Sex, power and punishment

Discuss the culture of Alexander's world and his image in art

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jasonxx

Sex, power and punishment

Post by jasonxx »

This post may be a little extreme for some Porthonians. i am interested to know just how seperate a society Ancient greece was to classical Rome.
Ii say this following my viewings of the pretty god but as brutal Rome, I guess some viewrs would say good god were the Romans as nasty and brutal as the programe shows. I would probably say yes and is why they were as succesful based on brutality.

A lot of discipline and torture was apparently based on sex and rape.many an unfortunate victime were either tortured or brutally gang raped/ pretty disturbing stuff. However it made me think about rape as not a sex thing but more or less a tool of power and control to be honest its not nice to watch. But it just made me think of Pausanius treatment by Attalus and his group.

Were the Greeks and Romans at all far removed from each other. i think the brilliant thing with Rome without been sure is that the programe shows the Roman Empire warts and all. id reckoment watching the programe 10 hours of pretty good stuff. mainly about Augustus. So id say Alexander would need such length to do him any justice at all.

kenny
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Re: Sex, power and punishment

Post by marcus »

Hi Kenny,

Well, the Romans certainly could be as brutal as shown on Rome.

It's probably not true to say that so much of the torture/punishment was based on rape as is shown on the programme - they do have a ratings agenda behind it all, after all. That's not to say that sexual violence wasn't used. (Of course, Atia's feud with Servilia, as shown particularly on Sunday's episode, is totally made up, and personally I think it unlikely that the torture inflicted on Servilia would really have happened to a Roman matron - unthinkable.)

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Post by jasonxx »

Marcus

As you say the brutal scene with the woman a little inventive licence. But i think we can agree with the essence on that. Rome. Alexanders conquests etc.

my wife couldnt watch and looked away. the scenes with the Romans children. Bottom line id say all empires are based on the extremes of what one person can do to some one else. My wife does the Ostrich but id wager reality is far nastier than any fantasy made up for movies or tv.

Rome the programe is a very god eye opener. I talked to Paralus and his opinion is they have Mark Anthony bang on the money.

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Post by Paralus »

Hi Kenny.

Yes, if Marc Antony's skills as a general matched his bull neck and visceral appetites, he’d likely have been another Alexander.

Rome was different to classical Greece. The Greeks, though always belligerent and bellicose, seemed to lack the “aggressive” and competitively aggrandizing nature (for want of a better description) that is evident in the Romans – this more so in the Republican and late Republican period.

It’s hard to nail down but the first point of difference is that the Greeks whilst not averse to the perpetration of the odd atrocity – Cocyra 430-425, the Athenians vis Melos and Scione and the Spartans at Plataea in 427 “what have you done to aid the Spartans in this war?” – generally perpetrated such actions upon other Greeks. And, untill Philip or Alexander, their aggrandising - panhellenist preachers notwistanding - was limited to hegemony over themselves.

Rome of the republican era seemed to be rather “pugnacious”. By this I mean that any and all pretexts were used for the subjugation of the Italian tribes, central and northern Italy and Magna Graeca This, I suppose, comes from the fact that this was the time of expansion and gaining of hegemony of the Italian Peninsula and further. Their wars with the Samnites proved they could be rather murderous as the occasion might require.

The Roman state too was different to the Greek city state. In classical times the epitome of rectitude in the city state was to participate in its life. This could mean the religious festivals, the “arts” (the sponsoring of festivals etc) or, more often, politics. Often all were interwined. Many a time this revolved around the military (Athens, for instance where the chief political office became the “Strategos” or general). In Rome it seemed that the political life of the citizenry was defined by an often ruthless competition to the top via personal valour. Those of a mind to compete to become, to use an example, a Roman Pericles did so via a military career. One was defined by the battles he had won and the scars these afforded but, even more importantly, the “triumphs” he was awarded via successful campaigning.

It was as much a competition basted in blood as were the gladiatorial games.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Efstathios »

Well, torturing was used both in Greece and Rome. In Athens the torturing was included in their laws. However the Greeks generally did not gain joy by watching people getting eaten by lions e.t.c as the Romans did. The Romans would sit on the Colosseum and watch people getting eaten by lions and tigers and their guts spilling out and such while eating their breads, or whatever they ate. As the Greek phrase says "'Αρτος και θεάματα", bread and spectacles.

The Romans and their brutality and corruption remind me of the nazis. The officers' wives would stand next to them watching hundreds of bodies being dropped into the pits, while eating ice cream. This is the behaviour of an animal rather than a man.
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Post by alejandro »

VERY off-topic. Sorry!
Efstathios wrote:As the Greek phrase says "'Αρτος και θεάματα", bread and spectacles.
Hi Efstathios,

I heard the same phrase in Spanish ("Pan y circo") but I thought the origin would probably be Roman (the literal translation is "Bread and circus"). Though both sayings have the same meaning, the use of "circus" made me think about Rome as the likely origin. Are you sure is Greek?
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Post by marcus »

alejandro wrote:VERY off-topic. Sorry!
Efstathios wrote:As the Greek phrase says "'Αρτος και θεάματα", bread and spectacles.
Hi Efstathios,

I heard the same phrase in Spanish ("Pan y circo") but I thought the origin would probably be Roman (the literal translation is "Bread and circus"). Though both sayings have the same meaning, the use of "circus" made me think about Rome as the likely origin. Are you sure is Greek?
Best,

Alejandro
The Latin, if I remember my Latin correctly, is "Panem et circenses". Wasn't the phrase coined by Seneca (or Juvenal?)? - so the original would have been in Latin. However, there's nothing that says it can't be translated, into Greek, Spanish, etc. ... :wink:

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Post by jasonxx »

With Regard to the Roman Colusium. Im pretty aware of the debaunchery that went on there. I hear stories of women slaves etc been force raped by bulls etc.

