Episode 41 – The End of the Great War

— In the end, Gaius Pontius saw that his old father — Herennius Pontius, had been right all along. Samnia now had a deadly enemy called Rome, and all Romans could think of, was vengeance.

The end of the Second Samnite War, from the fall of Apulia, to the inspection of Samnia, by Consul Publius Sempronius.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Sanya, in the south of China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome. Episode 41 — The End of the Great War.

We are in the year 435 of the Founding of the City. By our accounts, that is the year 319 BC.

Early morning. It’s the first day of the year.

Not the first day of the Julian Calendar — that would come centuries later — but, the first day of the Calendar, as it was set by Romulus, and Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome.

And the business of this first day of the year, was to elect the two new Consuls for the year.

Serious business.

Senators old and young, were hurrying to the building of the Curia, for — two really important decisions, depended on today’s vote.

On one hand, somebody would have to deal with the consequences of what happened at the Caudine Forks.

And, on the other hand, there was a law that was going to — either pass, or not pass.

And that law, had nothing to do with war, or the humiliating defeat at the Caudine Forks.

That law, if passed, would take away one certain power from Consuls, and would give it to the new guys in town.

The Censors.

That’s right — if today’s law passed, Censors would become the ones, who would have the power to remove someone from the Senate, and there was a myriad of reasons why this could happen.

So, anyways.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what was going on, I would like to read a short list of six items, on how a Senator’s day went on, when it was time to pass new laws, welcome new Senators into the house, and other (smaller) business at hand.

ONE — Before the start of any important session, Senators would go to the Augurs, or Oracles, and see if the day in question, was actually good for passing new laws, or any other business.

At that time, there were four guys with sufficient authority in all of Rome, to decide whether the day was auspicious or not.

We’ll talk more about this further down the line.

TWO — Before any voting, there were speeches. Always. Even if the voting was as trivial as the naming of a street, a speech was to be had.

THREE — Sometimes these speeches went really long. And I mean, long!

[…]

A huge army from Tarentum showed up on the horizon, just as Romans and Samnites were about to get running into each other’s throats.

Their trumpets stopped everyone, and the Tarentines announced that this battle was being ordered, canceled.

That’s right! Canceled! And the Tarentines even said that whoever made a move to attack the other side, the army of Tarentum would immediately join the other side, and make the aggressors lose the whole fight.

Right away, the Romans called up their oracle, and checked on their sacred chicken.

The chicken said — well, they didn’t say a thing — the oracle said, the gods were totally in favor of a frontal, brutal, battle, and that Rome was not to be afraid of the new arrival.

And so — they made their battle formations, and started to walk forward.

[…]

Episode 4 – Throne of Thunders

— Not because they were better or smarter, or because they were right all along, and certainly not because they were God’s chosen people…

The end of Romulus’ life, the way the Romans describe it.

Partial Transcript

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

The Tale of Rome, Episode 4 — Throne of Thunders.

Last week we saw how Romulus dealt with three top topics of the day: the army of Rome, the female population of Rome, and the Senate of Rome.

This week we will see the rest of his life and how his life ends, not an ounce less mythological than his whole life before.

But before we start, I would like to make something clear: Rome, the city on the Seven Hills, had Seven Kings.

Right? Right.

From the year 753 BC until the year 509 BC, Rome had a grand total of Seven Kings. That means, those Seven Kings ruled Rome for 244 years.

Let’s see. Seven Kings – 244 years.

If I divide 244 by 7, I get 34.8, which means that each king must have ruled Rome for an average of 34 years and 9 months.

Even though this is not a physical impossibility, I can tell you something right away. In the course of human history, there has not been any empire, or state, or nation, or even a private company or entity that has been so blessed to rule for so long, and have only seven rulers.

The exceptional case of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is by far one of the longest reigns in recent history, but this cannot be seen as the norm.

Yes, she has ruled since 1952 which means she held the crown for 65 years. But that will not be repeated two, three, or—let alone, seven times.

A little more on that in a bit, but first let’s go to the Latin Word of the Week.

[…]

A big thunder cracked down on them, and a great dust cloud rose up, all around the throne and around the people standing by Romulus.

But… When the cloud dissipated, Romulus was no longer seated on his throne.

According to the legend, the senators who were next to Romulus during the military exercise, searched everywhere, but never found the body of their king.

He was gone with a thunder while sitting on his throne!

[…]

Episode 3 – Roman M Seeking F

— After all, all those immigrants were nothing more than a bunch of despicable losers!

Romulus takes care of setting up an army and a Senate. Also, he makes sure of getting wives for his new Roman citizens.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 3 — Roman M Seeking F.

Last week we saw how, after many generations, Rome was established at the edge of the river Tiber, and we also saw how Romulus, Numitor’s grandson—and son of Rhea Silvia and god Mars, became the first King of Rome.

I think if for a common man there is nothing as sweet as having a home of his own, for a man the size of Romulus, there couldn’t have been anything sweeter than having a city of his own.

The only tiny problem for the moment was that his city was still not able to defend itself, and it also couldn’t grow.

So, we are going to see how Romulus addressed these two issues of high priority.

[…]

After Romulus founded his city, it became pretty obvious that it would be necessary to attract people to the city.

Rome needed new inhabitants.

To that end, Romulus opened the gates of his city, but what happened next was that the first immigrants to the new city were, to put it in nice words, characters of a colorful past.

OK, let’s be more honest here! The first arrivals were people on the run from other places.

Fallen or escaped gladiators, crooks and beggars, fugitive slaves and prisoners of war, people who owed too much money and people who used to collect too much money from others, pimps and smugglers, pickpockets and murderers, and a whole lot more.

You name it, Rome had it!

Anyone who offended any of men’s laws or any of god’s laws, moved to Rome to have a fresh start.

[…]

Episode 2 – Immaculate Conception

— What was it about Greece that Romans loved so much?

Romulus and Remus are born, grow and help their grandfather Numitor to retake Albalonga’s throne. Afterwards, they found Rome.

 

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 2 — Immaculate Conception.

Last Week we saw how Aeneas managed to escape Troy, and how he finally settled on the western coast of Italy. And we saw how his son came to found a city named Albalonga.

Today we will see how his grand-grandchildren prepare the stage for us, so that we get to see how Rome as founded.

And to get there, today we’ve got it all.

Traitors.

Vultures bring messages from the gods.

An amazing saving of two babies floating in a basket along a river. We even have a woman conceiving children in a rather miraculous way, something that people in the western civilizations call an “Immaculate Conception.”

[…]

After Ascanius, the kingship was passed from father to son for many generations, until we got to the 13th generation, and the power came to rest upon the shoulders of a man called Numitor.

As Numitor became King of Albalonga, his brother Amulius watched, filled with jealousy and hatred.

Soon enough, Amulius decided to take the throne all to himself, and by lying to the people of Albalonga, and by using false rumors, Amulius managed to chase Numitor out of the city.

The sons of Numitor were killed without any mercy.

But Amulius decided to spare the life of Numitor’s daughter, a woman called Rhea Silvia, and instead of killing her, he ordered her to become a Vestal Virgin. By converting her into a Vestal, Amulius felt assured that she would not have any children, and there would be no threat to his own future generations.

A Vestal Virgin, as historians explain to us, spent her whole life dedicated to the service of the goddess Vesta, goddess of the home and the heart.

Vestals had to fulfill three conditions in order to be accepted in the temple of Vesta, where they would be in charge of keeping the divine flame on, for all eternities.

One: they had to be virgin.

Two: they had to come from a prominent family of the society.

Three: they had to be incredibly beautiful.

[…]