class vanished, leaving no bourgeois buffer between a small plutocracy and the plebs too poor to survive without municipal doles. Under the insults of this degenerate system, wealth was not gained through toil or ingenuity, but only by paying favor to the emperor. 

During this time in the life of the Roman Empire, first came material comfort, and a loosening of standards in the spheres of social behavior and childrearing shortly followed. Sons were allowed to administer their own property without being deprived of their paternal inheritance. 


Not content to simply lessen the old severity, parents entertained their children’s every expensive whim. This, of course, led to a generation of useless idlers. This gradual eroding of parental authority continued on course. Finally, all remnants of parental authority disappeared with the parental right to oppose a match desired by their children. 

Feminism In Ancient Rome


Daily Life In Ancient Rome is yet more proof positive of the link between decadence and leftism. During the epoch in which we study, women came and went from the husband’s home of their own free will and had an “independence” equal if not greater than modern feminists. 

Feminism is not a novelty of modernity. Juvenal, 2nd century poet, depicts a series of scenes which show women quitting their embroidery, their reading, their song and lyre, to put their enthusiasm into an attempt to rival men, if not outclass them in every sphere. This abandonment of feminine responsibility reaped sterile marriages among the Roman people. 


Carcopino comments on the destructive consequences of this ancient women’s liberation movement. He writes, “By copying men too closely the Roman women succeeded more rapidly in emulating their vices than in acquiring their strength.” He continues, “…the looseness of their morals tended to dissolve family ties. ‘She lives with him as if she were only a neighbor'”.


Education and Religion


During more austere times, every parent was his child’s teacher. During our era of study, primary schooling was a serious part of public life. Like all institutions of government education, the teachers of the primary Roman schools were abusive, ill-intentioned halfwits. Our author remarks that, sadly, these schools corrupted and stupefied the students they were meant to instruct. This process rarely awoke any feeling of beauty or knowledge. 


I think that this evocative excerpt from the “Primary Education” section of the book sums up the scholastic situation well, “Instead of happy memories, serious and fruitful ideas, any sort of intellectual curiosity vital to later life, school children carried away the gloomy recollection punctuated by savage punishments.”

The anti-intellectualism that plagues our contemporary scientists and professors was rife during this period of ancient Rome as well. Romans could find little value in research and study for enjoyment’s sake. They were too focused on turning an immediate profit. They simply lifted ideas from old books without feeling the need to expand on or even verify the propositions. 


Roman scholars, like the academics (as they’re called) today, ignored the most pressing issues of the day – or flat out denied the existence of such issues. Instead, they spent their time mentally masturbating about hairbrained theories and abstractions. 


Tell me that these passages do not bring to mind our our exact situation in the modern world: “In short, they systematically confused artifice with art, and originality with the negation of naturethe more we reflect on their methods, the more it seems clear that they were incapable of turning out anything but parrots or third-rate play actors.


“Seneca disapproved of teaching methods which do not prepare men for life, but only pupils for school“.


“A morbid passion for the unusual and the extraordinary made common sense seem a defect..”.


1800 years later, human nature – try as it might – has changed very little. It really is uncanny.

Religion 


The theme of this post seems to be an acknowledgement that the 20th and 21st century Western world is more than a little resembling of the 1st and 2nd century of ancient Rome. 


Much like the citizens of the 20th century in the West, the behavior of the people in ancient Rome was still guided by a history of religious morality, but the spirit of the word of God had left their consciences. In every strata of society the irreligious were equally prey to superstition and taboo as were their pious counterparts that they despised. Sound familiar?


Literature 


Literature of the 2nd century was beyond perverted. Writers did not aim for beauty, but immediate acclaim and success. The link between literature and life was severed. Storytelling became little more than shallow word play. The most hideous of hacks believed in their own literary vocation. 

Leisure and Recreation


Ancient Romans enjoyed much more leisure time than us busy moderns. For every day of work, Romans were allowed a day of leisure!

Portrait Of An Emotional Vampire

Vampire: George, I’m making lunch. Would you like a sandwich?
George: Yes, please. 
Vampire: Do you want turkey or ham on your sandwich?
George: Ham, please.
Vampire: (feigning uncertainty) What?
George: Ham. 
Vampire: You said ham?
George: Yes. 
Vampire: So, it’s ham then?
George: Yes.
Vampire: Not turkey?
George: No. 
Vampire: Ham?
George: Yes.
Vampire: That’s what you want?

