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 Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose

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PostSubject: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Mon 30 Jan 2017, 13:11

In 'The Go-Between' (1953) L P Hartley famously remarked: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there", and it is certainly true that historians are sternly advised to evaluate the actions and motives of people in the past by the morals, manners, values, concerns, desires and beliefs of the time, and not by our own modern standards. Nevertheless sometimes a quotation or action echoes down the centuries which shows that we and they are really not so different at all.

Such as this ... from Vizzer, in another thread, quoting from 'The Spectator' of 26 January 1867, which was reporting on the lack of news coming from America:

@Vizzer wrote:

"The Atlantic Telegraph has been silent since Monday, in con-sequence of a great snow-storm which broke a land cable on the American side, but the Atlantic Cable itself is uninjured. We wish that its silence were less unimportant. People who thirst to know the last price of gold and Five-Twenties are in suspense ; but as regards political news, or what stands for it, the silence has been a change for the better. A see-saw of baseless rumours about the progress of the inquiry into the reasons for impeachment is the less objectionable the longer it is detained. in New York."

It seems that even in an age well before 24-hour television news, the internet and twitter etc, people were experiencing information overload from endless and obsessive reporting from the U.S. and consequently found welcome relief as a result of the interruption.

... indeed how very apt, particularly just now.


But what other actions, quotations, pictures or whatever from history might particularly resonate with us today?

How about this, written by Quintus, the younger brother of Marcus Tullius Cicero, taken from his pamphlet 'Commentariolum Petitionis' (Little handbook on Electioneering) which gives his rather cynical advice on canvassing for election in Rome. I don’t think modern political elections have really changed much at all.

"I must tell you now about the other parts of your campaign in particular how you get the electorate on your side. You have to learn the knack of remembering people's names and an easy manner. You must be seen everywhere, be generous and get a good reputation, and you have to create a sense of hope for the future of the country; Whatever else you do make sure you recognise the voters - or at least make it look like you do. Then, just suppose there's some desirable quality you don't have, pretend you do and make it look natural. Flattery might be a pretty shabby thing in general but when you're standing for election it's essential. And make sure you have a face, an expression and style of conversation that matches the different expectations of the people you meet. People like to have things promised to them, so if you're asked to sign up to something that you do not agree with either extricate yourself politely ... or promise it anyway. The former is the mark of a good man: the latter the mark of a good candidate.

The other thing you have to think about is your reputation and public opinion of you. Make sure you put all your efforts into being a good canvasser. Make sure people talk about you as being a nice guy, that they're always coming to your house, that you look the part, and that the electorate feel they are sharing in your fame. Your campaign has to be glamorous, but you have to dig up the dirt too. If you can, see that some accusations of crime, expenses fiddling or a sex scandal are thrown at your rivals!"



And then there’s this little bit of marginalia scribbled at bottom of the last page of a labouriously hand-written and beautifully illuminated 14th century copy of the gospels:

"Now I’ve written the whole thing - for Christ’s sake give me a drink." … and I think we can all relate to that!


So, any other historic actions, quotations, pictures or whatevers that have particular resonance today, and which show that, for all our advanced technology and modern ideas, we do often think and are driven by exactly the same things as our forebears?
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Mon 30 Jan 2017, 14:18

All the "lewd" graffiti from Pompeii and Herculaneum - every scrap of it - could just as easily have been scrawled on a modern toilet wall. Not quite evidence of how lofty wisdom resonates through the ages, but a fair indication that two thousand years of so-called human advancement means diddlysquat when it comes to squatting and diddlying.

One Professor Brian Harvey of Kent State University actually got paid to write all this stuff out. I want his job ....

Each inscription begins with a reference to where it was found (region.insula.door number). The second number is the reference to the publication of the inscription in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Volume 4.

