Category: Rome

Vatican City, Rome, 1967. Photographed by Eve Arnold.

Vatican City, Rome, 1967. Photographed by Eve Arnold.

Winter at the Vatican, Rome, Italy, 1958. Photographed by…

Winter at the Vatican, Rome, Italy, 1958. Photographed by Leonard Freed.

Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961.

Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961.

Lost in thought, Rome, Italy, 1962. Photographed by Bruno…

Lost in thought, Rome, Italy, 1962. Photographed by Bruno Barbey.

DE OFFICIISDe Officiis is a treatise written b…

DE OFFICIIS

De Officiis is a treatise written by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), Roman statesman and orator, in the form of a letter to his son just after the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Strongly influenced by stoicism, De Officiis is divided into three books and reflects the author’s view on how to live a good life. The first two books are based on the teachings of stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes, with Book I analysing honour and its roots and Book II delving into utility and what is to one’s advantage. Book III links honour with usefulness and explores which should prevail.

Cicero was a Roman statesman and politician, born in 106 BCE, a member of the lower aristocracy called the ordo equester or the equestrians. He studied in Athens and on the island of Rhodes where he probably got his stoic inspiration from. At the minimum age, he became quaestor in 75 BCE, aedile in 69 BCE, praetor in 66 BCE, and finally consul in 63 BCE.

The pinnacle of his political career was probably the Catiline Conspiracy when he was granted emergency powers by the Roman Senate and given the title pater patriae afterwards for saving the Roman Republic. Later on, Cicero, as the proconsul (governor) of Cilicia, was a major participant in Roman politics, supporting Pompey. After the Ides of March, Cicero returned to Rome to defend the Republic from Mark Antony. In 43 BCE Cicero was assassinated by the order of Mark Antony while fleeing Italy.

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Ingrid Bergman, Rome, Italy, 1952. Photographed by David…

Ingrid Bergman, Rome, Italy, 1952. Photographed by David Seymour.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: THE COINAGE OF LATER IMPERIA…

FOLLOW THE MONEY: THE COINAGE OF LATER IMPERIAL ROME: A REFLECTION OF ECONOMIC STRESS & DECLINE

UNLIKE the practice of professional numismatists, I prefer to see the “big picture”. So, my entire Roman coin collection, all 250 pieces, from Julius Caesar to Valentinian III is laid out on a single pane of glass in a cabinet, in chronological order. In an instant, in almost a single glance, I can take in hundreds of years of Roman history, and dozens upon dozens of rulers. One characteristic of the Roman Imperial coinage is easily seen when viewed this way; the relentless debasement of the silver denarius, the workhorse currency of the Empire, a coin about the size of an American dime.    

Augustus (r. 27 BCE – 14 CE) minted a relatively pure denarius, with a silver content of about 95-98% (a fineness of .95-.98). The silver content of the denarius remained roughly constant through the reign of his great-grandson Nero (r. 54-68 CE, coin 1), and into the reign of Emperor Domitian (r. 81-96 CE), of the Flavian Dynasty, in the late first century CE (coin 2). By the time of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 CE) and his son Commodus (r. 180-192 CE, coin 3), about a century later, the fineness of the denarius was about .8. During the reign of Septimius Severus (r. 193-211 CE), the fineness dropped to only .5. In other words, denarii that were supposed to be nearly 100% silver were now only about half that much. By then, coins contained about 50% tin or zinc, or any other white metal the mint had to hand. (Eventually, as the fineness dropped even further, the Imperial mint began to admix copper into the coins).

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Street market in Rome, Italy, 1952. Photograph by David Seymour.

Street market in Rome, Italy, 1952. Photograph by David Seymour.

Rome, Italy, 1964. Photographed by Bruno Barbey.

Rome, Italy, 1964. Photographed by Bruno Barbey.

BEWARE the Ides of March! On this day in 44 BC…

BEWARE the Ides of March! On this day in 44 BCE: Julius Caesar is stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus, and several other Roman senators on the Ides of March. (44 BCE)

Read More: ancient.eu/article/803/the-murder-of-julius-caesar/