George: Yes.
Vampire: So, you want ham?
George: Yes! For the last time! Yes! Ham!

Vampire: Please don’t yell at me, George. It’s very abusive.

Pence Fails, Real Americans Step Up

I never trusted Vice President Pence. His cowardice is the ugly outcome of a long and storied tradition of surrender artistry. He should have been a man, choose the side of truth and virtue and tossed out all of the electors from the cheating states. Pence’s desire to do the right thing was not as strong as his desire to avoid the wrath of the Deep State. I believe it’s safe to assume that when President Trump begins his second term, Mike Pence will not be standing by his side. Imagine how embarrassed Pence’s family must be to watch his cowardice turn into betrayal of The Great God Emperor.

Hats off to the patriots that stormed the capitol today, preventing the cretins within from certifying the electors. I have two of these Trump 2020 Victory Cigars in toro aging in my humidor.

Can’t wait to light up when all and sundry are forced to admit that Trump isn’t going anywhere.

Kneel before your ruler.

Brushing Up Against My Past

During college I was lucky enough to study under professors that bedazzled me with the high scholastic quality of their lectures.

My favorite was a PHD named Dr. Harvey. Dr. Harvey’s breadth of knowledge was staggering. He had godlike analytical and explanatory abilities.

No matter the problem or question, and no matter how complicated or seemingly impenetrable, Dr. Harvey would break down the idea into its fundamental parts, methodically explain how the pieces related to and influenced each other and, through deductive reasoning, present a conclusion that was- not only beyond reproach – but beautiful in it’s elegance and clarity.

Time and again, after reading the assigned text, I would feel confident in my understanding of the material and the implications I had drawn from my studies. I would look forward to presenting my theory during class discussion. This is going to be a valuable contribution, I thought. Heck, my tight grasp of the material and my erudite feedback may even impress Dr. Harvey to some degree. 

Then, of course, once I had finished putting forward my interpretations and stating the verdict, Dr. Harvey would effortlessly and meticulously bulldoze my propositions and suggest alternatives – and Of COURSE – his alternatives were always and obviously correct. 

I never tired of being proved wrong by Dr. Harvey. Experiencing and interacting with the power of his intellect was a privilege. During class, the long standing partitions of my mind tipped over, allowing entry into rich, new lands of intellectual development and play, and I could feel it. 

Occasionally, years after graduation, my thoughts would wonder back to those times with Dr. Harvey and I would think to myself – Dr. Harvey, now THAT’S an academic.


Now comes the bad news.

A few days ago I was moseying about cyberspace. As my eyes scanned across thumbnails in search of an interesting video to watch, an image grabbed my attention. There was a man. Mid 40s. Fair, styled hair. Trendy eyeglasses. Intelligent eyes greeted me from his amicable countenance. Dr. Harvey! It’s him! 

There he was giving a presentation at a TED Talk event. Good for him! Of course, I clicked the link for the video, and I couldn’t wait to hear Dr. Harvey speak. It had been so long. Barely could I believe my luck as the video fired up. What a treat. 

It is with no joy that I report to you that what Dr. Harvey says in this video is little more than so much nonsense. Sophistry. Baseless assertions. Rhetoric – and not particularly compelling rhetoric either. Poorly constructed ideas emerging from foundations of false assumptions. What I was seeing is what goes on in Liberal Art’s departments everyday, all across the world. Pseudo-intellectual babble dressed up in obscure philosophical jargon. Real bullshit. 

So, what happened! How does a great man fall to such an ugly low? 

The answer, naturally, is that he didn’t. Dr. Harvey very likely has not changed. It is I who have changed. I’m not a kid anymore as I was back during the fondly remembered days of being a wide-eyed undergraduate. After 12 years of public school and a year of college I still wasn’t thinking critically. My mind was hungry and defenseless in the presence of characters like Dr. Harvey who, at the time, appeared to be the human personification of a research library/storied social institution. 

I have since learned from real thinkers, and I have some degree of discernment. Watching Dr. Harvey lecture again after all these years has been an odd and interesting experience.  I feel as if I was able to travel back in time, to meet my younger self, and to see him – not as I remember him – but as he really was. It’s been uncanny.

