|To the citizen of Rome,
who have the honor of having the Urbs for home and for teacher of high historical and civil thoughts we always think of as members of our Roman Diocese, and therefore as to children of whom we can never forget; and, if believers, as a dear faithfuls of this community of faith and love, which is Rome, founded in the religion of Christ from the two main witnesses, with the word and with blood, Peter and Paul.
(Incipit of the letter of Pope Paul VI to the citizens of Rome - Christmas 1967)
To me it's always a source of great wonder not so much the ignorance, which is basically what the whole quite natural and widthespread, as the stupidity of many my compatriots. In fact, while in France, for example, the city of Paris - olim Lutetia (Swamp) Parisiorum- is at the heart of every French citizen as foundation and center of the national unity feeling, and is regarded as the most beautiful city in the whole world, in Italy instead the Eternal City is often denigrated and even hated by many italians both as a place and as the Nation's Capital.
Many citizens of the italian peninsula sometimes ignore or despise their capital city for monumental ignorance of history, or to adapt to some idiot parochialism of the Italic species. Especially in the north of the country, people of dubious intellectual caliber have even spoken of 'race', refusing to belong predominantly to the Latin culture and ancestry.
Instead today, the statistical analysis allowed by science and modern technique say that, everywhere, even in the north of the country, comes out from a DNA mixture of deep and inseparable characteristics and different human types, which characterizes precisely the inhabitants of the peninsula,although the external characteristics (eye color and hair etc) sometimes seem to prove otherwise.
Some politicians that are only interested in themselves, to be elected to parliament or to the Senate and to be fed at the manger of what they call 'Big sewer' even flaunt separatist and anti-national sentiments, although the're fully part of the bastard 'Italian race'.
I know by experience that even in the Catholic Church unfortunately similar feelings abound. On the occasion of comments on certain Gospels episodes, and the homilies of Sunday, it would be good that at least the Catholic Church could defend the Urbs, and its origins from the point of view of the congruence of historical references with the Scriptures.
I can hardly understand fully why these attitudes, wich are common to the varied and complex multitude of detractors of our Nation. For some it is a reaction to the bombastic rhetoric of the ancient and short period of fascist government and to the national hymn ?
Or perhaps is it one of many expressions of political classist and internationalist sentiments ? Or is it simple stupidity?
For others the cause is the education they received in seminars where marxists had infiltrated and camouflaged?
Is it a disliking the Italian Risorgimento, the Italy united who removed the kingdom of the South against the Bourbons and the temporal power of the catholic Church?
I do not speak of my Parish, but some years ago I even heard a homily in the Church of Laives (BZ) when by the pulpit was reported verbatim some nonsenses from one of some Anglo-Saxon writers of bad books in hate to Ancient Romans, not intended as propagators of civilization and safety, but as violent oppressors and exploiters: by the extraordinary consonance with the sentences of the book, it was evident that the preacher was a careful reader of successful pseudo- writers..
I DO NOT WISH TO MAKE HERE AN 'ACTS' SUMMARY BUT WOULD LIKE TO GIVE A SMALL CONTRIBUTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND HISTORICAL TRUTH OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE THAT HIS HOLINESS, THE POPE PAUL VI, HAS SO WELL ESTABLISHED IN HIS CHRISTMAS 1967 LETTER , JOINED TO A FAMOUS EDITION OF '
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES'
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
I am proud owner of a rare edition of ACTS given to my father in law Corrado Bertagnolio by the Holy Father Paul VI by his Eminence Cardinal Luigi Traglia - then Vicar General of His Holiness - at Christmas 1967..
The ACTS of the Apostles can be found in any library, taking care that it is a complete and commented edition, carryong a piece of the suite of the prologue of the book, written in the same Pope Paul VI:"...
I wish that this centenary remember you, Romans, have some genuine genuine, thoughs short and ncomplete information; an historical and sacred tale, deliciously and dramatically narrated by a brief, but very interesting and moving story, which the christian tradition rightly attributes to St. Luke, the Evangelist, disciple and companion of St. Paul .."
