Pathology of Dictator Nero

Just two years after taking over the empire, Nero, especially under the influience of Stoic philosopher Seneca, is detached from the influience of that time and suspends the secret tribunals that terrorized the Roman elites in particular during the reign of Claudius. The new emperor is generous, benevolent, forbids bloody shows in circusses, suspends the death penalty, and greatly improves the legal condition of slaves. Economically, Nero cuts taxes and gives money to the calamity or disadvantaged areas of the empire. He also decides to organize cultural, sporting events and competitions for intellectuals and artists, as well as numerous athletic competitions.

Under Claudius, the Jewish population had been expelled from Rome. Nero eliminates discrimination of Jews and supports their comunities. In most respects, in the emperor’s works, Seneca’s influience can be noticed. However, it’s remarkable that even people who participated in conspiracy against him were sometimes, not in all cases, absolved of punishment under Nero’s order. But the happy period of Nero-led empire does not last long…

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Large human comunities do not bear, above all, madness and extravagances; anyway, not the ones that come up with incomprehesible exaggerations. Nero kills his mother, a monstruous woman, yet his mother, and this deed is done by the gentle Nero in year 59. Once the phenomen of ferocity has begun, the emperor goes in the direction dictated by this: in 62 Nero kills his wife, Octavia, because he was in love with Popeea Sabina with whom he will marry, but she will soon die. Follows a third marriage.

In the ambience of the exceptional and elevated Roman and Greek culture, the Emperor believed he was a great,  brilliant poet, a harp singer actor, but also a combat carriage driver in the hippodrome. Exorbitant parties and orgies start since 56; killings begin in 59; eccentric behavior occurs soon after taking over the empire, but it is constantly on the rise.

A fact is still required: the appetit for addresing the patological and spicy aspects of the Nero’s life and all the other criminal kings, this being done by both historians of ancient and modern age, as well as those who popularize history, which is due to commercial reasons.

The deeds of the second period of Nero’s reign, that of abuses, are unacceptable, but what caused such an evolution, not in the life of this emperor, but also of other personalities, was to institue the assasination in principle of the succesion.

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The death of pretorian prefect, Burrus, in 62, also cancel Seneca’s political influience. Until this event the empire had been a true military-philosophical dictatorship, but from now on it became an exclusively military dictatorship. Under Nero, the empire gains some succes in foreign policy, more specifically in  conquest policy, but it does not compensate  the lack of respect for the emperor’s autorithy within the state.

In 64, when a fire distroys much of Rome, most people think they recognise the guilty peroson in the Emperor. Nero, who at the outbreak of the fire was at Antium, accuses this deed of the Christian community. The persecutions are triggered, which in the future will represent the pattern of periodic behavior of the Roman emperors, even of an emperor like Marcus Aurelius, until the singning the Milan edict, in 313, by Constantin the Great. State terrosim is now manifsted in anti-Christian persecution, in its more characteristic form. It is even used to stir up the most sinister instincts of men by martyred Christians during the grandiose circus performance, offering the public a large number of prey animals destroying the convicts.

Relatively credible historical analyzes show that Nero would not have been the one who set fire to Rome, which other talked about, attribuiting to him the blame for the outbreak of the fire. They raise the hypothesis that there was a conspiracy to try to simultaneously compromise the imperial function and the Christian religion, and to create a long-lasting tension in the empire.

In 65 there is an unsuccessful attempt to replace Nero, with a blow to force, with Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a conspiracy involving first-rate personalities, including Seneca. The philosopher, like Petronius, will be forced to suicide.

The history of Nero’s reign is that of his paranoid delirium marked by infantile illusion of his own artistic genius, anti-Christian terror, unacceptable appearances as actor in roles of slaves or pregnant women.

The legions revolt in Gaul and in the Orient. Galba is declared the emperor, and the Senate condemns Nero to be executed according to the method applied to the slaves. The Pretorian Guard abandons Nero and the dictator of only 31 years old is forced to commit suicide.

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From such psychology as Nero’s, how can we understad it, what psyhological conclusions can we draw ?

It has been said that any power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is a great error: power does not corrupt, as it only exists as appearance by limiting to a specific concrete. Absolute power is, as a consequience, all the more a nonsense. It turns out to be a simple trivial tool of intimidation, as is the case with the normal human world.

