Imperial Rome....

Imperial Rome was ....


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Oh very true, it's the same all over the world. Just glance at Britain with it's huge variety of dialects some almost mutually unintelligible and the Received Pronunciation that is a standard.
With English, differences are mainly a matter of pronunciation and very little of the vocabulary changes from place to place. With Italian, there are important differences in vocabulary as well. You need both to really have something be a different dialect. However, I am told that these local differences in Italy are fading with time.

Look at how Arabic has evolved, with classical as a communicative language amonst the educated classes and the people speaking local variants. My daughter studied Classical Arabic as a hobby, went to Morocco with a friend and found that nobody really spoke what they had learned.
I have heard that Moroccans can often understand people from Egypt (or at least the ones from the major cities), but not the reverse. This is because people in Morocco are used to watching Egyptian television and movies, while there is little going the opposite way.

Rome must have been the same.
Each region would have spoken a related but different language or dialect. "Italians" at that time were a group of related peoples, not a single nation. In addition, part of the south had been colonized by the Greeks or Phoenicians, whose language influenced that of the natives in their area. Sicily is an odd patchwork of dialects as a result of this.
 
Having spent the last week or two flooring and painting the garage and doing garden stuff - i.e. out of range of the router so no streaming. I've been listening to "The History of Rome" podcast. I'm currently 75 episodes into 300 odd and it's pretty good. He's a yank, so his latin pronunciation is ******* awful but he's done his reading. Has certainly filled in some gaps for me.
Mike Duncan.

His 'Revolutions' podcast is worth a listen too
 
I thought Greek was spoken in Rome as a lingua franca so the distinctions must have occured after Constantine's sons took over. After all it was him who shifted to Constantinople
The problem is that if you need a lingua franca it's because most people speak differently at home. Are you referring to Rome itself or the Empire? How far was Greek spoken in say all of Italy? Possibly the same as Latin was used in medieval Europe as the language of communication, but only among the educated classes.
Within the Western Empire more Latin than Greek has been detected as the second language. Take the writings discovered at Vindolanda for example, all in Latin.
When the Empire disintegrated the languages that developed in the West were Latin based not Greek, indicating that the latter was not the day to day language of government or people.
I remember a history lecture when the professor talked about when Justinian attempted the re-conquest of Italy in the Sixth Century the armies were regarded by the Italians as foreign because they spoke Greek not the Latin of the locals.
As far as I am aware, though I stand to be corrected, Latin was always the administrative language of the Empire in the West, which is why via the Catholic Church it was adopted as the language of communication.
That Greek was useful among the educated classes to allow dialogue and diplomacy with the Eastern regions made for a bilingual educated class but not at a local level.
The Greek part also needed a knowledge of Latin, and there was likely a level of bi-lingualism prevalent, especially as the language of the military was Latin, which might indicate why Romania has a Romance language.
 
That painting was Ridley Scott's inspiration for the Colliseum scenes in the film Gladiator.



It was the use of light and shadow which Scott tried to emulate, and succeeded IMHO.
 
With English, differences are mainly a matter of pronunciation and very little of the vocabulary changes from place to place. With Italian, there are important differences in vocabulary as well. You need both to really have something be a different dialect. However, I am told that these local differences in Italy are fading with time.
Sure but don't forget English has gone through a long period of uniformising the language during which the dominant influence has been The East Midlands variety.
Earlier in history that statement would not have been as true as the areas of England began developing their individual versions of the language of the settlers, which in itself was not one common dialect of Germanic but various.
That Italy is going through the same is unsurprising given that universal literacy and communications allied to population mobility are all factors that work towards uniformity.


I have heard that Moroccans can often understand people from Egypt (or at least the ones from the major cities), but not the reverse. This is because people in Morocco are used to watching Egyptian television and movies, while there is little going the opposite way.
I'm not at all surprised. I was in Romania last summer and the level of English, especially among the young people was surprisingly high. But all the foreign films and programmes are in the original language with subtitles.
I live in Catalonia teaching English and the best students are those who regularly watch TV in English. Also the Catalans all speak Spanish and there is a lot of Spanish TV watched alongside Catalan Tv, but it's a rare Spaniard who can understand Catalan.

