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Posts Tagged ‘Roman Empire

(Not) all roads lead to Rome…

 

click here for larger, interactive version

In about 300 CE, Imperial cartographers created a road map of the Roman Empire; hundreds of years later, medieval artisans copied it, creating the Tabula Peutingeriana

Now, René Voorburg and a team of like-minded enthusiasts have re-copied the Tabula.  Using a set of techniques described here, they have mashed it up with Google Maps to create Omnes Viae: Tabula Peutingeriana– replete with Iter Vestrum (“Your Trip”), a handy route-planning tool…

As readers will see, while during the time of the Roman Republic, all roads did lead to Rome, imperial expansion– which began with the Empire in 44 BCE– rendered that kind of “hub and spoke” transit architecture impractical.  The Tabula dates from relatively early in the Empire.  Soon after, Constantine became Caesar and created Constantinople as an Eastern capital; in another 50 years, the Empire was divided…  and the roads became even more decentralized.   The Western Empire collapsed in 473, and the roads pictured in the section of the Tabula pictured above became past of a larger network of European roads.  The Eastern Empire lasted until 1453, when it fell to the Ottoman Turks; and its roads became part of that burgeoning empire’s network.

 

As we feel an inexplicable craving for polenta, we might wish a mysterious Happy Birthday to Agatha Christie; she was born on this date in 1890.  Dame Agatha published 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections  (featuring creations like Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple), along with a number of  successful plays.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time– her novels have sold over four billion copies– and, with William Shakespeare, the best-selling author of any type. And according to Index Translationum, she is the most translated individual author (at least 103 languages), with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her.  Her play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on November 25, 1952 and is still running– at more than 24,000 performances, the longest-ever initial run of a stage play.

source

 

Being dense…

The nifty site PerSquareMile.com points out that, if the entire world’s population lived in a single city with the density of New York, it would fit into the state of Texas.  But if that “city” had the density of Houston, it would cover the entire Mid West (and then some)…

to enlarge, click the image above– or here– and again

[TotH to Flowing Data]

As we reconcile ourselves to looking even harder for parking, we might recall that it was on this date in 30 BCE that Mark Antony won a small victory over the invading forces of Octavian (AKA, Octavius– the future Augustus) in the Battle of Alexandria during the Final War of the Roman Republic.  But Antony suffered significant desertion from his ranks; when Octavian attacked again the following day, Antony’s navy demurred.  Antony committed suicide (followed several days later by his consort, Cleopatra)… and with Antony, the Republic died a final death: with his Triumverate partner dead, Octavian ( known as Augustus after 27 BC ) became uncontested ruler of Rome, accumulating all of Rome’s administrative, political, and military authority. When Augustus died in 14 AD, his political powers passed to his adopted son Tiberius; the Roman Principate had begun.

His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear’d arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk’d crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp’d from his pocket.

Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2; William Shakespeare

Mark Antony (source)

The Department of Things Coming in Threes: Iceland, BP…

Captured by high-resolution cameras aboard a robotic submersible, mineral-rich water spews from hydrothermal vents in this June 30 picture of Kawio Barat, a massive undersea volcano  off Indonesia.

During the past few weeks, the submerged volcano– one of the world’s largest– was mapped and explored in detail for the first time by a joint Indonesian-U.S. expedition north of the island of Sulawesi (map).

Read the whole story, and see fascinating video, at National Geographic.

As we batten down the hatches, we might recall that it was on this date in 64 CE that the Great Fire of Rome began, ultimately destroying much of the Imperial City. The fire began in the slums of a district south of the Palatine Hill. The area’s homes burned very quickly and the fire spread north, fueled by high winds; it raged out of control for three days.  Three of Rome’s 14 districts were completely razed; only four were untouched by the conflagration.  Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless.

