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Old but New (2)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:40 am
by Aldus Marius
And the other one...

I just had an amusing thought...

Are there any other Asterix fans aboard?
--Did you know there is an Asterix theme park in France?
...Okay, now the fun part...

Picture me in my Legionary armor at said theme park, playing the part of some poor sap stationed at Laudanum, Aquarium, Compendium or Totorum.

[Voice like a grown-up in a Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon:]
"It's a G-G-G-G-G-GAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
[followed immediately by a most briskly-executed tactical withdrawal!! <g>]

Might not be the most dignified presentation of the Roman army, just might be the antidote to the last three years of my life.

You like...?

"Delirant isti Romani (These Romans are crazy)...!" >({|;-)

Great Claims

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:39 pm
by Aldus Marius
Avete, amici!

I was once proto-Romanizing a good college friend of mine named Jon. He'd grown up thinking of us as a rude, barbaric bunch who seldom lived past know the type, that assumes history started here and only progressed upwardly from then on. He wasn't meaning to be dense; they just don't teach Ancient Rome in that part of the country, so how was he s'posed to know?

So I had the pleasure, in the course of our discussions, of mentioning all kinds of Roman Tech to him: the bathhouses, the water-clocks, the big cranes run by slaves in a gigantic hamster-wheel, the rich mens' houses with central heating under the floor. Concrete. Steel, even if it was mostly an accident. Long lifespans, too, for the guys that could afford it. I could have gone on...

...except this one time, when I was enumerating yet more Roman innovations, and he retorted:
"OK, Marius, next you're going to tell me the Romans invented the Internet!!"

Whereupon I pondered a bit; and said in reply:
"No-o, I won't say we invented the Internet...but with those signal-towers all along the frontier, I will say that we mastered the art of binary communication over a wide-area network--!"

(Hey, there's either smoke or no smoke, nonne...?) >({|;-)



PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:59 am
by Aldus Marius
Post scriptum:

(In all fairness to my friend Jon, I did have to point out that the Roman signal network's baud rate stank.) >({|;-)


True Story

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 1:50 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete Romani...

...and allow me to share with you how I got my Gladius.

I ordered my gladius and verutum in April of '95. They arrived in late May, and I came home one night to find that (horrors!) the Parcel Service had attempted delivery at my home, and nobody was there to sign for the package.

Anxious lest it be hung up at the Post Office until I could pick it up, I called them the next day to arrange delivery at my workplace. I decided it might be nice to let the receptionist and security folks know that I was expecting a package that afternoon. I called work (an office of the Department of Veterans' Affairs) to let them know it was coming. The info transfer went seamlessly, or so I thought...

By the time I came in to work that afternoon, the whole Sixth Floor was in an uproar. "He's having what sent here? A what package?" ...everybody in a panic, and giving me the evil eye like someone had been asleep when it was time to check my credentials. Beth Scroggs, the head of security, wanted to know just what exactly was in that package...

...and right about then is when I realized that maybe having a weapons shipment sent to a Federal building the month after the Oklahoma City bombing was not a good thing!

(Beth, BTW, was laughing her tailbone off afterwards. She said she was going to have to order something from Museum Replicas herself, if that was the only way to get such a lively security response out of the employees...)

(And I can imagine how well the whole scenario would've gone over nowadays. Yeesh!!)

In amicitia,

ShrinkLits: Caesar's Gallic Wars

PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2004 3:10 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete amici!

I found this gem in _ShrinkLits_ by Maurice Sagoff (NY: Workman, 1980): CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES on the GALLIC WARS

Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est...

Caesar cari dona militari orgi versus Belgae,
Helvetii, Germani, Venetii, Britanni--iunemit.
"Romis glorius," sed Caesar, "Nomen me impunit!"
Meni tridit--Vercingetorix, forin stans--
Caesae noctim sili fors ticinis nec aut.
Ab ludi, nervi felo, Caius Julius, iubet.

