Category Archives: Roman

Greek & Roman Mythology – Ares or Mars

ARES, OR MARS

ARES, OR MARS

A son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hera (Juno), according to the belief of the Greeks, was originally god of the storm and tempest, and more particularly of the hurricane; but this his natural meaning was lost sight of at an earlier period, and more completely than in the case of most of the other gods, the character in which he appears to us being exclusively that of “god of the turmoil and storms in human affairs,” in other words, “god of dreadful war,” or more correctly, “of the wild confusion and strife of battle.”  Of all the upper gods he was the most fierce and terrible, taking pleasure in slaughter and massacre.

In this respect he forms a striking contrast to Pallas Athene, the goddess of well-matched chivalrous fights, who we often find opposed to him in mythical narratives.  When fighting she was invulnerable, and always on the side of the victor; while Ares (Mars) being not only god of battle but also a personification of war, with its double issue of victory and defeat, was sometimes wounded, and even taken prisoner.

When assisting the Trojans in their war with the Greeks, in the course of which he took under his special protection their leader, Hector, he was wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes, aided by the goddess Athene.  He fell – so Homer describes the event in the Iliad (v. 853) – with a thundering crash to the ground, like the noise of ten thousand warriors engaged in battle.  Again (Iliad xxi.400) he was wounded by Athene and fell, his armor clanking, and his body covering with his fall seven acres of ground – an obvious reference to the roar and destruction attending a great storm.

He was once captured by Otus and Ephialtes, the giant sons of Aloeus the planter, and kept imprisoned in a great bronze vase (Iliad v. 385) for thirteen months – a space of time which, when we remember that the names of the two heroes are derived from husbandry, seems to indicate a full year of peaceful agriculture.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Greek Mythology on Wikipedia

Ares – God of War

Lack of Money

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Lack of Money

Roman CoinsLack of money was one of the great evils.  The empire did not have sufficient supplies of precious metals for the demands of business; and what money there was was steadily drained away to India and the distant Orient (p. 15).  By the fourth century this movement had carried away hundreds of millions of dollars of coined money.  Even the imperial officers were forced to take part of their salaries in produce, robes, horses, grain.  Trade began to go back to the primitive form of barter; and it became harder and harder to collect taxes.

In the third and fourth centuries there were no more great poets or men of letters.  Learning and patriotism both declined.  Society began to fall into rigid castes, the serf bound to his spot of land, the artisan to his trade, the curial to his office, Freedom of movement was lost.   Above all, there was dearth of money and dearth of men.  The Empire had become a shell.

For five hundred years, outside barbarians had been tossing wildly about the great natural walls of the civilized world.   Commonly they had shrunk in dread from any conflict with the mighty Roman legions, always on sleepless ward at the weaker gaps – along the Rhine, the Danube, the Euphrates.   Sometimes, it is true, the barbarians had broken through for a moment, but always to be destroyed promptly by some Roman Marius or Caesar.   In the fifth century they broke in to stay.

But meanwhile Christianity had come into the world.  The supreme service of the dying Empire was to foster this new force for human progress.

Excerpt from The Story of Modern Progress by Willis Mason West – 1920

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Further Reading and External Links

Why did the Roman Empire Fall

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire

The Old Bridge at Mostar

The Old Bridge at Mostar

The Old Bridge at MostarMostar has long been celebrated for its beautiful bridge, “It is of a single arch, 95 feet 3 inches in span, and, when the Narenta is low, about 70 feet from the water, or, to the top of the parapet, 76 feet.  The river, at the season I visited it, being unusually high, it was only 44.9 from the water’s surface; but even then the beauty of its arch and the lightness of its proportions were not diminished, and I have seen none that can surpass it.  The depth of the water was said to be about 34 feet, and in summer not more than 10.  The breadth of the arch is only 14.2, the road over it 13.2, and, with the two parapets, 14.10.  

On its north side is a raised conduit of stone, looking like a footway, which conveys water over the bridge to the eastern part of the city, and is supplied from a source in the undulating valley to the west.  The bridge rises about 10 feet in the centre; but this does not appear to have been so originally; and, though the lightness of its appearance may have been increased by lowering the two ends, the convenience of the bridge is much diminished, as it abuts on the east against a rising ground.  On each bank is a tower, built to command it; and the passage may be closed by the gate of the guard-house at the west end, in case of need.  Tradition pretends that the towers are on Roman substructions, and that the one on the eastern side is the most ancient.  The building of the bridge is attributed to Trajan, or, according to some, to Adrian; and report speaks of an inscription that once existed upon it with the name of one of those emperors.  The Turks attribute its erection to Suleyman the Magnificent; but the Visir, in answer to my question respecting its date, said that, though they claim it as a work of that sultan, the truth is it was there long before his time, and was probably built by the Pagans.’

excerpt by Sir J Gardner Wilkinson from The Gentlemans Magazine Volume 31 1849

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The Old Bridge on Unesco World Heritage Site

Stari Most on Archnet

The Old Bridge – Stari Most – Location on Google Maps