‘Romanity‘; ‘being a Roman‘ through time. What is and what isn’t ‘Roman‘, and how this evolved in History.
29th of May 1453 – Black Tuesday
by father John S. Romanides
I. The Primitive Greek Romans
1. The very existence of the primitive Greek Romans has been completely abolished by historians who continue to support Charlemagne’s Lie of 794 which inaugurated the historical dogma that the Roman language was and is Latin. This has remained so in spite of the Roman sources which describe Greek as the first language of the Romans. It seems that Charlemagne’s Lie of 794 was based on hearsay and the need to cut off West Romans enslaved to the Franco-Latins from the free East Romans. Frankish Emperor Louis II (855-875) clearly supports Charlemagne’s Lie of 794 with the following words: In 871 he writes to Emperor of the Romans Basil I (867-885) that “_we have received the government of the Roman Empire for our orthodoxy . The Greeks have ceased to be emperors of the Romans for their cacodoxy. Not only have they deserted the city (of Rome) and the capital of the Empire, but they have also abandoned Roman nationality and even the Latin language. They have migrated to another capital city and taken up a completely different nationality and language. [ 1 ]”
2. Let us contrast this Frankish nonsense with historical reality and the process by which Rome became the Empire of the whole Greek speaking world. The primitive 2. Greek Romans were the result of the union of the Greek speaking tribes of Italy. These Greek tribes are the following: The Aborigines [ 2 ] who came to the area of Rome from Achaia, Greece many generations before the Trojan War. [ 3 ] These Aborigines had already accepted into their tribe what was left of the Greek Pelasgians of Italy who had been decimated by a mysterious sickness. [ 4 ] Porcius Cato’s inclusion of the history of the Pelasgians in Italy and their union with the Aborigines in his De Origines, repeated in detail by Dionysius, is the only mention of them that this writer is aware of. These combined Aborigines and Pelasgians united with some Trojans who migrated to their land and together they became the ancient Greek speaking Latins whose capital was Alba Longa. A branch of these Greek speaking Latins of Alba Longa, led by the brothers Romulus and Romus, founded Rome on the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. They were joined by some of the Greek Sabines of Italy who had settled on the adjacent Quirinal Hill. The Sabines had migrated to Italy from Lacedaemonia in Southern Greece. [ 5 ] The Romans continued the process of subduing and including the rest of the Greek Latins and Sabines into their political system.
3. Some of the Danubian Celts entered Northern Italy and began pressing upon the Etruscans who turned to Rome for help. But these Celts overran the Roman forces who tried to stop them and drove down toward Rome and defeated the main Roman army in battle and entered Rome in 390 BC. They occupied the whole of the city except the steep Capitoline Hill. The Romans had placed there all of their youth, treasures and records. The older population remained in their homes. After receiving a substantial ransom of gold the Celts withdrew. In order to better protect themselves the Romans subdued the rest of Northern Italy. The Romans also incorporated into their dominion the Greek Italians of Magna Graecia, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica This was the extent of Roman territories in 218 BC.
4. The Punic Wars under the leadership of Hamilcar and especially of Hannibal, became the biggest threat to Rome since the Celtic occupation. Hannibal invaded Italy itself with his famous elephants and with Macedon as an ally. Macedon had conquered Rome’s traditional Greek allies. Rome went as far as Spain to uproot Punic strongholds there and finally burned Carthage itself. The Romans had crossed over into Greece to liberate her Greek allies from Macedon and ended up conquering the Macedonian Empire and incorporating it into the Roman Empire. Rome also came to the aid of her Galatian and Cappadocian allies by liberating them from King Mithridates VI of Pontus (121/120-63 BC) which resulted in the incorporation of Armenia, Assyria and Mesopotamia into the Roman Empire which now reached almost to the Caspian Sea. In this way the Mediterranean Sea became the central lake of the Roman Empire.
5. It is to be noted that it was the Greek Romans of Italy who finally united all Greek speaking tribes into one nation which had become Latin speaking also.
II. The First Roman Historians wrote in Greek, not in Latin. Why?
6. The first four Roman annalists who wrote in Greek were Quintus Fabius Pictor, Lucius Cincius Alimentus, Gaius Acilius and Aulus Postumius Albinus.
7. As we will see, the first text in primitive Latin was the Code of the Twelve Tables promulgated in 450 BC solely for the plebs. The Greek gentis abided by their own secret laws which they memorized from childhood. This is why the tradition of Roman public laws in Latin resulted from the cooperation between the consuls of the gentis and the tribunes of the plebs. In time so many of the plebs had become fluent in Greek that they became part of the administration of the Greek speaking provinces.
III. The First Romans who wrote in Latin.
8. According to Cicero one of the first Romans who wrote in Latin prose was the Sabine Claudius, Appius Caecus who was consul in 307 and 296 BC. He delivered a speech in Latin to the Senate against making peace with Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus.
9. The first Roman historians who wrote in Latin were Porcius Cato (234-140 BC) and Lucius Cassius Hemina (circa 146 BC).
