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Old 02-08-2003, 11:42 AM
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Did Romans look like modern day Italians?

I'm reading "The First Man in Rome" by McCullough and was trying to get a feel for average Roman features. I always figured it was dark hair, eyes, and skin. Is this the case?
Old 02-08-2003, 11:46 AM
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Well, that brings up a different question- what do you think "Italians" look like? A Sicilian and a Neapolitan, for example, can look VERY different. In Northern Italy, blond, blue-eyed people aren't uncommon.

Then, as now, people were mutts! The peninsula we call "Italy" has been settled, re-settled, conquered, re-conquered, populated, and repopulated, so many times, it's almost futile to try to figure out what an "Italian" really is, in ethnic or genetic terms.
Old 02-08-2003, 02:10 PM
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Originally posted by astorian
Well, that brings up a different question- what do you think "Italians" look like? A Sicilian and a Neapolitan, for example, can look VERY different. In Northern Italy, blond, blue-eyed people aren't uncommon.

Then, as now, people were mutts! The peninsula we call "Italy" has been settled, re-settled, conquered, re-conquered, populated, and repopulated, so many times, it's almost futile to try to figure out what an "Italian" really is, in ethnic or genetic terms.
I totally agree - as an Italian American who livedin Northern Italy many years, trying to say what the average Italian looked or looks like is a lot like trying to figure out what the average American looks like - Good luck!
Old 02-08-2003, 02:56 PM
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Here are some images of people as painted on the walls of the houses of Pompeii or Etruscan tombs and similar places for a general idea of how they saw themselves. The first is a school site with multiple links.

http://shot.holycross.edu/courses/Painting/F02/review

http://polygraphianz.com/Media/Images/Neo&wife.jpg

http://polygraphianz.com/Media/I...erseusAndr.jpg

http://utexas.edu/courses/archae...me/Theseus.jpg

http://art-and-archaeology.com/roman/pom2.jpg

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/04...1.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

At the bottom of the following page are several Roman busts. Unlike the Greeks, who strived for ideal beauty, Roman sculptors attempted to produce "lifelike" representations, so the images are very likely realistic. (They will not provide coloring, but the features are recognizable.)
http://crystalinks.com/romeart.html
Old 02-08-2003, 03:07 PM
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Also, "Rome" over time extended far beyond Italy. Several famous "Romans" were from Spain (the Emperor Trajan, Seneca), and the Balkans (Diocletan, Constantine). Rome even had an emperor named "Philip the Arab"; perhaps he was not an Arab in the modern sense but he was born in north Arabia.
Old 02-08-2003, 03:27 PM
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Two arms, two legs, head on top; two eyes, nose in middle, mouth underneath.... yeah, they tend to look a lot alike.
Old 02-08-2003, 03:36 PM
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So the answer is yes.
So, do people in California tend to look different than people in Wisconsin?
Peace,
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Old 02-08-2003, 03:49 PM
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No, Romans wore togas, Italians do not.
Old 02-08-2003, 05:04 PM
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Why don't you ALL just hop on the smartass bandwagon. I do know that northern Italians often have light hair and light eyes but that's after the northern Celtic influence. I was speaking of ancient Romans. And don't get into this knee-jerk liberal shit that everyone looks the same.
Old 02-08-2003, 07:10 PM
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During classics classes, my professors routinely pointed out that the Romans from the city and its environs were all what we would consider very short, to the point that they remarked on it when they encountered Gauls and Germanic tribesmen, who tended to be taller. I seem to recall that beards were rarely if ever in fashion, and Roman men tended to be clean shaven. Baldness was noted as common, affecting both men and women. Blond hair would be rare, red hair even more so.

A final warning. Modern ideas about population mobility have absolutely no application in ancient peoples. The flow of genetic information across distance and geograhic barriers could be difficult, or impossible, barring mass migrations of nomadic peoples. Common agricultural folk were born, lived, and died in a relatively tight geographic proximity for the most part.
Old 02-08-2003, 07:21 PM
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Originally posted by Trucido
A final warning. Modern ideas about population mobility have absolutely no application in ancient peoples. The flow of genetic information across distance and geograhic barriers could be difficult, or impossible, barring mass migrations of nomadic peoples. Common agricultural folk were born, lived, and died in a relatively tight geographic proximity for the most part.
Nuts to this!