Each region would have spoken a related but different language or dialect. "Italians" at that time were a group of related peoples, not a single nation. In addition, part of the south had been colonized by the Greeks or Phoenicians, whose language influenced that of the natives in their area. Sicily is an odd patchwork of dialects as a result of this.
Agreed, but it is the tendency that I was referring to. Local patois, whether a different language, dialect or accent can be limiting if you move outside the area, or come from outside, so knowledge of a common denominator is necessary. That is true just as much in the UK as in a place where language or dialect is more marked. In the UK it is easier as the language has been more uniformised that I will agree.
As noted where I live a Catalan, or Basque or Galician can move around Spain communicating in Spanish, but a Spaniard in Catalonia, or Basque Country, or Galicia cannot understand the locals unless they use the common denominator, castellano. That may be a similar case to what was found in Italy as you say.
 

49er

On ROPS
On ROPs
That painting was Ridley Scott's inspiration for the Colliseum scenes in the film Gladiator.



It was the use of light and shadow which Scott tried to emulate, and succeeded IMHO.
The top right of the picture shows the crowd doing the "thumbs down" gesture. I doubt that this happened in reallity. What owner would allow a trained and valuable gladiator to be killed on the whim of the mob.
 
Sure but don't forget English has gone through a long period of uniformising the language during which the dominant influence has been The East Midlands variety.
Eh up me duck, ye rekon, aam not se shore.
 
What owner would allow a trained and valuable gladiator to be killed on the whim of the mob
There was a trade in disposable arena-fodder specifically to-date the appetites of the mob, particularly later on.

Supply and demand, I guess.
 
I knew just how they felt after I got a posting to Tidworth....
ref the posting of Syrian Legionaries to Hadrians Wall...

Judging by the number of likes and funny's I received for that post there are more than afew Arrsers of the same opinion... :)
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
There was a trade in disposable arena-fodder specifically to-date the appetites of the mob, particularly later on.

Supply and demand, I guess.
Wotesaid

The professional trained gladiators were most often matched against slaves captured in Rome's many wars, not least against Gaul- and Britain.

This is a good read, with lots of 'contemporary' accounts of how a good gladiator was a showman as much as anything else....don't kill too quickly, make the crowd think you are in mortal peril and WORK the arena to your advantage:



 
The top right of the picture shows the crowd doing the "thumbs down" gesture. I doubt that this happened in reallity. What owner would allow a trained and valuable gladiator to be killed on the whim of the mob.
I believe we don't actually know what sort of thumb gesture the Roman crowds made to signal their approval or disapproval. The primary source materials are ambiguous, likely because the writers didn't think they needed to explain what everyone then already knew.

We are pretty sure today that most fights between professional gladiators didn't end in death, since that wasn't economically sustainable for those putting on the exhibitions (they would have run out of a supply of trained gladiators pretty quickly). We do know that a number of gladiators survived their career in the ring to retire, and some made come-backs out of retirement as well. A number of professional gladiators were volunteers, in it for the money and the glory.

There were expendable arena-fodder, as @smartascarrots states. Many of these were condemned criminals, rebels, or surplus prisoners of war. There were also shows involving animals. It is believed that the mass slaughters of this type were separate "acts" from the duels between the professionals and were used for major public holidays and other important events.

There were groups of fans of the gladiatorial games, some of them being prone to kicking up disturbances, much like football hooligans today. Some of what we know about gladiators comes from the graffiti they created, including the names of popular individual gladiators.
 
I believe we don't actually know what sort of thumb gesture the Roman crowds made to signal their approval or disapproval. The primary source materials are ambiguous, likely because the writers didn't think they needed to explain what everyone then already knew.

We are pretty sure today that most fights between professional gladiators didn't end in death, since that wasn't economically sustainable for those putting on the exhibitions (they would have run out of a supply of trained gladiators pretty quickly). We do know that a number of gladiators survived their career in the ring to retire, and some made come-backs out of retirement as well. A number of professional gladiators were volunteers, in it for the money and the glory.

There were expendable arena-fodder, as @smartascarrots states. Many of these were condemned criminals, rebels, or surplus prisoners of war. There were also shows involving animals. It is believed that the mass slaughters of this type were separate "acts" from the duels between the professionals and were used for major public holidays and other important events.

There were groups of fans of the gladiatorial games, some of them being prone to kicking up disturbances, much like football hooligans today. Some of what we know about gladiators comes from the graffiti they created, including the names of popular individual gladiators.
There is also evidence for some of the professional gladiators win/loss records showing a number of losses, which reinforces the idea that the real gladiators were rarely finished off if they lost.

