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The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part I: Beginnings and Legends (acoup.blog)
125 points by parsecs 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 79 comments

It's great seeing Livius getting some attention, and on hackernews of all places.

Ab Urbe Condita is really much more of an epic tale than a proper history book by modern standards, even though, as Deveraux notes, the later bits are probably more or less accurate in the big picture (e.g. the 2nd punic war).

Livius mostly wanted to create a sort of national romantic work with Ab Urbe Condita. He was a republican who wanted to look back to the glory days of the republic, even as Rome became an empire. With his stories, he wanted to create an ideal of Rome to set an example to other Romans. Livius preaches to Romans about Roman justice, cleverness, and honesty. Livius has his own agenda, he does not represent every Roman.

Luckily we have archaelogy and the historical method to help us. I feel like ancient history is trending (at least on the internet). There's hope for more TV shows with more diverse casting.

Great piece, wonderfully researched, I'm excited for the next article in the series.

Deveraux's work is always a treat. Incidentally, so is hearing Latin spoken with an Italian accent - so that it actually sounds spoken, rather than rehearsed. Unfortunately if I learnt it myself I'd be required to join the Civil Service.

> as well as some very salty Roman writing which I will not bowdlerize in the slightest a little later in the series

Heh, heh, heh. You're going to want to follow this one.

As long as they use Classical Pronunciation and not Ecclesiastical

To learn about the differences, see video on Luke Ranieri's Polymathy channel:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeqTuPZv9as


> How should Latin be pronounced? The debate has raged for more than a hundred years, but as the dust has settled two poles stand astride each other: the traditional Italian pronunciation, called Ecclesiastical, and the Restored Classical pronunciation. Is one more correct than the other? Is one more appropriate than the other in certain contexts?

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiPlJMWQci8

So I've just discovered the pronunciation I learned in school is basically medieval.

Interesting to see how the classic one is actually even closer to Italian in some ways.

"In some ways," perhaps... At least, the Italians do not insist that Latin 2000 years ago sounded like Italian does today.

I'm italian and the way Latin is read with the classic pronunciation sounds very Italian to me except from the syllables "ce" and "ci". At least according to the video and IF that pronunciation is correct.

The biggest difference for me is the "eating" of the voiceless consonants before, say, 't': fatto vs. the original factum, etc.

I am working on a small Roman themed indie game at the moment, so things like this are a great resource for inspiration and more knowledge, thanks!

> The ‘newsreader’ from HBO’s Rome, played by English actor Ian McNeice. The Romans would have called him a praeco; it was an occupation which was looked down upon.

How else would I know which one is the true roman bread for true romans?

Oh man, I loved that guy. Now I might have to re-watch Rome... again. THIRTEENTH!

It's ironic in this context that one of the most prominent non-Roman characters in HBO’s Rome, the enslaved Eirene, who speaks English with a thick accent, was played by an actress from… Rome:



If anyone wants to learn more about Latin, Luke Ranieri's Polymathy channel has a lot of good stuff:

* https://www.youtube.com/c/PolymathyLuke/videos

He recent 'reviewed' the Latin in Civ5 and Civ6, as well as the "Romans go home" scene of Life of Brian. He does other languages as well as science-y stuff as well.

Other good sources include

Schola Latina (From Italy, content from lots of different Latin speakers)

> Many students are more than a little surprised to find that the actual contents of Latin literature are often rather less elevated than they might have expected

Our college Latin teacher was trying to get us to translate Catallus more faithfully, especially after one student gave a particularly polite translation. It was a moment in my career as a student I'll never forget - not only using pretty graphic language in class, and having a professor respond "Right, good."

I've long found it funny that this blog titled with "pedantry" has so many disclaimers. Pedantry is usually about poking all the tiny wholes in the opposing argument not your own!

As a self-described pedant – albeit, one who’s trying to be less of a perfectionist – I’d say it manifests itself as a 19:1 ratio of being critical of my own writing over anyone else’s.

When communicating textually, I try my best to read my emails and other text messages to look for mistakes, ambiguities and other sources of confusion before pressing “Send”. It’s only on rare occasions that I’d bother correcting someone else’s mistakes or misconceptions and I’d be more inclined to do so if the misconception is popular and leaving it to stand would reinforce the spread of the misconception.

Fascinating article. It's pretty ironic that Roman aristocrats are so often depicted by white, British actors, in no small part because that fits Americans' mental image of what an aristocrat is.

