Saturday, 17 December 2011

[Net : članak] Io Saturnalia !

Today marks the start of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival in honor of the god Saturnus. One of the most popular Roman festivals, it was marked by tomfoolery, mayhem, merriment and the reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters switched places (much like the Lord of Misrule in medieval celebrations).

Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BCE to raise morale after a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians. Originally celebrated for a day on December 17th, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week-long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd. Efforts to shorten the celebration were unsuccessful – Augustus tried to reduce it to three days and Caligula to five (Party poopers! How did they get the reputation of being hell-raisers?), but these attempts caused uproar and revolt among the Roman citizens.

Saturnalia involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisternium) set out in front of the temple of Saturnus and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturnus during the rest of the year. A Saturnalicius princeps was elected master of ceremonies for the proceedings and, besides the public rites, there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately – including a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). And gambling was allowed for all, even slaves.

Saturnalia was a time to eat, drink and be merry. The toga was not worn, but rather colorful and informal ‘dinner clothes’ and the pileus (a freedman’s hat, close-fitting and brimless like a fez) was worn by everyone. Slaves were exempt from punishment and treated their masters with (a pretense of) disrespect, celebrating a banquet before, with, or served by the masters. Yet the reversal of the social order was mostly superficial – the banquet would often be prepared by the slaves and they would prepare their masters’ dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries, reversing the social order without subverting it.

The customary greeting for the occasion is a “Io, Saturnalia!” — Io (pronounced “e-o”) being a Latin interjection related to “ho” (as in “Ho, praise to Saturn”).

Saturnus was the Roman god of agriculture and harvest whose reign was described as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many authors. In medieval times, he was known as the Roman god of dance, agriculture, justice and strength, often portayed holding a sickle or scythe in one hand and a bundle of wheat in the other. Saturnus is sometimes identified with the Greek Cronus, the god of Time (hence chronological, chronic, &c.) who famously ate his children. Fear not, the children were later regurgitated intact through the intervention of their mother and went on to become the gods of Olympus! A gruesome tale, yet viewed metaphorically it can be seen as a simple moral – that Time eats everything in the end.

Saturday is sacred to Saturnus.

Io Saturnalia!


Friday, 9 December 2011

[Net : članak] A Curse on You Plotius

The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum curates fragments related to five lead curse tablets from ancient Rome. One of these tablets (JHUAM 2011.01) was recently conserved and placed on view, along with the original iron nail (JHUAM 2011.06) associated with it.

Objects such as this one are evidence of a common practice in Greek and Roman antiquity to scratch curses onto tablets which were then deposited in wells or graves. While the earliest tablets only contained the name of the person to be cursed, later examples grew more elaborate, such as this example. Curses could be
inscribed on basically anything, ranging from pottery sherds to gemstones, though lead is the most common material used for this purpose.

A recently conserved 2,000-year-old Roman curse tablet, spells out an anonymous plea for the grizzly demise of a slave named Plotius. It is one of five tablets that have been part of the university’s collection since 1908, when graduate student William Sherwood Fox began the painstaking process of studying and deciphering the lead tablets.

The transcript of the curse leaves nothing to chance in attempting to ensure that the slave Plotius will not enjoy his last few days!

“Good and beautiful Proserpina, wife of Pluto, or Salvia, if you prefer that I call you so, snatch away the health, the body, the complexion, the strength, and the faculties of Plotius.
Hand him over to Pluto, your husband. May he not be able to escape this (curse) by his wits. Hand him over to fevers—quartan, tertian, and daily—so that they wrestle and struggle with him.
Let them overcome him to the point where they snatch away his soul.
Thus I give over to you this victim, O Proserpina or Acherusia if you prefer that I call you so.
Summon for me the triple headed hound to snatch away the heart of Plotius. Promise that you will give him three victims (gifts)—dates, figs, and a black pig—if he completes this before the month of March. These I will offer you, Proserpina Salvia, when you complete this in an orderly fashion.
I give over to you the head of Plotius, the slave/son of Avonia. Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the head of Plotius. Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the forehead of Plotius. Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the eyebrows of Plotius.
Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the eyelids of Plotius. Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the pupils of Plotius.
Proserpina Salvia, I give over to you the nostrils, lips, ears, nose, tongue, and teeth of Plotius, so that he may not be able to say what is causing him pain; the neck, shoulders, arms, and fingers, so that he may not be able to aid himself in any way; his breast, liver, heart,and lungs, so that he may not be able to discover the source of his pain; his intestines, stomach, navel, and sides, so that he may not be able to sleep; his shoulder blades, so that he may not be able to sleep soundly; his “sacred organ” so that he may not be able to urinate; his rump, anus, thighs, knees, shanks, shins, feet, ankles, heels, toes, and toenails, so that he may not be able to stand by his own strength.
No matter what he may have written, great or small, just as he has written a proper spell and commissioned it (against me), so I hand over and consign Plotius to you, so that you may take care of him by the month of February. Let him perish miserably. Let him leave life miserably. Let him be destroyed miserably.

Take care of him so that he may not see another month.”

Plotius’s curse “was found rolled together with four others and pierced through by an iron nail,” according to Elisabeth Schwinge, a graduate student in the interdepartmental program in Classical Art and Archaeology, which is based in the Krieger School’s Classics Department. “The Latin name for a curse is defixio which means ‘to pin down.’” The individual tablets are stand-ins for the cursed people, with the nail symbolizing their pinning-down, Schwinge said.