There's also a movie of Roberto Rossellini: Atti degli Apostoli (1969)
JERUSALEM- ENVIRONMENT OF CHURCH's ORIGINS
We point out right away some facts from the first chapters:
- from the historical point of view we must emphasize that the Romans are almost never involved in the struggles between Jews.
The Roman administration intervenes as little as possible in religious and internal matters of the 'subjects' peoples (ruling them directly or making protectorate ruled by kings and local potentatesl).
- In the case of Jesus Christ it was decided to bring the offender before the Roman procurator; in the case of the first martyr St. Stephen the matter was resolved with a stoning, without posing problems or ask approvals to none..
- Turmoil and unrest caused by the Jews themselves with their inside religious disputes, forced a few decades after the Romans to intervene to permanently solve the problem of Palestine.
But even earlier, at the time of the Emperor Claudius (°), the crimes and seriously disturbing public order caused by the Jews within the same city of Rome with disputes, riots and murders, had resulted in an expulsion of all Jews from Rome and Italy.
- In exchange for the maintenance of peace and the protection guaranteed by the Roman army and the infrastructures built by Romans, taxes was required, to be collected by entrusted agents recruited within the same Jewish people. The only thing that the Romans claim over the payment of taxes, is that the Emperor and the dominion of Rome must never be challenged, and that the local rulers are charged to ensure public order.
- Unfortunately the Jewish people finally did encounter what always happened over the previous centuries: deportations, killings, destruction and mass emigration; this time (70 AD) it was just as Jesus Christ himself had predicted.
(°) Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ; Lugdunum (Lyon), 1 August 10 BC - Rome, October 13 54. He died at the hands of Agrippina minor, Nero's mother, poisoned by mushrooms of which he was greedy.
ORIGINS OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE FIRST CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN JERUSALEM: from the beginning of the narrative, that is, when Jesus spoke the last words before his ascension to heaven, it's clear that many of his disciples had understood little or nothing of the reasons for its death and resurrection:
"Then those who were with him asked: << Lord, is this the time when you rebuild the kingdom to Israel? >>"
If even those closer to Him didn't understand anything on the advent of the glorious kingdom of the Messiah at the end of times, let alone the others. But let's dont forget that God does miracles. The life of the young Christian community in Jerusalem took place in a charming atmosphere of prayer, love and joy. The apostles were making miracles in the name of Jesus, and those who believed, and who had put all their goods in common and distributed according to the needs of each (2.42 acts) (*). There was still the break with the Jewish population and the others, since the faithful Christians were circumcised and still attending the temple.
St. Peter, however, with his usual candor, did not neglect to point out things in public as soon as he had the chance of. Telling the Passion of Jesus, he did not neglect reproaches, speaking in front of everyone and even within the Temple itself:
"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied before Pilate, when he had tried to release him. But you denied the holy and the righteous and have requested that there did grace of a murderer ... "(Acts 3: 13-15)
Obviously this attitude could not be ignored by the Sanhedrin, that one evening arrested Peter and John and imprisoned them until the next day, when they were brought before the high priesthood of Annas and Caiphas and to all those who belonged to their families, to the heads and the elderly of the people, together with a paralytic that Peter had healed.
This time the Sanhedrin did merely a warning, which was not accepted by the two, but they were released for fear of popular reaction.
From then on, in front of the huge increase in the number of recruits, the miracles that they were doing and the success of the Apostles, began the persecution of Christians by Jews.
In the year 36, growing hostility by the Sanhedrin itself against the preaching of the Gospel, begun a persecution during which was STONED the first Christian martyr: Santo Stefano. The thing is held on charges before the Sanhedrin, supported by false witnesses and with the sentence for blasphemy, and then with the stoning. In that period Saul, the future SAIN PAUL "ravaging the Church he entered houses, dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. "(Acts 22.3)
AUTHOR'S NOTE:(*) Here the proto-communism worked good, because those who decided to whom, what and how to distribute were the Apostles themselves. They were small voluntary and self-referential communities, as there are many and thrive today, interfacing with the outside and operating under the laws of the State.