Millions of human beings from all around the ancient world were taken to Rome as slaves. And there was plenty of midnight bumpin' between different ethinic groups goin' on. And that includes "bumpin'" with their owners.
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Old 02-08-2003, 07:45 PM
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My college history professor (a leading figure in the field, he's the elder Speidel) mentioned once that the early Romans were of the blond hair, blue eye variety. He also said, I believe, that they were related to the Germanic tribes. I don't really want to go digging through my notes, but I think they originated somewhere north of the Black Sea.

But with the more Mediterranean looking Etruscans to the north, Greeks to the south by and large those traits were smothered.
Old 12-29-2010, 02:25 AM
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Yes, Rome is in Italy

Sigh. Where to begin?

(1) Evidence from Roman Times Shows They Looked Like Modern Italians
I suggest you visit Italy. Look at the wall paintings in Pompeii, Tarquinia, and Rome itself. Better yet, look at the wall paintings in the House of Livia. She was Augustus's wife, and a noble Roman. The wall paintings show a mostly dark, Southern European group of people. The busts show people with larger noses than most northern Europeans.

(2) You cannot generalize Italians and more so than this:
Italians are a diverse lot, because they are centrally located. But then again, so are the English. There are Southern Italians with blond hair, that doesn't come from barbarians. There are very dark northern Italians. 50% of Southern Italians have green or blue eyes. But don't expect clear cut pronouncements, which verge on the ridiculous. Generally, a Norwegian will be a little blonder than a German. A German, a little lighter than an Austrian. An Austrian, a little lighter than an Italian.

Italians are, and have always been, an intermediate Caucasian group. They're slightly darker than other Europeans.

(3) There are plenty of towns in Italy that have NEVER been invaded.
You want to see unvarnished descendants of the Romans? Pick up a history book and buy a plane ticket. There are towns in Italy settled by the Romans, forgotten, isolated, and never invaded since. Imagine some podunk town of lower middle class Romans. They own no slaves. When barbarians invaded Italy, they overlooked your town. Too small, too out of the way. There are a ton of towns like this in Italy. There live the descendants of the Romans. News flash: they look Italian.

(4) Dont get so hung up on a name.

Italy originally referred to modern Calabria. Then just the part of the peninsular south of the Rubicon. When modern Italy named itself in 1861, it was debated whether to name the new country Rome. Would that make the decision easier for you? China has always been named China. But just because it was called the "Roman" empire doesn't mean Rome isnt in Italy.

(5) Those "non-Italian" Romans listed above are just plain WRONG.
When Rome conquered a place, it rewarded the soldiers by planting a colony there. Marry, have kids, breed good Romans, protect the land you conquered. So when you say "Trajan was Spanish" you just show your ignorance. He was descended from ITALIAN soldiers who were settled in Spain. He was not an ethnic Spaniard. Such a concept didn't even exist! Sheesh!

(6) Colleen McCullough is Wrong.

She gets tons of letters about how OFF her coloring is. She baldly admits ignoring ancient sources. Only one ancient source describes the coloring of Julius Caesar. It says "his eyes were so dark that the area surrounding the pupils was almost as black as they were." But that he had pale skin and dark hair. Colleen McCullough? She describes Caesar as blonde, with blue eyes, and golden skin!!! Yes, I know it's a ridiculous, a Fabio-esque, Harlequin Romance aspect of her cheesy writing. She always struck me as a dumb author of northern European heritage trying to make the Romans closer to her ideal.

(7) British accents on Romans are a relic of Shakespeare.
In his day, to distinguish the wealthy upper classes on stage from the dumb masses, a play producer had the patricians speak in proper Queen's English, and the masses in Cockney. For some reason, this relic persists to this day. News flash: the Italians spoke Latin, which sounds a lot like Italian if you hear it spoken fast. Watch the Passion of the Christ!

(8) The Romans always described themselves as shorter and darker than the Gauls and Germans they encountered.

(9) Words for colors change over time and are often mistranslated.

During the French Revolution, carrots are described as purple, which meant, then, orange - a color created by mixing red. Obviously, the modern word for Orange comes from the fruit, which was not imported into Europe until modern times.

The Romans described the Germans as having "red' hair, say the translators. They meant ruddy, or dirty blonde.

The Romans and Greeks described as "blond" more accurately translates to "hair that changes color when exposed to the sun," ie tawny brown.

(10) Don't let the exception set the rule

In a group of New Yorkers, the guy from LA is called "Hollywood." In a group of guys from Hollywood, they can't call each other that because they all share that characteristic.

There are occasional Romans who bore the nickname Rufus, Flavus, Ahenobarbus, etc., which can be translated into "ruddy", "golden" or "reddish in beard" but obviously, in a group of brunettes, the one redhead gets the nickname "red".

