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List(s) of Roman consuls, update 2[edit]

One more update. I've tweaked the Republican part of the list pretty close to how I envision it: as much as possible only one pair of names for each year in the body of the list, removing all of the "T. or Sp. or L. Veturius Crassus Cicurinus", & hoping to push that information into the articles. (In some cases, the ambiguity is entirely over the praenomen, & if you are familiar with Old Roman cursive, it's no surprise if there was a disagreement whether the initial praenomen was C. or L., or T. or P.; those letter forms could look a lot alike.) My aim is to indicate which individuals were consuls in a given year, & if there is any controversy over what their name was this fact should properly be in the article. (And if there is no article, one could park the information as a footnote in the list if needed.) Although a lot of information is being moved to footnotes, I'm trying to limit their use as much as possible, mostly to indicate alternative office-holders (some alternatives more plausible than the main list, some -- especially those recorded by Diodorus Siculus -- far less plausible). I've included a few scholarly speculations on how the lists were revised or tampered, more as illustrations that this list is not 100% reliable. Yet except for the insertion of the four dictatorial years & the length of the Sextian-Licinian anarchy (which is generally accepted as not only a likely unhistorical alteration, but the latest one made), these scholarly speculations remain speculations. And so far, the scholarly consensus appears to be to use the Varronian dates, so they need to be kept in.

As for the Imperial part... This is posing a different set of problems. The one I foresaw was compiling a list of suffect consuls, which will not be complete. (The sources for suffect consuls attenuate as time progresses to the point -- around AD 206 -- where any known suffects are best listed under the list of undated consuls.) What I'm wondering about is whether to show pairs where neither office-holder is known, or let the reader intuit it from the dates. Yes this is mostly cosmetic, but I'd like some input -- or a better solution. The other issue is that for the first decades of the 4th century, when the Tetrarchy fell apart, that each of the Emperors began to appoint their own consuls which results in a tangle of consulships. This issue is not a difficult one to resolve, but I wasn't expecting to deal with it. (Which means there are likely other issues I didn't foresee.)