_ShrinkLits_ is most appropriately subtitled "Seventy of the world's towering classics cut down to size"! You gotta see _Moby Dick_ in eight lines, fully footnoted...

In amicitia,

Help Desk

PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 12:21 am
by Aldus Marius
(Hint: That's not really Latin. The last line, for example, translates as "A bloody, nervy fellow, Caius Julius, you bet.")

More fun now? >({|;-)

How to Share an Office

PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 12:44 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete omnes!

Once, when I had just started a new job (Tech Support), I found myself and 50 other new hires being crammed into an office with only thirty desks...and all of them occupied. Maintenance was desperately erecting cubicles in hallways, foyers, and any other space that would hold them. Meanwhile, us newbies and the experienced folks had to...share.

My future bunkmate was a supervisor who, while he proved to be a very nice gentleman, most certainly on that occasion did not look forward to having to make room in his workspace for somebody else. We worked different shifts, so bumping into each other wasn't going to be a problem; but still, after arriving at his present rank, he was now giving up half the shelf space, half the desk space, etc. that he had so well earned by his expertise.

So he left his soon-to-be contubernalis (whomever that might turn out to be) this note, taped to the monitor of his ("our") computer:

This Desk has been Conquered by J. Seagroves. Whosoever shall Attempt to Sit in this Chair will be Cast into the Deepest Pit of Hell.

<signed> J. Seagroves, Quality Control/Resource

Oh, HO! I thought to my little Roman self. So the fellow thinks 'e knows a thing about Conquering, eh? --Why don't I just show him how the Professionals do it! <feg>

So I did...

This Desk has been Invaded, Conquered, Sacked, its Inhabitants Enslaved, its Walls Fortified, its Roads Paved, Aqueducts Run to it, Tribute Assessed, and Provincial Administrators Appointed.

It is now

Imperial Tribute in the Amount of M Talents Shall be Due on the Ides of Aprilis.

<signed> L Marius Peregrinus, Praetor

(Marius Peregrine on Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm - 2am)

He Liked It!!

He sent me an e-gram (now that he had a name to go with the Attitude) and said he wouldn't mind a bit sharing a cube with a newbie who had That Much Spunk. I learned a lot from this man, nevermind that we only saw each other at shift change. And we got along fantastically ever afters.

So: First day on the job, make sure people know you're a Roman! Everything else will take care of itself.

'Nuff said!


PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:03 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete amici!

This saw daylight on my e-List, [RomanOutpost], a coupla months ago. Below I provide you the original article (by our own Piscinus), and my response to it...


> HOPSCOTCH: The Romans introduced Hopscotch to Britain.
> Their soldiers had to hop up and down along a 100ft court in their
> full armour to improve their footwork.
> ...
> That really evokes an image.

Yup. Like a contubernium (8-man tentful) of Roman Legionaries doing the Yellow-Brick-Road dance, "We're Off to See the Wizard", from the Wizard of Oz flick.

And you thought the *Woodman* was noisy!!! >({|:-D

Another dance number I'd like to see done by the Legions: "Step In Time" from Mary Poppins.

Dang, we're cute!

Anybody else have any musical dance numbers that they think would look great performed by a contubernium or two...? <g>

In amicitia,

The Empire Explained

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2005 9:20 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete Romani...

This is how I explain the growth of the Empire to my more Peace-and-Love-and-Understanding type friends:

In the beginning, all Rome was--and all Rome wanted--was Her seven hills on that bend in the river. But the neighbors had a problem with that; seems the early Romans were a rather scruffy lot, so good, educated Sabines and Latins were rolling their eyes, reassessing their property taxes, and muttering "There goes the neighborhood!"

Now, the Romans got tired of this. At last things came to a head and they went out and knocked some Sense into those neighbors. They knocked so much Sense into 'em that the neighbors immediately decided they'd be much better off being the Romans' friends. And so they were.