No one knows what Plotius did to invite someone to implore the gods to summon “the triple headed hound to snatch away [his] heart,” or to plague him with fevers so intense that they “overcome him to the point where they snatch away his soul.” And no one knows who placed the curse on poor Plotius – while the cursed person had to be identified very carefully, the identity of the person placing the curse was just as carefully concealed out of fear of retribution.  But Plotius’ curse is now visible, in part due to the recent conservation work of the tablet by Sanchita Balachandran, the museum’s curator.

Source: press release from Johns Hopkins University
from :

Thursday, 8 December 2011

[Net : stari snimci] The Pyramids at Giza circa 1920's

A silent black & white film sequence of the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, Egypt from award-winning amateur filmmaker John V. Hansen's travel footage, c. 1926-1930. The Pyramids at Giza are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are the only site from the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" list that are still in existence, and are an Honorary Candidate of the "New Seven Wonders of the World." The film clip is from the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution collection of historical moving images.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

[Net : Esej] Thematic Essay : The Roman Banquet

Tivoli Hoard, mid-1st century b.c.; Late Republican
The festive consumption of food and drink was an important social ritual in the Roman world. Known in general terms as the convivium (Latin: "living together"), or banquet, the Romans also distinguished between specific types of gatherings, such as the epulum (public feast), the cena (dinner, normally eaten in the mid-afternoon), and the comissatio (drinking party). Public banquets, such as the civic feasts offered for all of the inhabitants of a city, often accommodated large numbers of diners. In contrast, the dinner parties that took place in residences were more private affairs in which the host entertained a small group of family friends, business associates, and clients.

Roman literary sources describe elite private banquets as a kind of feast for the senses, during which the host strove to impress his guests with extravagant fare, luxurious tableware, and diverse forms of entertainment, all of which were enjoyed in a lavishly adorned setting. Archaeological evidence of Roman housing has shed important light on the contexts in which private banquets occurred and the types of objects employed during such gatherings.

Drinking cup, 1st century b.c.–1st century a.d.; Late Hellenistic or Republican
The dining room was one of the most important reception spaces of the residence and, as such, it included high-quality decorative fixtures, such as floor mosaics, wall paintings, and stucco reliefs, as well as portable luxury objects, such as artworks (particularly sculptures) and furniture. Like the Greeks, the Romans reclined on couches while banqueting, although in the Roman context respectable women were permitted to join men in reclining. This practice set the convivium apart from the Greek symposium, or male aristocratic drinking party, at which female attendees were restricted to entertainers such as flute-girls and dancers as well as courtesans (heterae).

A dining room typically held three broad couches, each of which seated three individuals, thus allowing for a total of nine guests. This type of room is commonly described as a triclinium (literally, "three-couch room"), although dining rooms that could accommodate greater numbers of couches are archaeologically attested. In a triclinium, the couches were arranged along three walls of the room in a U-shape, at the center of which was placed a single table that was accessible to all of the diners. Couches were frequently made of wood, but there were also more opulent versions with fittings made of costly materials, such as ivory and bronze (17.190.2076; 23.160.79; 27.253.1).

Cantharus (drinking cup), ca. 40–80 a.d.; Early Imperial, Claudian or Flavian
A proper Roman dinner included three courses: the hors d'oeuvres (gustatio), the main course (mensae primae), and the dessert (mensae secundae). The food and drink that was served was intended not only to satiate the guests but also to add an element of spectacle to the meal. Exotic produce, particularly those from wild animals, birds, and fish, were favored at elite dinner parties because of their rarity, difficulty of procurement, and consequent high cost, which reflected the host's affluence. Popular but costly fare included pheasant, thrush (or other songbirds), raw oysters, lobster, shellfish, venison, wild boar, and peacock. Foods that were forbidden by sumptuary laws, such as fattened fowl and sow's udders, were flagrantly consumed at the most exclusive feasts. In addition, elaborate recipes were invented—a surviving literary work, known as Apicius, is a late Roman compilation of cookery recipes. These often required not only expensive ingredients and means of preparation but also elaborate, even dramatic, forms of presentation. For example, in the fictional Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio's Dinner), written by Petronius Arbiter during the reign of Nero (54–68 A.D.), the wealthy freedman Trimalchio serves his guests numerous extravagant dishes, such as a roasted pig stuffed with sausages, a hare decorated with wings to resemble Pegasus, and various foods arranged in the shape of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

At the Roman banquet, wine was served throughout the meal as an accompaniment to the food. This practice contrasted with that of the Greek deipnon, or main meal, which focused on the consumption of food; wine was reserved for the symposium that followed. Like the Greeks, the Romans mixed their wine with water prior to drinking. The mixing of hot water, which was heated using special boilers known as authepsae, seems to have been a specifically Roman custom. Such devices (similar to later samovars) are depicted in Roman paintings and mosaics, and some examples have been found in archaeological contexts in different parts of the Roman empire. Cold water and, more rarely, ice or snow were also used for mixing. Typically, the wine was mixed to the guest's taste and in his own cup, unlike the Greek practice of communal mixing for the entire party in a large krater (mixing bowl). Wine was poured into the drinking cup with a simpulum (ladle) (1988.11.1), which allowed the server to measure out a specific quantity of wine.