But from my work so far I see that each part needs its own introductory remarks: a section about Varronian chronology has as little relevance to the Imperial consuls as a section on how Augustus (& later emperors) adapted the suffect consulate to meet different needs. And much of the information that would help explain these lists -- about the office of Consul & how it evolved, about Consular Tribunes, the consuls of the Year of Four Emperors (who they were & how they were elected -- some of whom we don't know more about than their names), & the 25 consuls of the Year 190 (I swear I've seen a reference to an article where someone tried to compile a list of them), how the consuls reflect the changes in Roman society (there are a lot of scholarly papers on this topic: just the names alone reveal a lot of changes in the nature of the ruling classes), & the end of the consulate -- are likely best handled in separate articles. Wow, looking at all that in print reveals just how much work there is to be done. :-/ llywrch (talk) 21:26, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Good to hear you're still plugging away at it. I agree that it's best not to include alternative praenomina in the list; those can always be discussed on the consuls' individual pages, or if necessary in a footnote (but it's not necessary to footnote every possible alternative). In general, I suggest you go by the ones Broughton has chosen first, or the ones in the DGRBM (the articles as well as the chronological table at the end). It might also be instructive to look at the names typically used by each gens, in the articles I've been writing. I've paid a lot of attention to praenomina, since they're what initially got me interested in Roman families and then the chronology; and as a result, I have some observations that might or might not help you:
  • If choosing between a common praenomen (Lucius, Publius, Gaius) and an uncommon one that's well-attested for a gens (Caeso, Agrippa, Vopiscus), go with the uncommon one. Ancient authors and their copyists frequently emended names they didn't recognize as praenomina or weren't sure about into ones they thought more likely. Uncommon praenomina are also less likely to appear in ancient authors unless they were found in their sources; i.e. if they were guessing, they wouldn't usually guess these. Note, this mainly applies if neither alternative is clearly preferable.
  • There's a tendency for certain things to happen with particular praenomina. Agrippa, Postumus, and Proculus get treated as cognomina; Gnaeus, Manius, and Numerius get emended to Gaius and Marcus; Spurius and Servius get amended to Sextus. Prefer Latinized Lars to the irregular Graecicized Lar/Laros. Note that in the Gaius–Gnaeus matter, you can't be too sure without looking at the gens; Gnaeus was a common praenomen, too, even though it often gets changed into Gaius. But in a few cases the reverse seems to have happened; Coriolanus was probably Gaius, not Gnaeus; there are many men named Gaius among the Marcii, but no others named Gnaeus. Some sources seem to have more emendations of this sort than others; Broughton mentions many "bland" praenomina found in Livy assigned to magistrates with more colourful names in Dionysius or the Fasti.
  • I can't be of much help with Imperial data, but I can offer these observations with respect to the republican chronology: Broughton reports the scholarly doubts about the "dictator years," but doesn't cut them out. The same with the nine years during which Licinius and Sextius are supposed to have prevented the election of annual magistrates. It's possible that these are errors or interpolations, but nobody has satisfactorily accounted for them yet. No alternative consuls appear in any ancient sources for these gaps, even though there seem to have been a number of ancient sources to draw upon. Not every author mentions the "dictator years", but in order to make sense of the chronology without them, the most logical solution seems to be to push all earlier events forward by four years, which disrupts the rest of the chronology. My copy of Livy i–v (De Sélincourt) indeed places the Gallic sack of Rome in 386, which a few other scholars seem to have adopted; but the majority still cling to 390, and the years from 509 to 390 seem to be fairly hard to assail. As for the years with no magistrates from 375 to 367, surely it would have been easy to invent consuls for them had anyone been so inclined; according to the scholars most likely to reject them, the Romans did this all the time. If there had been consuls during those years, surely at least one source would mention them; and no scholars seem to propose dropping nine years from the chronology. So as unlikely as the gap may appear at first, no other, likelier solution has been proposed. So, as Broughton does, I would state that tradition says one thing very clearly, that it is doubted by many scholars, but that there is also no strong evidence that it is untrue, and no entirely satisfactory alternative (i.e. one acceptable to a consensus of scholarly opinion). The most neutral thing to do is simply to state what the most respected scholars say, without attempting to resolve the issue.
Well, I don't know if this helped at all. But thanks for putting in all your hard work, anyway! P Aculeius (talk) 13:56, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
As for the praenomena, my first choice would be to use whatever one is used in an existing article. If that's the wrong choice, then the usual process (e.g., debate at WP:RfC, or WP:BRD) will fix that. Otherwise, I'll most likely follow what you set forth. (My inclination is to follow the principle of lectio difficilior potior -- favor the more unusual or difficult form as the primary.) As for "dictator years" & the Lincinian-Sextian anarchy, since they are part of the Varronian chronology, there's no question that they should be left in; removing them & altering the accepted dates would be original research. Nevertheless, both the dictator years & the anarchy will be flagged with footnotes, much as they are now. (Although I need to make them more concise. If that doesn't work, then more articles need to be written.) FWIW, I'm confident that the Battle of the Allia/Sack of Rome was in 386 BC (all of the primary sources point to that year), but due to mistakes in composing the Fasti Capitolini it was redated to 390 BC, which subsequently became the accepted date. (But this is all better set forth in the relevant article, where one & all can argue about it on the Talk page. :-) -- llywrch (talk) 20:28, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Ordinarily I'd be bold and do this myself! But as I know you're working hard on it, I'd like to recommend changing "Gnaeus" to "Numerius" for the consul of 421 BC. Even though Gnaeus is the preferred of the two alternatives in Broughton under that year, he does mention the unlikeliness of this name in the notes; and under 415 and 407, when he clearly indicates the same person is intended, Numerius is preferred both times, once to Marcus and once to Gnaeus. We know that the Fabii used Numerius; we know they didn't use Gnaeus; and Numerius is one of the alternatives in all three years in which he appears, being preferred by Broughton in two of them. There are many doubtful cases, but this really isn't one of them! P Aculeius (talk) 01:01, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
The problem with that change is that the consul of 421 BC (Cn. Fabius Vibulanus) is possibly a different person than the consul of 415 & 407 (N. Fabius Vibulanus). Which is just one of the numerous problems with the consular list for entries before 300 BC. (Another example, which I only stumbled across last week, involves Opiter Verginius Tricostus Esquilinus (consul 478 BC): one source offers him as an alternative for the year 478 BC, while another lists him as an alternative for 473 BC. From this it's clear that there was a tradition that Opit. Verginius was consul at some point in that decade, although the year is uncertain.) My intent is to simply point at the problems, while allowing the reader as much latitude to make her/his own decisions about the problems. And in any case, I'd be more willing to go along with your request if there was an existing article about N. Fabius Vibulanus which discussed this issue. -- llywrch (talk) 17:30, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
I just wanted to make two points. The first is to thank you for this tremendous work and for making such sustained efforts to keep the project in the loop. The second point is to suggest that it might be good to have an article or several on some of the chronological issues that you've been mentioning. I was rather surprised to discover that there is no article on the Varronian Chronology, for instance. I know it is rude of me to add to your labours, but you and P Aculeius do seem excellently placed to write something of this sort, and it might help to give the chronological issues the full treatment that they deserve while also keeping the list page within a reasonable length. Furius (talk) 23:12, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree with you Furius, & I am actually am working an such an article. (There are a lot of ancillary pages that need to be written to properly support this list page.) The challenge I've been facing in completing it is collecting enough material to both make the page useful, & to avoid problems of original research. You can see my rough draft on my sandbox page. -- llywrch (talk) 18:20, 22 July 2016 (UTC)
Saw tonight's revision to the note on the significance of the lex Licinia Sextia, and thought that the language both before and after the revision seemed unduly skeptical. Not your fault; this seems to be what the source (Forsythe) says. But after looking through some of what Forsythe says about this and other issues, I became very concerned about relying on him as a source. Found a review of his book, which seemed to bear out what I was seeing: the review, by Michael P. Fronda of McGill University for the Institute for Research in Classical Philosophy and Science, contrasts Forsythe with another recent work on the topic, by T. J. Cornell.
This review suggests that while Forsythe presents a number of worthwhile arguments that are internally consistent, his basic hypothesis seems to be that virtually nothing in the Roman literary tradition can be accepted at face value. He essentially dismisses traditional accounts and explanations with little discussion, and replaces them with his own "reconstruction" of Roman history; and while his reconstruction is consistent and plausible, most of it can neither be proved nor disproved. In other words, Forsythe represents the speculative fringe of Roman history, standing squarely with what have been termed the "hypercritics".
I suggest that readers would be better served by a more neutral treatment than Forsythe is able to produce. Thoughts? P Aculeius (talk) 04:13, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
Well, to start with I've been far reluctant than it might appear to use Forsythe's book for the reason that it is the first modern discussion of the Early Republic that I've read. While I've found his book insightful, & it seems he does present the consensus fairly, until I've read a few more books I'm likely to be restrained in citing him. And even when I'm citing him (or any writer) beyond presenting his work as a summary of various points of view, my habit is to present the information as the opinion of a specific person, not consensus.