TRAVELING THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE
The Roman army of Gnaeus Pompeius arrived in Palestine in 63 BC, begged to intervene and called by the Jews themselves to peacemaking and put an end to the massacres and the turpitude of the Maccabees' descendants.
In Palestine a series of dominations had occurred over centuries: the Babylonians succeeded in 540 BC, the Persians, and finally the Greeks (333 BC), that is,the generals of Alexander the Great. The new rulers tried to kill the Jewish spirit. Even they profaned the temple, and then burst out the Maccabees revolt´, who gave Palestine several freedom decades. At the end Herod the Great ruled the entire region, under the protectorate of Rome. After the death of Herod the Great, the last one of his three wills was observed designating Archelaus as the crown prince of Judea and Samaria, Herod Antipas as Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea and Herod Philip as tetrarch of Ituraea, Batanea and other adjacent territories.
It was necessary that the emperor Augustus approved these appointments . Augustus was very wise, as he was sure to reign over the kingdom relying on the new rulers, as he had once done with the old Herod, or deleting them if they failed. Archelaus got Giudea, Herod Antipas the Galilea, Herod Philip the Batanea, Iturea and Abilene. Incidentally, Herod Antipas was the one who had stolen Herodias to his brother Herod Philip, father of the infamous Salome.
The lines of communication and tourism of that time, and the conversion of Saul.
"The Romans put great care into three things above all, that were neglected by the Greeks, that is, to open the roads, to build aqueducts and to set sewers in the underground " (Pliny the Elder).
Again I'm forced to remember and lament the ignorance that makes many people say "a journey at that time was very difficult ... with the streets of that time!
This is an obvious mistake, because we speak of the Imperial Age and not the Middle Ages! Then the Roman buildings and the cobbled stone streets have not yet been looted and demolished to build huts by the farmers, and for houses and castles. In addition to the roads that were built, the peace and freedom of trade, the protection ensured by the Romans. greatly facilitated the spread of Christianity throughout the empire.
At the time of the empire every 40 Km (ie the distance that you could cover on foot from sunrise to sunset) was a rule of 'Mansio' that is a hotel surrounded by walls with rooms for travelers and stables for changing horses. In 'Mansiones', you could also find a blacksmith, a carpenter and all that was needed to travelers. Guess where the words Mansion (English), Maison (French) and Magione (Italian word for greatest house) do come from.
Looking at the map of the cobbled streets network extended to all the territories of the Roman Empire (but here are only those of which are found some remains) we realize that communications were quite easy , even if sometimes you could run into criminals, such as we saw the two robbers crucified with Jesus Christ.
Until a couple of centuries ago, in the eighteenth and nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth century , the situation in the Italian peninsula was almost everywhere even worse for travelers than two thousand years ago, as well as delinquency..
TOURISM:see the Ethiopian Minister of the Treasury of Ethiopian Queen Candace .
AN ANGEL OF THE LORD SO SPOKE TO PHILIP: get up and walk toward at noonday along the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza; it is deserted. And he got up and left. Just then an Ethiopian, a eunuch and general superintendent of the treasure of Queen Candace of Ethiopia, was returning to Jerusalem, where he went to worship God (Acts 26,29)
The piece and also what comes out from the rest of this story are significant:
After the evangelization and baptism of the Ethiopian the story continuesas follows (Acts: 26,40)
- it emerges the ease of traveling, thanks to Roman paved roads;
- it is clear that the trips are free. Anyone who travels goes where and when he pleases, as they like. The eunuch is traveling in a carriage, and is allegedly escorted by someone;
- one can read what he wants and profess the religion he wants.
Philip found himself in Azoto, and walked through towns preaching, till he came to Caesarea.
St. Paul, the former inquisitor, then miraculously healed and converted
If we want, we can also read about how Saul (later St. Paul) was traveling intensively throughout Syria on behalf of the Sanhedrin to find heretics Jews, and how he was electrocuted on the Roman road leading to Damascus (Acts 27, 1-9; 28, 10-19; 29, 19-25).