Of course, that didn't go over too well with their neighbors. So they went running to the Romans and pleaded, "O Mighty Roman Ones, for that thou hast knocked much Sense into us, canst not thou knock some Sense into our neighbors, too?" And, since Romans stick up for their friends, they went out and did so. (They were really good at it.)

Well, this kept happening, see...until the Romans were sticking up for neighbors of neighbors of friends all the way from Britain to Palestine.

But it couldn't last. Can't you just see it...? --Some poor sap Centurion dragging eighty men and a marching-kit over the Last Ridge, somewhere in way-the-heck-North Britain...and surveying the feuding tribes below...and suddenly coming to a Decision: "This is IT, boys...this is where we draw the line. Let these people handle their own squabbles; we're going home, dammit!!"

So now you know how the Empire got that big...and why it didn't get any bigger. >({|:-)

In amicitia,

A stunt pulled off in my spare time

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 8:31 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete, amici iocosi!

As might be suspected, I have a tabletop miniatures Legion, about 225 figures strong. Unlike many such armies, my troops do not all look the same...oh, no. Why should they? --I have served in the armed forces m'self; I know that soldiers are individuals, just like the rest of us. Furthermore, absolute uniformity of equipment was not a Roman concept. So I have mixed and matched heads, body/armor styles, weapons and shields, and assembled them in such a way that each one has his own distinct pose and 'attitude'; this has led to a very pleasing 'individual' look--no two alike.

And, because I use them for roleplaying games, each figure represents a particular character in my game world. Every single one has a name...a hometown...a family history...a service record. And now I can tell you the stunt: All of the above are being (knowingly!) maintained for me by the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs! <fiendish, evil grin>

How'd I do that?

Bene, I had a work-study job in Spring semester of '95 with the VA's San Francisco Information Systems Center. On paper, I was there to catalogue their software library. To do that, I had to learn how to use their database program, called VA FileManager (FileMan for short). As I've been a database geek since way back (in 1986 I helped design and 'playtest' the "Worldwide Keypunch Replacement Program" for the US Air Force's Standard Base Supply System), it did not take me long to become fast friends with VA FileManager.

They had me take a three-day training course, at the end of which I had to prove I'd been paying attention by designing a FileManager database. So I went them one better and made three of 'em: TROOPS, LEGIONS, and PROVINCES.

PROVINCES was a bald list of (yup) Roman Provinces. It only existed to be referenced by the other two.

TROOPS listed everyone in my Legion, with options to add more. Their hometowns, years of birth, what Legion they were with, where they'd been stationed, present rank and such were all listed; I was especially pleased with having taught the database how to (a) alphabetize by nomen, and (b) arrange everyone chronologically, from BC to AD, if I so desired.

But my real masterpiece was LEGIONS; I had to do some very heavy research, including the original kind, to get the best list I could of what Legions were stationed where at various times during the Roman era. I believe I still have one of the closest approximations of their movements in the academic world. I'm always on the lookout for new info, which is why I was looking for my good printout to bump against the UNRV site; I know that my own assumptions must always be open to challenge and revision, that's how scholarship works. Anyway, I listed all the Legions from Caesar's onward, where they were stationed, from what year, which Emperor transferred them there... As most Legions had more than one duty-station throughout their history, I had to create a kind of data field called a "multiple" to handle when there's more than one answer to a question. Try that in Access.

So there I was, with my three li'l databases, all referencing each other and printing out beautiful reports using each others' info. I passed the "final", natch! But they could have been better; so, several weeks and way too much overtime-spent-playing-with-the-system later, I finally declared myself "Done" and hung my code on the outside wall of my cubicle.

A couple of things happened because of this. One, the Database Manager for the facility fell in love with my code, then started hanging around me just to pick my brain about algorithms and search patterns and such.