Note: Dr. Harvey is not his real name. Despite what I’ve written, Dr. Harvey was always nice to me, and he was kind enough to write me a recommendation letter after I graduated. So, writing negatively about him without having spoken to him about how I feel would be a betrayal.

Comments On Max Scheler’s Ressentiment

I spent the afternoon reading the book Ressentiment (1912) by German Phenomenologist Max Scheler. 


Ressentiment is a satisfying and gracefully written rejection of Nietzsche’s thesis that Christianity was invented as a defense mechanism by runts to lessen the pain of their inborn inferiority and scapegoat their natural superiors as evil.


Scheler convincingly makes the case that Nietzsche profoundly misjudges the essence of Christian morality. Nietzsche took no notice of the fact that Christian love and charity is about cultivating an ideal spiritual personality, not becoming a socialist, a pacifist or taking up universal altruism/equality. 

So, Scheler was not impressed with Nietzsche’s attack of Christian virtues. He was, however, pleased with Nietzsche’s concept of ressentiment and considered it to be the profound discovery of an unexplored moral phenomenon . Scheler expounds on ressentiment, and – let me tell you – he paints a detailed picture of a poisonous physiological state that is uncanny in its similarity to the permanent mental anguish suffered by leftists. These passages floored me. 


Ressentiment is the spiritual pathology that can assert itself when a low status individual is impotent to improve his rank; and the pain of this evergreen humiliation drives him to blame those that are beautiful/smart/successful/high status for his frustration. 
Scheler catalogs the common behaviors, motivations, secrets, prejudices and degeneracies of those possessed by ressentiment.

Ressentiment may cause people to: 

  • Be “socially conscious”. Have you ever met someone who is incapable of keeping even the most basic aspects of their own life in order, nevertheless, they’re always involving themselves in the business of others or striving to enact social change through altruism?  That’s ressentiment
  • Demand that inferiority, evil, savagery and ugliness be “understood”, “excused” “tolerated” and subsidized
  • Be traitorous – prioritizing the well-being of enemies and hostile outsiders before that of their ingroup 
  • Invert values – Sexual deviants = heroes Christian families = bigots 
  • Deny the existence of objective beauty, intelligence, goodness, ect. We’re all the same, ect
  • Demand that systems and hierarchies be rearranged to make things more “fair” and increase “equity” 
  • Try to convince high-status people that their virtues are actually sins. For example, trying to convince a charismatic man that his confidence is actually just arrogance or “D-baggery”. 
  • Pretend to love the “small”, the “poor”, the “weak” and the “oppressed”. In reality, they just loathe the “big”, the “wealthy,” the “strong,” the “powerful” 

Before, I wrote that the leftist psychology shared similarities with ressentiment; I take that back – after writing the above list, it’s plain to see that leftist psychology IS ressentiment!

I’ll leave you with a few stand out passages from the book.

“But there is a completely different way of stooping to the small, the lowly, and the common, even though it may seem almost the same. Here love does not spring from an abundance of vital power, from firmness and security. Here it is only a euphemism for escape, for the inability to “remain at home” with oneself (chez soi). Turning toward others is but the secondary consequence of this urge to flee from oneself. One cannot love anybody without turning away from oneself. However, the crucial question is whether this movement is prompted by the desire to turn toward a positive value, or whether the intention is a radical escape from oneself. “Love” of the second variety is inspired by self-hatred, by hatred of one‟s own weakness and misery. The mind is always on the point of departing for distant places. Afraid of seeing itself and its inferiority, it is driven to give itself to the other—not because of his worth, but merely for the sake of his “otherness.” Modern philosophical jargon has found a revealing term for this phenomenon, one of the many modern substitutes for love: “altruism.” This love is not directed at a previously discovered positive value, nor does any such value flash up in the act of loving: there is nothing but the urge to turn away from oneself and to lose oneself in other people’s business. We all know a certain type of man frequently found among socialists, suffragettes, and all people with an ever-ready “social conscience”— the kind of person whose social activity is quite clearly prompted by inability to keep his attention focused on himself, on his own tasks and problems. 19 Looking away from oneself is here mistaken for love! Isn‟t it abundantly clear that “altruism,” the interest in “others” and their lives, has nothing at all to do with love? “

“Thus the “altruistic” urge is really a form of hatred, of self-hatred, posing as its opposite (“Love”) in the false perspective of consciousness. In the same” way, in ressentiment morality, love for the “small,” the “poor,” the “weak,” and the “oppressed” is really disguised hatred, repressed envy, an impulse to detract, etc., directed against the opposite phenomena: “wealth,” “strength,” “power,” “largesse.” When hatred does not dare to come out into the open, it can be easily expressed in the form of ostensible love—love for something which has features that are the opposite of those of the hated object. This can happen in such a way that the hatred remains secret.”