As degradation go I would say the Romans had a foot hold on that. I wonder if the extremes they used and there shear rutlessness was a the reason why Rome as an Empire basically lasted longer than any.

Ironic to call Romans Nazis. itsquite well said the Nazi war machines etc were based on Rome down to the Nazi eagle.

Most domunant powers following Rome took certain leafs fro the Romans.

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Post by Efstathios »

I heard the same phrase in Spanish ("Pan y circo") but I thought the origin would probably be Roman (the literal translation is "Bread and circus"). Though both sayings have the same meaning, the use of "circus" made me think about Rome as the likely origin. Are you sure is Greek?
I just mentioned how it is in greek. I think that the original is roman indeed, but i dont know when it was first used, so it might be from a later period.
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Post by sikander »

Greetings,

Someone said:
"The Romans and their brutality and corruption remind me of the nazis. The officers' wives would stand next to them watching hundreds of bodies being dropped into the pits, while eating ice cream. This is the behaviour of an animal rather than a man."

Why insult the animals? (Shaking head) This is behaviour all too often typical of people conditioned to see someone else as the Other- "not us, therefore less than, therefore, we can do as we wish".

History is replete with humans acting in appalling ways towards their own kind, from east to west, north to south, ancient times to modern.

We see an individual we don't agree with using torture and acting in horrific ways and call it barbaric; we see someone do it that we call "ally" and call it justifiable defense. It has happened in China, Japan, India and Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, the United States, throughout Europe, the Middle East, Vietnam, etc.. In the history of the 20th century alone, millions have died at the hands of their fellow men in acts of brutality, for reasons political, religious and sociological...

Keep the people fed and entertained (bread and circuses) and they will accept the most outrageous of treatment of those they do not know...

Keeping this in mind might partially explain why Alexander was seen as unusual when he would deal less harshly with those he conquered, and made his utter destruction of others less shocking to those familiar with human history..

Regards,
Sikander
jasonxx

Post by jasonxx »

Sikander

I couldnt put it better myself. It gets a bit irritating wjen we get the Alexander dissers having a go at some of his so called Atrocities. In the scheme of things i would say Alexanders rate of extremist behaviour kinda mild compared to some as you wouldsay from Ancients to modern. North South east and West.

Compliments also dissing the remark belittling behaviour to animals. Id say it an insult to any animal. I doubt there is another species on this planet that causes such wantan masacre and mysery on its own kind as humans have done.

Its ironic a bit off target. i watched The fantastic 4 and the Silver Surfer. We get the silver surfer saving the planet and man kind from the evil Galactica. Upon reflection maybe the Silver Surfer would look at humanity over history and even to day and think why waste my time. man kind does as good a job as any to destroy itself.

How can mankind protect itself from mankind.

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Post by Semiramis »

Hm.. I should've guessed that this thread would be a depressing one.

Speaking of sex as power, perhaps that's why Alexander's good treatment of the Persian harem is such a big part of his myth? That he DIDN'T rape and humiliate them? Because as I understand, the expected behavior for a victor was to declare his victory not just by taking territory and treasure but by raping the women of the defeated. Which translated as the ultimate personal insult, irreversible too. There's an article by Elizabeth Carney called "Alexander and Persian women" which discusses the relationship between sex and power including potential political motivations for Alexander taking Barsine as his mistress.

But all may not be blemish free. What's this I hear about Darius' wife Strateira dying from childbirth two years after she'd been taken captive by Alexander?

And what exactly happened to the women of Babylon when Alexander's men entered it?
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Post by Paralus »

Semiramis wrote:Because as I understand, the expected behavior for a victor was to declare his victory not just by taking territory and treasure but by raping the women of the defeated. Which translated as the ultimate personal insult, irreversible too.

And what exactly happened to the women of Babylon when Alexander's men entered it?
I'm not so certain that greek generals raped the women of the defeated. Sold them all off into slavery often enough though. We don't hear much of Alexander's relations with the royal harem. What we do would indicate that it figured somewhere near to the paperwork of empire in the scheme of things.

A good question the last. The Macedonian army will have bee little different than any other army of conquest. Although not a Persepolis, I think we can fill in the gaps in the sources here.

Any army that has wiped the imperial forces off the field gets to take from the supermarket shelves without neccessarily paying for it.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Efstathios »

When i said about man resembling animal, i meant the beastly behaviour of the animals. Of course man is capable of worse things than the animals do.

Alexander indeed treated Darius' harem well. And generally females throught the empire, but men also. Sometimes they were sold as slaves, such as in Thebes and Tyr, according to the usuall tactic of those times. The Greeks generally had higher moral values than other people, such as the Romans, and the Persians. That doesnt mean of course that there werent any attrocities being made in ancient Greek history, but the Greeks were and are just not that bloodthirsty.
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Post by Semiramis »

Efstathios wrote:The Greeks generally had higher moral values than other people, such as the Romans, and the Persians.
Hehe.. that's a big call! :) Without getting into semantics (definition of "higher", "moral values", evidence for said claim) etc., we can safely say the Greeks never reached the powers of the Roman or Persian empires. Perhaps they had less opportunity to commit the crimes that accompany absolute power?
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