I.2.20 (Bar/Brothel of Innulus and Papilio); 3932: Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!
I.2.23 (peristyle of the Tavern of Verecundus); 3951: Restitutus says: “Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates”.
I.4.5 (House of the Citharist; below a drawing of a man with a large nose); 2375: Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this.
I.7.1 (in the vestibule of the House of Cuspius Pansa); 8075: The finances officer of the emperor Nero says this food is poison
I.7.8 (bar; left of the door); 8162: We two dear men, friends forever, were here. If you want to know our names, they are Gaius and Aulus.
I.10.2-3 (Bar of Prima); 8258, 8259: The story of Successus, Severus and Iris is played out on the walls of a bar: [Severus]: “Successus, a weaver, loves the innkeeper’s slave girl named Iris. She, however, does not love him. Still, he begs her to have pity on him. His rival wrote this. Goodbye.”. [Answer by Successus]: “Envious one, why do you get in the way. Submit to a handsomer man and one who is being treated very wrongly and good looking.” [Answer by Severus]: “I have spoken. I have written all there is to say. You love Iris, but she does not love you.”
I.10.4 (near the rear entrance vestibule of the House of Menander); 8356: At Nuceria, look for Novellia Primigenia near the Roman gate in the prostitute’s district.
I.10.4 (exterior of the House of Menander); 8304: Satura was here on September 3rd
I.10.7 (House and Office of Volusius Iuvencus; left of the door); 8364: Secundus says hello to his Prima, wherever she is. I ask, my mistress, that you love me.
II.2.1 (Bar of Astylus and Pardalus); 8408: Lovers are like bees in that they live a honeyed life
II.2.3 (Bar of Athictus; right of the door); 8442: I screwed the barmaid
II.3.10 (Pottery Shop or Bar of Nicanor; right of the door); 10070: Lesbianus, you defecate and you write, ‘Hello, everyone!’
II.4.1 (bar; left of the door, near a picture of Mercury); 8475: Palmyra, the thirst-quencher
II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8767: Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six women came to know, too few for such a stallion.
II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8792: On April 19th, I made bread
II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8792b: Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera.
III.4.2 (House of the Moralist); 7698a: Let water wash your feet clean and a slave wipe them dry; let a cloth cover the couch; take care of our linens.
III.4.2 (House of the Moralist); 7698b: Remove lustful expressions and flirtatious tender eyes from another man’s wife; may there be modesty in your expression.
III.4.2 (House of the Moralist); 7698c: […]postpone your tiresome quarrels if you can, or leave and take them home with you.
III.5.1 (House of Pascius Hermes; left of the door); 7716: To the one defecating here. Beware of the curse. If you look down on this curse, may you have an angry Jupiter for an enemy.
III.5.3 (on the wall in the street); 8898: Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog
III.5.4 (exterior of a small house); 8903: Gaius Sabinus says a fond hello to Statius. Traveler, you eat bread in Pompeii but you go to Nuceria to drink. At Nuceria, the drinking is better.
V.1.18 (House of Valerius Flaccus and Valerius Rufinus; right of the door); 4066: Daphnus was here with his Felicla.
V.1.26 (House of Caecilius Iucundus); 4091: Whoever loves, let him flourish. Let him perish who knows not love. Let him perish twice over whoever forbids love.
V.1.26 (peristyle of the House of Caecilius Iucundus); 4087: Staphylus was here with Quieta.
V.3.9 (House of Cosmus and Epidia; right of the door); 6702: Aufidius was here. Goodbye
V.5 (just outside the Vesuvius gate); 6641: Defecator, may everything turn out okay so that you can leave this place
V.5 (near the Vesuvius Gate); 7086: Marcus loves Spendusa
V.5.3 (barracks of the Julian-Claudian gladiators; column in the peristyle); 4289: Celadus the Thracian gladiator is the delight of all the girls
VI (on the Street of Mercury); 1321: Publius Comicius Restitutus stood right here with his brother
VI.6.1 (House of the Olii; on the Via Consolare); 139: The city block of the Arrii Pollii in the possession of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius is available to rent from July 1st. There are shops on the first floor, upper stories, high-class rooms and a house. A person interested in renting this property should contact Primus, the slave of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius.
