History 104A, October 10: Hail Caesar & Caesar & Caesar
I repeat -- one, no classes on Columbus day, October 12th. The
class is today, the ugly Columbus day because -- I hate it that they
change these dates to the weekends so all you people can be lazy and
get a day off from school and get a three day weekend.
A There's nothing wrong with that.
THE PROFESSOR: And the year Columbus discovered America?
THE PROFESSOR: He didn't discover it. It was here; right? So
we call it a violation of the prime directive. Once again, there is
no school on October 12th for me, for this class only. I'll be in my
other classes. I will not be here and I will send out an e-mail to
remind you October 28th is it the Friday?
A I don't think anybody has that day.
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah. We don't get off for Halloween. I'm
turning into a pumpkin, so now I'm going down to San Diego to see my
son's soccer team play, so it's absolutely illegal, it's illegitimate
reason, but I don't hear bitching here too much to get rid of me.
Q Is that the Friday or the Monday?
THE PROFESSOR: The Friday. I think that's it procedurally.
We were talking a bit started out a bit on the life in Rome or
Roman life generally. And we're going to continue with the so so
corny video tape, but at least it's entertaining in a bad way. And it
does show various elements of life in Rome. We'll start out with
that. And then I will continue with vomiting.
For the dozens of people who came in after we started, we're
going to be nice to you and let you know that the non-Columbus day
that's really Columbus day on Wednesday, there will not be class.
Mark that down in your books. And that also on October 28th, the
Friday, there will also not be class.
Q Are other classes not meeting?
THE PROFESSOR: No just me. I'll be up here for my other
Q I mean today. You said it was Columbus day?
THE PROFESSOR: Columbus day stopped being a holiday for most
schools when people started being concerned about the violation of the
prime directive and it's generally not celebrated anymore. Are there
any comments on the film or questions about it?
A couple of points just for a basis of it. One, people are
people and I think that's what the film intended to show. And two,
the development of a law system that very much our words of our system
come from, innocent until proven guilty, the concept of equality, the
anti slavery element, even though it existed. Translation, a lot of
things can be written in the law, it's how it's carried out, including
the whole sense of precedence, customs. The Roman law was codified a
number of times. The one that lasted and came down to us is what we
call the Fall of Rome. It came to us from the sixth century AD or CE
from the Justian code J-U-S-T-I-A-N. And at that in time, the Roman
empire, if you will, spread out from Constantinople, Byzantium and
became the Byzantium empire of Rome, Rome in the East.
The life in Rome, as it indicated, was difficult. We talked
about the bread and circuses. And I wanted to give some description
of some other elements of the life including upper and lower class.
And this part I want to present from a number of elements that I have
I think I mentioned that the Romans had statues to their
ancestors and Roman statues to themselves, a little different from the
Greeks who seem to have the idealization element in their statues,
their paintings and drawings were much more realistic. The Roman
houses were built around an atrium similar to the Mediterranean tile
in Spain. Everything was inside the house with the garden in the
center, not built like we do with our lawns outside and our open
backwards, except in California where everybody has high fences. Go
East and the most amazing think, I think, for most Californians is to
see no fences to speak of. Don't ask me why, we out here with our
individuality demand that sense of privacy. That's another story.
The main center of the house was in a sense the dining room.
Romans loved to eat. They loved their 20 or 30 courses, meals.
And they also had a room near the left hand of the dining room, the
left side by the couch that was called a vomitorium. They vomit so
they can eat. They eat so that they may vomit. I thought I would
pick that out for any of you that are bulimic. Some of the dining
rooms had recommendations for their guests such as -- do not cast
wanton glances or ogling eyes at another man's wife, being modest in
your language. They were obviously -- mentioned the baths of
Caracalla. I want to get back to the house. Let's get to the
parties. I like parties because we mentioned that earlier.
Romans loved their gathering especially the wealthy. They were
sort of like weddings and Barmitzvahs every few weeks spending
millions of dollars for their guests. The emperor Tiberius spent
$4 million on food and drink alone. It wasn't Tiberius. It was
another Roman trying to impress the emperor Tiberius, he spent $4 for
one party. He committed suicide after that because he had no money
left. ... at a cost of $5,000 a course. Now, coming from New York, I
have gone to a couple of Barmitzvahs worth a couple of thousand
dollars. One of Nero's friends spent a couple thousand dollars on
roses. A feast cost 300,000. But we must remember that at his
banquet, he gave to each of his friends gifts which included gold and
silver dishes. He gave them beautiful slaves and carriages with teams
of mules and their drivers. Roman millionaires loved dissolving
pearls in vinegar and then drinking them.
I mentioned the huge baths of Caracalla. I mentioned the common
people living in apartment houses that were constructed basically of
concrete, heavy wooden beams to support the flooring that went as high
as six stories, and wooden bricks were used for bridging balconies.
Wood, rubber and stone utilized to make attractive facing. The risers
were of stone or wood, windows and balconies were decked with pots and
flowers. Fires continuously breaking out. There was a combined fire
fighting force of about 7,000. The fire fighting equipment of course
was not inadequate. The great fire of 64 AD and the reign of Nero
devastated 10 of 14 regions of Rome. And of these ten, three were
almost completely destroyed. Since the tenements were often Jerry
built and since, by law, the walls cannot be more than 18-inches in
thickness, the building sometimes collapsed under their own weight.
