Posted by: ken98 | June 8, 2011

Making War Against Germans in North Africa, Closing the Last (900 Year Old) University, and Paying For King Kong’s Walls

Day 635 – Ken here (W)(6-8-2011)
(DEF II, v.4 Ch.40,41 pp.610-620)(pages read: 1670)

I way overdid it – again! Well, onto today’s 10 pages and my 10,000 words on the subject – – –

Today we hit the 2 Great Sins of Justinian (in Gibbon’s Book) – the Closure of the Schools of Athens, and the Suppression of the Office of Consul – – – also, by the way, we start the RECONQUEST OF AFRICA (against the Germans in North Africa – no, it’s not 1943, it’s the 530’s and the Germans are the Vandals) – – – so, off we go…

The Story
 
Athens Schools’ History
 
  • Set up by Plato, Socrates 400’s,300’s BCE
  • Athens was a university town by Roman times, philosophy and rhetoric – Stoic, Epicurean, Platonic sects of philosophy taught – other places known for other things – Beirut,Lebanon=Law, Alexandria,Egypt=astronomy+physics
  • the Academy of the Platonists,the Lycaeum of the Peripatetics(Aristotle),the Portico of the Stoics,the Garden of the Epicureans,etc
  • Athenian professors paid individually by students – ex. Isocrates about $45,000 per year from each of a 100 pupils
  • Endowments of schools supported their physical facilities and work: ex. Epicureans started out with 1.5million, Platonists ended up with 1000 pieces of gold/yr ($500,000/yr rental income)
  • Marcus Aurelius (180’s) set up imperial salaries – about 1.8 million per year for each head of the 5 schools
  • Constantine (after the problems of the Crisis of the 200’s) diminished the salaries
  • Although run over by numberless barbarian invasions (Goths, Huns, etc) schools still functioning in 520’s
  •  

    Justinian – Great Sin #1 – Closes Athens Schools
     
  • Proclus – last of the Platonic philosophers
  • Like the apostolic succession, from which we get the Popes, the Platonists had a Platonic Succession (called the Golden Chain) going straight back almost 900 years to Plato himself
  • Justinian surpresses” the schools of Athens 4 years after Proclus’s death for being Unchristian – by confiscating their endowments, ending their salaries and requiring a forced conversion to Christianity
  • Simplicius and other phil’s of the various schools choose exile, and emigrate to Persia, find the autocracy there not to their liking (the Persians have an equally power-hungry priesthood – the Magi – overseeing the state monotheistic religion Zoroasterianism – who equally do not appreciate philosophical inquiry – the philosophers returns, supposedly protected from persecution by Justinian through a clause in a Roman/Persian treaty BY INSISTENCE of the PERSIAN SHAH – per Agathias, a very Christian commentator – this seems too complimentary to Christianity/Byzantium to be true – but stranger things have happened – many Romans found exile and freedom in the Persian empire when the Roman became too intolerant or just plain hostile
  • There is an interesting CULTURAL DISLOCATION by Gibbon when he describes the Persians and the reasons why the philosophers returned – he assumes because of the strange customs of the persians – ex. exposing the dead, instead of burying them in the earth, or burning them – Gibbon seems to agree – however in Zorasterian terms, defiling the pure earth, or even purer fire with something as unclean as a dead body would be like having sex on the high altar of the Hagia Sophia – an extreme blasphemy
  •  

    Justinian – Great Sin #2 – Ends the Consulship (541)
     