VI.11 (on the Vico del Labirinto); 1393: On April 20th, I gave a cloak to be washed. On May 7th, a headband. On May 8th, two tunics
VI.13.19 (House of Sextus Pompeius Axiochus and Julia Helena; left of the door); 4485: Hectice, baby, Mercator says hello to you
VI.14 (vico degli Scienziati); 3042: Cruel Lalagus, why do you not love me?
VI.14.20 (House of Orpheus); 4523: I have buggered men
VI.14.36 (Bar of Salvius); 3494: In one bar, a picture depicts two men playing dice. One shouts, “Six!” while his opponent holds up two fingers and says, “No, that’s not a ‘three’; it’s a ‘two’”. By the door of the bar, another picture shows a short man driving a group of men out. Above his head are the words, “Go on, get out of here! You have been fighting!”
VI.14.36 (Bar of Salvius; over a picture of a woman carrying a pitcher of wine and a drinking goblet); 3494: Whoever wants to serve themselves can go on an drink from the sea.
VI.14.37 (Wood-Working Shop of Potitus): 3498: What a lot of tricks you use to deceive, innkeeper. You sell water but drink unmixed wine
VI.14.43 (atrium of a House of the Large Brothel); 1520: Blondie has taught me to hate dark-haired girls. I shall hat them, if I can, but I wouldn’t mind loving them. Pompeian Venus Fisica wrote this.
VI.15.6 (House of Caesius Valens and Herennius Nardus); 4637: Rufus loves Cornelia Hele
VI.16.15 (atrium of the House of Pinarius); 6842: If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girl friend
VII (House of the Tetrastyle Atrium); 2060: Romula hung out here with Staphylus.
VII.1.40 (House of Caesius Blandus; in the peristyle of the House of Mars and Venus on the Street of the Augustales); 1714: It took 640 paces to walk back and forth between here and there ten times
VII.6.35 (Brothel of Venus; on the Vico dei Soprastanti opposite the Vicolo del Gallo); 1645: May Love burn in some lonely mountains whoever wants to rape my girl friend!
VII.2.18 (vicolo del Panattiere, House of the Vibii, Merchants); 3117: Atimetus got me pregnant
VII.2.18 (vicolo del Panattiere, House of the Vibii, Merchants); 3131: Figulus loves Idaia
VII.2.44 (Bar of Hedone (or Colepius) on the Street of the Augustales; on the corner toward the lupinare); 1679: Hedone says, “You can get a drink here for only one coin. You can drink better wine for two coins. You can drink Falernian for four coins.”
VII.2.48 (House of Caprasius Primus); 3061: I don’t want to sell my husband, not for all the gold in the world
VII.7.5 (House of the Calpurnii); 4783: Crescens is sweet and charming
VII.9 (Eumachia Building, via della Abbondanza); 2048: Secundus likes to screw boys.
VII.12.18-20 (the Lupinare); 2175: I screwed a lot of girls here.
VII.12.18-20 (the Lupinare); 2185: On June 15th, Hermeros screwed here with Phileterus and Caphisus.
VII.12.18-20 (the Lupinare); 2192: Sollemnes, you screw well!
VII.12.35 (Vico d’ Eumachia, small room of a possible brothel); 2145: Gaius Valerius Venustus, soldier of the 1st praetorian cohort, in the century of Rufus, screwer of women
VII.12.35 (Vico d’ Eumachia, small room of a possible brothel); 2146: Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his darling Urbana
VII.12.35 (Vico d’ Eumachia, small room of a possible brothel); 2163: The warmest hello to Saenecio Fortunaus, wherever he may go.
VII.15.11-12 (House of Verus; between the two doors of the house); 4838: Secundus says hello to his friends.
VIII (corridor in the theater); 2457: Methe, slave of Cominia, from Atella, loves Chrestus. May Pompeian Venus be dear to both of them and may they always live in harmony.
VIII (Street of the Theaters); 64: A copper pot went missing from my shop. Anyone who returns it to me will be given 65 bronze coins (sestertii). 20 more will be given for information leading to the capture of the thief.
VIII.1 (above a bench outside the Marine Gate); 1751: If anyone sits here, let him read this first of all: if anyone wants a screw, he should look for Attice; she costs 4 sestertii.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1797: No young buck is complete until he has fallen in love
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1808: Auge loves Allotenus
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1811: A small problem gets larger if you ignore it.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1812: Caesius faithfully loves M[…name lost]
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1816: Epaphra, you are bald!
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1820: Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they every have before!