If all Romans were redheaded, you wouldnt call one Marius "the redhead".

(11) We feel a distance from Romans because we do not use the proper case when translating their names.

In English, we use either the -us ending or the Shakespearian term.

Thus:

Marcus Antonius we call Mark Anthony.

Gaius Marius, we call Marius.

News flash: Romans, when referring to themselves, used the -o ending. Aand most other languages around the world, particularly Italians translate their names as:

Marcus Antonius = Marco Antonio
Marius = Mario
Julius = Julio
Sergius = Sergio

Now do they sound more Italian for you?

To be continued.
Old 12-29-2010, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
Why don't you ALL just hop on the smartass bandwagon. I do know that northern Italians often have light hair and light eyes but that's after the northern Celtic influence. I was speaking of ancient Romans. And don't get into this knee-jerk liberal shit that everyone looks the same.
Celtic? Germanics are Celtic?



christinam, what do you mean by "oranges were not imported into Europe until modern times"? There have been oranges in Spain since the Middle Ages - they even were exported to Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages.
Old 12-29-2010, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by christinam View Post
(7) British accents on Romans are a relic of Shakespeare.
In his day, to distinguish the wealthy upper classes on stage from the dumb masses, a play producer had the patricians speak in proper Queen's English, and the masses in Cockney. For some reason, this relic persists to this day. News flash: the Italians spoke Latin, which sounds a lot like Italian if you hear it spoken fast. Watch the Passion of the Christ!
Not sure what this has to do with how Romans looked, but Shakespeare was writing several centuries before the evolution of either "Queen's English" or "Cockney". Certainly there were differences in accent and dialect at the time (Shakespeare himself would have had an accent markedly different from his predominately London audience) but the sort of social division by accent that you're suggesting is as much an anachronism as Julius Caesar's clock.


Quote:
(9) Words for colors change over time and are often mistranslated.
During the French Revolution, carrots are described as purple, which meant, then, orange - a color created by mixing red. Obviously, the modern word for Orange comes from the fruit, which was not imported into Europe until modern times.

The Romans described the Germans as having "red' hair, say the translators. They meant ruddy, or dirty blonde.

The Romans and Greeks described as "blond" more accurately translates to "hair that changes color when exposed to the sun," ie tawny brown.
Yes, words for colours can be mistranslated across time and cultures, but your examples make me question your conclusions.

The word orange does, indeed, come from the fruit but oranges have been imported into Europe (and even grown here) since the middle ages, not "modern times". And if French Revolutionary carrots were described as purple, they very probably were: carrots naturally range in colour from almost white to dark purple. The orange varieties we're familiar with derive from a particular 17th century cultivar.
Old 12-29-2010, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christinam
(7) British accents on Romans are a relic of Shakespeare.
In his day, to distinguish the wealthy upper classes on stage from the dumb masses, a play producer had the patricians speak in proper Queen's English, and the masses in Cockney. For some reason, this relic persists to this day. News flash: the Italians spoke Latin, which sounds a lot like Italian if you hear it spoken fast. Watch the Passion of the Christ!
Do you have a cite for this comment on how the plays were spoken in Shakespeare's time?

It is true that Shakespeare distinguished between classes, but he did it by writing the parts for the upper classes in blank verse, and those for the lower classes in prose, but that's quite different from saying that they used specific accents, as you suggest.
Old 12-29-2010, 06:52 AM
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Well, there is the Roman Nose. I've always heard George Washington is an example. Washington looked like a classical emperor. Bernie Madoff has a similar look.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquiline_nose

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-29-2010 at 06:55 AM.
Old 12-29-2010, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by WotNot View Post
The word orange does, indeed, come from the fruit but oranges have been imported into Europe (and even grown here) since the middle ages, not "modern times". And if French Revolutionary carrots were described as purple, they very probably were: carrots naturally range in colour from almost white to dark purple. The orange varieties we're familiar with derive from a particular 17th century cultivar.
QFT. Not sure about the rest of christinam's pronouncements, but the bit about carrots is definitely bollocks.
Old 12-29-2010, 06:57 AM
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yes, we got some purple carrots in our organic produce bin just the other day - along with some yellow carrots, some orange carrots, some white carrots, and some greenish-orange carrots.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 12-29-2010 at 06:57 AM.
Old 12-29-2010, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by christinam View Post
There are Southern Italians with blond hair, that doesn't come from barbarians.