Legend has it that the Emperor Nero fiddled while the city burned.  Aside from the facts that the fiddle did not even exist at the time (Nero was an adept of the lyre) and that he was actually 35 miles away in Antium when the fire broke out, there could be something to it.

source

It’s a scream…

It’s a little Munch…

They sell popcorn, justify the “reach-around hug,” and just generally make an audience’s hearts beat faster– screams are a critical element in the motion picture formula.  But screams aren’t easy.  As Science News reports, it’s all about chaos theory…

Filmmakers use chaotic, unpredictable sounds to evoke particular emotions, say researchers who have assessed screams and other outbursts from more than 100 movies. The new findings, reported May 25 in Biology Letters, come as no surprise, but they do highlight an emerging if little-known area of study…

By exploring the use of such dissonant, harsh sounds in film, scientists hope to get a better understanding of how fear is expressed, says study coauthor Daniel Blumstein of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Potentially, there are universal rules of arousal and ways to communicate fear,” says Blumstein, who typically studies screams in marmots, not starlets.

Blumstein and his coauthors acoustically analyzed 30-second cuts from more than 100 movies representing a broad array of genres. The movies included titles such as Aliens, Goldfinger, Annie Hall, The Green Mile, Slumdog Millionaire, Titanic, Carrie, The Shining and Black Hawk Down.

Not unexpectedly, the horror films had a lot of harsh and atonal screams. Dramatic films had sound tracks with fewer screams but a lot of abrupt changes in frequency. And adventure films, it turns out, had a surprising number of harsh male screams.

“Screams are basically chaos,” Fitch says…

A true, harsh scream “is not a trivial thing to do,” Fitch says. In fact, capturing a realistic, blood-curdling cry is so difficult that filmmakers have used the very same one, now found on many websites, in more than 200 movies. Known as the Wilhelm scream, it is named for the character who unleashed it in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River.

By way of illustration, this YouTube video:  three minutes of the Wilhelm scream through the years…

As we put our hands over our ears, we might recall that there was lots of screaming on this date in 455, as the Vandals entered Rome, which they plundered for the next two weeks.

The Sack of Rome

Just the facts, ma’am…

Source: GoComics

Looking for an antidote?  Well there is Fora.tv (with Long Now seminars, TED Talks, and other delectables)…  and now, nearly 1000 non-fiction films (and growing) in dozens of categories, available for one’s pleasure and edification at Documentary Heaven.

source: UC Library

(On the other hand, if one wants to find any sequence from any film, one might amble over to AnyClip– thousands of films indexed so far; thousands more to come. Tres cool….)

As we search for the verite in cinema, we might recall that it was on this date in 37 CE that Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus– aka Caligula– became the Roman  Emperor, following the death of his great-uncle Tiberius.  Caligula reigned until his assassination three-and-a-half years later by members of his own Praetorian Guard; the first two years of his tenure were marked by moderation– but accounts of his reign thereafter paint a portrait of cruel, extravagant, and perverse tyranny…  leading many historians to suspect that Caligula succumbed in his last months to neurosyphilis.

A marble bust of Caligula restored to its original colors (which were identified from particles trapped in the marble)

No Hat, No Cattle…

Dallas, January 1978 (a club once owned by Jack Ruby)

From The Selvedge Yard, a blog that your correspondent regularly enjoys, “Vicious White Kids– the Sex Pistols Take on Rock ‘N Roll & the South.”

Read the entire instructive tale, see other photos, and check out the live Dallas performance footage here.

As tap our toes to “Anarchy in the U.K.,” we might recall that it was on this date in 321 that Roman Emperor Constantine I decreed:

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

… and dies Solis– day of the sun, “Sunday”– became the day of rest throughout the Roman Empire… and ultimately, the West.

Constantine (Capitoline Museums)

Imperial dreams…

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- “Ozymandias”  Percy Bysshe Shelly (1818)

The Roman Empire encircled the Mediterranean:

source

The Mongol Empire once stretched from the Pacific to the Danube:

source

More recently, the Ottoman Empire was almost as large:

source

While the British Empire was the most widely dispersed:

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As we remark with Shelley that empires come and empires go, we might recall that it was on this date in 1781 that the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were finally ratified, and the Second Continental Congress became the Congress of the Confederation of the United States of America.

The Articles of Confederation

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