After conversion Saul, a persecutor became persecuted, back to Jerusalem. From there the 'brothers' send him to Tarsus, to escape to the Jewishs.
If then we see the back and forth of St. Paul and his co-evangelizers for the whole empire, we are amazed: the possibility and ease of travel is evident from the plain simplicity of the Acts stories.
About Tarsus: In ancient geography, Cilicia formed a district on the southeast coast of Asia Minor, north of Cyprus. Before becoming a Roman province Cilicia was one of the hideouts of pirates that were hindering businesses, and then were destroyed and uprooted by Pompeius Magnus (the Great) in his famous war against the pirates of the Mediterranean sea.
Paul of Tarsus was presumably a very wealthy man, having inherited from his father a manufacturing industry of tents for the army, and to the merits of the family he was also a Roman citizen. This is why for him its easy to move was great, given his financial resources and qualification.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION ( CENTURION CORNELIUS CONVERSION)
From the historical point of view is to be noted that the Romans do not intervene in religious matters and customs of the conquered peoples. Provided they do not adversely affect the Empire's organization and authority and the Emperor's prerogatives, there's absolute freedom of religion.
The Roman practical mentality is scoped to the security and free movement of goods and people in all the Empire's territories. The Romans fight as little as possible, and always prefer negotiations, so much so that to control a territory as vast as that of the empire takes less than two hundred thousand men.
More than with the inexorable 'last resort' of legions, the 'conquest' of the territories was rather made and maintained by the example of order, legality and rationality and with the change of living conditions offered by civilization, for which all peoples who entered the sphere of Rome's influence voluntarily became assimilated with the Romans' mentality.
But getting in touch and Romanizing people like the Israelites wasn't possible, there wasn't a people that you could mix with and assimilate in any way to the Roman mentality, as instead the other peoples of the world did.
For the ancient Jews was then as it is for Muslims today: in their countries the freedom of religion does not exists. In Saudi Arabia one cannot build Christian churches under death's penalty, and Christians are hampered, if not persecuted, even in Turkey, that is in a Muslim country aspiring to join the EU.
Palestine is not considered important in the Empire strategic device, and throughout there are about 3,000 men, that was less than a classic legion, which usually consisted of about 5,000 men.
The Eastern army is grouped Estide to face the Parthians and Southside to keep quiet arabian looters.
The Italic Cohort's Centuria commanded by the Centurion Cornelius, (just the one who says about Jesus "he was really the son of God"), belonged to a cohort presumably composed of about 300-500 elements, that is, five centuries of sixty - one hundred men , each of which controlled precisely by a Centurion.
When Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem there was just that particular centuria of the 'Italic Cohort', ie sixty veteran legionnaires who usually remained in the fortress Antonia and you couldn't be see them much around.
With regard to all the Gospel facts and parables,Cornelius was the Roman centurion who had prayed Jesus to heal his sick servant, and was perhaps the first among the pagans to convert to Christianity. Of him it was said that he commanded the Italic Cohort , to emphasize its origin, so alien to Judaism, but also that he was a "God-devout".
According to the Scriptures, he was sent by the Lord an Angel who invited him to send for Simon Peter.
This one, in turn warned of the need to accommodate the new faith to all men without distinction, answered the call of the Roman officer, and as requested, Peter evangelized him and his family and soldiers. Peter ordered that all the present were baptized.
The conversion of the centurion Cornelius and his family members and God-devout soldiers like him is the time when you go from a catechesis still timid in its missionary approaches, to a free-preaching one, opening to the pagan world.
Saint Peter in fact welcomes pagans without requiring that they submit to circumcision.
The explosion of the Gospel preaching and the Christianity spread up, takes place under the supervision of the Mother Church in Jerusalem on this young community, ensuring the uniform and substantially identical transmission, at first by tradition, and then by the Gospel texts.
Those who were dispersed during the persecution at the time of the first martyr Stephen, traveled to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and began preaching.