10. So what language were the Romans speaking and writing before this except Greek?
11. All the above agree with each other on the general outline of Roman beginnings. The reason for this is that they based themselves on the official Roman “sacred tablets” (hierais deltois) [ 6 ] which the first historians simply repeated. In other words they were themselves annalists. However, nothing is preserved from these tablets/annals except as repeated in the Roman historians. But, not much of their works has survived, or else may be hidden to facilitate Charlemagne’s Lie.
12. From Cato the Gallo-Roman revolutionaries realized that the Romans and Greeks were the same people. Now the overwhelming majority of Gallo-Romans were re-gaining control of the land occupied for so many centuries by a tyrannical Frankish minority of only 2% of the population. The enthusiasm for Greco-Roman antiquity and hatred for a Papal Christianity used by the Frankish conqueror to completely debase 85% of the population led even to making natural religion supreme over supernatural religion. In spite of Cato’s role in the French Revolution only fragments of his work are publicly known. But since Dionysius of Halicarnassus used the same annals as the aforementioned Roman historians one must use Dionysius to reconstruct these lost or hidden sources. Dionysius makes a clear distinction between Greek historians who do not use Roman annals and the Roman historians (and himself) who do. The trick used by some historians, who want to efface the Greek foundations of Roman history, is to mix the hearsay Greek tradition about Rome and the 3 Roman variations on the tradition about the founding of Rome found in their own hierais deltois, i.e. sacred tablets, [ 7 ] which were evidently made of a hard material, and then to heap ridicule on the mixture they themselves create.
13. Only a short, but accurate summary account of the foundation annals are reported in Livy who takes for granted that Rome was founded as a Greek city and nation. Evidently this is so because he wrote his history in Latin, whereas the original annals were in Greek. Thus those who wrote in Greek simply copied what they read in Greek. On the other hand it was the annalistic history of Hemina which laid the foundations for writing Roman history in Latin. Evidently, however, he and his imitators did not make full use of all the full Greek texts of sources like long winded speeches which they either summarized or even simply left out. Whereas those who wrote their histories in Greek simply copied the Greek texts directly from the annals. This is why Diosysius Halicarnassus reports at times more material than Livy does for example. Since the primitive Romans were Greeks the official annals were in Greek and obviously not in Latin. The primitive Latins and Romans were a mixture of Greek Arcadians, Trojans, Pelasgians and Lacedaemonian Sabines.
IV. Linguistic indications of the background of the Greek Latins, Romans and Sabines.
14. Apart from the description which the Romans make about themselves, there are also linguistic indications which clearly point to the Greek reality of the ancient Latins, Romans and Sabines.
15. The claim that the name Rome e.g. is simply a place name, which may derive even from the Etruscans, is sheer nonsense.
16. The name “Rome” in Greek means “power,” “force,” “fighting army” and “speed tactics. [ 8 ]”
17. The name “Rome” derives from two the Greek verbs: 1) roomai which means “to move with speed or violence, to dart, rush, rush on, esp. of warriors. [ 9 ]”
18. The name “Rome” also derives from of the Greek passive verb: 2) ronnymi which means “to strengthen, make strong and mighty” and “to put forth strength, have strength or might. [ 10 ]
19. The closest Latin equivalent verb is ruo, which is connected to the Greek verb reo meaning “to flow, run, to hasten.”
20. Of all the uses of Latin verbs both active and passive there is none that even comes close to meaning “rome.”
21. Romans, Latins and Sabines were agreed that the name quiris (sing.) quiretes (pl.) would be their common name which dictionaries translate as citizen. But the Romans had a name for citizens, like the Greek, polites, i.e. civitas. But the names quiris-quiretes derive from the Greek name kouros-kouretes which means young men of fighting age and therefore warriors, “young men, esp. young warriors,” Iliad 19. 193, 248. [ 11 ] So the Romans, Latins and Sabines called themselves first “warriors” and later “citizens.”
22. It is from the original military structure of the Roman army of quiretes that the first government was fashioned into thirty curiae of 1000 men each grouped into three tribes.
23. Because all three groups of Romans, Latins and Sabines came to Italy by sea from Greece and Asia minor they were warrior sailors and sea faring peoples. It is obviously for this reason that at their weddings they shouted the Greek word Thalassios, sailor, at the groom and not the Latin name marinos.
24. Of the seven hills of Rome the Quirinal, the hill of Mars, was originally that of the Sabines. It was from here that the Roman warriors of Romulus stole their wives from. Quiris was not only the Sabine name for a spear, but also for their god of war. They called their god of war “The Warrior” in their Greek language and later Mars.
25. In the Roman tradition Romulus did not die, but ascended deified to heaven without leaving behind his body since he was or became the Quirinus, a or one of the god(s) of war.
26. These are some of the contexts within which the Romans thought and spoke about themselves. No historian has the right to change this. Now whether this version of Roman history is correct or not is entirely another matter. But it remains a fact, however, that the Romans themselves, the Latins themselves and the Sabines themselves believed and wanted to believe that they are Greeks. Not only this, the united Roman nation of Romans, Latins and Sabines, spoke their own common Greek Language.
