Tag Archives: Rome

RANT ON THE RECLINING FALL

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The roses of Heliogabalus

Nothing is as aesthetically harmless as a shower of rose petals.  So it is with the decadent opulence and aesthetic excesses of a declining empire.  In the western world the “peasants” are smothered with glitz and glamorous televised special effects, entertainments, athletic spectacles and indulged in gluttonous festivals on a daily basis. Conversely, during the Black Death plague that wiped out 2/3 of European civilization, people wore flowers around their necks to disguise the smell of their rotting flesh, just before they died.  This is the origin of the children’s song “Ring Around The Rosey, Pocket Full of Poseys, All Fall Down“.

We are the very same beings who lived in Rome.  We died.  We were reincarnated.  This process repeated, again, and again, and again, explains the rise and fall of human civilizations on Planet Earth.  So far, EVERY civilization on Earth has failed and disappeared.  Without exceptions.  Why is that?  Simple: we are the people our mothers warned us about.  It does not matter whether you “believe” it, or not.  What is, is.  What will be, will be.  Unless each one of us decides to change our personal behavior.  Unless we create a sustainable civilization for everyone, every day, our civilization declines and disappears.  When we allow criminals and maniacs to rule our lives (Secret Societies, Private Bankers and Politicians) we are doomed to repeat the same decay and death we’ve already endured a thousand times.  Personally, I’m tired of it.  It’s too fucking boring and absurd!

Last year I read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (27 April 1737– 16 January 1794) which was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788.  I am also a painter and a student of art history. The decadent murder attempt rendered beautifully in the painting titled, The Roses of Heliogabalus”  was painted in 1888 by the Anglo-Dutch academician Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

“According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.  They had become weak, outsourcing their duties to defend their Empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, “manly” military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious, dark age.”  (Wikipedia.org)

Any student of history, especially of the Roman Empire, cannot be otherwise than overwhelmed by the nearly identical parallels in the decay and decline of the American Empire.  This principle difference is that the American deterioration has taken only 200 years, whereas the collapse of Rome took about 1500.  I cannot resist commenting on the decadent, aesthetic irony embodied by this painting:  It is based on an episode in the life of the Roman emperor Heliogabalus, (204–222), taken from the Augustan History.  He is portrayed attempting   to smother his unsuspecting guests in rose-petals released from false ceiling panels.  “In a banqueting room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his parasites with violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.”

The emperor was cut to pieces by swords at the age of 18, by the Praetorian Guard, — at the instigation of his own grandmother — who was outraged and incensed by the perverse sexual and political behavior of this boy-emperor.  Heliogabalus was bi-sexual, rampantly promiscuous, and unabashedly disrespectful of Roman Law and moral codes.

Members of the Praetorian Guard attacked Heliogabalus and his mother: So he made an attempt to flee, and would have got away somewhere by being placed in a chest, had he not been discovered and slain, at the age of 18.  His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother’s body was cast aside somewhere or other, while his was thrown into the river.”

What do you think  the Praetorian Guard might do with Emperors, Wall Street Banksters and Congressmen today?

How much longer do you think American civilization will endure before it is smothered in its own decadence? 

TOURISTS AT A CRUCIFICXION

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POSTCARD FROM 37 BCE

Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally “out of crucifying”), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.

The Greek and Latin words corresponding to “crucifixion” applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree, to an upright pole (a crux simplex) or to a combination of an upright (in Latin, stipes) and a crossbeam (in Latin,patibulum).

In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam on his shoulders to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 pounds (135 kg), but the crossbeam would not be quite as burdensome, weighing around 100 pounds. The Roman historian Tacitus records that the city of Rome had a specific place for carrying out executions, situated outside the Esquiline Gate, and had a specific area reserved for the execution of slaves by crucifixion. Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post.

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger suggest that victims were crucified completely naked.  When the victim had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape mention by some of their eminent orators. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”

Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person but was also meant to deter those who observed the crucifixion from committing offenses.  — REFERENCE SOURCE:  Wikipedia.org

ROME BEFORE and AFTER THE FALL

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A VIDEO REANIMATION OF THE CITY OF ROME BEFORE IT COLLAPSED AND DECAYED:

THE CITY OF ROME AFTER THE FALL:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE” by Edward Gibbon

Last year I listened to the Audible.com (unabridged version) reading of the truly excellent book by the preeminent historian, Edward Gibbon.  I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in the affairs of civilization, survival, life and death on planet Earth.

Gibbons account of the history of the The Roman Empire is a birds-eye-view-fly-over of a thousand years of Western Culture.  Roman culture is the very same culture being used today, especially in the U.S. and Europe.  Only the names and dates, and some of the language, have been changed to protect the guilty persons who brought Rome to its knees.  Those guilty persons are the same people who are bringing Western culture to an end: you and me.

The reasons the Roman Empire decayed are the same reasons that our current culture has decayed: Greed, Stupidity of the People, Superstition, Personal Irresponsibility, Corruption of The Military /Industrial / Congressional Complex by the Bankers who financed the entire calamity for personal financial gain.

The book is long, but so was the Roman Empire, at least in comparison to other civilizations that have risen and collapsed in only a few hundred years, such as the British Empire, The Soviet Empire, The German Empire and currently, the American Empire.  Read it and weep!  At least you may be able to make a little more sense out of the abysmal nonsense you see happening around you every day.

May The Gods Save Us From Ourselves!