Can we have a reference for this please? Given that the Scandinavian Vandals moved through pretty much all of the Italian peninsula, I assume you have some gene markers that establish that any individual's blonde hair does not derive from barbarian influence evidence.

Quote:
(3) There are plenty of towns in Italy that have NEVER been invaded.
...There are towns in Italy settled by the Romans, forgotten, isolated, and never invaded since. Imagine some podunk town of lower middle class Romans. They own no slaves. When barbarians invaded Italy, they overlooked your town. Too small, too out of the way.
Can we have a reference for this please? Even the name of one such town with the evidence that this was true.

Quite frankly your post sounds so hyperbolic that I find it hard to credit any of it. However if you can provide evidence for these two claims, two of the simpler ones to verify if you have a factual basis for your claim, then I am willing to reconsider.
Old 12-29-2010, 08:16 AM
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I don't really understand all the folks who are saying that this is al based on a false premise, that there is no Ialian "look". There are, of course, different looking people and much diversity in ALL countries. But if you grabbed a random 100 people from Italy, Spain, Germany, England, The United States, and Sweden, I bet people could do a pretty good job of determining which grouip was from which country.

I don't think it is an unreasonable question.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
Why don't you ALL just hop on the smartass bandwagon. I do know that northern Italians often have light hair and light eyes but that's after the northern Celtic influence. I was speaking of ancient Romans. And don't get into this knee-jerk liberal shit that everyone looks the same.
Totally agree with your post, in London you see a huge number of groups of foreign tourists and believe me you can very easily identify which groups come from which countries.

I've nothing else to add except that the Masters of Rome series are an excellent set of books and totally readable.

Mc Cullough is one of the few authors who seem to get it right about ancient Rome unlike your Saylors, Davises etc.

Good reading.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven View Post
Two arms, two legs, head on top; two eyes, nose in middle, mouth underneath.... yeah, they tend to look a lot alike.
The creepy thing is that each and every one of them was made out of meat.

No, seriously. They were born meat, and they died as meat. Yeesh.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:47 AM
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I don't really understand all the folks who are saying that this is al based on a false premise, that there is no Ialian "look". There are, of course, different looking people and much diversity in ALL countries. But if you grabbed a random 100 people from Italy, Spain, Germany, England, The United States, and Sweden, I bet people could do a pretty good job of determining which grouip was from which country.

I don't think it is an unreasonable question.
Perhaps, but how much of that would be determined from purely physical characteristics like size and shape of nose, coloring, height, and hair color as opposed to things like haircut, cut and fit of clothing, and body language?
Old 12-29-2010, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
Why don't you ALL just hop on the smartass bandwagon. I do know that northern Italians often have light hair and light eyes but that's after the northern Celtic influence. I was speaking of ancient Romans. And don't get into this knee-jerk liberal shit that everyone looks the same.
[Moderator Note]

Since this post has been reported, I am posting to indicate that although it is out of line for GQ, it is also seven years old. I assume that KidCharlemagne has cooled off by now.

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Old 12-29-2010, 11:55 AM
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Just about everyone trooped through the Italian pensinsula (and islands) at some point in the last 2 - 3 thousand years. Italians are very much a mixed bred:
I know red - headed Sicilians, dark (to the point of arab - looking) northern Italians, and so forth.

It's true that there can be an Italian "look", but it's also true that a whole bunch of Italians don't have it.

I live in Italy, and can usually pick out the tourists from the natives; I can usually guess where the tourists are from, too. However, this goes beyond characteristic facial features: manner of dress can be a quick give - away (what the heck is it with Germans and the socks/sandals thing? ).
Old 12-29-2010, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by christinam View Post
News flash: Romans, when referring to themselves, used the -o ending.
Why do you say this? The -o ending is a marker of the dative case. If Mark Anthony were referring to himself, would he not say "Marcus Antonius sum"?
Old 12-29-2010, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by christinam
(11) We feel a distance from Romans because we do not use the proper case when translating their names.

In English, we use either the -us ending or the Shakespearian term.

Thus:

Marcus Antonius we call Mark Anthony.

Gaius Marius, we call Marius.

News flash: Romans, when referring to themselves, used the -o ending. Aand most other languages around the world, particularly Italians translate their names as:

Marcus Antonius = Marco Antonio
Marius = Mario
Julius = Julio
Sergius = Sergio

Now do they sound more Italian for you?
And how is that at all relevant to the question raised by the OP?
Old 12-29-2010, 09:05 PM
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My fuzzy recall of Latin is that the ending for the vocative case is -e for second declension nouns with nominative ending in -us, except those ending in -ius, in which case it's -i.