Roman builders so excellent in their public structures, paid little
attention, surprise surprise to the permanence in low class housing.
Now, of course many of you have heard the story of Nero fiddling
when Rome burned. it is highly unlikely since they didn't have the
fiddle, but it is possibly that he did play the harp or an instrument
similar to the harp. Yes, he was a little off the deep end as were a
number of Roman emperors like Caligilar who made a horse his a
senator, declared himself God and his sister as Hera, and later killed
her personally and turned the palace into a brothel insisting that all
the senators wives serve as prostitutes, collected money to help pay
off the debt of Rome. Not a bad idea maybe. Well, get rid of the
debt that we are now in trillions of dollars now, I suppose.
The Roman wealthy also imported ice from the Alps. They brought
it down, packed in straw, and their drinks were made with ice. They
did not have refrigeration, no. Rome was, to say the least, the
cosmopolitan city with all groups of people all colors, all creeds,
and as indicated in the video, many people of different races from
different parts of the world had high positions in the Roman empire.
The Romans encouraged local self-government. We talked -- the Romans
still saw themselves as small landholders and farmers. Bread and
circuses. In 45 BC Julius Caesar found, in Rome, no less than 320,000
Roman citizens receiving free grain. From Augustus onward, they
numbered around 200,000 and must be remembered that these 200,000 were
adult male, so as women and children must be added to the total. I
mentioned the hippodrome and the chariot races and the colors that
were part and parcel of that era of fighting over which team they were
going the support.
Back to projector. I do have a DVD. I'm not sure if I'll be
able to show the whole segment I wanted to on I Claudius on Friday
because we will have the group meeting on Friday instead of on
Wednesday. Be prepared for the group meeting on Friday itself.
We had talked about the Roman emperors starting of course with
Octavian becoming the Caesar, if you will, the Augustus in 27 BCE.
And we go through a series of basically so so emperors. There is no
plan in session. And what we find is that the emperors are really
appointed by the Pretorian God, the emperor's own elite military.
Augustus extends the Roman boundaries to pretty much what it finally
He is followed by Tiberius -- and I'll have those up for you in a
minute -- who is then followed by that crazy emperor, Caligilar, who
is followed by a survivor who does the good job, Claudius. However,
he is duped by his second wife, Messalina, who he loves dearly. And I
think I may have noted that she enjoyed her sexual antics and once had
a contest with a prostitute in Pompeii to see who could sleep with the
most men in one night, and she won. Don't ask me how many. I'm sure
it doesn't amount to as many as John Kennedy, based on the stories
which are phony of course. And he's followed by his son, basically a
mistake, Nero who again off the deep end, forces people to listen to
him sing off tune, kills people for the hell of it, including his
mother who he kicked off her raft into the sea.
After Nero's death, we see four emperors in one year. And his
palace is destroyed and built on top of his palace ask the famous
coliseum. The coliseum which could hold about 40 or 50,000 people, I
talked about earlier, the site for the games including of course
humans fighting animals, obviously is most famous perhaps in many of
your eyes for the Christians and the sacrifice of Christians in the
various games, but Christians weren't the only ones killed in the
mausoleum, nor were they the only ones that were buried or hiding in
the catacombs which is the underground burial areas and tombs
throughout Rome. Have any of you been to Rome? Anybody here?
A In German we saw Roman ruins.
THE PROFESSOR: Did they have catacombs there? Burials, areas
underground where you could walk through?
A Yeah. They just lady to nowhere. And they were still uncovering
stuff like we were there. There were an am fully theater.
THE PROFESSOR: And the point they're making is the Romans
extended their culture, their baths throughout their empire, if you
will, including of course into England and into the area that
Alexander had conquered. The sense of Rome, as I say, around the
Mediterranean sea. I want to you show you something that I put up for
whatever it's worth.
Once again, I put these in with the lectures on those days.
They're PowerPoint presentations or at least ways of putting some
information on-line and Connie, when she sends me the lecture
transcripts, I stick it in there. Your textbook gives a fairly good
feel for the cultures, but different from the one I used in previous
years. It doesn't have as much detail, which may or may not be good
based upon your own interests in history. So what I have here are the
Roman emperors, and it keeps coming out different on here than it does
on my Mac at home. I played some games. And for some reason, it's
totally different here.
What we see here is the pantheon, the Romans built this
phenomenal structure with a hole in the center and a tremendous dome
that wouldn't be matched again until the Renaissance era in building
with a whole reflecting the universe coming through and around the
pantheon are the Gods. These are not the Gods. These are the
emperors and there are periods of time. And they are. I ran down
copies from other books, a little summary of the accomplishments of
each. So you get a little more detail, not a lot, but a little more.
And between 96 and 180 in a sense, Rome really does reach its height
which are known as the five good emperors; a very efficiently run
empire; however, basically after 180, Marcus Aurelius allows his son
to go on the throne. And like the son of many people, his son was
incompetent. And with that we move into a year of tremendous decline
until Diatheses and Constantine at the end of the third and the
beginning of the fourth century AD. That's there. It will be in
these lecture notes for you to take a look at and get a little more
detail. We'll see you on Friday.