Well, there is nothing stopping other cultures from depicting Roman aristocrats in their own image.

Indian gods and historical figures are usually depicted as fair, in their own, contemporary art.

Except missing it, I notice that you are not disagreeing with the point. Lots of contemporary indian culture features fair skinned people in the main role. For the same general reason.

Many Indians today believe in the Aryan invasion theory, which views Indian culture and religion as having originated from people living in modern-day Central/Southern Asia and Iran, and only later being adopted by native people in India. This theory is often connected with a view that fairer-skinned people represent "true" Indian culture, not the natives who were generally relegated to lower social status. The caste system itself is not native to India but is instead found widely among PIE cultures, including the Aryans who are said to have invaded India.

> Many Indians today believe in the Aryan invasion theory

That's because it's almost certainly true! it's why Indians speak Indo-European languages, and why the same Y-chromosome haplogroup (R1a) is common among (for example) Indian Brahmins and Norwegians.

> This theory is often connected with a view that fairer-skinned people represent "true" Indian culture

The Hindu religion in its most ancient form (see e.g. the Rig Veda) derives from the Proto-Indo-European religion, parts of which have been reconstructed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_mythology

(Obviously modern India culture comes from a lot of other sources too!)

> including the Aryans who are said to have invaded India.

You phrase it that was as if to imply that it didn't happen. But I think the evidence that it did: linguistic, genetic, archeological, is very strong.

> That's because it's almost certainly true!

Actual Indo-Europeanists today eschew the label "Aryan invasion theory" in favour of e.g. “Aryan migration theory”. While genetic evidence makes a (limited) case for presence of force and population movement in the spread of the Indo-European languages to India, the bulk of the spread was through language shift whereby the indigenous inhabitants gradually adopted Indo-European languages as higher prestige.

Sure, but likely by the time the Aryans got to that region they were not "fair skinned." There was an intervening millennia of hanging out in the Caspian / Bactria / Central Asia before entering the subcontinent [1]. Nor were the Yamnaya people ever really "fair skinned" ; they were likely dark haired and olive skinned.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bactria%E2%80%93Margiana_Archa...

I always thought fair skin in parts of the world meant that you weren't working class (e.g. worked outside in the sun)

It's also the case that many British theatrical productions, going back at least to the time of Shakespeare, were based on Roman history. Many of our ideas of how Romans spoke, look, and acted come through a prism of Shakesperean-era dramatisation, and later reinterpretations of these plays, rather than a bottom-up evaluation of the historical, social, ethnographic, and political context.

I'm not sure that the Roman senatorial elite is properly described as an 'aristocracy', since ancestry had become less and less relevant wrt. social status even as early as the late Republic. Wealth and social connections became a lot more important at some point, but people from different backgrounds could acquire those with comparable ease. Of course citizenship status still mattered, but that was gradually extended over time as well. Ancient Rome seems to have been a remarkably open society by the standards of their time.

Do you mean patricians? Because senatorial elite and senators in general were not become less relevant during the republic, as a roman became a senator after he took the office of a quaestor, the first position in the line of roman public service offices. And it wasn't limited to patricians only, for the most important offices there were no restrictions for plebeians, though there were some special positions for patricians only and for plebeians only. Examples - Cicero was a plebeian, even a novus homo (a politician without senators among his ancestors); Cato the Younger, one of the leaders of the optimates (traditionalist fraction in the senate), was a plebeian, though a member of plebeian aristicracy, descendant of Cato the Censor.

Edit: i think i misread your comment, so there is no arguing with you actually.

Roman aristocracy two thousands years ago was pretty much looking like people from northern Italy today no!?

If anything Augustus looks to be modern eastern european (from its famous statue).

What's not correct about "white" when depicting roman aristocracy? From all the statues we have they were certainly neither asians nor black nor from india nor descendants of, say, the aztecs.

Here's a reconstruction using AI of 30 roman emperors and I'd say 27 of them look totally white.


Heck, they even made Augustus with blond hairs and blue eyes (I have no idea if that's correct: all I can say his is marble statues looks like the modern easter european type to me).

Now I can understand they didn't sound british when speaking, but I don't see why you write "white, british actors". If anything, and there's nothing racist in there, "black british actors" would have been weird no!?

Or maybe you meant to say most of the aristocracy probably had the "mediterranean" type? (which I don't think is true and which, anyway, is classified under "white" I think?)

EDIT: TIL: Augustus' biographer, Suetonius, wrote that Augustus indeed had golden hair and clear eyes. This comes at a surprise to me.

