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Old 02-08-2011, 07:14 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Ancient Rome was only 5.3 square miles

That is, if we include all and only the area within the Aurelian Walls.

For comparison, Manhattan is 33.77 square miles. Manhattan could hold 6.3 Romes.

If we include only the Republican city within the Servian Wall it's even smaller, but I can't seem to find a cite for the area. Nor for that within the Pomerium.

All that historical action in such a small space!

Just thought that was interesting.
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:43 PM
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That is, if we include all and only the area within the Aurelian Walls.
That's good because I'm going there for the first time next month and that makes it easier to walk around
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:01 PM
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And historical London (what's now called The City) is but a single square mile.

Remember that most transportation at the time was by foot, so you really needed everything pretty close together.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:08 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
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All of that cultural significance, too.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:32 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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That's interesting about Manhattan, Dublin is bigger in area, at 45.5 square miles.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:40 PM
Ají de Gallina Ají de Gallina is offline
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One million people there in such a small place.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:40 PM
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That is, if we include all and only the area within the Aurelian Walls.

For comparison, Manhattan is 33.77 square miles. Manhattan could hold 6.3 Romes.
But New York City 130 years ago was just lower Manhattan. Much of upper Manhattan was near wilderness. "The Age of Innocence" has a scene showing this.

The Roman Forum is quite small and crammed with interesting stuff.
Hint we got from a guidebook which worked - buy your ticket at the Forum, not the Coliseum. The ticket is good for both, and the line is much, much, shorter. However the signs at the forum did not match the audio tour. This was shocking since we had just been in Berlin where museum audio tours and signs are perfect.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:49 PM
Greg Charles Greg Charles is offline
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Is that why they had to send out their armies to conquer the world? There just wasn't enough space for all those soldiers in the city limits.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:37 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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...This was shocking since we had just been in Berlin where museum audio tours and signs are perfect.
Were you really that shocked that Italians would be less organized than Germans?
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:45 PM
The Hamster King The Hamster King is offline
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One million people there in such a small place.
I've read that the one million figure is inflated. The classical population was probably closer to 100,000.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:00 AM
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I was in Ephesus, in Turkey, a few years ago and was shocked at how ENORMOUS the city was. Now that was a damned big city, way bigger than the modern Turkish city of Selcuk, which is on that spot today.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:34 AM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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I've read that the one million figure is inflated. The classical population was probably closer to 100,000.
During the Republican period it would have been that small, but during the 1st and 2nd century AD the lowest estimate is 450,000 and the average is one million. The census indicates over 40,000 apartment buildings called insulae in the city. The walls didn't come close to enclosing the whole city.

Of course most of these people lived under conditions that were worse than the slums of Calcutta or Rio today.
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:28 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Of course most of these people lived under conditions that were worse than the slums of Calcutta or Rio today.
I don't know about that: pretty piled up, but there was running water and sewerage.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:17 AM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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That is, if we include all and only the area within the Aurelian Walls.

For comparison, Manhattan is 33.77 square miles. Manhattan could hold 6.3 Romes.

If we include only the Republican city within the Servian Wall it's even smaller, but I can't seem to find a cite for the area. Nor for that within the Pomerium.

All that historical action in such a small space!

Just thought that was interesting.
That's significantly bigger than the city of New York was at the time. Rome these days is, of course, significantly bigger than it was 2000 years ago.

London was pretty small a few hundred years ago, too. Now it's enormous.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:29 AM
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Hint we got from a guidebook which worked - buy your ticket at the Forum, not the Coliseum. The ticket is good for both, and the line is much, much, shorter.
Good call, thanks.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:31 AM
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Interesting statistic I came across recently in a history of the American Revolution. Boston in 1776 had a population of just 16,000 people.
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:21 AM
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That's nuts - that's, like, half of the attendees at the American Library Association's annual conference.
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Old 02-09-2011, 01:34 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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I don't know about that: pretty piled up, but there was running water and sewerage.
Keep in mind that Rome had good public facilities. The average Roman had a hike to a public fountain or toilet or bath. Only the rich had running water and even they probably wouldn't be connected to the sewage system. Most of the sewage ended up being dumped in the streets. A lot of the pipe they did have was made out of lead. Disease was always a constant problem and epidemics would periodically sweep through the city.

