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Romanitas Rising

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 3:30 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete amici!

Okay, fellow Ro-maniacs, here's a question for ya's: How and when did each of us discover that we were Romans?

For me, I've been a history freak all my life; I remember wanting to be a history teacher when I was nine years old, so who knows how long before that I'd been bitten by the bug? --Anyway, I found that my studies tended to jump me back in 500-year increments: I began with the Renaissance, because Leonardo da Vinci was my total hero when I was a kid; then took on medieval Europe because that's where my favorite fairy-tales were set. A six-year detour through U.S. history got me through high school and well into my Air Force career; then, in '87, I developed a fascination with the historical Arthur--who, as near as can be determined, seems to have been a Romano-British warlord who did his best to fend off the Saxon invasions in the century after the Legions left Britain. So there I was, on the threshold of the Roman era...maybe it was only a matter of time.

It didn't hit me until '91, when I got back from Desert Storm. What brought it on was, of all things, a science-fiction novel; Richard ben Sapir's The Far Arena, about a Roman gladiator who is discovered and revived in the twentieth century. The Roman's flashbacks made for an excellent historical novel, but as a science-fiction story it was only so-so. Being a writer myself, I thought I could do a better job with the same theme...but first, I needed to do a little research...

Maybe two books into the stack of Roman stuff I brought home from the library, something began to sink in: There was more going on inside me than 'research'. It was the oddest feeling, like I was reading about myself... I completely identified with these people; the things that were important to them also mattered to me; the virtues they tried to emulate were the same ones the pursuit of which had long driven my own life; and as I got to know them, I missed them terribly sometimes. It was a bit of an epiphany, really; all at once I understood a lot of things--like why I'd been such a disciplined child, even as a teen, and why I'd never quite fit in as an American. So here I was, fresh back from the war, and facing--Gladly!--the fact that I wasn't an American in spirit at all; I was a Roman!

Not long after that, the dreams began...dreams of Rome the City, and the ruins there. Understand a thing: I'd never been to Rome, or so much as peeked inside a tourbook; I did not, in my conscious mind, know my way around the City. But when I got to look at a map, I found that my dream-topography was spot-on...! That kind of thing happened a LOT in the couple of years that followed, where my Roman...intuition, I guess...led me to make dozens of spectacularly-accurate guesses about everything from locations of veterans' colonies to the probable date of my Legion's birthday; and that same intuition led me to the spot in southern Oklahoma--seven hills near a bend in the Red River--that I still hope to use for a Roman living-history park.

The third year I began collecting my Roman armor and accessories. I was homeless in Riverside, CA at the time; but you can save a heap of money when you're *not* paying rent in southern California--so I paid for my gear with the proceeds from my three jobs and college benefits, as well as from selling books out of my storage-space. Once I had enough of my kit to parade around in (a couple of years later), and donned the whole thing for the first time, something in me felt indescribably complete. I knew myself by then for a Roman, a Roman of the Provinces, a Roman of the Legions; and my friends, co-workers and classmates all knew it too.

And the rest, as they say, is now ya know.

OK, your turn--! >({|:-)

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 11:50 am
by Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Being a Roman...

I really do not feel Roman. I'm interested in Roman culture, but I do not consider myself a Roman because I wouldn't have fit in in that time. Being a rich patrician, yes of course (who doesn't), but being plebs... I think I'm a bit to rebellious or a bit to subversive for that.

But I have a strong interest in Roman culture ever since... Caesar said: "horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae" (I think our country wouldn't exist anymore without that phrase :wink: ). A visit to the Provence (Provincia Romana) really opened things up: the beautiful and amazing architecture was a good start, resulting in interests in philosophy, art, literature, daily life etc.

But Rome had a dark side for me too: at school we were forced to look upon rome as the place where Latin was born, and thus the stress has always been on the language. As I'm no real latin-lover, it was somewhat disappointing we were analizing 'de bello gallico' by the language and not by the events that caesar described. The content was not as important as the way it was written, and for me it was just the other way round.