As a history buff, my understanding is there were no "White" or "Black" people then, since these races hadn't been invented yet. Black British actors would have been fine as well, since neither race existed. Creation of these distinct races in such a cosmopolitan society as existed in many eras of the Roman Empire, where ethnic groups frequently move shockingly long distances, would require a system of racial segregation that has no historical evidence. That's not to say there was no ethnicity-based prejudice -- quite the opposite, it was an era defined by it -- but it wasn't focused on skin color.

I happened to read a relevant passage on this a few weeks ago by Erik Jensen in his book Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World. In explaining how ethnicity worked in the ancient world, he gives the example of how the Greek historian Herodutus argued that the Colchians of the Black Sea were of the same "ethnicity" as Egyptians. Whether or not there was a connection is a different question, but how it was argued is more interesting, since it reveals the mentality of the time. He dismisses arguments made based on skin-tone as a red-herring since people can have all different appearances and be part of different cultures, but instead focuses on language and cultural customs (notably circumcision). If we believe his account, then if Colchians were to time-travel to modern times, most of them might be considered "Black", despite that most people living in that region today would be considered "White" -- but they were considered neither at the time, they were just "Colchians" that (according to Herodotus) had moved from Egypt


Many people who visit HN, including myself, don't come here primarily for tech news.

Exactly! I have enough of tech at work - in my down time I don't want to read about more tech, I want to read stuff that's engaging, interesting, unusual and thought-provoking. In this respect HN doesn't disappoint. I also come here for the discussions: they too are frequently interesting and more often than not I learn something new. Long may it last.


+1 this is so cool

You seem to be under a mistaken impression of what HN is for. If you read the first paragraph of https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, it should correct that. We want stories on the widest range of curiosity-gratifying topics, well beyond just tech and startups.

Historical material is particularly welcome here!



Please don't take HN threads into ideological flamewars, especially garden-variety racewar, which is particularly tedious. We're trying for curious conversation here.


Edit: it looks like you've been using HN primarily for ideological battle. We ban accounts that do that, regardless of what they're battling for, because it destroys what this site exists for. Please see my explanation to another user in this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27475945.

I'm not going to ban you, but if you keep doing this we're going to have to. If you wouldn't mind reviewing the guidelines and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.

A historian specialising in Rome writes, with reference to relevant sources, that Rome was founded by tribes speaking languages from completely different language groups long before it became a multicontinent empire of peoples who mostly weren't native Latin speakers and were pretty obviously distinct groups and your critique of the article is "LOL I've seen the skin colour of modern Italians"?!

Seriously, TFA is basically a refutation of modern anti-immigrant sentiment in (essentially) post-Roman states, but let the triggered show themselves for what they're really thinking.

I was responding to his lengthy diversion on the commutabality of British and Italian actors, which seems to be rooted in the delusional American notion (dating back to the late 19th century, recently revived by lefties who deny the existence of white native European nations) that Italians aren't "white". In reality, Italian and British phenotype variation overlaps significantly.

The concept of whiteness, and even more the USA concept of whiteness is a very recent construct, I'm not really sure I understand the point of studying ancient Rome through that lens.

I'm from the South of France and now live in Portugal, it's not rare to find people who have a rather dark complexion despite being what I'd call "white", especially if they spend a lot of time outside. But maybe Americans would consider them "latinos"? Or is that more of a cultural adjective? I don't really know and I don't really care.

At any rate if we ignore these modern semantic arguments and return to the point of the article, I would agree with them that I highly doubt that the Roman senate looked that much like an offshoot of the British parliament: https://i0.wp.com/acoup.blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Sena...

Considering that the author does extensively discuss what he considers to be ahistorical British diction in the Latin speaking, and that Romans (even those that were from Italy!) were much more visibly ethnically varied than modern Italian regional groups, and doesn't at any point raise the 19th century politican position that Italians were insufficiently white to deserve prestige in or even admittance to the United States, that seems to be rather a lot of projection on your part

And all of your ancestors were at some point dark-skinned like many Africans but with light-colored eyes (paler skin would come later IIRC)

I thought the "dark skin" bit was widely misinterpreted, and with better evidence it was more like olive-colored or brownish, but not really black. Of course many (Northern!) Africans have brownish skin.