Even at that, it was better than what London or Paris had well up into the 19th century.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:43 PM
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Interesting statistic I came across recently in a history of the American Revolution. Boston in 1776 had a population of just 16,000 people.
But somehow, Fenway Park still sold out every game.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:24 PM
E-Sabbath E-Sabbath is offline
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Interesting statistic I came across recently in a history of the American Revolution. Boston in 1776 had a population of just 16,000 people.
Well, if they didn't keep banning my relatives, maybe it would have been bigger!
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:25 PM
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Is that why they had to send out their armies to conquer the world? There just wasn't enough space for all those soldiers in the city limits.
Actually, under Roman law, having soldiers within the city walls was a big no-no. Mind you not that this didn't stop a few people.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:48 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:14 PM
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I was in Ephesus, in Turkey, a few years ago and was shocked at how ENORMOUS the city was. Now that was a damned big city, way bigger than the modern Turkish city of Selcuk, which is on that spot today.
Our reaction also. Ephesus doesn't get the credit it deserves as being an awesome place to visit. I have the toilets as part of my screen saver photo display.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:24 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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That's interesting about Manhattan, Dublin is bigger in area, at 45.5 square miles.
Lots of cities are bigger than Manhattan in area--L.A. for one. Our overall density of population is a lot less, but comes close to it in the more urbanized neighborhoods.

The fact that Manhattan is so small geographically is a big contributing factor to why it is the way it is--with the skyscrapers, comprehensive rapid transit, and all that cultural and financial action going on in one place.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:54 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Re; Roman baths

Could the poor people afford to use them? They sound pretty nice-hot rooms, cold rooms, pools, and massages. Were they also centers of prostitution?
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:33 PM
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ralph124c, you've unfortunately wandered straight into to of the worst quagmires of roman history, meaning:

1. Who were the roman poor, how many were they, and what could they afford?

and

2. How did ancient roman prostitution work?

Neither of these has any agreed upon answer, but I'll try my best.
One picture of ancient Rome holds that the city proper was surrounded by a shanty-town of starving poor and beggars, numbering in millions, whereas the people we hear about are the very few, lucky, rich people at the top, who lived in houses and ate every day and so one. You usually hear this from the same people who claim ancient Athens was not a democracy and Alexander the Great didn't really conquer all that much.

At the other end of the scale you find the horribly reasonable idea that there really weren't any roman poor, as we define poor, because people who had no means to feed themselves died before long. So the poorest of the poor would be those who were routinely going hungry, but not actually starving.

Getting back to the question of baths, we really don't know if they charged admission, or how much if they did. Ancient Rome itself may well have had some system of free, public baths. Sponsoring baths was an easy way of gaining popularity, so some baths may well have charged entrance in theory, but in practice some up and coming politician or other may have always been keeping them free.

The best I can tell you is that most people had access to some form of baths. If there were some who could not afford it, it will have been the same people who could not afford regular food. I bet the average roman would rather skip meals than baths anyway.

As for prostitutes, theories are all over the map. There seems to be a link between baths and some form of seedy reputation in some ancient sources, but it's mostly rumors; "I hear that there are unsavory things going on in baths in the provinces", rather than "this goes on in my local bath". So there may have been some baths, somewhere, doubling as brothels, but it's by no means a common thing. That said, scratched messages in walls and other evidence seems to indicate that, in some places, freelance prostitutes hung around outside baths hoping to pick up some business (if they were more successful around the entrance or the exit is anyone's guess).

All of this is clouded, because the Romans loved to decorate with sexual imagery, and early archaeologists tended to interpret every scrap of uncovered bosom to mean that the building was a brothel. In reality, there is probably a single brothel in Pompeii, and an unknown, but probably not terribly high number in Rome.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:36 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, was bigger than any city Cortes and his men had ever seen. It had very good sanitation and was, by all accounts, a far cleaner and more livable place than any 16th century European metropolis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenochtitlan. See Gary Jennings's novel Aztec for a fascinating and detailed discussion of the city.