Monochrome blown vessels, 1st–4th century a.d.
A decadent meal required an elaborate table service comprising numerous vessels and utensils that were designed to serve both functional and decorative purposes. The most ostentatious tableware was made of costly materials, such as silver, gold, bronze, or semi-precious stone (such as rock crystal, agate, and onyx). However, even a family of moderate means likely would have owned a set of table silver, known as a ministerium. Major collections of silver tableware, such as those found at Pompeii, Moregine (a site on the outskirts of Pompeii), Boscoreale, and Tivoli (20.49.2–.12), reflect the diversity in the shapes and sizes of vessels and utensils used.

A complete table service included silver for eating (argentum escarium) and silver for drinking (argentum potorium). Silver for food included large serving trays and dishes, and individual bowls and plates, as well as spoons, which were the primary eating utensil used by the Romans. The spoon came in two popular forms: the cochlear, which has a small, circular bowl and a pointed handle that was used for eating shellfish, eggs, and snails; and the ligula, which has a larger, pear-shaped bowl. Knives and forks were less commonly used, although examples have survived (19.192.64; 2006.514.3). Among the drinking silver, cups came in a variety of forms, the most popular of which had their origins in Greek types, such the scyphos and the cantharus, both of which are two-handled drinking cups. In numerous cases, silver drinking cups have been found in pairs (1991.11.6.1,2). It is possible that they were intended for use in convivial rituals, such as the drinking of toasts.

The most ornate silver cups were decorated with reliefs in repoussé, which frequently depict naturalistic floral and vegetal motifs, animals, erotic scenes, and mythological subjects. Imagery associated with Dionysos, the Greek god of wine, intoxication, and revelry, was popularly used on objects designed for serving and imbibing wine. This pair of cups, both of which depict cupids dancing and playing instruments, would have been especially suitable for a drinking party because their subject matter evoked the rites of Dionysos (1994.43.1,.2). Dionysiac imagery was also employed in other banqueting accoutrements, such as a bronze handle attachment for a situla (bucket-shaped vessel) in the form of a mask of a satyr or Silenos (1972.118.98).

Simpulum (ladle), 2nd century a.d.; Mid-Imperial
Similar types of tableware were made of less costly materials, yet they exhibit a high level of craftsmanship. Glass had become especially fashionable and was more readily available in the Roman world following the rapid development of the Roman glass industry in the first half of the first century A.D. (81.10.60). New techniques allowed glassmakers to create vessels in a variety of styles, such as monochrome glass, polychrome mosaic glass (29.100.71), gold-band glass, and colorless glass, which mimicked the appearance of costly rock crystal vessels (81.10.60; 29.100.71; 17.194.561; 81.10.32). Cameo glass, which was made by carving designs into layered glass, was especially prized among the elite for its delicately carved imagery, which was similar to that found on silver and gold tableware (11.91.5a; 81.10.349; 81.10.347).

Vessels made of terracotta were another affordable alternative. Terra sigillata, a type of mold-made pottery known for its lacquerlike red glaze, was widely popular. Terra sigillata vessels from Arretium (modern Arezzo, Italy), known as Arretine ware, were renowned for their relief decoration, which was typically produced using stamps of different figures and motifs (17.194.894; 17.194.896; 10.210.37). The terra sigillata industry also flourished in the provinces, particularly in Gaul, where plain and decorated vessels were mass-produced and exported to diverse parts of the empire (17.194.867).

Spoon and fork, 3rd century a.d.; Imperial
The final component of the banquet was its entertainment, which was designed to delight both the eye and ear. Musical performances often involved the flute, the water-organ, and the lyre, as well as choral works. Active forms of entertainment could include troupes of acrobats, dancing girls, gladiatorial fights, mime, pantomime, and even trained animals, such as lions and leopards. There were also more reserved options, such as recitations of poetry (particularly the new Roman epic, Virgil's Aeneid), histories, and dramatic performances. Even the staff and slaves of the house were incorporated into the entertainment: singing cooks performed as they served guests, while young, attractive, and well-groomed male wine waiters provided an additional form of visual distraction. In sum, the Roman banquet was not merely a meal but rather a calculated spectacle of display that was intended to demonstrate the host's wealth, status, and sophistication to his guests, preferably outdoing at the same time the lavish banquets of his elite friends and colleagues.

Katharine Raff
Bothmer Fellow, Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Raff, Katharine. "The Roman Banquet". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2011)

Further Reading

  • Alexander, Christine. "The Workshop of Perrenius." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 2, no. 5 (January 1944), pp. 166–72.

  • D'Arms, John H. "Performing Culture: Roman Spectacle and the Banquets of the Powerful." In The Art of Ancient Spectacle, edited by Bettina Bergmann and Christine Kondoleon, pp. 301–19. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

  • Dunbabin, Katherine M. D. The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

  • Newby, Martine, and Kenneth Painter, eds. Roman Glass: Two Centuries of Art and Invention. London: Society of Antiquaries of London, 1991.

  • Oliver, Andrew, and John Shelton. "Silver on Papyrus: A Translation of a Roman Silver Tableware Inventory." Archaeology 32, no. 1 (January–February 1979), pp. 21–28.

  • Strong, Donald Emrys. Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1966.

  • These related Museum Bulletin or Journal articles may or may not represent the most current scholarship.

