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  • Greece vs. Rome

    Greece vs Rome, with Boris Johnson and Mary Beard

    This is an excellent presentation. Iqsquared is one of the best YouTube channels. Worth the time.




    Published on Jan 18, 2016
    Filmed at Central Hall Westminster on 19th November 2015.

    On November 19th Intelligence Squared hosted the ultimate clash of civilisations: Greece vs Rome. It was also the ultimate clash of intellectual titans. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and ardent classicist, made the case for Greece; while Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge and redoubtable media star, championed Rome.

    As Boris argued, the Greeks got there first: in literature, history, art and philosophy. The Iliad and the Odyssey are the earliest surviving epic poems, the foundations on which European literature was built. The Greek myths Ė the tales of Oedipus, Heracles and Persephone, to name but a few Ė contain the archetypal plot elements of hubris and nemesis on which even Hollywood films depend today.

    It was in ancient Athens that the birth of democracy took place under the leadership of the great statesman Pericles. And in that political climate with its love of freedom and competition, and passion for argument, the great cultural flourishing of classical Athens occurred: the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle; and the marble and stone wonders of the Parthenon. Nothing before or since has matched that explosion of talent in a slice of Mediterranean coast smaller than Gloucestershire, with a population the size of Bristolís.

    But as Mary Beard reminded us, Greece eventually lost out to Rome. Little Athens, with its loose-knit, short-lived empire, had nothing to rival Romeís scale. From Hadrianís Wall to north Africa, from Spainís Atlantic coast to Babylon, the Romans stamped a permanent legacy on architecture, language, religion and politics.
    Although nothing can detract from the brilliance of Greek literature, the great Roman writers have an immediacy unmatched by any other ancient culture. Virgilís epic poem the Aeneid, while invoking Homer, conveys an ambiguity towards war that appeals to modern sensibilities; Catullusís taut analysis of his own complex emotions and the scatological insults he hurls at his rivals make him seem like the kind of clever and amusing friend we all wish we had. These poets reach out to us with voices that make the intervening 2,000 years vanish.

    While Athens declined into a forgotten backwater, Rome became the eternal city, home to the greatest classical buildings on earth Ė the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Trajanís column. It is thanks to a Roman emperor, Constantine, that Christianity became both the presiding European religion and the force that shaped the Renaissance. Europe is still built in Romeís image, despite the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Some say that if Mary Beard had been in charge, the Roman Empire would never have fallen. Others say Boris is soon to be the Pericles of Downing Street. Who gets your vote?

  • #2
    In the end the Greeks took over the Eastern Roman Empire
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by MarkV View Post
      In the end the Greeks took over the Eastern Roman Empire
      People who considered themselves more Greek than Greece took over. Greek was the language and culture of the rich in Rome. When the money went East the language and culture went home.
      How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
      Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        People who considered themselves more Greek than Greece took over. Greek was the language and culture of the rich in Rome. When the money went East the language and culture went home.
        And Latin was the language of the rich in Greece. Rich people in Rome spoke Greek because they were educated. What other second language and culture would have had status for the elite in Rome during late Republic and Early Empire? Would you have had your kids be laughed at by learning barbarian tongues and studying barbarian science, philosophy, and moral conduct?
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        Prayers.

        BoRG

        http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MarkV View Post
          In the end the Greeks took over the Eastern Roman Empire
          Indeed, but I will point out that the eastern portion of the empire had always remained Greek and for that matter, Southern Italy was known as Magna Graecia. To this day in the region of Puglia (Apulia) the local Italian has Greek influences as does the culture; the patron saint of Bari is Saint Nicholas for example. As far as I concerned, the Eastern Roman empire effectively stopped being Roman after Justinian as he was the last emperor to be a native Latin speaker, and two emperors after him Greek became the language of the court.
          Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

          Initiated Chief Petty Officer
          Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
            Greece vs Rome, with Boris Johnson and Mary Beard

            This is an excellent presentation. Iqsquared is one of the best YouTube channels. Worth the time.