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Old 02-10-2011, 04:41 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Remember that most transportation at the time was by foot, so you really needed everything pretty close together.
I don't know about medieval London, but in Rome the foot traffic was very literal: horses and carriages and wagons were forbidden inside the city except at night or by special permit, AND they had the equestrian version of a pooper scooper law. (Source: All Roads Lead to Rome feature on HBO's ROME DVDs)

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That's nuts - that's, like, half of the attendees at the American Library Association's annual conference.
What's really amazing: about 2,000 of them were the same people.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:55 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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ralph124c, you've unfortunately wandered straight into to of the worst quagmires of roman history, meaning:

1. Who were the roman poor, how many were they, and what could they afford?

and

2. How did ancient roman prostitution work?
The same All Roads Lead to Rome feature and a Terry Jones documentary on daily life in ancient Rome both go into some detail on this as well. The diet of the Roman laborer was mostly chick peas and cheese as protein with fish thrown in occasionally, poultry and eggs less rarely, and meat on the most special of occasions maybe once or twice a year. They had more greens in their diet than most ancient people and used garlic very liberally- in the Jones documentary he was actually surprised at how relatively tasty it was (as opposed to his documentary on medieval England where the food was awful).

Only the rich had ovens in their house due to fire hazard, fires being frequent and capable of spreading out of control in the insulae in a heartbeat. Bakers were one of the most common working class professions and a powerful guild and you'd find bakeries on pretty much all streets. Bread was a staple of the diet and grain was subsidized by the government so it was usually cheap enough for workers to afford.

The prostitutes (called luparia- she-wolves) ranged from very cheap girls who operated in tiny cells off the street (what the Old West called "crib whores")- it's not known if a prostitute rented the cell or if they were (no pun intended) first come first served like a park bench might be today. There were both men and women but the men were the lowest paid (not counting beautiful big butted youths who could attract a wealthier clientele). In some areas and times sexually graphic coinage was apparently issued with pictures of a sex act that particular coin would buy in what may have been an attempt to fix prices, and since most people were illiterate the sexual practices offered were often depicted on the outside of the buildings (literal pornography). Exotic prostitutes (African, Indian, Arabs, etc.) were particularly popular and more expensive. Something in debate is how many prostitutes were slaves v. how many were free; it's known they had their own guilds that were referenced several times in ancient writings as well as patron goddesses.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:23 PM
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That's just it - most of what we know about roman prostitutes is a jungle of fascinating details, but no general knowledge. We don't know what the "typical" prostitute was like. Take those prostitutes booths - they may have been exclusively for prostitution, or they may have been the ancient equivalent of a cheep flat, sometimes inhabited by working girls.

Was the average roman prostitute a street walker? A courtesan? A young, beautiful slave, or a middle-aged drunk? Did she have a pimp? Did she do freelance work at the local brothel, or did she do outcalls? Did she live in rooms above the brothel, or did she sleep where she worked? Was she roman born, or foreign?Was she, in fact, a he?We just don't know. We have lot of single references to various practices, some of the decades or centuries apart, and none of them are talking about the same thing, or written in the same context.

I'd recommend the chapter on prostitution in "Pompeii: The life of a Roman town", by Mary Beard, for an excellent overview. The rest of the book is fascinating as well.
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:43 AM
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I don't know about medieval London, but in Rome the foot traffic was very literal: horses and carriages and wagons were forbidden inside the city except at night or by special permit, AND they had the equestrian version of a pooper scooper law. (Source: All Roads Lead to Rome feature on HBO's ROME DVDs)
That law was only introduced by Caesar, though. So, for most of the Republic, it's not true.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:20 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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That's interesting about Manhattan, Dublin is bigger in area, at 45.5 square miles.
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Lots of cities are bigger than Manhattan in area--L.A. for one. Our overall density of population is a lot less, but comes close to it in the more urbanized neighborhoods.
Indeed, much bigger. L.A. is 498.3 square miles and that's just the city proper. There are many incorporated cities in Los Angeles county which are associated in people's minds as part of "L.A." (even though they like to assert their independence) such as Santa Monica, Long Beach, Burbank, etc. And the whole of L.A. county is 4,752 square miles.