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1824: Let everyone one in love come and see. I want to break Venus’ ribs with clubs and cripple the goddess’ loins. If she can strike through my soft chest, then why can’t I smash her head with a club?
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1826: Phileros is a eunuch!
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1837: If you are able, but not willing, why do you put off our joy and kindle hope and tell me always to come back tomorrow. So, force me to die since you force me to live without you. Your gift will be to stop torturing me. Certainly, hope returns to the lover what it has once snatched away.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1842: Gaius Pumidius Dipilus was here on October 3rd 78 BC.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1852: Pyrrhus to his colleague Chius: I grieve because I hear you have died; and so farewell.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1863: Take hold of your servant girl whenever you want to; it’s your right
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1864: Samius to Cornelius: go hang yourself!
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1880: Lucius Istacidius, I regard as a stranger anyone who doesn’t invite me to dinner.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1880: The man I am having dinner with is a barbarian.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1881: Virgula to her friend Tertius: you are disgusting!
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1882: The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1904: O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1926: Epaphra is not good at ball games.
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1928: Love dictates to me as I write and Cupid shows me the way, but may I die if god should wish me to go on without you
VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1951: Sarra, you are not being very nice, leaving me all alone like this
VIII.7.6 (Inn of the Muledrivers; left of the door); 4957: We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot
IX.1.26 (atrium of the House of the Jews); 2409a: Stronius Stronnius knows nothing!
IX.2.18 (House of Curvius Marcellus and Fabia; in the tablinum); 4993: Ampliatus Pedania is a thief!
IX.5.11 (House of Poppaeus Sabinus; peristyle); 5092: If you felt the fires of love, mule-driver, you would make more haste to see Venus. I love a charming boy; I ask you, goad the mules; let’s go. Take me to Pompeii, where love is sweet. You are mine…
IX.5.18 (House of Hercules and Nessus; beside the door of house); 5112: Learn this: while I am alive, you, hateful death, are coming.
IX.8.3 (House of the Centenary; in the atrium); 5213: My lusty son, with how many women have you had sexual relations?
IX.8.3 (House of the Centenary; in the latrine near the front door); 5243: “Secundus defecated here” three time on one wall.
IX.8.3 (House of the Centenary; interior of the house); 5279: Once you are dead, you are nothing
IX.8.11 (triclinium of a house); 5251: Restitutus has deceived many girls.
Nuceria Necropolis (on a tomb); 10231: Serena hates Isidorus
Nuceria Necropolis (on a tomb); 10241: Greetings to Primigenia of Nuceria. I would wish to become a signet ring for no more than an hour, so that I might give you kisses dispatched with your signature.
Herculaneum (bar/inn joined to the maritime baths); 10674: [a bar tab] …Some nuts …? coins; drinks: 14 coins; lard: 2 coins; bread: 3 coins; three meat cutlets: 12 coins; four sausages: 8 coins. Total: 51 coins
Herculaneum (bar/inn joined to the maritime baths); 10675: Two friends were here. While they were, they had bad service in every way from a guy named Epaphroditus. They threw him out and spent 105 and half sestertii most agreeably on whores.
Herculaneum (bar/inn joined to the maritime baths); 10677: Apelles the chamberlain with Dexter, a slave of Caesar, ate here most agreeably and had a screw at the same time.
Herculaneum (bar/inn joined to the maritime baths); 10678: Apelles Mus and his brother Dexter each pleasurably had sex with two girls twice.
Herculaneum (on a water distribution tower); 10488: Anyone who wants to defecate in this place is advised to move along. If you act contrary to this warning, you will have to pay a penalty. Children must pay [number missing] silver coins. Slaves will be beaten on their behinds.
Herculaneum (on the exterior wall of a house); 10619: Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Mon 30 Jan 2017, 14:47