27. Now some scholars may search for sources which may prove otherwise, i.e. for some reason the Romans who were not really Greeks came to believe that they are Greeks. So what? That would be like proving that a black American is not an American because he is black.
28. Each Roman gens sometimes was composed of several thousand Romans each one headed by a Patrician member of the senate. The members of gentis memorized their laws from childhood and kept their laws a secret among themselves. [ 12 ] A form of an Italian language was that of their slaves and dependents which also evolved into the Latin dialect mixed with Greek. It was these non Greek speaking dependents of Rome who finally forced the Romans to reduce the laws to written form. It was because of the violent protests of their Italian dependents that the Romans produced a text of laws in primitive Latin in about 450 BC. The problem was serious because these dependents did not know the laws by which they were being punished by Roman magistrates. Faced with the revolt of these dependents the senate sent a delegation to Athens to search for a solution to the problem. The result was a set of 10 texts on bronze tables which finally became the “The Code of Twelve Tables.” Table 11 forbade the marriage between members of the gentes and the rest of the population of Rome, in other words between those of Greek origin and those of non-Greek origin.
29. The origin of this problem was that for centuries the members of Greek colonies were being assimilated by the barbarians among whom they lived. This was solved by the position that the gentes had to remain a pure race so that the offerings of their priests to their gods may be heard and that the auspices be taken correctly and correct answers received from the gods when making decisions on legal, social and especially military matters. “The tribune of the Plebs, Gaius Canuleis, proposed a bill regarding the intermarriage of patricians and plebians which the patricians looked upon as involving the debasement of their blood and the subversion of the principles inhering in the gentes, or families and a suggestion, cautiously put forward at first by the tribunes, that it should be lawful for one of the consuls to be chosen from the plebs, was afterwards carried so far that nine tribunes proposed a bill giving the people power to choose consuls as they might see fit from either the plebs or the patricians. What tremendous schemes had Gaius Canuleis set on foot! He was aiming to contaminate the gentes and throw the auspices, both public and private into confusion, that nothing might be pure, nothing unpolluted; so that, when all distinctions had been obliterated, no man might recognize either himself or his kindred. For what else, they asked, was the object of promiscuous marriages, if not that plebeians and patricians might mingle together almost like the beasts? [ 13 ]”
30. That the debate was not about the rights between rich and poor is shown by the following joke told by Gaius Canuleis in the same speech, “Why, pray, do you not introduce a law that there shall be no intermarrying between rich and poor”?
[ 1 ] John S. Romanides, “Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine,” Holy Cross Orthodox Press 1981, p. 18.
[ 2 ] This is evidently not a Greek term which was given to these Arcadians by those who came to their area by those who came after them.
[ 3 ] “But the most learned of Roman historians, among who is Porcius Cato, who compiled with the greatest care the genealogies of the Italian cities, Gaius Semporonis and many others, say they are Greeks, part of those who once dwelt in Achaia, and migrated many generations before the Trojan war.” as quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, I, XI. It is in the light of this that we read Livy’s remarks about the Aborigines in his “From the Founding of the City,” I, 5-II, 6.
[ 4 ] Dionysius, Ibid I, xvii-xxx, 5.
[ 5 ] Plutarch’s Lives, Romulus, XVI “Now the Sabines were a numerous and war like people, and dwelt in unwalled villages, thinking that it behooved them, since they were Lacedaemonian colonists, to be bold and fearless.”
[ 6 ] Dionysius of Halicarnassus, RA I.LXXIII, 1. These “hierais deltois”(sacred tablets) are usually understood to be the annales maximi kept each year by the Pontifex Maximus. The foundation narratives about Rome’s beginnings do not vary substantially from the final tradition. The names involved in the final Roman foundation tradition are basically the same as in the earliest 3 traditions quoted by Dionysius as follows: 1) “Some of these say that Romulus and Romos, the founders of Rome, were the sons of Aeneas, 2) others say that they were the sons of a daughter of Aeneas, without going on to determine who was the father; they were delivered as hostages to Latinus, the king of the Aborigines, when the treaty as made between the inhabitants and the new comers, and that Latinus, after giving them a kindly welcome, not only did them many other offices, but, upon dying without male issue, left them his successors to some part of his kingdom. 3) Others say that after the death of Aeneas, Ascanius, having succeeded to the entire sovereignty of the Latins, divided both the country and the forces into three parts, two of which he gave to his brothers, Romulus and Romos. He himself, they say, built Alba Longa; Romos built cities which he named Capua, after Capys, his great-grandfather, Anchisa, after his grandfather Anchises, Aeneia (which was afterwards called Janiculum), after his father, and Rome after himself. This last city was for some time deserted, but upon the arrival of an other colony, which the Albans sent out under leadership Romulus and Romos, it received again its ancient name.”
[ 7 ] Just quoted.
[ 8 ] H. G. Liddell and R. Scot, “Greek-English Lexicon,” at name “rome.”
[ 9 ] Ibid, at verb “roomai.”
[ 10 ] Ibid, at verb “ronnyni.”
[ 11 ] Ibid, at name “kouretes.”
[ 12 ] Diosysius, RA X, 2ff.
[ 13 ] Livy, Ibid, IV, 1f.