Gaius -> Gai
Marcus -> Marce

The pronunciation of that 'e' is likely the same as the IPA 'e': close-mid front unrounded. The 'i' is long and pronounced as in "machine".

I was told in my first year of Latin that the use of -o to end masculine words in Italian is due to the Latin ablative case, but I don't understand *why* that would be true.

edit:

The vocative case being that case used when you call out someone's name to address them. Any "normal" grammatical function would use another case. "Marcus Antonius sum" to mean "I am Mark Anthony" looks correct to me. But "Marce Antoni" would be what you would say to get his attention.

Last edited by glowacks; 12-29-2010 at 09:08 PM.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:13 PM
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Celtic? Germanics are Celtic?
.
Before the romans took control of the whole of Italy (and beyond), the north of the peninsula was populated by Celts.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:31 PM
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Before the romans took control of the whole of Italy (and beyond), the north of the peninsula was populated by Celts.
The very northeastern portion of the peninsula IIRC. The Etruscans held most of the north-central and north-western portions.
Old 12-29-2010, 10:36 PM
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Was Italian a recognized language during the Roman Empire?
Old 12-29-2010, 10:43 PM
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Sigh. Where to begin?

About 8 years ago, I'd say.

Last edited by Shmendrik; 12-29-2010 at 10:43 PM.
Old 12-30-2010, 06:33 AM
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Was Italian a recognized language during the Roman Empire?
Eh? Is this a woosh? If not, then.... Italian didn't exist as a language during the Roman Empire. Italian as we know it comes from the dialect spoken in Medieval/Renaissance Florence, a good 1200 years after the Roman Empire.
Old 12-30-2010, 06:37 AM
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And how is that at all relevant to the question raised by the OP?
I think the argument is "We think of the Romans as being fundamentally different than the Italians, so we wonder if they look different. But a lot of those differences are artificial: for example, their names were the same as Italian names today, but we make them sound different." I'm not saying that's true--I have no idea--but I think that's the argument.
Old 12-30-2010, 07:00 AM
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A very small sample set anecdote.

A long long time ago a college of a friend of mine found a book of classics, and in it there was a copy of a Roman picture depicting an idealised "Roman" profile. This guy was rather amused as as he pointed out to my friend, the picture was a very close likeness of me. Which it was. So, by a sample of one, I apparently have a "classic" Roman profile. I also get picked as North Italian by modern northern Italians.

I have blue yes and (had) blonde hair. And not a trace of Italian blood in me. British blood however, and therefore who knows what genes are in that pool.

So, make of that what you will.
Old 12-30-2010, 07:41 AM
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So you see, way back then, uh, Sicilians were like, uh, wops from Northern Italy. Ah, they all had blonde hair and blue eyes, but, uh, well, then the Moors moved in there, and uh, well, they changed the whole country ...
Old 12-30-2010, 08:24 AM
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Perhaps, but how much of that would be determined from purely physical characteristics like size and shape of nose, coloring, height, and hair color as opposed to things like haircut, cut and fit of clothing, and body language?
That is a good question, and I do not know the answer to it. It would be interesting to see how much of the "difference" between national groups is due to physical characteristics, and how much due to cultural factors, like the ones you mention.
Old 12-30-2010, 08:36 AM
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Judging from surviving sculptures and busts, ancient Romans wouldn't have looked out of place walking around modern-day Rome. There has undoubtably been some mixing with other populations in the interim (although a LOT of the Roman slaves were of Greek stock, which don't look all that different from Italians, to be honest) but in all likelihood modern-day Italians are descended from the base gene pool from centuries ago.
Old 12-30-2010, 08:50 AM
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For those who might be curious to see a genetic study, here's an interesting one from Genetic structure in Europeans (Nelis et al. 2009) that shows which European groups cluster together genetically: take a peek.

What you'll see is that the genetic study found a continuum, from the Baltics (Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians) at one extreme to the Southern Italians at the other. Southern Italians are, unsurprisingly, most closely related to Northern Italians. The next closest group are Spaniards (another Romance group), and farther out we find the Swiss, French, and Bulgarians. Meanwhile, those kooky Finns are way off in a category of their own, only overlapping a bit with their neighbors the Swedes.
Old 12-30-2010, 11:24 AM
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As for the "Shakespeare had patricians speaking in BBC english, and lower classes speaking in Cockney", well, that's just wrong. There was no Cockney then, of course. And there are no stage directions in Shakespeare's plays.