Substitute the name in this and it's spot on:

Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia?


And among the numerous bits of runic grafitti in Maeshowe is the timeless:

Þorný f**k, Helgi carved
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Mon 30 Jan 2017, 15:41

Complaint about maggot ridden food being served at HMS Sultan,

Bad Food

This complaint is from 2016, not 1796.



or 1905:

On 27 June 1905, Potemkin was at gunnery practice near Tendra Island off the Ukrainian coast when many enlisted men refused to eat the borscht made from rotten meat partially infested with maggots. The uprising was triggered when Ippolit Giliarovsky, the ship's second in command, allegedly threatened to shoot crew members for their refusal.
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Tue 31 Jan 2017, 09:44

Given the supposed idleness of today's yoof - self-obsessed by social media and selfies yet apparently unable to communicate with anyone more than ten years their senior - I thought I'd remembered a great comment ascribed (via Plato) to Socrates:

"Children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

…. Unfortunately when I came to look up the correct wording (above) I found that it is probably not original and the idea that it could be ascribed to Socrates, or indeed any other ancient philosopher, seems to come from some rather fanciful 'alternative truths' written at beginning of the 20th century. (And in fact it actually reads a bit like the sort of behaviour that Socrates was accused of encouraging in the youth of his day).

It certainly sounds like something grumpy old Cato the Elder might have said, but again I can't find a real quote. Nevertheless these sort of comments I'm sure have been made repeatedly - nearly every generation in fact - over the centures.
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Wed 08 Feb 2017, 10:09

Disparaging comments about the loutish behaviour of gangs of English lads abroad is nothing new ...

In 1511 Henry VIII sent a small force to join Ferdinand of Aragon in a campaign against the Moors of Barbary. As soon as they reached Cadiz the campaign was called off, but before returning home they had a few days kicking their heels in southern Spain, where according to the chronicler Edward Hall (The union of the two noble and illustre families of Lancastre and Yorke, 1542), they; 

"... fell to drinking of hot wines and were scarce masters of themselves. Some ran to the stews, some brake hedges, and spoiled orchards and vineyards and oranges before they were ripe and did many other outrageous deeds."

In spite of this débâcle Henry sent a similar force the following year to join Ferdinand's troops in an invasion of Guienne. Once again Hall records that it was the combination of strong wine, foreign food and hot weather that was their undoing:

"The Englishmen did eat of the garlick with all meats, and drank hot wines in the hot weather, and did eat all the hot fruits that they could get, which caused they blood so to boil in their bellies that there fell sick three thousand  ... "

Sounds like a typical stag night in Magaluf!
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PostSubject: Re: Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose   Wed 08 Feb 2017, 11:58

I recommend the book "Route 66 AD" (otherwise known as "Pagan Holiday: On The Trail Of Ancient Roman Tourists") by Tony Perrotet. Around 2001 he retraced a 1st century "grand tour" from Rome to Egypt via Greece and his book is a mixture of his own experiences en route and those of his ancient predecessors as deduced from old texts. His own rather limited budget, and his consequent dependency on what might be called the "less salubrious" options available, echoed closely the recorded accounts of travellers with similarly modest expenses two thousand years ago, and the uncanny resemblance between his experiences (not always good ones either) and those of the ancient equivalent really drives home how little human nature has changed, and indeed often how little some of the actual places themselves en route have changed over two millennia.

He writes it in a Bill Bryson style too, which doesn't hurt.
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