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    [Web : dokumentarac] Delphi • The Bellybutton of the Ancient World • © BBC (full documentary)

    What really went on at the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi, how did it get its awesome reputation and why is it still influential today?

    Michael Scott of Cambridge University uncovers the secrets of the most famous oracle in the ancient world. A vital force in ancient history for a thousand years it is now one of Greece's most beautiful tourist sites, but in its time it has been a gateway into the supernatural, a cockpit of political conflict, and a beacon for internationalism. And at its heart was the famous inscription which still inspires visitors today - 'Know Thyself'.

    Saturday, 17 September 2011

    [Web : Video] Ostia Antica

    Footage of the excavations of Ostia in 1939

    Ostia Antica, harbour of ancient Rome: a computer reconstruction

    Friday, 2 September 2011

    Pismo Plinija Mladjeg caru Trajanu : o hrišćanskom praznoverju

    Trajan iz Gliptoteke u Minhenu
    Knjiga X pisama Plinija Mladjeg sastoji se u potpunosti od pisama koje je on upućivao caru Trajanu (53-117, car od 98 godine)  i od Trajanovih odgovora na ista. To je, iako srdačna, ipak poprilično dosadna prepiska za savremenog čitaoca : uglavnom se sastoji od raznih obaveštenja ili pitanja koja je Plinije postavljao Trajanu tražeći od njega savet oko nekih pravnih ili državotvornih stvari. Pa ipak, i medju ovakvim pismima postoji nekoliko njih, i još po neki deo drugih, iz kojih se mogu doznati zanimljivi podaci o svakodnevnom životu tadadačnjeg rimskog carstva, naročito onog u provinciji - s obzirom da je Plinije od 110. godine bio legatus Augusti, to jest - guverner provincije Bitinije i Ponta. Upravo odatle Plinije piše i najpoznatije pismo iz ove prepiske sa carem Trajanom koje ujedno - a sa ona dva pisma Tacitu o erupciji Vezuva - spada u najpoznatija i najvažnija u čitavoj njegovoj prepisci : u njemu on se osvrće na hrišćanstvo i pita cara Trajana za savet kako sa pripadnicima tog kulta da postupa. Evo, dakle, tog pisma i potom Trajanovog odgovora :

    Gaj Plinije pozdravlja cara Trajana

    1. Gospodaru, imam običaj da ti pišem o svemu u šta nisam siguran. Jer ko bi me mogao bolje osloboditi neizvesnosti ili poučiti u mom neznanju ? 
    2. Ja nikad nisam prisustvovao istragama protiv hrišćana. Prema tome ne znam ni kako ni koliko se to obično kažnjava, niti znam dokle se istražuje. Prilično sam se kolebao i u tome kakvu razliku treba praviti u pogledu godina starosti, odnosno da li treba prema mladim ljudima postupati isto tako kao i prema starijima. Da li treba dati oproštaj svakome ko se odrekne svog verovanja, ili, ako je jednom izjavio i priznao da je hrišćanin, treba li ga osloboditi od kazne ako se kasnije povuče; da li je kažnjivo već i samo to što se zove hrišćaninom, ili treba kazniti samo zločine i prestupe u vezi sa tim imenom. 
    Ranohrišćanski mozaik, Tel Megiddo
    Zasada sam prema svima, koji su mi prijavljani da su hrišćani, primenjivao ovaj metod. 3. Pitao sam ih lično da li su hrišćani, pa ako bi oni priznali, ja bih isto pitanje ponovio i po drugi i po treći put, skrećući im pažnju da ih za to očekuje kazna. Ako bi istrajali u tome, ja bih izdao naredjenje da budu izvedeni i kažnjeni. Jer, bilo šta da su izjavili, nimalo se nisam kolebao u tome da se njihova upornost i nesavitljiva tvrdoglavost moraju kazniti. 4. Bilo je i drugih ljudi sličnih bezumnicima za koje sam odlučio da ih treba vratiti u Rim, jer su bili rimski građani. Pošto sam počeo da se bavim tim problemom, optužbe su, kao što se to često dešava, bivale sve obimnije i sve raznovrsnije. 5. U ruke mi je dospela i jedna optužba bez potpisa, sa imenima mnogih ljudi. Među njima sam one koji su tvrdili da nikad nisu bili hrišćani i da nisu ni sada, i za koje sam smatrao da ih treba pustiti na slobodu - pošto bi za mnom ponovili jednu formulu prizivanja bogova i pošto bi tvojoj statui, koja je zbog toga po mom naredjenju postavljena u sudnici zajedno sa statuama bogova, prineli žrtve tamjana, pomolili se bogovima, a osim toga proklinjali Hrista - a tvrde da nikoga od onih koji su zaista hrišćani nije moguće na to naterati - odlučio da pustim na slobodu. 6. Drugi, koje je anonimni dostavljač naveo, izjavili su da su hrišćani, ali su se toga odmah odrekli. Govorili su da su to bili, ali da su prestali da budu, neki pre tri godine, a neki pre više godina, poneki čak i pre dvadeset godina. Ovi su se, takodje, grdeći Hrista, poklonili i tvome liku i likovima bogova. 7. Tvrdili su, takodje, da je vrhunac njihove krivice ili zablude bilo to što su imali običaj da se odredjenoga dana pre zore skupe, da pevaju zajedno pesmu u čast Hrista kao Boga, i da se zakletvama medjusobno obavezuju ne samo da neće činiti zločine, nego ni kradje, ni preljubu, da neće izneveriti datu reč, da neće utajiti ono što im je ostavljeno na čuvanje. Pošto bi sve to izvršili, oni bi se razišli da uzmu nešto hrane, skromne i obične. Izjavili su da su i s tim skupovima prestali posle mog edikta na osnovu kojeg sam, po tvom naredjenju, zabranio bilo kakva udruživanja*. 8. Zbog toga sam smatrao da je utoliko potrebnije da mučenjem iznudim priznanje dveju devojaka, koje se zovu služavke : pronašao sam jedino da je to izopačeno i besmisleno praznoverje. Zbog toga sam odložio svako dalje istraživanje, pa se obraćam tebi da te pitam za savet. 9. Meni ovo pitanje izgleda kao da zaslužuje da ti o njemu razmisliš, u prvom redu zbog velikog broja ljudi koji se nalaze u opasnosti. Jer velik broj ljudi svih godina uzrasta i svih staleža, oba pola takodje, dovode se i biće i dalje dovodjeni u opasnost. Ovo praznoverje nije obuhvatilo samo gradove već i sela i seoska naselja, kao zaraza. A izgleda da bi ovo stanje moglo da se zaustavi i popravi. 10. Sasvim je izvesno da su se gotovo već napušteni hramovi ponovo počeli puniti svetom i da su se svete božje službe, tako dugo zanemarivane, ponovo počele obnavljati i da se meso životinja namenjenih za žrtvovanje može svuda da kupi, iako su se dosad za to javljali izuzetno retki kupci. Na osnovu toga se lako može zaključiti da bi se velik broj ljudi mogao dovesti na pravi put, kad bi im se pružila mogućnost da se za sve pokaju. 