In Jerusalem they selected out and send to Antioch the apostle Barnabas, to so ensure the orthodoxy of preaching and to also get the followers number to increase.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to call Saul and together they return to Antioch. By the tale of Acts (11.27-3) we learn also of the great famine that occurred towards the 46 AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Here we understand the usefulness of the road network which enabled a large collection and quick sending aid in Jerusalem that were delivered by Barnabas and Saul to the elders. Later they returned from Jerusalem to Antioch bringing John, whose surname was Mark, and of course his mother Mary.
All this very fervent and profitable coming and going was facilitated by roads and infrastructures that existed thanks to the Empire. Continuing in the Acts we read Barnabas and Saul going to Seleucia and embarking for Cyprus. Saul go then at Salamis, where he converts to the faith the proconsul Sergius Paulus (1). Referring to the tasty and enjoyable reading of Acts for further details, we summarize here the St. Paul's travels .
All this coming and going is very fervent and profitable facilitated by roads and infrastructure that existed thanks to the Empire.
Continuing in the Acts we read that Barnabas and Saul go to Seleucia and embark for Cyprus. St. Paul go then at Salamis, where he converts to the faith the proconsul Sergius Paulus (1). Referring to the tasty and enjoyable reading of Acts for details, we summarize in the upper figure the travels of St. Paul.
Another episode to read with taste among many recounted in the Acts, concerns the miraculous release of Paul and Silas (Acts 14.8 to 18, 16, 25,40) from the prison where they had been thrown. They were accused by the owners to have exorcised a slave girl who foretold the future, causing her to lose the gift of prophecy and the money she earned for them with it.
The owners of the slave girl had turned to the magistrates that established the facts, they did beat with rods the two apostles and had them imprisoned.
Here Paul claims to be a Roman citizen and getting the apology of judges is released immediately.
The reading of the judgment of the episode in front of the proconsul of Gallius (Acts 18.12 to 17); where they had been taken from the Jews because accused of being 'heretics', makes us understand how the Romans did reason in front of the others' religions.
Gallius said: "if it were a crime or an evil deed, I would receive your accusation, Jews, as it should be. But if there's matter of speech, names, and of your law, arrange it by yourself; I do not want to be judge of these things". And he sent them away from the court ....
St. Paul escaped many dangers thanks to the fact that he was a Roman citizen, but in the end the conspiracies and plots of the Jews, powerful and influential throughout the empire, again made him imprisoning and bringing to trial before the procurator Festus (2) (Acts 25.1 to 12) in Caesarea. Here he has to fulfill the divine plan: proclaiming to be a Roman citizen, Paul asked to be judged by the emperor himself. He MUST then be sent to Rome, to the judgment of the Emperor. This journey of Paul also deserves to be read with special attention.
As we all know, the first time that Paul asks the Caesar's judgment, he could be released due to the expiration of the prescription time, and continued his apostolate in Asia until he was again accused by the Jews with the 'aggravating condition - false - of violating home-arrests .
Back to Rome again under home-arrest, after a long stay in Rome in a house he had rented, in relative freedom and awaiting thr Judgment of the Emperor Nero, at last St. Paul was judged then beheaded according to the sentence that belonged to Roman citizens. St. Peter, instead, for humility asked and got to be crucified upside down.
All simplistically say that Nero's persecution against Christians began following the accusation of having provoked the famous fire of Rome. Instead it is more likely that the persecution has been requested and obtained by Jews, very influential in Rome because of their economic power.
They never ceased to persecute Christians, particularly the converted Jews, and took the opportunity to get rid of Peter and Paul, two thorns in their flanks that reminded them the crime committed with the crucifixion of Christ, and that, for them, they were guilty of blasphemy.
Note:(1) Sergius Paolus (Lucius Sergius Paulus) was Roman Proconsul in Cyprus sometime in the first century AD. He was related in some Latin epigraphs, but given the spread of the Latin names it can't be a secure identification. In Antioch of Pisid was found a fragmentary inscription appointing Lucius Sergius Paulus. In 1887 was discovered in Rome a marking border stone of the times of Claudius where Sergius Paulus is quoted. That stone records the assignment (47 AD) made to the superintendents to banks of the ancient river Tiber, one of which was Sergius Paulus.