The other, more relevant thing was that the Training Department was so impressed with my toy that they asked me (asked me!) for permission to upload it to the "training account" for the newbies to play with. They said it was the best example they'd seen of how a FileManager database ought to work. The Help prompts were helpful (one was a five-line seminar on how to form a Roman name), the pointers pointed, the multiples had multiplied. So, feeling highly-honored, and not being averse to having new TROOPS added in from time to time, of course I gave my consent! >({|:-D

It is now ten years later. My project is still out there, and has seen some distribution to other ISC's. My counselors at the Dallas VA hospital were able to get to it, and as for their info management people...they knew who I was when I got there. Sometimes I call my old bosses and ask 'em how it's coming along. I've picked up a few dozen "recruits" from San Fran, though it's hard to discover how many have been added at other sites.

Still...the idea: the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs is knowingly --proudly! --productively!! maintaining the personnel records for my Legion. That has got to be my single best computer stunt ever!

In amicitia,

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:07 am
by Aulus Dionysius Mencius
A dazzling piece o' work, amice bon... 8)

And a humourous tale, too.

In amicitia,


PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 3:52 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Salve Mari,

A great story, hehe :). I wonder what future archaeologists would think of this!

Vale bene,

Future Shock

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2005 8:11 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete, amici...

Hmm... Assuming cyberspace still exists then, at a raw-boned minimum they're going to see strong evidence of thirty-something Augustan (and later) Legions all going on a recruiting spree in the San Francisco Bay area...

...which leads us back to my long-ago "Bay Area Romans" post, dangerously close to the beginning of this thread. >({|;-)

The Legions, by the look of things, will not have been taking in enough tirones ab initio to achieve anything like full strength; the renting-out of their existing manpower for odd jobs in the community may be a recruitment tool (raise public visibility and goodwill) as well as a means of keeping an understrength unit occupied during peacetime, at least 'til they're up to strength.

As for "Why SF??",'s a hilly town, and has been called "The Rome of the West." Ita est!

In amicitia,


PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 6:32 pm
by Aulus Flavius
( In the spirit of Aldus' story-line, I present my own peice :) )


San Francisco residents were given a rather rude shock today after awaking to discover that Mt Davidson Park has been occupied by a group of Roman Legionaires. Locals claim that the camp simply sprang up overnight, as there was no sign of the camp, or any troops at all, when most of the locals retired for the night.

A seven foot high wall made up mostly of excavated earth and large wooden stakes. The perimeter of the camp measures several hundred by just over one thousand feet long, and so far there has been little contact with the troops inside.

Locals claim that it was clear for some time that the Romans were going to move in.

"We just had no idea it would happen so quickly", Mary Higgens of Omar Way said.

Police in full riot gear later today cut off all roads leading into the park, claiming that inside intelligence had informed them that the Romans were planing to move east towards Glen Canyon Park. Exactly how the Romans intend to do this no one understands, "They just dug in", veteran S.F.P.D. seargant Michael Watts. "It'd take a good three or four days for them to pick up all their equipment and move towards Glen Canyon...wouldn't it?"

A representative of the Roman troops, a man identifying himself as Legatus Lucius Cornelius Sulla, issued a brief statement whereby he claimed that Rome was merely responding to a call for aide from a, and I quote, "Friend and Ally of the Senate and the People of Rome".

Police officials have yet to decipher the meaning of this rather cryptic message, but were not much pleased when commander Sulla promptly informed law enforcement officials that he was more then willing to walk over the bodies of his men, if they did not move.

We will of course keep you posted as this situation develops.

Written BY

Sandra Menins

OOC: Have Fun :)


PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 5:36 am
by Aldus Marius
Ex papilionem Mari Peregrini salutem plurimum Aulem Flaviam dico...


(that's 'ROTFLMAO...And Scaring The Puppy-Dogs.') >({|;-)

I first posted the original to the newsgroup alt.test in July of 1995. I have always wished that someone or someones would come up with a sequel. We have our "Newsflash" topic for the latest archaeological discoveries; I wonder if we could have a similar brand of fun with this idea? Certainly your piece is a worthy successor!