Considering the section you're concerned with, P Aculeius, there are a few points I need to comment on. First, the citation I made was not to the part of his book that discusses the dates of vacatio (or solitudo magistratuum, as Broughton calls it) & the lex Licinia Sextia, but to an appendix which discusses the issues of the consular list as received. What he writes there is actually not much different than what Broughton wrote about chronology in vol. 2 pp. 637-9, only where Broughton emphasizes the vagarities of the pre-Julian calendar & the numerous interreges as being responsible for a mismatch between the number of years & sets of consuls & consular tribunes, Forsythe places the responsibility on the Annalists who were concerned with "improving" the consular list as they received it. Anyway, I'm going to need to find the passage where Forsythe presents his deconstruction of this event & make sure I'm citing that part of the book, & repeat his account of the arguments about this period.

This leads to a second point. As I reconsider the words that I wrote -- & which I was not happy with, I'm thinking I misquoted him: IIRC Forsythe wrote that the Tribunes blocking the election of consuls probably did not happen, & this block for several years was definitely unlikely. (Note that our primary sources all differ over just how long the vacatio took place: Diodorus Siculus says one year, Livy 6, & the Fasti Capitolini probably 5; that inscription is damaged at this point.) And there is a bit of practically here: if the two Tribunes somehow managed to successfully block all government functions for even a year, eventually someone would stoop to the expediency of doing away with these troublesome meddlers. So the issue comes down to just how long was this vacatio? Forsythe, again IIRC, proposes that Livy made use of this vacatio to adjust a chronological discrepancy: there weren't enough sets of consuls & consular tribunes to make Roman history conform to where it synchronized with Greek history. (See my comment about the Battle of the Allia above.) But to return to my point, I'm going to need to rewrite that paragraph further & confine the comment to the vacatio, & not about the historicity of the lex Licinia Sextia.

