Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Roman Reading

I don't seem to have my book picture on the ipad so sorry about that. So this may be a bit writey.

Progress on my reading projects of the Neolithic and the Romans. 

The Neolithic has stalled in that basically the people of the iron age had no written culture so very little is known about them. All they left is their monuments. The few things I have learned is that it is first the stone age, then the iron age and then the bronze age, triggered by better techology from Europe. Monument wise the early people built barrows to bury their dead. Later these fell out of favour and were replaced by stone circles and henges (some made of wood) and giant earthworks. These were partly about burial and partly for ceremonies based on the movements of the sun and moon and on fertility ( cue suggestively shaped rocks). Later hill forts became useful as Britain was invaded by various people.

The Romans, however, are fascinating. We know loads about them because of the many Roman authors. In some ways they seem exotically distant, fighting with obscure enemies like the Gauls and Eastern Kings of walled desert cities and with an array of gods and cults. In others, very modern with their cynical politics, comfortable lifestyles, bureaucracy and global reach. The excitement of charismatic, ruthless generals in huge wars, both noble and depraved emperors and great writers to record it all. I think maybe the Romans were the Americans of their day, worrying about barbarous Europe and endless wars in the middle east, in a society with both colossal wealth and desperate poverty, with advanced technology and world trade. Anyway, that's how I think of them, hopefully without offending anyone.
And who could fail to thrill to Caesar, Cleopatra, Vercingetorix and War Elephants! Not all at the same time, sadly.

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