Feel free to provide links indicating the latter, better evidence as there're endless Google results for the former

'White' is an arbitrary category based loosely (but not solely) on appearance, so it's not as if 19th century Americans were objectively wrong to classify Italians as non-white. It's just that the categorization scheme has changed somewhat over time. (Obviously, this does not excuse the racism directed at Italians at the time based on the perception that they were not white.)

Duh, Irish people (and even Germans) weren't considered properly 'white' in the US.


What does "white" mean? Are you telling me the Romans were British? German? Nordic?

It's clear that the Romans were an amalgamation of Indoeuropeans and Etruscans. Gauls, Celts, Goths, Greeks, Turks were all part of the Roman empire at some point.

Modern day Italians aren't one single ethnic group either. Italy is very diverse, and a unified Italy was one of the latest nation states to form on the continent.

There is also a bigger than thousand year gap in your connection of Romans to Italians. A weak argument on all counts.

At the time of ancient Rome, Turkic tribes lived somewhere around Mongolia. Gauls, Celts, Goths, and even Greeks were as white as any typical European is today, if not more white.

Right, I'm wrong about the Turks. I meant to say Persians.

Ancient Rome and Persia were rival empires. How many Persians (other than usual small number of traders, mercenaries, slaves, etc.) lived in Rome? Even Persians are (largely) of Indo-European ancestry, migrating from the same steppes that filled Europe. Modern people of Iran consider themselves white, although they do typically have slightly darker skin than someone from Italy. It all boil down to what you consider white. If only Swedish people are white, then OK. If Hungarians are white (they typically are) then people of Iran are pretty much white, too. Anyway, race in humans is a pretty much artificial thing, but it is real in our culture nevertheless.

> Even Persians are (largely) of Indo-European ancestry, migrating from the same steppes that filled Europe.

It is worth emphasizing that "Indo-European" is a linguistic description, not a genetic one. The Indo-European languages spread through Europe, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent largely through the people already living there shifting from the language they had been speaking before to Indo-European, because Indo-European had higher social prestige. That Iranians today speak an Indo-European language does not mean that their ancestors all came down from the steppe.

(In the last decades, work on historical DNA has identified certain genes that do appear to testify to some Indo-European population movements, but the impact of this is less than one might think for a discussion like this one.)

Although Persians are on the edge of the Roman Empire, so I don't think this is related to this discussion too much, it depends on what you consider "white". When I google "iranians" and go to images, I see people that, if I must classify them into a "race", I can most closely classify them as white(ish).

Here's an interesting (USA) article that illustrates this issue: https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-census-middle-east-no...

Are people from Teheran, for example, "white, black, Asian, American Indian, or Native Hawaiian" (copy-pasted the choices from the article)? In my opinion, American obsession with race is silly.

Yes, definitely the "were they white or not?" discussion is silly. I just wanted to emphasize that whatever Iranians look like, you can't assume they represent a look that moved down from the steppe just because they speak an Indo-European language.

It depends, if you count Armenia as Persian, then all Persians in Armenia lived within the Roman empire for a century. Maybe count Armenians as their own group, that's a safer bet.

I think you've hit upon something here with defining "white". If "white" is something that you can freely define to suit your purpose, then there's no point in having this discussion. If we define "white" to be something more specific, that would make it easier to pin down some facts.

The bigger point is simply that Rome was ethnically diverse. After all, it was a huge empire, how could it not be?

OK, what is "white"? Define it. I don't know about USA, but from european perspective, Armenians are as white as any other European nation. What is USA term for that? Caucasian? Ironically, Armenians are as close to THE Caucasus region as anyone can be :) Additionally, the few Armenians, that I know in person, would consider and insult to be called Persian (for political reasons I think).

Yes, they were ethnically diverse. That does not mean that Roman senators were any other than a bunch of white male people, and that the majority of its citizens weren't what anyone from Europe today would consider "white" or "caucasian". Of course, lots of people with even totally dark skin lived in Rome and other regions, but not to the extent of "Roman senators have to be depicted as black".

Not the article, nor anyone in this thread so far has claimed that Roman senators were black.

But now that you mention it, Septimius Severus was a dark-skinned Roman imperator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severan_Tondo

He was from Lybia, though. How dark is that? A funny anecdote from a book of my friend who backpacked Africa 15 years ago: A (dark skinned) Sudanese man was referring to some other Sudanese people from his village as "they are black". He himself also appeared black to my friend, but the man didn't consider himself black. It appears that (many?) people from North Africa are quite precise in differences of their spectrum of skin tone :)

Libya is still white then? It feels like you're just moving the goal posts to include all people under "white". If the Roman empire had covered all of sub-saharan Africa I wonder if you would be arguing that they're really white after all.