As for being a "hypercritic", I don't think he's that far nor, having read his review, do I think Fronda believes he is. Forsythe is obviously skeptical about the traditional stories about Romulus, the Battle of the Cremera, Cincinnatus, & Camillus, but Forsythe also admits to the basic reliability of the consular list & bases his narrative of the Early Republic on it & not the traditional stories. A "hypercritic" would be someone like one German scholar of the earl 1950s, who tossed out a third of the names on the consular list & proposed a chronology based on a passage in Pliny's Natural History (33.18) where a "true" chronology is established by the number of nails driven in the Capitoline temple as counted in 303 BC. (Yeah, I have a little trouble stomaching that theory, despite a favorable review in the Journal of Roman Studies. I'm still pondering just how to use that passage in Pliny -- or if I should at all.) Nevertheless, since I'm working on an article about the consular list & not articles on those personages & events, I don't think his deconstruction of the traditional stories matter. About the only other citation of Forsythe I plan on adding here is a footnote mentioning his theory that, after the encrustion of the Annalists is removed, the only two consuls of 509 BC were Brutus & Collatinus, the other three being added for various reasons. I'm saving further use of Forsythe for the ancilliary articles, such as one about how this list came into being, & another collecting together various expert studies of the list & what they tell us of Roman history. (I have a couple of quotations from Ronald Syme which justify examination of the consular list for this purpose, so that article would not, prima facie, be considered original research.) -- llywrch (talk) 20:43, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Cornell dismisses the dictator years and then writes on the length of the anarchy "... Diodorus, more plausibly, has only one year without magistrates. the five-year anarchy is obviously unlikely to be historical, and is best seen as device, similar to the dictator-years, for extending the chronology". Oakley takes a similar view in his commentary to Livy. So there seems to be an agreement that the dictator years have been entirely invented (rather late), and that the five year anarchy is likewise unhistorical. Where opinion seems to differ is whether the anarchy is also entirely invented (Forsythe) or possibly lasted only one year (Cornell & Oakley). (A one year anarchy allows a certain neatness to the whole issue: Roman historians knew the Allia was supposed to take place in 386 but found their consular lists to be 4 years short, so some added 4 dictator years and others added 4 more anarchy years.) Fornadan (t) 21:55, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
There's a considerable difference between indicating scholarly skepticism about certain traditional events, for which plausible alternatives might be mentioned, and labeling A, B, C, D, E, and F "fictional", which Forsythe does, repeatedly, throughout the history of the Republic, most of which he seems to regard as a deliberate invention to fill an unknown gap that only he can correctly interpret, although none of his theories seem to be subject to proof of any sort. Forsythe doesn't regard most of the annual magistrates as historical persons; he denies that the patricians and plebeians were social classes, or that the entire "struggle of the orders" which occupies much of the history from 495 to 340 BC even occurred; he doesn't think that the secessions occurred, or that the tribunes of the plebs were introduced in order to give the plebeians a share in the government. Forsythe's view of the history of the Republic shares little in common with traditional histories, up to and including those most widely read and taught today. As such, it's rather a poor source for information or commentary on an article like this one.
I don't know if phrases like "the encrustation of the annalists" is yours or Forsythe's, but it's clearly non-neutral and assumes things that can't be proven. Especially in the context proposed: the supposition that there were no consuls suffecti even though one was immediately forced into exile, and the other one killed on the battlefield. In order for that to be true, Brutus would, on the one hand, have forced Collatinus to resign and go into exile on the ground that the people would regard him as the successor of the kings, but then prevented the election of a successor, leaving himself, the king's nephew, as the sole authority, in apparent contradiction of the very principle of dual collegiality that he himself had just established. That version of events makes it sound like Brutus forced Collatinus into exile with the goal of placing himself on the throne; rather than trying to safeguard the liberty of the Romans he was attempting to subvert it, and his plan was only foiled when he fell in battle. And then we have to assume that the Romans sat around twiddling their thumbs until the time for the next elections rolled around; something they didn't do on any other occasion. But here, we've ventured into the realm of "alternative history", which is why Forsythe's interpretations really need to be treated very, very cautiously, and not used as the basis for interpreting this or other, related articles. P Aculeius (talk) 12:57, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
(Outdenting) @Fornadan:, I like your explanation of the issue. As far as this article is concerned, the matter is about the length of the solitudo magistratuum & not if it happened. I'll change the citations for that passage to Cornell & Oakley as soon as I can access their works -- unless you'd like to contribute the information.
@P Aculeius: I'm beginning to suspect that you are criticizing a book you haven't read. Forsythe explicitly states he believes that the consular list is for the most part reliable, at one point noting that the problems with its earliest part (& the appearance of gentes which died out before "historical times" like the Lartii & Horatii) proving its truth. While he does present an interpretation of the pre-367 BC conflict between the patricians & the plebians that is different than traditional histories (depending on your definition of "traditional histories"), as Smith notes in his review of Forsythe's book for the Journal of Roman Studies, Forsythe's chief weakness is that he tends to vacillate between a "traditional" account of the Early Republic & a "critical" one, sometimes failing to persuade the reader. But none of that has an effect on this list. So far I've cited him once on that list, & I plan on removing that citation; I plan on adding a reference to him in the footnotes about the consular college of 509 BC, but I also plan on adding Livy's comment that Sp. Lucretius Tricipitinus isn't mentioned in some of the early annals & Polybius' puzzling statement that the first two Roman consuls were Junius Brutus & M. Horatius.