    Trajan pozdravlja Plinija

    1. Moj dragi Sekunde, potpuno si pravilno postupio u istraživanju slučajeva onih lica koja su ti bila dostavljena kao hrišćani. Jer nemoguće je da se da neko opšte pravilo i neki odredjeni oblik šta treba raditi. Ne treba ih goniti, ali ako budu prijavljeni i optuženi, onda ih treba kazniti, ali ako neko porekne da je hrišćanin, i ako to javno dokaže prinošenjem žrtava našim bogovima, neka je i bio sumnjiv u prošlosti, treba da zbog svog kajanja dobije oproštaj. Ali anonimne dostave ne smeju da igraju nikakvu ulogu pri optužbi : jer one stvaraju najgori primer i nimalo ne odgovaraju duhu našeg vremena.

    Beleška profesora Gavele uz ova pisma :

    Dobri pastir, katakombe Sv. Kalista
    Ovo Plinijevo pismo potvrdjuje njegov odnos prema hrišćanstvu ne samo kao religiji, nego i kao socijalnom pokretu koji, tako mu je izgledalo, ne predstavlja neku veliku opasnost po državni i društveni sistem Rimskog Carstva. Plinije obaveštava Trajana o hrišćanima i hrišćanstvu, koje u to doba, pre Origena, nije imalo razradjenu i proučenu vezu sa antičkom etikom i filosofijom. Pre Trajana, a ubrzo i posle njega, hrišćani su bili izloženi teškim i surovim pogromima. Carevi Maksimin, Decije i Valerijan pokušali su da unište pristalice nove religije, koj aje potpuno odbacivala negovanje kulta vladara. Pogromi hrišćana dostižu najšire razmere i najsurovije oblike u doba cara Dioklecijana i njegovih naslednika. Ali, ukoliko je Rimsko Carstvo vršilo žešće progone hrišćana, zajednica hrišćana postajala je utoliko snažnija, otpornija i zbijenija. Nasuprot vojno-političkoj Rimskoj Carevini radjala se Civitas Dei (Božja država) koja je ediktom cara Konstantina, objavljena u Milanu 313. godine, izvojevala pravo na legalno postojanje u Istočnom i Zapadnom Rimskom Carstvu. U stvari, to je bio prvi korak ka pobedi monoteističkog hrišćanstva nad antičkim politeizmom, iz čijeg su panteona mnogi periferni teološki elementi preneseni u novu religiju.

    Pisma X, 96. i 97.  zauzimaju, uz obaveštenja koja daje Tacit, značajno mesto u antičkoj istoriografiji kao autentični istorijski izvori savremenika jednog procesa, koji je za dugi niz stoleća odredio sudbinu velikog dela sveta.

    * Zabrana svakog udruživanja išla je dotle da je Trajan Pliniju napisao i jedno ovakvo pismo :
    1. Tebi je na osnovu mnogobrojnih primera u drugim gradovima palo na pamet da se kod Nikomedjana može obrazovati udruženje vatrogasaca. ali treba imati na umu da su slična udruženja bila uzrok mnogih političkih nereda u tvojoj provinciji, naročito u njenim gradovima. Bilo kako da ih nazovemo ili opravdamo njihovo udruživanje oni će, makar i za kratko vreme, početi da održavaju tajne skupove. 2. Zato je bolje da se nabave orudja kojima će se gasiti požari i da se skrene pažnja vlasnicima da i sami učestvuju u gašenju vatre i, ako je potrebno, da pozovu ljude u pomoć.