  • Consulship started out in Roman Republic in 509 BCE (see online fasti – list of Roman consuls – here)
  • Started out with powers of peace and war in the Roman Senate, ended up being another imperial title, ALWAYS WAS USED to DATE THE YEAR – ie the 2 Consuls for the year = name of year – thus the need for the long list
  • Being elected eventually meant only having the honor of the year-naming, and giving very very expensive games to the people – in Justinian’s times 80,000 lbs of gold – about 5 billion dollars (2008 US$ purch power) – which among the hyper rich, knocked a hole in your fortunes, but didn’t bankrupt you (the govt would help out too) – AND IT MEANT a GREAT PARTY in CONSTANTINOPLE every year on the election of new consuls
  • At first, Justinian limits the amt a person can spend on the festival, then, to stop the spending, he just stops the consulship (541) – look at the online list above and you’ll see
  • Consuls after this consulships are declared only in the FIRST YEAR of an emperor’s reign
  • In the 880’s Emperor Leo does away with them entirely – saying they’re NASTY REMINDERS of a pagan past – at this point WE KNOW FOR A CERTAINTY we’re not in Roman Kansas anymore Toto
  •  

    Justinian – African Wars – Background the Vandal Kingdom
     
  • Remember the Vandals moved into Africa (429) and sacked Rome (the FAMOUS sack – from the sea in 455) – whence we get the probably unmerited term “vandalism”
  • Justinian resolves to invade Africa on the merest pretext (533)
  • The 1st 5 years of his reign are taken up in the East, battling Khavad and the Persians – after they sign the “Endless Peace” and Justinian begins making payments to the Persians, Just. looks to the West to RECOVER THE LOST PROVINCES now in BARBARIAN HANDS – even tho its been a century since they were conquered
  • Background – the Vandals (and their fellow-tribe, the Alans – see the Caspian Gates below – some of the Alans stayed North of Iran AND ARE STILL THERE in Russian North Ossetia-Alania in Georgia/Iberia, others rode the whirlwind of the Völkerwanderung migrations and spun out in another Iberia – SPAIN – and then into Africa with the Vandals) AMAZING – I always LOVE this stuff when you come across it in history – now I want to visit Ossetia-Alania
  • Hilderic (523-530) grandson of the conqueror, eventually succeeded to the throne of the Vandals
  • Hilderic gives Catholics (he is an Arian Christian) equality, and gives them back their churches (the Vandals were famous for their INTOLERANCE of Nicene – Catholic – Christians) and makes overtures of peace with Byzantium – the Arian clergy hate him, the warrior class hate him
  • Uncle Gelimer (530-534) puts his nephew Hilderic in prison, takes the throne
  • This gives Justinian the PRETEXT for invasion – i.e. Just. demands the restoration of Hilderic – Gelimer replies by
    blinding Hilderic (thus rendering him unfit to lead warriors, thus no longer able to be king) – Just. then makes war
  • REMEMBER – the Vandals for the last 100 years have RULED THE WAVES of the Mediterranean and 2 TIMES DESTROYED HUGE ROMAN INVASION FLEETS (by treachery, but destroyed nonetheless) – so Justinian’s invasion is FAR FROM CERTAIN, and AS we will SEE, Just. SKIMPS AND TRIES TO INVADE ON THE CHEAP – its a WONDER he succeeded – but that’s all in the future
  •  

    A lot in the next few days about Vandals - No, not these kind of Vandals (Nike Women's Vandal shoes) - the kind that start out near the Caspian Sea, move around a bit, take over Africa, sack Rome, and end up in chapter 41 of Gibbon's Decline and Fall

    A lot in the next few days about Vandals - No, not these kind of Vandals (Nike Women's Vandal shoes) - the kind that start out near the Caspian Sea, move around a bit, take over Africa, sack Rome, and end up in chapter 41 of Gibbon's Decline and Fall


     
    And not THESE VANDALS - the American Rock Band that debuted with the the album  - When in Rome Do As the Vandals -

    And not THESE VANDALS - the American Rock Band that debuted with the the album - When in Rome Do As the Vandals -


     
    No, THESE GUYS - the guys who sacked Rome in 455 (note the Hebrew menorah being carted away - always a sign you are looking at the sack of Rome - unless it happens to be Romans doing the carting, then its the Roman Sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD you're looking at)