So yeah, Manhattan is just a tiny little island.
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:39 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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That's nuts - that's, like, half of the attendees at the American Library Association's annual conference.
The United States was very much a rural nation at the time of its founding. It had a population of around 2,500,000 and the largest city in the country was New York with a population of only around 60,000.
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:17 PM
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Is that why they had to send out their armies to conquer the world? There just wasn't enough space for all those soldiers in the city limits.
Yes, they needed Legionsraum.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:15 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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The United States was very much a rural nation at the time of its founding. It had a population of around 2,500,000 and the largest city in the country was New York with a population of only around 60,000.
An estimated 10,000+ people came to George Washington's inauguration festivities, so many that it not only filled up every tavern and rooming house but every private residence where people were willing to rent a room or bed as well as most of the churches and there were still people sleeping in tents in alleys, in the park, and renting space on docked boats and the wharves. Like Andrew Jackson's "Party at my place!" shindig almost 40 years later it was an out-of-control nightmare.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:19 AM
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Is that why they had to send out their armies to conquer the world? There just wasn't enough space for all those soldiers in the city limits.
J. Caesar and several of his successors promised soldiers their own land when their enlistment was over. This presented a problem as there wasn't nearly enough land available to honor this in Rome itself (the city and its exurbs) or in all of Italy, so they started giving land in the conquered lands which caused a major uproar ("We were told it was going to be land in civilization!") but it worked in helping to Romanize the provinces.
When Herod Antipas was removed as ruler of Galilee he and his wife were exiled to what's now Lyon in France. By that time (39 A.D.) it was already a fairly large and thriving colony that had been there for more than 3 generations.

Last edited by Sampiro; 02-13-2011 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:20 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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That law was only introduced by Caesar, though. So, for most of the Republic, it's not true.
Interesting-did ancient Rome have some kind of street lighting? Supplying a city the size of Rome reqired moving a lot of food-and it is dark at night-I assme most of the grain that fed Rome came from Egypt-and was shipped in via the port of Ostia Antica-there mst have beena lot of carts to hal all that grain.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:30 PM
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Not organized street lighting as such, but some main streets will have had some light by private initiative. And most wagons would have carried their own lamps and such.

A lot of food will have been carried in on donkeys laden with baskets. Or slaves. Or farmers.

Like all cities, Romes main problem was getting rid of stuff, rather than getting stuff in, since many things could be dragged up the Tiber on barges. But the city soon filled up with refuse, building rubble, excrement and dead bodies. People had a vested interest in bringing stuff in for sale, and managed on their own. Getting stuff back out was a major headache for city officials, since you had to force or pay people to do it.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:40 AM
Lucifugerex Lucifugerex is offline
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

Nicely done!!
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Old 02-21-2011, 02:03 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Interesting-did ancient Rome have some kind of street lighting?
I am reading Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra at the moment. She was living at Caesar's villa outside of Rome when he was murdered. It apparently had a nice view of the main part of the city, and after he was murdered, local vigilance committees arranged for campfires to be set in their neighborhoods because of the unrest the murder caused. The normal state of affairs was that Rome was completely unlit at night, so the book imagines a little scene with Cleopatra looking out at the sight of Rome and the campfires, and pondering her and Caesarion's future. All of this in comparison to Alexandria, which was, at that time, the nicest, fanciest big city in the "Roman" world.

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Old 02-22-2011, 09:33 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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But New York City 130 years ago was just lower Manhattan. Much of upper Manhattan was near wilderness. "The Age of Innocence" has a scene showing this.
I recall a scene (apparently based on real life) in Gore Vidal's historical novel Burr, where, during the American Revolution, a whole regiment of the Continental Army gets lost trying to find its way from Greenwich Village to New York Village, or vice-versa; Manhattan was that wild, then.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:39 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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One picture of ancient Rome holds that the city proper was surrounded by a shanty-town of starving poor and beggars, numbering in millions, whereas the people we hear about are the very few, lucky, rich people at the top, who lived in houses and ate every day and so one. You usually hear this from the same people who claim ancient Athens was not a democracy and Alexander the Great didn't really conquer all that much.

At the other end of the scale you find the horribly reasonable idea that there really weren't any roman poor, as we define poor, because people who had no means to feed themselves died before long. So the poorest of the poor would be those who were routinely going hungry, but not actually starving.
N.B.: From 58 B.C., there was a free grain dole. You could live on it. But, it was only available to Roman citizens and it was only distributed in the city of Rome -- you pretty much had to live there to collect it. This may have increased Rome's population of idle-poor.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 02-22-2011 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:03 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
Legal concepts which are still used within both the Civil and Common legal systems and a ton of vocabulary. Is that too long to work it in next time?
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:15 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Keep in mind that Rome had good public facilities. The average Roman had a hike to a public fountain or toilet or bath. Only the rich had running water and even they probably wouldn't be connected to the sewage system. Most of the sewage ended up being dumped in the streets. A lot of the pipe they did have was made out of lead. Disease was always a constant problem and epidemics would periodically sweep through the city.