    Thursday, 25 August 2011

    Plinije Mladji : pismo VI,20 u kome istoričaru Tacitu opisuje erupciju Vezuva

    Gaj Plinije pozdravlja dragog Kornelija Tacita

    Karl Brilullov - Poslednji dani Pomepeja
    1. Kažeš da te je moje pismo, koje sam ti napisao o smrti svoga ujaka, pošto si me za to molio, podstaklo da saznaš ne samo kakav sam strah doživeo kad sam ostao u Mizenu (jer o tome sam baš počeo da pričam u svome pismu i tu sam prekinuo), već i šta sam doživeo i pretrpeo.

    "Iako mi se Duša ispunjava užasom kad pomislim na to ... ipak ću početi."*

    2. Pošto je moj ujak otišao, ja sam sve ostalo vreme proveo u čitanju (zbog toga sam i ostao). Posle toga sam se okupao, večerao i spavao, nemirnim i kratkotrajnim snom. 3. Više dana pre toga desio se i zemljotres, manje strašan, i to u Kampaniji nije ništa neobično. Ali te noći je bio tako jak da je izgledalo da se sve ne samo trese i pokreće, već da se prevrće. 4. Moja majka je naglo ušla u moju sobu; a i ja sam se digao da bih je probudio ako spava. Sedosmo pred kuću na uzani prostor koji se nalazio izmedju mora i zgrade. 5. Ne znam da li da to nazovem neustrašivošću ili nepromišljenošću (tada sam imao osamnaest godina); potražio sam knjigu Tita Livija i, kao iz duga vremena, čitao sam i vadio izvode onako kao što sam bio i počeo. I, gle, jedan ujakom prijatelj, koji je nešto ranije došao kod njega iz Španije da ga poseti, kad nas je primetio kako tamo sedimo, a kako uz to ja i čitam, prekoreo je nemarnost moje majke i moju bezbrižnost. Ali ja sam i dalje nastavio da čitam.

    6. Bilo je već oko sedam sati izjutra, ali dan je još uvek bio mutan i turoban. Svuda unaokolo ljuljale su se i rušile zgrade. Mada smo bili na otvorenom prostoru, ipak smo se plašili i da će nas ruševine zatrpati, jer je mesto bilo tesno. 7. Tek tada odlučismo da pobegnemo iz grada. Iza nas su išli ljudi kao omamljeni, i, ono što u strahu važi kao pravilo, radije su se oslanjali na tudj savet nego na svoj. 8. Čim smo izašli iz grada, stadosmo. Tamo doživesmo opet mnogo strašnih i neobičnih stvari. Jer naša kola, koja smo naredili da se izvuku, mada su se nalazila na sasvim ravnom mestu, bacana su tamo-amo, na suprotne strane, i iako smo pod točkove stavljali kamenje, ipak nisu ostala na istom mestu. 9. Osim toga smo videli kako se more tako reći samo povlači i kako ga zemljotres ponovo vraća. Obala se svakako pomerila dublje u more i mnoge morske životinje zadržale su se na suvom pesku. S druge strane crn, strašan oblak prekidali su dugački vatreni lukovi slični munjama, samo što su bili neuporedivo veći.

    10. I tada nam je onaj isti prijatelj iz Španije još upornije govorio i sve više navaljivao : "Ako je tvoj brat", reče on , "još živ i ako je živ tvoj ujak, sigurno želi da vas dvoje budete bezbedni, a ako je poginuo, onda je želeo da ostanete živi. Zašto onda oklevate i ne bežite?" Odgovorismo mu da nipošto nećemo misliti na svoje spasavanje, sve dok ne saznamo šta je sa njim. 11. On se nije duže zadržavao, jurnuo je i brzim korakom je izbegao opasnost. Nije prošlo mnogo vremena, a onaj crni oblak se spustio na zemlju i pokrio more; prekrio je ostrvo Kapri i sakrio očima rt kod Mizena. 12. I tada je majka počela da me moli, da me hrabri, da mi naredjuje da bežim kako god mogu; jer ja sam mlad i mogu da bežim, dok će ona, otežala i godinama i telom, rado umreti ako ne bude kriva za moju smrt. Ja odgovorih da ne želim da se spasem bez nje; zatim jew uhvatih za ruku i rekoh joj da požuri. 13. Protiv volje me je slušala i prebacila je sebi što mene zadržava. Već je počeo i pepeo da pada, ali još nije bio suviše gust. Okretoh se. taman oblak ili magla pratio nas je , kao da se bujica sručuje na zemlju. Ja rekoh : "Skrenimo u stranu, dok još vidimo, da nas gomila iza nas ne bi zgazila u mraku. " 14. Jedva što smo o tome razmislili, a već pade noć, ne kao što je noć kad se sakrije mesec, ili kad se nebo naoblači, već takva kao kad u zatvorenom prostoru ugasiš svetiljku. Mogao si čuti kuknjavu žena, pisku dece, viku muškaraca. Neki su tražili roditelje, drugi decu , a treći, opet, svoje žene. Prepoznavali bi ih po glasu. 15. Jedni su oplakivali svoju ličnu sudbinu, drugi opet sudbinu svojih najbližih; bilo je i takvih koji su iz straha od smrti tražili smrt. Mnogi su dizali ruke ka bogovima, a više ljudi je govorilo da bogova uopšte nema i oni su u toj noći gledali i tumačili večnu i poslednju noć svega na svetu. bilo je i takvih koji si izmišljanim strahotama i opasnostima još više uvećali stvarnu opasnost. Bilo je i onih koji su govorili da se srušio jedan deo Mizena, da je ovo ili ono u plamenu. U tome je bilo malo istine, ali je bilo ljudi koji su sve verovali. 16. Sad je postalo nešto svetlije, ali mi nismo pomislili da je to svetlost dana, već da je samo predznak vatre koja se približava. I ta svetlost je trajala prilično dugo, a posle toga je ponovo nastala tama, i ponovo je počeo da pada gust pepeo. Često bismo se dizali i stresali ga sa sebe, jer bismo inače bili sasvim zatrpani i ugušeni njegovom težinom. 17. Mogu da se pohvalim da u tom čudu nisam ni uzdisao ni očajnički vikao pred tolikim opasnostima, da nisam verovao, što je, doduše, velika ali ipak tužna uteha za ljude, da zajedno sa mnom propada sve i da ja propadam zajedno sa njima.