Since Paul's journey to Cyprus is usually dated to the first half of the 40s AD (some experts could have lasted the visit of the apostle even before), it was considered that Sergius lend his first service for three years as proconsul in Cyprus, and then returned to Rome, where he was appointed as superintendent. Given that Sergius Paulus was not greeted in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, it is possible that he died before it was written.
( 2) Porcius Festus had reputation of honest and conscientious man, and remained in office until the year 62, when he died.
CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW
St. Paul escaped many dangers hatched by the Jews thanks to the fact that he was a Roman citizen, but in the end the conspiracies and plots of the Jews, powerful and influential throughout the empire because of their economic power, they can do it again imprison and bring to trial before the procurator Festus (2) (Acts 25.1 to 12) to Caesarea.
Here is fulfilled the divine plan: claiming to be a Roman citizen, he asks to be judged by the Emperor himself. He MUST then be sent to Rome, to the judgment of the Emperor. The last journey of Paul also deserves to be read, to the statement of facts that give the perfect idea of the organization and efficiency of the Roman Empire.
By a number of legal tests which passes on denunciation of the Jews, St. Paul always gets along brilliantly, and always with a judgment of innocence. The last time, however, he asks, as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome by the Emperor.
Then the King, the Governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them (in court) rose. Moving away talked among themselves, saying: << this man has done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment >>, and at the contrary Agrippa said to Festus << this man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar >> . Acts, 26, 30-32
Everywhere, even in the most remote islands, there is at least one magistrate, the 'primus, elected by the people and recognized by the proconsul or attorney of the province. In the various provinces there are prosecutors and governors who administer the country according to local Kings and potentates. The maritime trade, taking place only in the periods less prone to storms, ie from March to September, and are very intense. The ship Alexandrina (Alexandrina, ae, sf) with which to Mira in Lycia St. Paul travels to Rome is a Roman cargo ship, so called, by custom, from Alexandria, the main port from which sailed the grain supply to Rome. We know that of Paul, sailing in an unfavorable period, shipwrecked in Malta. It was also a ship large enough because in addition to the load of grain, carrying 256 people, including soldiers, passengers and crew. Helped by the Malteses, for which he performs many miracles and healings, St. Paul starts and arrives in Rome.
As we all know, he had a long stay in Rome in a rent house, during two years under the regime of "custodia militaris" (Acts 28:16), that is, today we would say under home arrest. Then Saint Paul recovered freedom, probably because his prosecutors failed to appear and while the legal term had expired.
THE NERO'S PERSECUTION
Generally it is said that Nero's persecution against Christians began due to the fact of those being accused of having set the famous fire of Rome. Instead it is more likely that the execution itself was not sought and obtained by the leaders of the Jews, very influential in Rome because of their economical power.
They never ceased to persecute Christians, particularly the converted Jews, and took the opportunity to get rid of Peter and Paul, a thorn in their side that reminded them of the crime committed with the crucifixion of Christ, who according to their conviction was guilty of blasphemy.
Nero took the opportunity of the latter Jews' complaint, who had also slanders among the populace, to free himself from suspicion of having commissioned the fire, and condemned to death all those who by the Jews had given as Christians. In all, they were not more than a dozen.
As said before,St. Paul was convicted and suffered the punishment reserved to the Roman citizens guilty of capital crimes, that is decapitation. Saint Peter however, who wasn't Roman citizen, for humility asked and got to be crucified upside down.
APPENDIX: EXAMPLE OF A ROMAN CARGO SHIP - (the Spargi wreck)
An example of a standard Roman cargo ship is the Spargi's offshore wreck near the La Maddalena island. I personally visited it in the year 1962, diving with ARA shells accompanied by the Military Navy diver Mazza and others, and I could observe the havoc caused by vandals.