The whole point is that ancient peoples, and especially Romans, are not a homogeneous group of people. Whether they define themselves as white is not what you should be arguing about, because most definitions of "white people" includes a diverse set of ethnicities as well.

I don't know whether Lybians consider themselves white or not. The Lybians that I've seen in person (maybe a dozen) didn't appear much darker than my European compatriots. Yes, I can spot the difference, but it was more in facial features than in darkness of their skin color, which was fairly "whitish".

WRT the Lybian Roman emperor: no one claims that ALL Roman citizen were white, or Italic, or European. Any such large Empire was heterogenous. But it is safe to say that a typical Roman citizen, espicially a Senator, would have been white for any reasonable definition of "whiteness", especially in a TV series. There was one black US president (his mother was white and father black if I remember correctly), but a typical US president so far was white.

I don't have anything against hiring a bunch of Chinese or Zimbabwean actors to play Senators, but that would certainly look odd. In the same way as hiring a bunch of Ukrainians to play Zulu warriors would look odd.

What's your source for the claim that a typical Roman citizen is white? That's a pretty bold statement. Much bolder than the relatively non-controversial statement that Rome had a diverse population.

You also seem to be really caught up on senators. If you read the entire article, you'll note very little attention was given to senators.

Even so, that is not what the original argument was. The argument was that Rome was not homogeneous. Even in a heterogeneous society, there will be trends towards looking one way or another. The problem is simply with depicting all of Rome as (essentially) British.

Nobody has mentioned China or Zimbabwe, so this last argument is a lazy straw man.

"White" is a very confusing term which should just be avoided in these discussions. Even talking purely about ancestry of ancient peoples (including Romans), it conflates very diverse origins - Old European farmers (reflected today most clearly by Sardinians), Near Eastern/Levantine (found peculiarly in ancient Etruscans, which agrees with their mythology that tells of a descent from some ancient people of Lydia), Eurasian steppe peoples (this would be the PIE culture-related component that people tend to think about most readily, but there was a lot less of it in the urbanized Mediterranean area than farther north in continental Europe!) were quite distinguishable back then, even though all of them might be described very loosely as "white".

> What's your source for the claim that a typical Roman citizen is white? That's a pretty bold statement. Much bolder than the relatively non-controversial statement that Rome had a diverse population.

We're circling back to the definition of "white". How's that a bold statement? Today's Great Britain has very diverse population, too, including lots of people from Africa, and yet I wouldn't think that a statement that a typical Brit is white is controversial. Typical Brit is not black, although there are many black British people, of course. And even if we constrain discussion to the most narrow definition of "white" (say, 18th century Englishmen) let's not forget that English people are the result of centuries of mixing of Britons, Germans, Celts... So, white Britons are themselves of diverse ancestry, but all these diverse ancestral people are "white". Let me repeat that race is an artificial construct, but if I'm pressed to say if someone is "white" or "not quite white" I can only go by outside appearance. Someone in Europe can have some genes from one Zimbabwean ancestor, but if he "looks white" to me, I can only say he's "white".

> The problem is simply with depicting all of Rome as (essentially) British.

Yes. That is a TV series. The point of TV series (in my opinion) is not to be 100% accurate, it's to entertain and (somewhat) educate. And the people in TV series are not real ancient Romans, but current actors. The series is for British audience, so it's normal that it's filled with British actors. If the series was produced in Bulgaria, the senators would be played by Bulgarian actors. Both are not exactly of the same color spectrum as ancient Romans, but are close enough to pass as Romans to their viewers. If the series was produced in China, and Romans were played by Chinese actors, that would probably pass as normal to Chinese audience. Maybe Zimbabwean actors could pass as Romans, at least in sub-Saharan Africa; why not? I'm not sure why people insist so much that British actors are bad representation of Romans. They seem quite OK to me (I'm not British).

> What does "white" mean? Are you telling me the Romans were British? German? Nordic?

It means that the second image, showing Roman senators played by a few dozen white Italian extras, is a perfectly likely depiction, and the caption about how real Roman senators were much more swarthy ("like modern Italians", he claims) is nonsense.

(Of course, the HBO show was filmed in Italy, and almost all the extras and background characters were Italians.)

Even if I am wrong, he is wrong too.