    18. Naposletku se taj oblak, ipak, raspršio i pretvorio u dim ili maglu. Svanuo je pravi dan, zasijalo je i sunce, ali nekako bledožuto, kakvo je obično kad nastane pomračenje. Naše još uvek preplašene oči gledale su sve oko sebe izmenjeno i pokriveno dubokim pepelom kao snegom. 19. Vratismo se u Mizen, osvežismo se koliko smo mogli posle te opasne noći koju preživesmo u nadi i strahu, ali je strah ipak preovladjivao. Jer i drhtanje zemlje se nastavljalo i mnogi su u svom ludilu proricali najstrašnije stvari i tako reći se rugali sopstvenoj sudbini i sudbini ostalih ljudi. 20. Ali nas dvoje nsmo mogli ni tada da se rešimo da krenemo, mada smo već iskusili opasnost i mada smo očekivali i nove opasnosti, sve dok ne dobijemo vesti o ujaku.

    Te pojedinosti nisu dovoljno važne za istoriju, pa ćeš ih čitati bez ikakve namere da o tome pišeš; ako sve to ne izgleda vredno opisivanja u jednom pismu, onda pripiši to samom sebi, pošto si sam to tražio. Da si mi zdravo !

    * Vergilije, Eneida, II, 1

    Wednesday, 24 August 2011

    Plinije Mladji : pismo VI,16 u kome istoričaru Tacitu opisuje erupciju Vezuva

    Gaj Plinije pozdravlja dragog Tacita

    Joseph Wright of Derby
    1. Tražiš da ti opišem smrt moga ujaka, kako bi što vernije mogao o tome da pišeš potomcima. Zahvaljujem ti ! Jer ja znam da njegovu smrt očekuje besmrtna slava ako je ti budeš opisao. 2. Iako je nastradao kad su uništeni najlepši predeli, kad je ljude i gradove zadesila poznata nesreća. te je tako reći već time ovekovečen, iako je i sam ostavio mnogobrojna i nezaboravna dela, ipak će besmrtnost tvojih spisa mnogo doprineti tome da on večito ostane u sećanju ljudi. 3. Ja mislim da su, zaista, srećni oni ljudi koji su od bogova primili dar da vrše dela koja zaslužuju da se o njima piše, ili da pišu ono što zaslužuje da se čita; ali su najsrećniji oni kojima je dato i jedno i drugo. A medju ovima će se naći moj ujak, i po svojim sopstvenim i po tvojim delima. 

    4. Bio je u Mizenu gde je imao neposrednu komandu nad flotom. Dvadeset četvrtog avgusta, otprilike oko jednog sata posle podne, javila mu je moja majka da se vidi jedan neobičan oblak, čudnog oblika i veličine. 5. On se sunčao, pošto se upravo okupao u hladnoj vodi, i ležeći je jeo i nešto čitao. Zatražio je sandale, pa se popeo na uzvišenje odakle se ta pojava najlepše mogla videti. Dizao se oblak (nije se iz daljine videlo sa koje planine, i tek kasnije se pokazalo da je to Vezuv), čiji je oblik, kad se uporedi sa drvetom, bio najsličniji piniji. 6. Dizao se kao na veoma visokom stablu, zatim se širio u vidu grane, valjda zato što je dunuo vetar. Posle toga jevetar slabio i oblak više nije mogao da se digne uvis, verovatno zato što je bio suviše težak, pa ga je težina zaustavila i on je počeo da se prostire u širinu. Čas je bio beo, čas opet mutan i pun mrlja, zavisno od toga da li je u visini lebdela prašina ili pepeo.