It is true that British dramas often use accent to show class distinctions, just watch the BBC's "I, Claudius". The Roman aristocracy had a different accent than Roman plebes. So having the actors playing aristocrats use aristocratic English accents, and the actors playing plebes use downscale accents is justified.

In Hollywood movies, we usually give the aristocrats English accents, and the plebes American accents. Except if the hero is an aristocrat then he gets an American accent too, even if the actor is really Australian.

The point of all this is, in many parts of the world it is easy to tell someone's social origin by the way they talk. And Rome was no different. If you grew up in the gutters in the city of Rome, or on the Palatine Hill, your accent will betray your social class.
Old 12-30-2010, 11:32 AM
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The creepy thing is that each and every one of them was made out of meat.

No, seriously. They were born meat, and they died as meat. Yeesh.
No brain?
Old 12-30-2010, 02:46 PM
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"Marcus Antonius sum" to mean "I am Mark Anthony" looks correct to me. But "Marce Antoni" would be what you would say to get his attention.
All true, but my post addressed the claim that "Romans, when referring to themselves, used the -o ending."
Old 01-01-2011, 03:01 PM
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China has always been named China.
Whah? It's not even called "China" now, in China. Zhong Guo, or "middle kingdom" is the more traditional name that has been in use for centuries/millenia. The various dynasties used different formal names, and what constitutes "China" has shifted many times over the years. There is no "Chinese" ethnicity, but Han is the most common among dozens of others.
Old 01-01-2011, 03:43 PM
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No brain?
Brains are meat, dear.

Brrraaaaaaiiiiiins!
Old 01-01-2011, 09:05 PM
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Was Italian a recognized language during the Roman Empire?
There were a group of related languages spoken on the peninsula, which modern scholars class as Italic. Since the peninsula was termed Italia, probably "lingua Italiana" would have been clear in meaning "speech of Italia", but would comprise a group of related languages, like Slavic or Celtic, not one individual language.
Old 01-01-2011, 09:14 PM
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The women were mostly unattractive. Around Roman clubs in those days you hardly ever saw an VIII or a IX.
Old 01-01-2011, 09:34 PM
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The women were mostly unattractive. Around Roman clubs in those days you hardly ever saw an VIII or a IX.
Bravo, sir. Bravo.
Old 01-01-2011, 11:04 PM
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There are several points to be made about the linguistic questions here, but the key point to resolving the question is in the physical ethnography of Italy then and now.

By Roman times, Sicily and the coastal areas of southern Italy were largely Greek in ethnic origin, admixed with indigenous tribes. The Etruscans had been absorbed into the Italic population occupying the middle and north of the peninsula proper. The area around modern Venice was occupied by the Veneti, which were historically considered an outgroup of the Italic people. The Alpine areas and neighboring lowlands were Rhaetians, an ancient group whose affinities are debated. In the northwest, roughly the Piedmont, Celts predominated.

The modern population is largely but not totally descended from these people. Three waves of Germanic invaders descended on Italy: the Gepids, the Ostrogoths, and the Lombards. While they were a ruling minority, and their languages vanished, their genes remained. Likewise, Sicily was for several centuries held by the Arabs. Both immigration to Rome as metropolis of the Empire and a variety of small groups also modified the populace: Albanians in Apulia, Catalans and Savoyards in Sardinia, Savoyards in Piedmont, etc.

Language wise, the points above are valid but incomplete. First, in Classical Latin the vocative outside second declension -us and -ius nouns was identical to the nominative. While Marcus might be addressed as Marce, Julia would be Julia, Clemens Clemens.

However, it must be remembered that what we know as Classic Latin was the formal written register of the language. There was also a colloquial register, which became the dominant form in Late Latin and its Romance descendants, and forms like Marco, Clemente and caballo for the nominative were typical of its use. It coexisted with the formal register in much the same way as formal written English and colloquial and dialectal forms do today. It would no more show up in the ornate prose or poetry of Cicero or Virgil than "I haven't got a lot of that junk" would show up in a formal business context -- but would be as common as English colloquialisms.
Old 01-01-2011, 11:46 PM
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It would no more show up in the ornate prose or poetry of Cicero or Virgil than "I haven't got a lot of that junk" would show up in a formal business context -- but would be as common as English colloquialisms.
Along the same lines, Google Translate yields: "Frater, abstinete meus 'junk'."

Last edited by Koxinga; 01-01-2011 at 11:48 PM.
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