So, I am no Roman, but I am strongly interested in their way of life and in their huge accomplishments. Although I hate it when people have a 'romantic' look on Rome, like it was just 'moonshine and luxury' in that time.


Locatus Barbatus

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 12:16 pm
by Horatius Piscinus

My family always taught us that we were Romans, rather than Italians. My one grandfather came from Ferentino, just southeast of Roma. I have never thought of myself as anything else. In my earliest memories I remember carrying a book of Roman history as my constant companion, sort of like my teddy bear or blankee as we were not permitted to have such things. I could not read of course but enjoyed the pictures. The first book I read, the one with which I was taught how to read, was an English translation of Caesar's De Bello Gallica. Other early memories, I recall making offerings to our Lares and in the fields to the geni loci. My first real pair of shoes, not a hand me down, I received at age six, and I recall then rushing over to show them to Mars. After my presentation at age four, Mars was made my patron god, so my little world revolved around him then. My place of solitude as a child was the Hortus Cereri, actually the Garden of Ferentina, that was on my grandparents' land. It consisted of a little maze with a stone altar, flanked by two fig trees. That was where I would retreat to in order to be alone, read, or play. And the whole time, for as long as I can ever remember, the Roman gods were our gods (although we called them by other names) and our ancestors were said to be Romans, we were told we descended from Romans and were Romans ourselves. I have never thought of myself otherwise.

Valete optime

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 10:05 pm
by Curio Agelastus

My interest in Rome is primarily historical. From when I could first read, I was interested in history, and devoured history books with a voracious interest. There have always been several peoples I was interested in - mainly the Celts and Saxons until I was 18, when I first started getting into the classical world. That was when I really got into Rome, and Rome will always be the most interesting to me historically.

However, since then, I've become interested in several other nations. The Avars, for one. The Byzantine Empire, Aragon, the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, (On which is there is an incredibly frustrating lack of information) the Ottoman Empire, the Persians of the same era, Novgorod, 17th/18th century Prussia, and many more! As you can see, my interests are not limited to any one time, and my main problem is a lack of time to read books on these peoples and a lack of money to obtain them. :roll:

Therefore, although I find Rome more interesting than any other nation historically, it remains a mainly historical interest.

Bene valete,
Marcus Scribonius Curio Britannicus.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 9:51 am
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco

I believe we've had similar topics in the past, no? So, how did it all begin for me?

When I was young I once began reading in a series of historical books that started with the oldest civilisations made a tour around the world. The book I kept reading over and over was the book about the Romans. I think their history struck a chord with me because it was so personal and so vivid. The predating civilisations appeared either as monolithic and boring to me, or just confusing.

Ever since the Roman era was my preferred phase of history (perhaps with the exception of the Middle Ages). A few years later I got a book about the Romans for children which I literally devoured. My interest in Rome may also have had to do with the fact that until I was about nine or ten, I was also a devout little christian in the making and as such I wanted to know everything about Jesus' age and the socio-cultural backgrounds of the Roman empire (of course I didn't know these words back then ;)). The belief in christianity faded but my interest in Rome kept slumbering. Sadly, my first three years of Latin didn't reawake it. I was interested in the language and culture and had an active interest, especially in Etruscan and Greek history and culture, but Latin was very centered around linguistic aspects.

My interest in how these people really lived was rekindled in 4th grade (that'd be the sophomore year for the US I think). I saw how much like us they actually were. Then the story is becomes a little shorter: in 5th grade I joined, under the impulse of Atticus (who, btw, has Latin roots), _that other place_ and this eventually got me here.

But do I think I am a Roman? No. I do identify myself strongly with Greco-Roman culture and love to immerse myself in that spirit but I never thought of myself as a Roman. My family has almost complete Germanic roots. But then again, nationality has never been a great issue to me. If anything I might feel European... and that comes close to being Roman, too after all.


