“the motherland of freedom”

fifth century a.d. gallo-roman aristocrat and bishop sidonius apollinaris on rome:

“Rome the abode of law, the training-school of letters, the fount of honours, the head of the world, the motherland of freedom, the city unique upon earth, where none but the barbarian and the slave is foreign.”

oops.

(note: comments do not require an email. st. sidonius apollinaris)

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9 Comments

  1. At what point did the typical Latin-speaking person realize that he was no longer a Roman? Or that he wasn’t actually speaking Latin? I’m talking about people in the provinces who were fully Romanized, and probably partially or even fully descended from Romans from Rome. My guess is that it would have happened after several generations of Germanic rule, but I would not be too surprised if it took centuries in some places.

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  2. hehe

    Morality seems to revolve around “us” vs “them” with the variations based on the definition of “us” ranging from the “us” = “only me” of the sociopath through the “us” = “clan” to “us” = “nation” to “us” = “everybody.” Thing is i wonder if even universalists need to have a “them,” even if the “them” are an abstraction.

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  3. I wonder if that was Shakespeare’s inspiration for John of Gaunt’s “This sceptered isle” speech. In any case The Bard sure got a few more centuries of glory out of his ode to his motherland than poor Gallo.

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  4. Oh wait I see his name was Sidonius – and apparently the poor guy was around long enough to it all come tumbling down.

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  5. @t – “At what point did the typical Latin-speaking person realize that he was no longer a Roman? Or that he wasn’t actually speaking Latin? I’m talking about people in the provinces who were fully Romanized, and probably partially or even fully descended from Romans from Rome. My guess is that it would have happened after several generations of Germanic rule, but I would not be too surprised if it took centuries in some places.”

    yeah, good question. dunno. the gallo-romans seem to have remained rather gallo-roman for a few generations anyway. dunno if they were speaking latin or not, but they were aware of their ancestry and heritage — and it was gallo-romans who were the administrators and clergy (esp. bishops) early on in the frankish kingdom(s), because they were the super literate people. in the earliest days of the frankish kingdom(s), the germanic aristocracy purposefully married their sons off to gallo-roman women.

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  6. @grey – “Thing is i wonder if even universalists need to have a ‘them,’ even if the ‘them’ are an abstraction.”

    good question. today’s über-universalists — the pc-crowd (although they often appear to talk more universalism than actually practice it) — seem to view the not-so-universalistic as the “them.” the pc vs. the non-pc. even if, like you say, they mostly make up the non-pc group in their heads (e.g. all those waaaaycist wednecks who kill black people all the time).

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  7. @minoritymagnet – “Until quite recently the Greek refered themselves as Romans under Ottoman rule.”

    heh! didn’t know that. thanks!

    Reply

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