As for the phrase "the encrustation of the annalists", it is mine & I used it to denote the process of editorial changes the Annalists performed to "correct" the consular record. I suspect Forsythe would object to it as much as you have. Maybe it's an unfortunate choice of words (I was thinking of how layers of varnish over an old painting can be thought as an encrustation over the original surface) but if you look at the other authorities I added to this list -- Alan Samuels, B.W. Frier, R.M. Ogilvie, A. Drummond, & even Broughton -- they all indicate that the consular list as we have it does not accurately reflect 100% all of the magistrates. In most cases, all we have to go on is suspicion that there is a problem (primarily where the sources all contradict each other, such as for 458 BC & 328 BC, the last being an unsolvable mess no matter how you look at it); the only place where any of the layers of revisions can be successfully removed are the latest layers, which include the four "dictator years", & possibly Livy's use of the length of the solitudo magistratuum to make the recorded date of the Battle of the Allia match the college of consular tribunes it's supposed to synchronize with. But all of that is not taken from Forsythe, but from other authorities you haven't mentioned.

I have to say, though, I'm puzzled at your ranting over Forsythe's book. You've gotten your point across: I've agreed to make the changes you wanted, & except for one footnote (where information is presented as his opinion) his name doesn't otherwise appear in the article. And I'm sincerely glad you helped me spot a mistake in this list -- although I might have been more glad had you also pointed out that I added the same footnote to the years 387 & 388 BC. (I have fixed that.) Your concern about Forsythe's attitude towards the traditional stories of ancient Rome is noted, but these narratives don't concern the article unless the personage was a consul or consular tribune -- & the information needs to be parked in a footnote until the relevant article is written. Simply put, discussing his handling of traditional stories is not relevant to this thread. If you still want to argue about Forsythe, let's take this to our talk pages. -- llywrch (talk) 19:32, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Roman And Byzantine Military History[edit]

Hello, I am currently working on a small (I am the only active member as of now) task force within the military history WP, I would like to invite anyone interested in either Roman or Byzantine Military History, to work on the project with me. Here is the Link Incase you are interested, thank you. Iazyges (talk) 16:48, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

Clothing in ancient Rome[edit]

I'd like some advice on the best course for this article. Much of it appears to be copied from this: http://www.crystalinks.com/romeclothing.html , but the article should be kept around as an important subject, and there are some good sources that could be used for rebuilding. Chickadee46 (talk|contribs) (WP:MCW) 19:31, 29 July 2016 (UTC)

It's possible, even probable, that the crystalinks article copied theirs from Wiki. Regardless, you might take a look at the sources I'm using at Toga. All of them are relevant to your own projected rewrite, though some far more than others. Haploidavey (talk) 19:42, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. Checking the Wayback Machine appears to show that the crystaliks article was copied from Wikipedia without attribution, but the sources at Toga may come in handy. Chickadee46 (talk|contribs) (WP:MCW) 19:46, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
That's a truly challenging project, and I'd be happy to help. The clothing article as it stands contains some outstanding errors and ommissions. Haploidavey (talk) 19:53, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I'd very much appreciate some help with it. Chickadee46 (talk|contribs) (WP:MCW) 22:01, 29 July 2016 (UTC)

Ajax (play)[edit]

Opinions are requested at Talk: Ajax (play) § Meaning of "immature work": Should the page Ajax (play) describe its subject as "not at all an immature work"? To me the phrase reads like a statement of opinion in Wikipedia's voice. —Coconutporkpie (talk) 18:21, 6 August 2016 (UTC)