Reply to Draco

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2003 12:59 am
by Aldus Marius
Thank you so much, amice bon'. You see, I have gotten a good, healthy ten minutes of entertainment out of the following:

> A few years later I got a book about the Romans for children which I literally devoured.

Now, I'm trying to parse the above sentence (you're a Latin Inquisitor, you should understand), and so far it comes out two different ways:

a) You literally devoured the book.
["...I got a book about the Romans...which I literally devoured."]

<- - - - - - - - - or - - - - - - - - - >

b) You literally devoured the children.
["...I got a book...for children which I literally devoured."]

If (a), then I must ask....
-- Literally???
-- Were you that hungry? I could send over some MREs if you're really in a pinch...
-- How was it prepared...?
-- Did you enjoy it?
-- Are they better with or without garum?

If (b), then the same queries apply, I suppose, with the addition of...
-- They weren't Roman children, were they?? ('Cause we're rare enough as it is.)

As for bein' a Roman myself...looks like I'm standing by the side of the road with my thumb out on that one, so far; maybe I get away with it because everybody already knows I'm el loco en la cabeza, let's just say... >({|8-l

Lonely up here but still chuckling,

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2003 8:17 pm
by Curio Agelastus

**Curio stagewhispers** "Mi Mari, don't encourage Draco; you know how he gets after an inquisition or two." 8)

Also, you're not the only Roman; I count myself a Roman, albeit a Roman mongrel; remember how I describe myself as a Romano-Celt-Saxon hybrid? I am that and more. But I am still a Roman - I take history seriously.

Bene vale,
Marcus Scribonius Curio Britannicus.

Re: Reply to Draco

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 12:27 am
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Marius Peregrinus wrote:> A few years later I got a book about the Romans for children which I literally devoured.

Now, I'm trying to parse the above sentence (you're a Latin Inquisitor, you should understand), and so far it comes out two different ways:

a) You literally devoured the book.
["...I got a book about the Romans...which I literally devoured."]

<- - - - - - - - - or - - - - - - - - - >

b) You literally devoured the children.
["...I got a book...for children which I literally devoured."]

Both. I ate the book and I ate the kids. I am not only known as the Latin Inquisition, I also eat children and other troll-like creatures for breakfast.

Better than cereal, I tell you.


PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 1:05 am
by Primus Aurelius Timavus
I'm getting my children started on their romanitas early: The middle name of my second child, born this morning, is Augustus. My first boy's name is Sebastian, which has the same meaning in Greek as Augustus does in Latin.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 7:33 am
by Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus
For me, being an Italian American, its an exploration of where I came from.
Most African Americans have a very hard time exploring their family trees earlier than slavery. Irish Americans have just as hard a time tracing their roots earlier than the Famine. (As the British used genealogical documents to wrap their gunpowder in.)
The impact my ancestors had on western civilization is just fascinating. I feel lucky that for the most part it has been written down.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 12:00 pm
by Marcus Pomponius Lupus
Salve Tergeste,

And congratulations on your second child ! Let's hope nomen est omen !

Vale bene

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 8:09 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Primus Aurelius Tergestus wrote:I'm getting my children started on their romanitas early: The middle name of my second child, born this morning, is Augustus. My first boy's name is Sebastian, which has the same meaning in Greek as Augustus does in Latin.

Tergeste!! Congratulations amice!!!!


PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 8:29 pm
by Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Salve Tergeste
Primus Aurelius Tergestus wrote:
I'm getting my children started on their romanitas early: The middle name of my second child, born this morning, is Augustus. My first boy's name is Sebastian, which has the same meaning in Greek as Augustus does in Latin.

Congratulations my friend with your new born child.
vale optime

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 9:11 pm
by Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Speaking as a human being: congratulations, mi tergeste!

