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Postby RonPrice » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:42 am

Mary Beard Meets the Romans

I last taught Roman history, the late Republic, in 1994. Nearly 30 years later, after being retired from teaching, and dipping into Roman history only occasionally as I head for the age of 70 in 2014----I take an interest in the odd-bit of television that explores Rome, the Republic or the Empire. I took a sea-change at the age of 55 to Tasmania Australia and now live in a little town at the mouth of the Tamar River which opens on the Bass Strait, an extension of the Great Southern Ocean. I don’t have satellite, that is, paid-for TV, just free-to-air, as it is called. Anything to do with classical history or literature is a rare commodity on the small handful of TV stations which I enjoy in this last stop on the way to Antarctica if one takes the western-Pacific rim-route.

Rome,(1) the British-American-Italian historical drama set in the first century BC was shown here last year and in early 2012. Last night Meet the Romans with Mary Beard(2) took me back with some nostalgia back to the years I taught matriculation students in Perth Western Australia in the last decade of my life as a teacher and lecturer.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) 7TWO TV, 12:30-1:30 a.m., 26/2/’12; during 2005 to 2007, the first two years of my full retirement from FT, PT and casual-volunteer work, this television series Rome premiered. It was available on DVD in 2009, but I do not buy DVDs, retired and on a pension as I have been since 2009 at the age of 65; and (2)SBSHD TV, 7:30-8:30 p.m. 26/8/’12.

You would have been very useful,
Mary Beard when I taught about(1)
the Romans back when I was just
50 & heading into late middle-age.

That history I taught, that syllabus,
was mainly political & military with
a nod to culture & the arts. Still you
would have helped bring the ancient
world closer to those students who
wanted to get into university, get a
B.A., then a job, maybe a family, &
head into a world not unlike the city
you described tonight, that first big
metropolis, its new smells, & tastes.

Everyone was a cog in a machine of
Empire with its anonymity, its sense
of “I am what I do” identity, division
of labour, specialization as the order
of the day; autobiography writ-large
in those tomb-stones, & conspicuous
consumption providing visible marks
of status, with a new religion surviving
inconspicuously as a faith, a movement,
not yet a church or institution, no central
authority or canonical literature-----------

That new religion gradually became the
soul of an Empire, triumph of an obscure
sect & despised, religious enthusiasts in a
mature, intellectually sophisticated, a rich
society: one of the most dramatic facts of
history in the society you described tonight
Dr Mary Beard, distinguished professor of
classics. Thank you, Mary, for your work.(2)

1 Mary Beard is sometimes called Britain’s best-known classicist and this series of 3 programs about the Romans in the world’s first metropolis of 1 million people aired in Tasmania on: 26/8/’12, 2/9/’12 and 9/9/’12.
2 Nosratollah Rassekh, “Christianity, AD 138,” World Order, 1980, pp. 7-21.

Ron Price
27 August 2012 to 8 October 2012

Between 220 and 168 BC the whole world fell under the undisputed ascendancy of Rome the historian Polybius informs us, as does Toynbee in his A Study of History. By what process did this occur? It was a phenomena unprecedented in the annals of the European theatre of civilization. However infatuated with other spectacles a historian of the time might be, this particular spectacle could not help but find a home in Polybius’s history. In our time, Arnold Toynbee’s spectacular A Study of History took up this same theme among its many other themes.

This type of unprecedented phenomena began to occur in the annals of mankind 2000 years later, but over a wider-field and over a longer period of time, insensibly insinuating itself over several centuries. It was called western civilization The mind could not find a field more profitable to study and, a fortiori, to work within, than the majestic but slow and difficult evolution of the Baha’i World Order within the chrysalis that was western civilization.-Ron Price with thanks to Polybius in A Study of History: Vol.3, Arnold Toynbee, Oxford UP, 1954, p.313.

Through the alteration of periods of
strenuous exertion in public affairs
and necessary leisure….I continued
to gain experience, & achieve some
distinction, quietly & unbeknownst
to the generality of men; this wider
world experienced a dark night of the
soul, so often subtle and obscure in its
manifestation. I gradually created what
was my “everlasting possession,” some(1)
spontaneous movement from within, by
strange necessity energies transmuted by
will-power into a heightened intensity of
perception, imagination, thought, feeling:
this was my field of action in the evening
of my life as the years crept on their petty
pace from day to day and year to year…..

(1) idem

Ron Price

There can be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in....bringing under their rule the whole of the inhabited world. -Polybius, Histories, 1.1.5.

Between 220 BC and 168 BC the whole world fell under the undisputed ascendancy of Rome....It was a phenomena unprecedented in the annals of the European theatre of civilization. -Polybius in A Study of History: Vol.3, Arnold Toynbee, Oxford UP, 1954, p.313.

Roman history is still too much like a great endless jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing. -Keith Richardson, Daggers in the Forum: The Revolutionary Lives and Violent Times of the Gracchi Brothers, Cassell, London, 1976, p. xi.

The world empire of Rome was a negative phenomenon: the result....of an absence of resistance....It would be quite untrue to say that the Romans conquered the world. They merely took possession of something that was lying about for anyone to pick up. -Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Vol.1, 1920, p.51.

The Baha'i World Order also grew like a great endless jigsaw puzzle. Although most of the pieces were still missing after the passing of a little more than a century and a half, the pieces were coming together over time. Its undisputed sovereignty would be established, an unprecedented phenomena in the history of civilization on the planet, in the coming centuries.

The process would be, for the most part, a positive one. There would be an immense resistance, in some places cruel and insidious, from foes now impossible to predict. But the unity, built up over several centuries, would be impossible to resist. The divisions of the 'tribes of the defeated'1 would lead, in the end, only to confusion. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, 1974(1938), p.17.

Well, you could say the pieces were,
for the most part, all there…..It only
required the masses to enter. The Arc
had been built and now these animals
could come in: by 1s, by 2s, by 3s, by
more and more, and more and more.

Unity was, in fact, the major achievement
of the first century-and-a-half of the history
of this the latest, newest of the Abrahamic
religions. The most perfect Being ever to
walk on the earth had come and gone, and
His charismatic Force was institutionalized.

The vineyard of the Lord was ready and
we waited all around the planet for the
people to come in to the garden. And we
waited to take possession of something
that had been lying in wait, to be picked
up, for decades, for civilization had long
lost its soul and without faith civilization
cannot long endure. This tiny peripheral
fluctuation would soon be amplified in a
global, complex, dynamical and unstable
system, loading the dice of change toward
an undisputed and mysterious sovereignty.

Ron Price
15/10/'01 to 3/3/'13.

married for 46 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 14, and a Baha'i for 54(in 2013)

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