    No, I mean YES, I mean THESE GUYS - the guys who sacked Rome in 455 (note the Hebrew menorah being carted away - always a sign you are looking at the sack of Rome - unless it happens to be Romans doing the carting, then its the Roman Sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD you're looking at)


     
    SEE! I told you so - Romans carting off the great temple menorah during the Sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD - from reliefs on the Arch Of Titus (one of the guys who did it) in Rome

    SEE! I told you so - Romans carting off the great temple menorah during the Sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD - from reliefs on the Arch Of Titus (one of the guys who did it) in Rome


     

     
     

    Quoteable Gibbon
     

    Gibbon on Neo-Platonism – he hates it (big surprise) – due to its imaginative spiritual beliefs and a gradual (in Gibbon’s opinion) slide into magic and superstition (although looking at Maximus of Ephesus, the famous Neo-Platonist who sponged off of the emperor Julian in the 360’s – you can see Gibbon’s point). Anyway, Gibbon can NEVER forgo an opportunity to jab irrational men with point objects (in this case, his wit) – here he has a (quick) go at the Neo-Platonists

    The surviving sects of the Platonists, whom Plato would have blushed to acknowledge, extravagantly mingled a sublime theory with the practice of superstition and magic; and as they remained alone in the midst of a Christian world, they indulged a secret rancor against the government of the church and state, whose severity was still suspended over their heads.

    (DEF II, vol.4, ch.40, p.614)

    The emperor Julian the Pagan - or Julian the Apostate - one of favorite people - the people of Antioch once threw tantrums while he was there preparing to march to war with the Persians - in ordinary times this meant a great many people would die horribly painful deaths  - what Julian did was write an witty (sarcastic) response to the entire population of the city of Antioch called the Misopogon - or the Beard Haters - and let matters slide - quite the guy - here in his consciously affected philosophers robe and beard (most upper-class guys in the 360's were clean-shaven)

    The emperor Julian the Pagan - or Julian the Apostate - one of my favorite people - the citizens of Antioch once threw tantrums against him while he was there preparing to march to war with the Persians - in ordinary times this meant a great many people would die horribly painful deaths - what Julian did was write an witty (sarcastic) response to the entire population of the city of Antioch called the Misopogon - or the Beard Haters - and let matters slide - quite the guy - here in his consciously affected philosophers robe and beard (most upper-class guys in the 360's were clean-shaven)


     

    Interesting Aside – The Ancient World Loved Julian as much as I Do
     

    The emperor Julian (360’s) known postumously (and contemptuously by the Christian church) as Julian the Apostate was that famous emperor who tried to set the empire back on a pagan footing, 50 or so years after the empire OFFICIALLY BECAME CHRISTIAN because the emperor CONSTANTINE CONVERTED (although for all practical purposes, Christians were probably a small minority at the time of the official conversion of Constantine). He failed, but probably more because his reign lasted only 3 years, if it had lasted 30, we might be worshipping the Capitoline Zeus right now (like the citizens of the pagan-worshipping, internet using 12 colonies of Battlestar Galactica/Caprica) – but in any event was beloved by the remaining intelligent pagan population of philosophers.

    What is amazing (to me) is that Gibbon point out that in Proclus’s horoscope (120 or so years after Julian) the day of his birth is dated by the number of years AFTER JULIAN”S REIGN. It is a sign of entire culture’s disappearing from our view – showing up in our historical radar like the tiniest portion of an iceberg seen above waterline – and then disappearing forever. Here is the Gibbon quotes:

    About a century after the reign of Julian, (151) Proclus was permitted to teach in the philosophic chair of the academy; and such was his industry, that he frequently, in the same day, pronounced five lessons, and composed seven hundred lines.