I read a convincing argument ages ago that instead of a 'thumbs down' it was a stabbing motion towards yourself with your thumb, ie 'stab the useless c**t' and that it was probably only used for those that fought so badly they had annoyed the audience.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
The top right of the picture shows the crowd doing the "thumbs down" gesture. I doubt that this happened in reallity. What owner would allow a trained and valuable gladiator to be killed on the whim of the mob.
One nickname for gladiators was apparently "barley crunchers" because they ate a lot of grain; the aim being to both maintain muscle, but also build a layer of subcutaneous fat. Bad for bodybuilding contests, no definition or six-pack, but it meant that superficial cuts and stabs were less likely to hit anything dangerous and more likely to bleed generously (crowd-pleasing) and heal with less chance of infection (lanista-pleasing).

Why? Well, guesswork, but it could mean that if you lost a match, you were down with lots of messily bleeding wounds (so, plentiful evidence of a good fight), you'd have more chance of healing up fairly well, and you'd have some impressive scars.

At the higher end, gladiatorial fighting seems to have been a violent sport with an incidental risk of serious injury or death, rather than a "two men enter, one man leaves" deathmatch - that was for criminals and other undesirables being disposed of for the crowd's entertainment.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
anyone read the Simon Scarrow books? Any good?
 
anyone read the Simon Scarrow books? Any good?
I have. I enjoyed the Eagle series. A bit far fetched on occasion and they seem to 'get about' a lot more than your average Legionaries but Macro and Cato are enjoyable characters in an interesting period with the conquest of Britannia and before the rise of Vespasian.
 
There is also evidence for some of the professional gladiators win/loss records showing a number of losses, which reinforces the idea that the real gladiators were rarely finished off if they lost.
Big events apparently had multiple acts. A common way of doing it was to start off with a "beast" show with animals being "hunted" by a form of gladiator.

Following that would be the slaughter of condemned criminals or prisoners of war. Sometimes they would be given weapons and told to kill each other until only one was left (and he may in turn be killed then or later). Sometimes they were killed by professional gladiators.

Finally, there may be several bouts involving professional gladiators fighting each other. Their fate varied according to the era and the mood of the crowd. In the latter case, the person officiating over the games would go with the mood of the crowd. If the loser fought well and the audience liked him, he would be spared. If the crowd went against him, he would be killed. If he was seriously wounded, he might be allowed to retire. If he particularly distinguished himself and the crowd liked him, he might also be freed (if slave) and allowed to retire with a substantial sum of prize money. In some eras though, it could be declared ahead of time that the loser would be killed. Of course the loser may be killed in the course of the fight anyway, as a result of his wounds.

There were different "classes" of professional gladiator, with each class having a distinctive set of armour and weaponry. The type of weapons and effectiveness of the armour were standardised in a manner intended to balance the chances of winning. Gladiators in one class were apparently set against gladiators in a different class, rather than against their own class. Fans who followed the games closely would root for their favourite gladiator class, much like sports fans do with their favourite team today.

I read a convincing argument ages ago that instead of a 'thumbs down' it was a stabbing motion towards yourself with your thumb, ie 'stab the useless c**t' and that it was probably only used for those that fought so badly they had annoyed the audience.
One theory is that thumb down meant "spare him" and thumb jabbing upwards meant "kill him" - the opposite of that often used in movies. Another is that your thumb being exposed in any direction meant "stab him", while hiding your thumb in your fist meant "sheath your sword" (spare him).

We really don't know though.
 
it must've offered the first pension scheme ever 25 years service gained you citizenship and some money. They were canny enough to post different legions away from their homelands.Syrians and Germans must've had the right hump getting posted to Northumberland.
It wasn't all 'panem et circenses' for the troops.
Imagine sitting in a nice warm posting in Rome, then getting a posting order as watch keeper to Regulbium (Reculver).
There must have been a fair bit of muttering in the vernacular along the lines of 'feck this for a ludum militorum '
A couple of points re these issues. No legions were actually stationed around Rome, no equivalent of Buck House jolly duties, the legions were all somewhere on the frontiers, unless they were off somewhere for a civil war. Legions as far as I'm aware recruited locally because they recruited citizens who were regarded as sufficiently Romanised to be 'safe'. Auxiliaries, who were not citizens, were however sent a long way from home, hence Syrians and Sarmatians on The Wall. An interesting question which I don't know the answer to is, how many retired auxiliaries used their money to go home and how many just found the first civil settlement down from the barracks.
 

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