The ship was well made: 150 tons, that is 15,000 cubic feet, 115 feet long and 26 width. The robust oak scaffolding ribs 4" x 4", well-established on a plating thickness of 14,17" made with planks of pine wood, longitudinally connected by solid plugs with copper nails, lead coated to preserve them by electrolysis. Above the planking, to protect the wood from the salt, the flanks were covered by lead sheets held by copper nails fixtures with extreme care to 2" from each other, in alternate rows. The stern was then coated with a bronze plate 1/8" thick.
The cargo was stowed rationally. In the center aft hung the great amphorae's weight set in 3 or 5 floors, each stuck with the stalk (or spike), in the recesses formed by the amphora's necks of the lower floor. There were the ones bulging with with short and stocky neck and small handles, and the slender ones, with long necks and beautiful coves, of italic type. Had been built by those who well undestood a good stowage for navigation, and were complete with the trademark "SAB". In all there could be 2000 amphoraes, so compact and elastic as a whole, to withstand any vessel's rolling and pitching.
At prow were placed ceramics, paterae, vases and cups, of what in those days was more fashionable - now called "Campania's B ceramics" - mass-produced in the rich italic province; there was also some piece of older " Campania's A ", and most multicolored glass paste unguentaria, also rather outdated, but still required in the markets to which the ship was headed. Hailing from southern Italy (perhaps from Pozzuoli), the goal was probably Turris Libisonis (Porto Torres) or Marseille and Spain.
In the quarterdeck, had settled the worship place, where the commander himself performed the rites of the goddess Tutela, to whom he trusted ship and sailors security: there was a marble kiosk composed of a small 2 feet high altar surmounted with two columns sided by a fluted bronze statue of the deity.
Although it was technically possible to build very large ships, such as those that transported the Egyptian obelisks to Rome, which were more than 300 feet long, that of the Spargi wreck was the standard that for a commercial shipowner balanced the risks of cargo loss. following a possible shipwreck. Then a commercial ship that ran into a storm, or that sailed at night near the coasts had a certain possibility of being wrecked, especially near winter, and so it happened to the one that brought St. Paul to Rome.
From a careful reading of Acts it's revealed a practical and essential world, that is definitely not that one violent and bloodthirsty represented by certain historians or painted in many incredibly fool movies: I saw one of Jesus where the Roman cavalry went around stealing and raping and we lacked that they dispersed with truncheons the crowd that was listening to the Jesus sermon on the mount.
The producers morbidity is instrumental to the tastes, and emphasizes with satisfaction only depravity or violence aspects, like the gladiatorial shows, which instead were then overshadowed by horse races and theatrical plays. Moreover one should say that the gladiatorial games were usually regulated too, and for each match there was a referee, as is for today's wrestling.
The today's foolishness makes it seem as if the extraordinary literature, and greek and roman theater never existed.
Commercial and technical development
In the second century.BC, the victorious end of the Punic Wars, and the encounter with Greek culture, did unlash the Italic peoples, now united under Rome and temperate by the hardest past sacrifices, generated an extraordinary explosion of energy and vitality.
The entire Mediterranean basin was then opened to the conquest and the exchange of goods and cultural works. On the sea you drew hundreds and hundreds of routes of civilization between the East and the West; the ships had substantial constructive improvements and with them the containers and methods for the transport of goods; the navigation techniques were now tested and improved not only by the war experience in many naval battles, but also from the piratesque activities which gave their own contibution to progress the Mediterranean man was doing in the knowledge of winds, currents, seabed , and shelters.
Industry, commerce, instruction
That is flourishing in the Roman Empire, because the Romans use local resources whenever possible: in addition to the large shipyards, we have all the mass production of all sorts of goods, from ceramic to glass, from statues to weapons, and even the stored and conserved food, such as the famous 'garum' the smelly fish sauce much appreciated by the ancient Romans, and even livestock. Do not neglect the schools, taught by individuals 'magistri' to whom enroll the kids whose father is able to pay fees. Illiteracy in Rome is quite rare. In the army then everyone should at least know how to read and write properly.
Freedom and virtues - no racism
Into the Empire there's no racism, every man is appreciated for what it's worth and he's able to obtain. Let's remember an obscure Illyrian (a Slav) named Diocletian, who enlisted him as a private soldier in the legions and eventually became thanks to his heroism and his intelligence, even Emperor.