    7. Kao veoma obrazovanom čoveku, mome ujaku je ova pojava izgledala značajna i dostojna da se izbliza razgleda. Naredio je da mu se spremi mala liburnijska ladja, a mene je pozvao da podjem s njim ako želim. Odgovorio sam da više volim da čitam, a slučajno mi je on lično bio dao nešto i da pišem. 8. Baš je izlazio iz kuće, kad je primio pisamce Rektine Kaskove, preplašene iznenadnom opasnošću (jer se njena vila nalazila u podnožju Vezuva i bilo je moguće pobeći samo ladjom). Preklinjala ga je da ga spase iz te velike opasnosti. 9. On promeni svoj plan i ono što je bio počeo da radi kao naučnik, nastavio je i završio kao junak. Naredio je da se ladje četvoroveslarke izvuku u more, pa se ukrcao i sam, da bi ukazao pomoć ne samo Rektini već i mnogim drugim ljudima (jer je ta divna obala bila veoma gusto naseljena). 10. I on je žurio tamo odakle su ostali bežali, pravo u opasnost, i to bez ikakvog straha, tako da je svaki pokret, svaki oblik one strašne pojave diktirao i zapisao onako kako ih je video svojim očima.

    11. Već je počeo da pada pepeo na ladje, sve vreliji i gušći ukoliko su se više približavali; leteo je kamen plavac i drugo kamenje, crno i nagorelo, i od vatre izlomljeno; odjednom se pojavio plićak i rušenje brda nije dopuštalo pristup obali. Malo je razmišljao da li da se vrati. Krmanošu, koji mu je savetovao da tako uradi, reče odjednom : "Hrabrima pomaže sreća; kreni napred ka Pomponijanu!" 12. Ovaj beše u Stabniji, odvojen širinom zaliva (jer tamo more blago okružuje jedan zaliv). Tamo opasnost još nije bila tako blizu, ali je već bila na vidiku. I zato je Pomponijan svoje stvari ukrcao na ladju, rešen da beži čim suprotni vetar prestane da duva. Ali ovaj je vetar mome ujaku bio vrlo pogodan, uplovio je u zaliv, zagrlio Pomponijana koji je drhtao od straha, tešio ga, bodrio i zatražio da njega samoga odvedu  u kupatilo da bi svojom bezbrižnošću smirio njegov strah. Pošto se okupao, seo je za sto i večerao veselo, ili se pretvarao, a to je isto veliko. 
    Pierre Henri de Valenciennes

    13. Za to vreme, vrh Vezuva je sijao ogromnim plamenom i visokim vatrenim stubovima, a njihov sjaj uvećavala je još više tamna noć. Da bi smirio ljude, moj ujak je govorio da su to vatre na poljskim imanjima koje su ljudi iz straha napustili, pošto nije bilo nikoga ko bi ih gasio. Onda je otišao na spavanje i spavao zaista čvrstim snom. Jer hrkanje, koje je zbog njegovog dosta krupnog tela bilo jako i glasno, čuli su svi koji su se nalazili ispred njegove spavaće sobe. 14. Ali dvorište preko kojeg se moralo ići u njegovu spavaću sobu bilo je već u toj meri ispunjeno pepelom i šupljikastim kamenom da ne bi mogao da izadje napolje ako bi duže ostao u sobi. I zato ga probudiše. Izašao je iz sobe i pridružio se Pomponijanu i ostalima koji su noć proveli bdijući. 15. Tad su se zajednički savetovali da li da ostanu u zgradama ili da lutaju pod otvorenim nebom. Jer zbog čestih i snažnih udara zemljotresa pomerale su se kuće i činilo se kao da su iščupane iz svojih temelja, pa se pomeraju i ljuljaju tamo'amo. 16. Ali i pod nebom su se ljudi plašili, jer je padalo kamenje, mada lako i od vatre izjedeno. Uporedjujući opasnosti, ipak su više voleli da se opredele za ovu drugu. A kod njega je, zaista, pobedio snažniji razum, dok je kod ostalih pobedio strah. Da bi se zaštitili od onoga što je padalo s neba, vezivali su na glavu jastuke.

    17. Svuda se već bilo razdanilo, a tamo je još uvek bila noć, crna i gusta, koju su osvetljavale samo buktinje i razne svetlosti. Rešili su da izadju na morsku obalu da bi izbliza videli da li je moguće stići do mora; ali more je još uvek bilo strašno besno kao i ranije. 18. Tu je sad moj ujak legao na prostrt čaršav i nekoliko puta zatražio da se napije sveže vode. Zatim se ponovo pojaviše stubovi plamena i prethodnik vatre - miris sumpora. To je neke nateralo u bekstvo, a njega probudilo.Oslonio se na dva roba i podigao se, ali se iznanada srušio mrtav na zemlju. Ja zaključujem da mu je disanje onemogućio vazduh prezasićen gustim dimom, zatvorio mu dušnik, koji mu je već po prirodi bio suviše tesan, pa je često bio u zapaljenju. 20. Kad je ponovo svanulo (bio je to treći i poslednji dan otkako je sve to video), njegovo telo je pronadjeno čitavo, nepovredjeno, u odeći koju je obukao pri polasku; više je ličio na čoveka koji spava, nego na mrtvog.

    21. U medjuvremenu smo nas dvoje, ja i majka, bili u Mizenu. Ali to se ne tiče istorije, a ti si hteo da saznaš samo o njegovoj smrti. Zato ću da završim. 22. Dodaću samo još nešto, a to je da ti nisam ništa drugo ispričao osim onog čemu sam ja lično bio svedok i što sam lično čuo odmah, dok se istina još verno prepričava. Ti ćeš iskoristiti ono što je najbolje. Jer jedno je pisati pismo, a sasvim je drugo pisati istoriju : jedno je pisati prijatelju, a drugo je pisati svima. Ostaj mi zdravo !

    Više o Pliniju Starijem u postu

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