    (DEF II, vol.4, ch.40, p.614)

    and the (always) more interesting footnote:

    Note 151
    This is no fanciful aera: the Pagans reckoned their calamities from the reign of their hero. Proclus, whose nativity is marked by his horoscope, apw julianou basilews [KEN TRANSL from Greek -“after the emperor Julian”] (A.D. 412, February 8, at C. P.,) died 124 years A.D. 485, (Marin. in Vita Procli, c. 36.)

    (DEF II, vol.4, ch.40, p.614)

     

    The walls of King Kong - kind of what I always thought the Caspian Gates looked like (Gates of Alexander) - holding back the unrelenting tide of barbarism from the settled civilized lands.  Could King Kong be a distant mythic tribal-echo of Mediterranean man's (legitimate) fear of the nomad? - from Merian C. Cooper's King Kong, DVD

    The walls of King Kong - kind of what I always thought the Caspian Gates looked like (Gates of Alexander) - holding back the unrelenting bloodthirsty tide of barbarism from the settled, civilized lands of the Fertile Crescent - the age-old battle of mountains/steppes versus the valley. Could King Kong be a distantly-perceived, mythic tribal-echo of Mediterranean man's (legitimate) fear of nomad invasion and everything that went with it? - from Merian C. Cooper's King Kong, DVD


     
     
     

    Last Word…
    A Quick Photo Overview of the Caspian Gates (Something I’ve always been puzzled by)
     

    The Caspian Gates are passes that allow nomads from the Asian steppes in the North to invade the South (i.e. Ukraine, Russia going into Iran and the Persian Gulf – actually most nomads invading the South end up bunching up around the Caspian Sea at one point and trying to descend into the Persian Gulf/Mediterranean basins there – thus the GATES to STOP THEM). Of old, (and of course during the Renaissance, when old myths became established history) it was the biblical tribes of Gog and Magog (of End-Times fame) that dwelled above the Gates, and lurked, boiling and surging about like an angry, unwashed sea, waiting to pour down upon the peaceful cities of the Fertile Crescent (and presumably, eventually Europe) to visit blood-filled rapine and plunder on all and sundry.

    Supposedly, this great danger was stopped up by Alexander the Great himself, in the form of tremendous walls (think King Kong’s island) that separated the plunder-crazy tribes from their quarry – the valley cities.

    Could King Kong be a distant echo of the Gates and Gog and Magog and the general fear of Europeans and Near-Eastern city dwellers of the ever-present cataclysm of nomad invasion? Of course, the races in the cities at any one time (Greek, Roman, Persian, German, etc) were ALL in PREVIOUS AGES the nomadic invaders themselves anyways, and so the entire exercise is a little like climbing the ladder and pulling it up after you – I mean, if you ransacked a civilization, took it over, and settled down to maintain hold of your property, it’s a little hard to sympathize when you bewail the possibility of someone doing to you what you just (a couple of centuries before) did to others.

    Anyways… some photos of what the Gates are really like:

    There are 2 places the Gates of Alexander/Caspian Gates could be – the ones that the Persians were supposed to guard for the Byzantines (and for which guarding the Byzantines paid almost 3 million dollars a year):

    1) Derbent in the south, right on the Caspian Sea – a fortified place, with the famous wall of Gog and Magog supposedly stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea

    2) Darial Gorge in the North, where the river Terek pierces a wall of rock in a narrow mountain river gorge, near the Russian city of Vladikavkaz (capital of Russian Republic North Ossetian/Alania).
     

    Map - Caspian Sea - look at the center, left for DERBENT - one Gate, and the DARIAL GORGE (about where it says Iberia on the map)

    Map - Caspian Sea - look at the center, left for DERBENT - one Gate, and the DARIAL GORGE (about where it says RUSSIA on the map, upper left above the Caspian Sea)


     
    Caspian Sea, (the largest enclosed body of -fresh- water on earth) a satellite image - note the mountains to the left (west) of the water, thats the mountains that stop up Gog and Magog - together with the famous Persian walls - Derbent is on the middle of the left coast, Darial is just out of the pic way above left