The father of St. Paul of Tarsus, let's repeat this, owned a flourishing and appreciated textile industry, which also had the contract for the tents supply to the Roman army. Due to his industry it was given him, a Jew, the Roman citizenship, who he transmitted to his son Saul.
The concept of VIRTUS (virtue, from latin vir = man) inherited from the ancient republic extolled the concept of honor, generosity, respect for shareholders, as well as the respect of the people, and even required compliance of the slaves. The freedmen, especially men of culture and science, were numerous and generally rich.
Enough with the clichés
It is not true that in Rome itself great works and infrastructure were built by slaves, even for the size of the population needs.
It is estimated that the city of Rome came up to 3 million inhabitants, compared with one hundred million throughout the empire: Then works in large cities were built to employ the Roman citizens, who were paid for their work and could keep theirselves and their family.
It so happened also to the countryside workers. Let's remember that a Julius Caesar's law demanded even that at least 30% of workers in the fields were free citizens.
Moreover, anyone who knows something about history, knows that the people of Rome of the first centuries did not allow the others to put their feet on their head, and that an emperor's survival depended largely, if not exclusively, by the favor of the people of the city of Rome.
Culture and letters
In Ancient Rome all kinds of crafts and even book publishing flourished . Recall that the Spanish poet Valerius Martial, who usually charged to copy and sell his works an editor with his shop near the Capitol.
Literature and Theater was flourishing too. It came down to us an impressive body of poems, comedies, tragedies, romances and even recipes books , besides the most part of Greeks philosophers and poets works.
In the Romanized world illiteracy is less widthespread than in the modern world, the importance of law and respect for the law and the people, and the level of democracy is much greater than what one would expect two thousand years ago, so much so that the majority of judges are elected by the citizens that they represent and administer
.I remind you that the word 'candidate', comes from the white robe worn by competitors to the local and parliamentary elections.
The laws and local governments are respected, and large infrastructure are built, roads,aqueducts and ports, which allow all movements as fast as possible by technological means of that time.
Being able to travel and trading in relative safety for most of the known world, facilitated the Romanization spread ; and even after the collapse of the Western Empire the European cultures could basically be continued, since the language of culture was longtime Latin, and the world continued to be recognized itself in the principles of civilization and law . And then, who knows a bit of Latin and ethimology, it is evident that most of the European languages were affected very much of the influence of the mother tongue, ie the same Latin and as even by the ancient Greek.
The Imperial army was not numerous, but very efficient. Augustus had fixed the number of legions to XXIII (about 100,000 men in all) and later it came up to about 150,000 men. Despite all problems and disasters, there were various attempt to resuscitate the Empire.even after the Empire's fall, which began with Constantine, and was completed after about two centuries under the pressure of wild populations from the east, when the capital was no longer Rome; See Charlemagne and the Holy Roman-Germanic Empire.
But none of them there could manage fully again the romanized world, even if the title of 'Caesar' fell to the last Emperor Franz Joseph of the House of Habsburg. The western Empire thus ended formally in 1918 with the collapse of the Central Empires.
Proud to live in Rome
Anyway I am proud to be a Roman citizen, and, nothwithstanding our actual inept governement, I am honored to have the Urbs for home and teacher of lofty historians and civilians thoughts, (Paul VI), and like me, from the historical point of view are Roman citizens all the peoples who inhabit the peninsula, and also almost all Europeans, if not all the western world they did colonize.
It amazes me so much, and even irritates me a little, as during the homilies of some Sundays, almost all Catholic priests speak of the Ancient Romans as oppressor and exploiter occupiers. The demolition of our glorious and honorable past began in Italy as a reaction to the bombastic fascist rhetoric, in support of the Marxist one, but it was carried out by so crude as ignorant of the history of mankind, blind masters. Reality and truth can't be changed by a Big Brother.
Lino Bertuzzi September 2014
|CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS GLADLY ACCEPTED