“The humanitarian movement is in its essence a ressentiment phenomenon, as appears from the very fact that this socio-historical emotion is by no means based on a spontaneous and original affirmation of a positive value, but on a protest, a counter-impulse (hatred, envy, revenge, etc.) against ruling minorities that are known to be in the possession of positive values.”

“The very fact that love is directed at the species implies that it is essentially concerned with the inferior qualities which must be “understood” and “excused.” Who can fail to detect the secretly glimmering hatred against the positive higher values, which are not essentially tied to the “species”—a hatred hidden deep down below this “mild,” “understanding,” “humane” attitude?”

“HITHERTO WE have traced only one fundamental value of modern “morality” to the forces of ressentiment. “universal love of mankind.”

“The motive behind this transvaluation has nothing whatever to do with the presumed realization that moral values—in contrast with others, such as aesthetic values—must be based on free acts. 4 This is shown by the fact that the same shift takes place in extramoral domains of value, in legal and economic life. The theories of property and value of the English political and economic theoreticians, first John Locke and then Adam Smith and David Ricardo, merely formulate and conceptualize an existent tendency of modern valuation. They hold that the right of ownership as well is derived from labor on the objects, not from occupation or other origins. It is clear that this new standard must lead to a most radical critique of the existing systems of ownership insofar as they can be historically traced back to occupation, war, 5 donations, primogeniture, etc. Indeed with this premise, the entire law of succession is disputable in principle, wherever it cannot be justified as a merely technical means for the distribution of things which ensures maximum usefulness. But just as all moral activity takes place within the framework of moral existence, all labor on objects presupposes their ownership—the aims, organization, techniques, and forms of labor are historically dependent On the systems of ownership and change with them. 6   Who cannot see that this “theory” has sprung from the laboring classes‟ envy of groups that did not acquire their property through work? The right of ownership of the latter is declared to be illusory, or merely the consequence of an illegal situation which one has a “right” to shake off. The theory of labor value is analogous. There are original value distinctions between the materials in the goods, which vary with the nature of the country. The formal values of the goods are independent of “labor,” they are due to the inventiveness of resourceful persons who set models for labor. Another value lies in the combination of the results of labor which is brought about by the activity of the coordinator and supervisor. Yet all these values are now disregarded from the outset, or they are to be converted into the currency of “labor”—in order to found the senseless tenet that each has a right to a quantity of values equal to that which he has produced by his “labor” (the so-called “right to the whole product of labor”.

Boomer Parenting # 22

To hell with boys will be boys. Discipline your kids as if you yourself were never a kid.

Respond to the cheerful mischief of childhood with befuddled indignation.

Laughing and frolicking is for ne’er do wells, not the children of respectable parents.

Call horseplay what it really is, an omen of adolescent violence.

If you wouldn’t do it as an adult, your kids shouldn’t do it at any age.

Give your kids a head start by holding them to adult standards shortly after they begin walking!

Happy Thanksgiving

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Harvest Moon

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

Interview With the Vampire – Mini Book Review

I try to read a good horror novel each October. This year I picked Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. I had been looking at its red spine peering at me from my book case for some time. So, I dusted it off and cracked open the cover for a good Halloween read.

Rating: 6 of 10

Story: 2.5 of 5. The story starts strong with the death of Louis’ brother, Louis’ transformation, the abandonment of the plantation and the addition of Claudia to the undead coterie. It’s all quite thrilling and nicely paced. However, soon after Claudia joins Louis and Lestat, the story losses steam and does not really recover for me. So much of the story is about Louis’ relationship with Claudia, but there just is not enough going on there to earn my interest. Also, later on in Europe, so much of the story is propelled by nothing more than the needs of Claudia and Louis to find new victims. What do the characters even want? They don’t seem to have a goal except that they seem to want to find some vampires that are nice people? Also, there is absolutely nothing scary about this book.

