The war between Julius Caesar and Pompey engulfed the Roman world between 49 and 48 B.C. Historians, seeking concision and brevity at the expense of accuracy, call it a “civil war”; and in one sense it is. But to those who lived through it, or fell under the long shadow of its aftershocks, it was more than a civil war. It was with good reason that the poet Lucan, in the first line of his Pharsalia, described the conflict as something “worse than civil”:Continue reading
“In war the greatest hope lies in the justice of one’s cause.” This is a line from the historian Appian (IV.12.97), who lived from about 95 A.D. to 165 A.D. We discuss what this line means, and how we can apply it to our own lives.
Like the ceremony of deification, the Roman triumph (triumphus) is one of those rituals about which few readers may have a clear picture. This is unfortunate, for the ceremonial triumph provides a very revealing window on certain aspects of Roman society. Ancient writers mention it frequently, but almost always in passing; we are seldom offered a description of the event itself. Fortunately, the Greek historian Appian has done just this in his writings (VIII.9.66), and it will be useful for us to relate the specifics here.
Although I do not live near the ocean now, I grew up in a small town that was close to it. The spirit of place enters imperceptibly into one’s bloodstream; and one gets used to the tang of rotting seaweed, the early morning salt mist, the relentlessly shifting dunes, and the omnipresent screams of the gulls. I have found that being near the ocean is restorative of health.