Now about them 'legionaires'....<Inquisition Alert! Paging Magister Militum!>

In amicitia,

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 3:52 pm
by Aulus Flavius
Salve amice,

Just happy to get the ball rolling. It's not perfect and looking at it now I can see a plethora of spelling and grammar mistakes :) (aide?)

I like playing with these historical facts, it always ends in something funny :) Anyone else care to try their hand at it?


A. Flavius

I *don't* believe it!

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 7:57 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete sodales!

Every time I come up with a semi-demi-decent idea for a story, something very similar happens in RL. Doesn't the item below make a grand follow-up to our "Bay Area Romans" fantasy? Even if it was on the News?

(Forwarded by permission of C Aelius Ericius.)

Sun, 15 May 2005

Subject: Roman Legionary Casualty During Bay to Breakers Race


Sic. I know most of you will have no understanding of this, whatever the level of interest might be. It's a local thing.

The Bay to Breakers Race is an annual event in San Francisco. A foot race from the Bay... Okay, geography first... San Francisco is roughly square in shape, ca. 7 miles by 7 miles, in actuality the City's area is a bit less than 49 square miles; it would be much more if the hills were flattened out. The race goes from the San Francisco Bay side of the city to Ocean Beach (nice self descriptive name). So the course is 7 miles, 12k. The worst hill is the Hayes Street Hill, a climb of ... oh ... maybe 400 feet. Not everybody runs. Kenyans always win the serious part of the race. It is the other part that I'm posting about. Thousands of people (almost 70,000 in 2002). Many in costumes. All sorts of costumes. Some in nothing. Well, nothing but running shoes, and the required registration race number. The Legionary? O, ita! I was watching the race on the tube to see the idiots, I mean athletes, and the camera zoomed in on an exhausted legionary, complete with imperial Gallic helmet with unbleached horsehair crest, lorica segmentata and in the interest of going light for the race, a prop javelin and a very light scutum. He was down on one knee, head down, resting on his scutum and javelin. I think he was doing some very serious catching of the breathe, he might have been commending his shade to his gens. The camera stayed on him a long time, undoubtedly hoping he'd collapse, or get up to be interviewed. I hope he trains properly for next year's race, or has the sense to not try running up that bloody hill. Especially since when I went down to where the route passes through my neighborhood I saw three Vikings, accoutered in full proper rig of tunic, trousers, mail, shields, et cetera, strolling along in the mass, waving their weapons at admirers. [irrumptori barbarae!]

That's all!


We're now wondering if this fellow belonged to any of the SCA or reenactor groups thereabouts...

In fide,


PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 1:46 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete sodales...

Remember that Legion database I foisted upon the VA a few posts earlier...? --I am in the process of (finally) textifying it so that non-VA employees can use the information.

I'll drop it in the CollHist when I'm done, 'K?

(Awfully quiet here this week. Oh, that's right...finals. Sshhhh...)

*tiptoes out*

Eyeroll, Please...!

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 7:17 am
by Aldus Marius
Guaranteed to Make You Groan...

Q.: What do you call a high-ranking Roman Magistrate lurking by the road with a radar gun?

-- A.: A Motion Censor!

I'll post the other one when I remember it, unless y'all petition me not to! >({|;-)

'Lost' Ad

PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 5:24 am
by Aldus Marius

I actually made a 'lost dog' poster for a temporally-displaced Roman Legionary. Pictures and everything.

I actually posted it in five or six places around campus.

And Ginny Lindsay, of the Texas Classical Association, actually hosted a version of it on her Web site for several years.

Here ya go (and No, this is not the dreaded Other Joke).


I'm looking for my Empire and I
can't seem to find it anywhere.
Mean people keep telling me
that it declined and fell.

Could somebody direct me to the nearest
Veterans' Affairs office or military base,
so I can figure out where my Legion is?

(They're about YAY high with dark hair &
eyes and olive-toned skin, segmented steel
armor, short swords and an ATTITUDE.)

(And there's a whole bunch of 'em.)

I parked 'em right here...!

In amicitia,