Style: 5 of 5. Rice writes very well. Vampire is filled with elegant prose and many nimble turns of phrase. Rice’s skills are of such a high sort that she succeeds in leaving little Easter eggs of lovely prose in nearly every sentence of this almost 300 page novel. The problem for me is that this ability appears to have served as a hindrance to story development. Sometimes, Rice gets so caught up in guiding the reader along using language, that she seems to forget to mind the plot.

Characters: 2.5 of 5. The characters are not badly written, but I did grow tired of their aimlessness. Also, the drama that occurred between the characters did not interest me most of the time. The characters also seem quite homosexual. It’s hard to describe, but something about the way that Louis relates to Claudia in no way resembles how a normal, heterosexual man would behave in that situation. The whole story is one big estrogen fest, and I think that hampered my enjoyment, because the characters were focused on situations that I found unimportant.

Creativity: 4 of 5. Vampires is not wanting for imagination. Lestat using the slaves of Pointe du Lac as a source of easy to harvest blood and the slaves reaction and rebellion was a dark and creative touch that I really enjoyed. The concept of the Claudia character, in which the mind of an intelligent adult woman is condemned to the body of a small girl, because of vampirism is an inventive use of vampire lore. Also, I love the idea of Armand sucking blood from his victims on stage at Théâtre des Vampires while the unknowing audience applauds in ignorance. On a negative note, I regret that Rice didn’t spend time exploring the psychological effects of immortality. What did it feel like for Louis to remain forever young and watch everyone he cared for grow old and die? Did his long life grant him surplus wisdom, making mortals appear comparatively foolish.

The Old Fashioned

Most cocktails worth drinking have interesting backstories.

During the first half of the 19th century, after a long day of piercing earth with pick axe in the grimy bowels of a coal mine, when you plopped your kiester down at the tavern and asked your trusted bartender to fix you up a cocktail, what you were served was a medley of sugar, spirit and bitters garnished with an orange or a lemon twist.

During the second half of the 19th century, cocktails became more complex. Bartenders began adding all sorts of liqueurs. Nostalgic drinkers, thirsty for simpler times, began to ask for a cocktail made the old way. “Come on, Lloyd. Make me a drink the old fashioned way!” And thus, The Old Fashioned was born.

I’ve had Old Fashioned a couple different ways. Here is my favorite way to prepare the cocktail.

First, place one and a half sugar cubes in your cocktail glass, and then splash the cubes with five to ten dashes of angostura bitters. Muddle the sugar cube lightly. Make sure that there are still nice, thick chunks of sugar in there for a chunky texture. Now, peel a big swath of skin off of a juicy orange. I’ve seen people use a dainty little strip of orange zest during this phase of the recipe. Don’t do that. Trust me. A small zest looks great as a garnish, but it’s not going to pack flavor. Crack and twist your orange peel and guide the citrus spray onto the sugar and bitters. Next, do some more muddling. Really rub that peel into the base of the glass with your peeler or a bar tool, mixing it with the sugar and the bitters. Remember, if you want chunk, don’t muddle to dissolution. Pour in 2 ounces of quality rye bourbon. Add an ounce of soda water. Yes, you read that right. Carbonate that bastard.

I really like the Old Fashioned. It is one of the few cocktails I can drink all night without growing tired of it. It’s the beer of cocktails, if that makes sense! It tastes like bourbon with the edge taken off plus a citrus twist. Very straight forward and light.

Ingredients:

One and half cubes sugar

5-10 dashes Angostura bitters

1 large orange peel

2 ounces rye bourbon

1 ounce soda water

This Is What Visiting Las Vegas Is Like

Day 1: This is great. I’m having so much fun. “I’ll take one Coral Cove Daiquiri, please, and make it a double.”

Day 2: This is beyond great. Best vacation ever. Isn’t it funny how men keep emerging from behind palm trees to try and sell us cocaine. Haha!

Day 3: We should move to Las Vegas so we can enjoy the grandeur and spectacle of The Strip every day. We’ll work our way up in the gaming industry and make a fortune. I don’t ever want to go home. Black jack!

Day 4: Get me out of here! If I see another novelty sized daiquiri I’m going to vomit. If one more dreadlock-clad man tries to sell me “secret goodies” I’m going to punch him. “No, ma’am, I would not like to add a Budweiser tall boy to my breakfast burrito order for thirteen dollars.” Am I in hell? Somebody help!

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