Speaking as censor: when does he become a member? :D



PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 9:59 pm
by Primus Aurelius Timavus
Salvete Omnes,

Thank you for all the good wishes. Mother and child are both doing very well. With regards to Barbatus' question, I could sign him up now, but he would qualify as an inactive member very shortly!

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2003 3:48 pm
by Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
You could always say he enjoys only reading the topics, but hasn't time to react. :twisted:

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2003 4:47 pm
by Horatius Piscinus
Salve Tergeste

Gratulor et optimam fortunam vobis exopto!

I was caught in a little blackout and apparently missed this earlier. My best to you, your wife and sons.

Di deaeque vos semper ament

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2003 7:58 pm
by Curio Agelastus
Salve Tergeste,

A belated congratulations to you, your wife, and little Augustus. A prophetic name, perhaps? Should we expect great things from him? :D

Bene vale,
Marcus Scribonius Curio Britannicus.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 5:07 pm
by Anonymous
I always had a fascination for Classical Rome and its Empire, and I always felt a connection to it since Melita (which is actually what the Greeks called Malta according to a Maltese History website) was part of the mighty Roman Empire. If I lived during the Roman period I would have probably felt Roman as well, but nowadays I feel more European and my connection to Classical Rome is due to our history and the history of Southern Europe.

I am mostly interested in the Religio Romana, the Roman State, and Latin.

"Civis Romanus Sum...."

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 1:09 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete, Omnes -

I have come back to this thread, one that I've never sorted out a coherent reply for, after reading cousin Marcus Tullius Ioannes's reply on the
Board-Ranks and Citizenship thread in the General Forum. He quotes Saint Paul's words of defense, "Civis Romanus sum," but in the positive light of sharing a modern Romanitas.

Bene. But that phrase has a special bit of meaning for me, and now it occurs to me I know what to post here.

My own Romanitas is not as well developed as that of some here - I've not had a vision, I am not a re-enactor, and have found myself to be anything but an exceptional scholar of Rome. Yet, like a lot of us, images of Rome have been with me since childhood. It is one of the privileges of being in the SVR to have some of those notions corrected, and yet not be called guilty for having entertained them. My notions of Romanitas in my youth were of this sort: Marcellus Gallio in 'The Robe'; Quintus Arrius in 'Ben-Hur'; Marcus Aurelius in 'Fall of the Roman Empire'; and when I would hear the story of the Passion, I always admired the Procurator, Pontius Pilate, for his fairness.

At age 15, fond of Ancient History, I found a copy of Rex Warner's translation of "Caesar's Commentaries" (the Gallic Wars) and I was struck by Caesar-glamor. And I read and re-read Harold Lamb's "Hannibal" -- and admired Fabius Cunctator, and Cato, and of course Scipio Africanus ipse, along with Lamb's sympathetic Carthaginian. The Romans were here to stay, even if my notions were still half-baked.

But it was the discovery of the SVR itself that meant the most, perhaps. My Romanitas had always been urging me to learn Latin; late, in my 20s, I began to, and tried to keep it up in years following. Years and years later, the search for websites related to the Lingua Latina led me here, to the SVR. I tiptoed around and was delighted to see people who ALSO wished to attain a Roman identity, and who were not ashamed to take Roman names and post to each other by them. So I explored the SVR and wondered at it, and participated more and more.

And then, in 2006, mid-way through the year, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown, accumulated fatigue, resentment, work-stress and other things -- it had not been a very good year. I had to learn, in effect, how to live again, emotionally. But as I wrestled with depression and self-hate during those times, when I felt backed into a corner by Life and Fate and the daunting smallness of a personal life, I would literally exhort myself, grip myself, and bolster my ego with that same mantra: "Civis Romanus sum, civis Romanus sum," which was to say, I participate in the Legacy of Rome, I actively use and examine that Legacy, I find decent people among her neo-Citizens, and I, my relatively worthless self, find my own worth in that Citizenship.

Ita Romanitas mea, quae erat demonstranda.