Episode 33 – Latins and Romans

— The Gauls never stopped being a nightmare, deep in the subconscious of the Roman psyche.

Latins and Romans speak the same language, and worship the same gods. But after the first Samnite War, the Latins felt they were stronger than Rome. And they started to hatch plans, and gather allies.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 33 — Latins and Romans.

In those days, news did not travel to Rome — or any other city, they way they do today.

News travelled with the travelers of the time, and of these, the three best known were merchants, soldiers, and prisoners of war. And I dare to say — in that exact order.

And as we are now entering a pivotal time in the history of Greece, Persia, and Macedonia, we are going to send one of our slaves, down to Ostia.

That’s right, we’ll get him a place to live, near the port, if possible on the street that goes along the docks.

His place will consist of a simple room, on a third floor — the worst, in one of the newly built so-called “islands.”

Romans called their buildings islands, or in Latin — INSULAE.

They were horrible to live in, and at this time, the tallest ones were three floors high. I should also mention that these buildings were not exactly fireproof.

And, on a side note, this road near the house where our slave will reside, will probably have a milestone somewhere close, too.

Romans used milestones everywhere, letting travelers know what road they were on, who built the road, and even the name of the local curator for any particular piece of the road.

Travelers would sometimes also get to know how far they were from the nearest rest stop, and the total distance from Rome.

Well — anyways. That employee of ours will have to spend some time in Ostia, and his job will be to simply hang around the docks, and get news, for us.

This means, he will wake up at the earliest hour, get down from his third floor — staircases had no railings at that time, and direct himself to the small square that lay between the forum of Ostia, the marketplace, and the street that leads to the docks.

There, he will try to see if anything worth letting us know, happened during the night.

A fire. A murder. Perhaps someone important might have arrived during the night, on his way to Rome. Anything.

Our slave will then have his brief breakfast. A round loaf of bread, and some olive oil. Not bad, actually. In winter it might be stew, with lettuce or cabbage.

He will hang around the docks until the evening hours, and he’ll be on the lookout for news that ships bring. More precisely, of what is going on between Alexander the Great, and the Persian Empire.

And since these next few years, we expect big changes — our slave will be busy.

And this means, that at the beginning of each episode, or somewhere in the middle, we’ll have a short segment about “NEWS FROM OSTIA” just like we have our “Latin Word of the Week.”

I think this way, we can keep track of both Rome, and Alexander the Great, for the while being.

[…]

When peace was signed between the Samnites and the Romans in the year 341 BC, the Samnites immediately went to attack of their favorite victims: the Sidicines.

These, seeing what Campania did a few years earlier, sent a delegation to Rome to do the same as Capua.

Submit to the authority of Rome, and force the Samnites to find someone else to bully.

But, when this delegation arrived in Rome, the senators told them that by seeing that hostilities between the two peoples were already in full march, it was too late to ask for such a favor.

The truth was, that Rome did not see much interest in the lands the Sidicines occupied, and the Romans allowed the Samnites to continue bullying them.

That’s when the Sidicines went to ask the Campanians for help. These, still angry about the Samnites, agreed to help. They even convinced the Latins to join in the fight.

Of course, the Latins did not need much convincing, because they were already pissed at Rome.

[…]

Episode 7 – Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia

— Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The Tale of Rome – Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pompilius, shows that he is neither a lame priest nor a cruel bully.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 7 — Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia.

Last week we saw the life and death of Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome, and we also saw how Rome itself became a synonym of war.

In fact, Rome—again, became all the things nobody wanted to have in a neighbor.

This week’s episode deals with the fourth king of Rome, a man named Ancus Marcius.

Ancus Marcius was a man with many different and sometimes contrasting aspects. For one, he was the son of Numa Marcius, who in turn was elected by Numa Pompilius to become Rome’s very first Pontifex Maximus, which we talked about in Episode five.

[…]

We also cannot reliably assess all these events, and their dates. Anecdotes, above all, are to be read as a tale, and rather than taking them as pure facts, they serve the purpose of answering questions of the origins of Rome to the romans that lived centuries later, as well as trying to teach morals.

As a perfect example of these quite incredible mess-ups with dates, we have that Numa Pompilius, the now well-known second king of Rome, was born on April 21st of the year 753 BC, which just so happens to be the day Rome was founded.

Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The other thing that we can kind of be sure of, is that one of the major jobs Ancus Marcius had to do, was to transcribe all those documents left by Numa Pompilius, about the religious ceremonies of Rome, since the third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius ignored that job completely.

[…]