These days you can actually do direct comparisons of ancestry, and it turns out that the closest-related people to the "natives" of early Republican Rome can still be found in modern-day central Italy, in the area known as Abruzzi and local surroundings. So, Italians yes but rather "swarthy" in modern terms. It's not nonsense, it's what you get from the genetic data.

A Roman would likely have taken issue (and maybe taken offense) with that claim.

  The men of Britain are taller than the Celti, and not so yellow-haired, although their bodies are of looser build. The following is an indication of their size: I myself, in Rome, saw mere lads towering as much as half a foot above the tallest people in the city, although they were bandy-legged and presented no fair lines anywhere else in their figure. Their habits are in part like those of the Celti, but in part more simple and barbaric— so much so that, on account of their inexperience, some of them, although well supplied with milk, make no cheese; and they have no experience in gardening or other agricultural pursuits.

It's great that you're engaging in the discussion. You didn't really respond to my questions though. If you could, it would ground your argument, and we could actually talk about something concrete.

Also, if you have some sources for your claims, I would appreciate it if you at least mentioned them. At the moment you seem to be arguing from emotion.


> Romans were white even more than current Italians.

What does "to be white" even mean, especially when applied to a culture in which the modern primarily-American understanding of the word was completely absent? To me it seems as pointless an argument as it would be for hypothetical time-travelling ancient Romans to argue whether 21st century Americans are Roman citizens or not.

vt85 10 days ago [flagged] [–]

What are you asking actually? We are questioning their “whiteness” from modern perspective of course. But I wonder something else. Why didn’t you attack the original author with that question? It’s the same. Or it works only in one way - when white people are attacked. White lives matter is racist, but Black lives matter is fair game. Someone saying the ridiculous lie that Roman nobility was racially diverse is ok, but pointing out this as a lie is met with “what white means actually”. And, of course, downvotes for everything. Because democracy works for the most vocal. What does it mean black actually? Why only their lives matter? Why they need special treatment, if there is no definition of White/Black?

Hey, would you please read the site rules at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html? Your account has already gotten involved in flamewars in a way that contradicts what the site is meant for. We want people to use HN for intellectual curiosity [1]. We don't want people to use HN for ideological battle, because that kills curiosity. It does so in two ways: one by being super repetitive [2] (people bash each other with the same points over and over again, which is tedious and predictable), and two because such flamewars are so divisive and linked to such intense feelings that they quickly turn nasty, which is terrible not only for curiosity but also community.

It's in principle possible to have curious conversation about divisive topics [3], but it needs to be done in an entirely different way: respectfully and with a certain gentleness towards the people on the other side, even though you strongly disagree with them, and with the motive of actually receiving information rather than lashing out in the hope of smiting and vanquishing enemies.

Because flamewars destroy the intended purpose of this site, we ban accounts that do them, regardless of what they're flaming for or against. Normally I would ban a new account that was doing this (I'm a mod here), but because you've posted about other, more on-topic things, I thought you might appreciate an explanation of the intended use of HN instead. If you read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and some of the past moderation explanations I've linked to below, you'll be in a better position to make valuable contributions instead of damaging ones.

[1] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

[2] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

[3] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

> It’s one of the first Roman laws - noble cannot marry common.

This is more of a historical curiosity than anything else, since the right to intermarriage across the Roman ordines was restored in 445 BCE (i.e. still quite early in the Republican period).

I really don't want to know the sources of the claims in this comment. I am skeptical to put it mildly. If one uses a search engine to look up surviving murals and mosaics from Ancient Rome the faces that pop up bolster the claims in the essay, not this comment.

Edit: Come to think of it, also there were also a few Roman Emperors from North Africa!


Come again? Frescoes are not evidence?

You should know that you’re not making a very strong historical argument when part of your argument is “Ignore these primary sources.”


Your reasoning is haphazard. Where did I say anything about not wanting sources, about leftism, or about any black Roman senator? Who are you arguing with?

I'll stick with mainstream sources.

>Edit: Come to think of it, also there were also a few Roman Emperors from North Africa!

North Africa, like most of the Mediterranean, was white in Roman times. North Africa is only swarthy today in the aftermath of Arab conquest in the 7th and 8th centuries.

This isn’t remotely true. The Berber-speaking population of North Africa, i.e. the autochtonous population that was living there before the Arab invasion (and, of course, before Roman influence) is generally swarthier than those who can demonstrate pure Arab descent.

The historical evidence suggests a range of skin tones in North Africa in ancient times.

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