    Caspian Sea, (the largest enclosed body of -fresh- water on earth) a satellite image - note the mountains to the left (west) of the water, thats the mountains that stop up Gog and Magog - together with the famous Persian walls - Derbent is on the middle of the left coast, Darial is just out of the pic way above left


     
    Map of Russia showing location of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - between the Caspian and Black Seas - near the site of the Darial Gorge - I LOVE that name - The Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - esp since their brother Alans ended up half a world away in Morocco and Northern Spain

    Map of Russia showing location of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - between the Caspian and Black Seas - near the site of the Darial Gorge - I LOVE that name - The Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - esp since their brother Alans ended up half a world away in Morocco and Northern Spain


     

     
    DERBENT
     

    Vladikavkaz - nearby city in the Caucasus - capital of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - these are the famous Alans (who teamed up with the Vandals and ended up in Spain and Africa), tho the ones that STAYED in the Caucasus -

    Vladikavkaz - nearby city in the Caucasus - capital of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia-Alania - these are the famous Alans (who teamed up with the Vandals and ended up in Spain and Africa), tho the ones that STAYED in the Caucasus -


     
    Derbent - Persian Fort in winter - Caspian Gates - this is probably one of the forts Justinian payed for in his 2 million dollar tribute each year

    Derbent - Persian Fort in winter - Caspian Gates - this is probably one of the forts Justinian payed for in his 2 million dollar tribute each year

    Derbent - Caspian Gates in summer

    Derbent - Caspian Gates in summer

    Derbent - another view - of the city from the Gates/fortress - the city is long and narrow, built between two walls, extending to the edge of the Caspian Sea - supposedly originally a Greek city

    Derbent - another view - of the city from the Gates/fortress - the city is long and narrow, built between two walls, extending to the edge of the Caspian Sea - supposedly originally a Greek city

     
     
     

     
    DARIAL GORGE
     

    Darial Gorge - Caspian Gates - seen from South (high dry Iranian plateau) a photo by Marco Prins from Livius.org

    Darial Gorge - Caspian Gates - seen from South (high dry Iranian plateau) a photo by Marco Prins from Livius.org


     
    Caspian Gates - Darial Gorge - looking east from the west (which is really from south in Iran) entering the gorge - a photo by Jon Lendering, Livius.org

    Caspian Gates - Darial Gorge - looking east from the west (which is really from south in Iran) entering the gorge - a photo by Jon Lendering, Livius.org

    Darial Gorge - on the highway (from Iran to Russia) actually going through the -gate- photo from Livius.org

    Darial Gorge - on the highway (from Iran to Russia) actually going through the -gate- photo from Livius.org

    Darial Gorge - another view (from Wiki) - 8km south of the Russian/Iranian checkpoint looking north - you can SEE the -gate- here - the -wall- of rock cut thru by the river Tekel

    Darial Gorge - another view (from Wiki) - 8km south of the Russian/Iranian checkpoint looking north - you can SEE the -gate- here - the -wall- of rock cut thru by the river Tekel

     

    Darial Gorge - another (historical) view (from Wiki) (1906) from the book  Fire and Sword in the Caucasus's by Luigi Villiari

    Darial Gorge - another (historical) view (from Wiki) (1906) from the book Fire and Sword in the Caucasus's by Luigi Villiari


     

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    Responses

    1. […] Under the empire, the emperor often had the consulship, but wealthy citizens vied to get it (your name was forever remembered by it – well, at least until the empire fell – either in 476 or 1453). The only problem with it was the expense – you were expected to give outrageously expensive games and festivals and handouts upon your accession to the office and the imperial government often had to step in to help, SIGNIFICANTLY – in one case, 80,000 lbs of gold – which in purchasing power would be between 2 and 4 BILLION dollars – enough to wipe out a century of family savings even for the uber-wealthy senators of Late Antiquity – (See Suppression of Consulship) […]


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