Even at that, it was better than what London or Paris had well up into the 19th century.
Saragossa got its first female mayor in 1995 (link in Spanish, I'd link her official webpage but I can't reach it at work). One of the things she did was subject the city to the same treatment to which she would have subjected an ancient fixer-upper... she redid the electricity and the piping. At first, many people criticised the project, claiming it was a waste of money. When they heard what was being found they shut up, even before the actual data on the amount of water being saved (much higher than initially calculated) came to light.

The sewers had not been redone in almost 2000 years. There was a large area (around the Basílica) where the pipes from 20th-century buildings went directly into the 1st-century sewers; the parts between the buildings and the main sewer could be anything from 1st to 20th century.

The area covered by those ancient sewers is pretty much what the city was before its 20th century expansion. The walls which got teared down in the 19th century are within the area covered by the Roman sewers.

People living "outside the walls" in either city would not have had access to sewers, but people in the city proper did.

Last edited by Nava; 02-22-2011 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:28 AM
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But New York City 130 years ago was just lower Manhattan. Much of upper Manhattan was near wilderness. "The Age of Innocence" has a scene showing this.
That's how Wall Street got its name. It was named after the wall that marked the northern border of the settlement.
  #46  
Old 02-22-2011, 11:39 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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I read that the Spanish city of Cordoba 9while under the moors) had street lighting.
This must have been a very expensive proposition, in the days of oil lamps.I think that modern street lighting dates from the mid 1800's-when gas pipes were laid and town gas was used to fuel street lamps.
  #47  
Old 02-22-2011, 12:38 PM
Septima Septima is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
N.B.: From 58 B.C., there was a free grain dole. You could live on it. But, it was only available to Roman citizens and it was only distributed in the city of Rome -- you pretty much had to live there to collect it. This may have increased Rome's population of idle-poor.
Well, yes and no - precisely how this grain ration was controlled is unclear, but there were several attempts at regulation. You couldn't just show up, stand in line and stick your hand out for a portion of grain.

There were lists of eligible citizens, and people were given chits to display at the distribution point. There are theories that the lists of those eligible for grain handouts were somehow tracked to the membership lists of the voting tribes, which all male romans were enrolled in. You were written into the lists by your father when you came of age, if you were a boy. It is unclear were girls fir into all this, but one must assume arrangements were made somehow.

How immigrants from outside the city were integrated into this voting system when they moved to Rome is not entirely clear, but you had to live there for some time. Which presumably means that there was considerable delay before new arrivals were eligible for grain handouts.

Of course, corruption and fraud was rife, as in any age, but it wasn't a free-for-all.
So, no, there were no hoards of starving vagrants descending on Rome for the grain, but the unemployed poor already living there didn't starve, that's true.
  #48  
Old 02-22-2011, 03:56 PM
E-Sabbath E-Sabbath is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That's how Wall Street got its name. It was named after the wall that marked the northern border of the settlement.
I should point out that the wall was not built to protect against the natives, but against the British.
  #49  
Old 02-22-2011, 04:17 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E-Sabbath View Post
I should point out that the wall was not built to protect against the natives, but against the British.
Good plan. Have you ever been attacked by British natives? They strip naked, paint themselves blue, cut their hair in those silly moptops, and come at you singing "Vindaloo".
  #50  
Old 02-24-2011, 02:48 AM
Pantani Pantani is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Could the poor people afford to use them? They sound pretty nice-hot rooms, cold rooms, pools, and massages. Were they also centers of prostitution?
Good question.

We know there were public baths as well as private enterprises (oh, and baths in private homes if you were uber rich).

Private comercial enterprises obviously worked on a pay for your visit basis. How many of them there were we just don't know.

Public baths could charge but could also be free. We know that from time to time emperors would for out the cash to make the baths free for all. This opens all sorts of issues as it looks like the social classes were all mixing at the baths which goes against many of our preconceptions of Roman society.

There's quite a lots of work going on at the moment that sugests that Roman baths were on the shiny clean places we imagine but must have been rather grotty. There's some Roman medical texts that recomend bandages as being good to wear in the baths. Mmmm yummy.

And then there's the whole mixed bathing debate....
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