            I will also point out that modern jurisprudence has Roman origins, the months that we use have Roman names and for that matter July is named after Caesar and August is named for Augustus.
            Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

            Initiated Chief Petty Officer
            Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bass_Man86 View Post
              Indeed, but I will point out that the eastern portion of the empire had always remained Greek and for that matter, Southern Italy was known as Magna Graecia. To this day in the region of Puglia (Apulia) the local Italian has Greek influences as does the culture; the patron saint of Bari is Saint Nicholas for example. As far as I concerned, the Eastern Roman empire effectively stopped being Roman after Justinian as he was the last emperor to be a native Latin speaker, and two emperors after him Greek became the language of the court.
              Apulia was a Greek city, as were Calabria, Naples, Syracuse, and quite a few others including Bari. They were taken by the Republic during the Pyrrhic War.

              How common is the surname Giangreco in southern Italy today?
              Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

              Prayers.

              BoRG

              http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                People who considered themselves more Greek than Greece took over. Greek was the language and culture of the rich in Rome. When the money went East the language and culture went home.
                The Romans also wiped the city of Cornith of the map too don't forget

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                • #9
                  A not unimportant aspect which I haven't seen covered here yet is the 'hedonist' point of view:
                  Ancient Greece was more fun than Ancient Rome.
                  Romans were and loved to be (seen as) austere; Greeks OTOH had a far greater capacity for enjoyment.
                  BoRG

                  You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                    A not unimportant aspect which I haven't seen covered here yet is the 'hedonist' point of view:
                    Ancient Greece was more fun than Ancient Rome.
                    Romans were and loved to be (seen as) austere; Greeks OTOH had a far greater capacity for enjoyment.
                    I don't know about that, the Roman empire became known as 'decadent' for a reason.



                    The Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma-Tadema (1888)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                      People who considered themselves more Greek than Greece took over. Greek was the language and culture of the rich in Rome. When the money went East the language and culture went home.
                      Well, sure - and by the very fact that it was an empire, you see how... ungreek the place was.

                      The Eastern Roman Empire was in fact a synthesis.

                      I have always seen this antithesis as a fallacy. The Romans themselves were aware of how much they owed to Greek culture. They also were aware of where they excelled.

                      Originally posted by Horace
                      Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti Latio
                      Originally posted by Virgil
                      Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera,
                      credo equidem, vivos ducent de marmore voltus,
                      orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
                      describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent:
                      Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento:
                      hae tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem,
                      parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.
                      And I think Gilgamesh predates Ulysses and Achilles.
                      Michele

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by …ire_Ascendant View Post
                        I don't know about that, the Roman empire became known as 'decadent' for a reason.
                        Good point.
                        However I think decadence was not seen as a typical Roman virtue, while austerity was.
                        The Greeks OTOH were not really decadent but rather fun loving. IMO there is a diference between those two.
                        BoRG

                        You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by …ire_Ascendant View Post

                          The Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma-Tadema (1888)
                          Somewhat idealized, don't you think?
                          Michele

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                            And Latin was the language of the rich in Greece. Rich people in Rome spoke Greek because they were educated. What other second language and culture would have had status for the elite in Rome during late Republic and Early Empire? Would you have had your kids be laughed at by learning barbarian tongues and studying barbarian science, philosophy, and moral conduct?
                            Interesting question, and not just related to language.
                            I'd venture that if Greece had not been seen as the cradle of all refinement, if that had been considered as another version of, say, Illyria or Picenus, the Romans would still have turned to foreign influences. They had the xenophilia of the upstarts, and we shouldn't forget that they took on board lot of stuff that wasn't Greek to start with.
                            Early on, they relied on the Etruscans. That ended when that civilization was wholly subsumed.
                            Later, mysteric cults and horoscopes came from farther East than Greece. So did more popular new religions like Mithraism and Christianity. There was some interest for Egyptian things. All of that, in actual history, came to Rome in Greek and mediated through Greek culture, but that's because Greek had already become the international language in the area. If it had not, I suspect Orphic-like mysteries and later Christian missionaries would have arrived all the same.

                            So my answer to your question is that some other language than Greek would have been taught to the children of senators, and it would not have been considered barbaric - it would have taken the place of Greek. And some other civilization would have provided arts, fads, and religions.

                            Philosophy - that's harder to say.
                            Michele

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Michele View Post
                              Somewhat idealized, don't you think?
                              Probably but still fun.

                              Supposedly, some of the guests at Heliogabalus' parties would be suffocated beneath the weight of the falling rose petals. But hey, what's a party without a few deaths, right?

                              Roman decadence also inspired one of the, ahem, greatest movies of all time

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