[LMB] Dark Ages [not], was, What makes ...

Damien Sullivan phoenix at mindstalk.net
Thu Aug 22 16:59:42 BST 2019

On Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 12:00:47AM +0000, Richard Molpus wrote:
>  In my ongoing series "Random Facts about Vorhartung Castle", or "What happens when you set a group of Grad Students to the task of writing a new guidebook for the place?" (1), one thing I have happen when the (smarter) colonists discover that the wormhole is closed is they start printing every text they have. Paper can survive longer than electronics; doesn't need power to be read, and (at the time) multiple copies can be made easily. 

Printing as much as you can is totally sensible.

However, given the breakdown into violence at some point, I wouldn't be
surprised if fighting over such archives, or over still-working
computers, was a focal point of violence.  Including destroying them on
the grounds of "we may be losing but we can deny them to the enemy."

> On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 6:05:28 PM CDT, Matthew George <matt.msg at gmail.com> wrote:  
>  Science and mathematics did not advance under the Romans, and ultimately

Dubious.  Anyway, engineering and other practicalities certainly did
advance: aqueducts, Roman roads, Roman bridges, field medicine, books
(the bound codex version), advances in mining, concrete, insulated
glazing, glassblowing, the Julian calendar.  Vitruvius and Frontinus
wrote engineering manuals.  As for science, Pliny the Elder was a
naturalist and encyclopedist.  And he apparently describes an early
harvesting machine.

Oh, and here's a list of Roman science writers.  Geography, astronomy,
zoology, weather... https://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Science/

> utterly forgotten.  The Roman cultural canon was almost entirely taken
> directly from the conquered Greeks and didn't develop beyond them.

Apparently Virgil, Horace, Catullus, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, Livy,
Martial...  don't count as cultural development to you?  Poets,
playrights, novelists, historians, philosophers...

> Roman society was (by modern standards) absurdly rigid and superstitious,

By modern Western standards probably *all* societies have been "absurdly
rigid and superstitious".

> and was concerned with the practical acquisition of power before almost

Whereas I've often seen classical Greek culture described as obsessed
with navel gazing and empty philosophizing at the expense of practical
things.  After all, work is for slaves.  I can hardly find fault in the
Romans for getting things done.

> anything else.  It's notable that in Barrayar's descent into 'barbarism' by
> galactic standards, they not only preserved past culture but expanded upon
> it - their development wasn't as wholly directed towards food cultivation
> and warfare as a galactic might assume.  The Romans had no such balance.

That's a ridiculous claim.

> Physics, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, biology - all was utterly
> ignored.

But they weren't.  Though Romans do seem to have been weak in
contributions to pure mathematics.  Your sneering at practical
contributions says more about you than the Romans.

-xx- Damien X-)

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list