Buckminster Skeeter: Wanna buy a watch?

Monday, March 06, 2006

"People called Romanes they go the house"

For hours now I have been a fan of Ancient Roman History and the writings of Titus Livy.

While searching an online bookstore the picture on The Early History of Rome (Penguin Group, 2002) jumped out at me. I starred at it for several minutes - and not because it has a semi naked man, mind you. It's the sheer absurdity of the image.

First off I refuse to believe that any civilization which can smelt iron and weave intricate fabrics would have it's soldiers swinging pork during battle. And I don't buy a surprise attack excuse - The enemy busts in on me while I'm naked I don't pick up a sword, I run. I run so far away. Think about fighting, with swords, arrows, fire, and rocks naked. Screw that. And if this is not meant to be an accurate representation of the battle garb, why is he naked? Did an artists 1600 years later sit down to paint a famous battle scene and think to himself "I think I'll make this guy naked." Why would someone do that? This seems very wrong to me.

The mythological history of the founding of Rome throws me off too. It goes like this: God Mars screws Vestal Virgin. She has twins, Romulus and Remus. King orders them to die in the Tiber River. They were placed in a basket, it washes up on shore. A wolf suckles them until a shepherd finds them and takes them in. They grow up, defeat ruling party, and start a new city. Romulus slays Remus and takes the throne for himself, hence 'Rome'.

I can forgive the whole 'god Mars' thing as he could represent any high powered, high profile figure. The 'basket in the river' thing and 'brother slaying brother' thing is familiar. It's not uncommon for several ancient history's to have common stories probably stemming from a single, actual event in antiquity. It's the whole suckling on a wolf bit that gets me. Why was it necessary to take an otherwise believable legend and completely tar it with such farce. Why a wolf? Why suckle? In Disney's The Jungle Book, Mowgli was raised by wolves. They didn't stick a wolf tit in his mouth. They brought him fruits. Seems logical. Tarzan was raised by apes. No ape milk in this story. But no, let's let Romulus and Remus suck a canine gland. Sick bastards.

Here's something else I don't understand. They had extensive metallurgy skills. Their weaponry, jewelry, armor, and knick knacks were of high quality minerals. Why is it that they didn't use this knowledge for structural engineering. You can make an iron or steel sword, make some rebar. Make a house frame. I bet it's a lot faster than quarrying, transporting, chiseling, and erecting marble. Block by block. What was wrong with these Romans? How did they rise with such inaptitude?
I guess I'll retire my zeal for Roman antiquity and pursue more gratifying civil studies.


Blogger Dr. Metal said...

What I want to know is how Faustulus coerced the she-wolf to give up her baby boys?? If you had suckled the twins, would you just give them up to a despised shepherd?

1:22 PM  
Blogger mugwump said...

Hey, thanks for the brief refresher course in Western Civ. I - the only thing I remember about the course is watching endless videos of this weirdo British guy - talk about 2 hours of absolute torture.

3:09 PM  

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