Mended Sole – 1st century BC
Fighting at the time
In Rome the General Gaius Marius has gone and created a bit of a stir. Without a hint of notice, old Gaius is permitting Roman peasants to join in the fun and games of war by actually letting them fight. What ever will he think of next, for goodness sake! Probably let them vote.
It sounds suspiciously like equal rights to many Romans and a sure sign that the social fabric of the Empire is breaking down (they needn’t have worried as they weren’t sacked by the Goths until about 400 years later).
Previously it was considered only a rich man’s privilege to be slaughtered in battle and rightly so too. You don’t want some peasant making dying noises in anything but BBC Latin thank you very much. Why just the other day a lower class person was heard to die and groan “wah- by gum” in an accent that, if I was not mistaken, was actually very much in the vernacular and sounded suspiciously like it came from the slums of Naples. The cheek of the bounder. I mean before you know it, there’ll be thousands of them dying all over Africa whilst calling out rhyming slang “Oranges and Pears, “whistles and flutes” and such like. What will the Africans think we have come to.
Poor people have a think about the new legislature but actually, are not quite sure if they want equal rights after all considering the consequences. They are quite happy putting their feet up in their squalid, rat infested slums. There are already a range of fatal diseases which they are likely to die from –why accelerate the process. Peasants carry placards saying “Um yes sorry but we are in fact second class citizens after all, ” and ” Oh please keep us downtrodden ” whilst optimistically singing “Give Peace a Chance.”
Rich Romans reply that “You’re going to get equal rights whether you like it or not Sonny Jim. Here’s an old sword and a bit of tin which can be used as armour. Now just pretend it’s the Colosseum and you’re fighting some Lion or Antelope or Christian or something. Right – get out there and fight you yellow bellied miserable little man.”
Rich Romans are a bit miffed as many saw themselves as professional soldiers – a bit of a cut above – and were proud of their shiny silver standards. One was heard to cry, ” Now that every Tom, Dick and Harry will get a silver standard I think I’ll decide to go and be a Philosopher instead. ” He stormed off to have a sulk and a soak in the hot baths.
Standard of public speaking at the time
Just not good enough according to Roman statesman and really top notch public speaker, Cicero, who demands higher standards all round. People should be trained in public speaking, he says, and successful speaking requires a thorough education in philosophy, law and history. He has had enough of the mere piffle spoken by many of Rome’s so called orators babbling and mumbling on.
Cicero, listening to the speakers in the senate, pipes up and is heard to exclaim “Oh alas – What a load of rubbish.”
The babblers reply ” Oh no it’s not.”
Cicero replies ” Oh yes it is” before regaining his grace and saying ” I am above this cheap banter” and scowls indignantly.
Cicero continues “Suffice to say that I, my friends, am the proverbial bee’s knees while you lot drone on– honestly you’re about as enlightening and intellectually stimulating as my pet turtle – pull your socks up.”
Rebels of the Time
Spartacus, a trainee gladiator slave with a big future ahead of him, finds 6,000 supporters and rebels against the Roman armies. They all die but Peter Ustinov picks up an Oscar.
Feisty, passionate, rebellious Frenchmen (or should I say Gaulmen) conquered by the mighty, but boring and predictable Romans. The Romans brandish their swords shouting “By Jove you peasants from Gaul have got a lot of gaul” and proceed to lob their heads off.
Time at the time
46 BC marks the “last year of confusion” as Julius Caesar introduces the 365 day Calendar.
Previously the year had been 355 days with a bonus month of 22 or 23 days added every two or so years randomly for good measure. Dates were all askew and nobody knew if they were Arthur or Martha. A lot of haircut and dental appointments were missed and there was general frustration before Julius and his Egyptian mathematician mate Sosigenes (nicknamed “Sausages” to his friends) saved the day- and the year.
Art of the Time
On the Greek Island of Melos, Alexandros of Antioch creates the Venus De Milo. His model is a beautiful Greek girl with no arms.