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In the long evolution of humanity, nine out of ten dictators who have explicitly used what they belived to be their power have died for this very reason, assassinated, convicted and executed. The great rulers knew how to dispose of absolute power without trying to exercise it effectively.  Augustus communicates openly with all the citizens of Rome. Alexander the Great does not accept receiving water in the desert unless the same quantity is distributed to soldiers. Power still exists, at least temporarily, but only if it is not assumed esclusively in selfish, capricious, arrogant, defiant use. State terrorism has given ephemeral benefits to its practitioners. Being capricious, killing from the simple desire of blood, torturing at will are ways to make the simulation of madness a real political terror. But beware: this is followe by self-condemnation of the abuses of the soul. Once tried, as a simple gesture, alienation becomes even mental alienation.

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Nero has gone through a paranoid progressive alienation with tipical megalomania, the delusion of grandeur becomes a way of justifying the excess of authority. The empire had become his possession because of the murders of his predecessors and his mother. Nero attempted to justify his right to supreme authority through his imaginative artistic qualities. The murder of his own mother was simbolically a separation from the detestable course of the history of Rome and his Iulio-Claudian dynasty that brought him to the throne on the path of crime. His deed is a missed one, as it is a false solution, consisting in an extra and horrible crime.

In psychiatry there is a theory of learning psychiatric illnes. The disease develops progressively, the subject learning to be crazy. It is obvious that in the Roman Empire the alienation, in such cases as Nero’s, was the way we could call it didactic. In an over-cultivated but polarized society, alienation goes through the pathogenic mechanism of learning.

How does it happend that some emperors managed to escape the enourmus danger of abuse of power, of psychiatric gravity ?  On the one hand, obviously are the personal, genetic, cultural, environmental circumstances. But there is something else: history is psychologically an associationist phenomenon. After a succession of associations through similarity, follow the contrast associations.

Caius Traian Dragomir, Patologia dictatorului Nero

 

 

The Norman Conquest

At the beginning of the 11th century, England was under the rule of Danish kings, but after the death of the great Danish king Canute, the English became independent again. However, their independence did not last long. When the English king, Edward, died in 1066, he was succeeded by his brother-in-law Harold, but William, the powerful duke of Normandy, also claimed the English crown. He pretended that Edward had promised him the crown of England and accused Harold of perjury.

Two years before while Harold was sailing along the southern coast of England a storm broke out and blew his ship to the shore of Normandy. As Harold was in William’s power he had to swear on an altar containing the bones of a saint that he would help William to become king of England.

However, when Edward died, Harold crowned himself King. Hearing this William became very angry and started preparations for the invasion of England, but the strong winds in the Channel prevented William from crossing it whole summer. This made Harold think that the Normans would not come any longer that year so that he let many of his soldiers go home and harvest their crops.  On the other hand, the King of Norway landed in the north with a great army to conquer England. Harold hurried to the north and defeated the Norwegians but in the meantime William landed in England.

With a weakened and tired army Harold hurried to the south to meet William, who was plundering the country. The battle took place at hastings and though the forces of the two sides were fairly equal in numbers, the Normans were greatly superior in quality. Harold’s army consisted mainly of untrained peasants whereas William’s Normans were well-trained archers and mounted knights.

batlle hastings

The fight lasted the whole day, but the English could not be beaten. Towards evening, William thought of a trick. The Normans pretended to run away. The English thought they had won the battle and dashed after them but the Norman cavalery beat them easily back and the Norman archers poured their arrows on them. An arrow struck Harold in the eye, and soon after he died. Dismayed by this, the English fled from the battlefield and soon after that William entered London and became King of England.

For two cnturies after the Norman Conquest, England was ruled by foreign kings and French became the language of the upper classes. As French was used in Parliament, in the law courts and in all official writings as well as in literary works, many Englishmen were compelled to learn to speak it. However, the serfs and the yeomen continued to speak their native language.

Only in the fourteenth century, nearly three hundered years after the Norman Conquest, English became the official language of the country again, and towards the end of the century it became the language of literature as well.

 

How Our Calendar Came into Being

 

Have you ever wondered why the calendar is made up in the way it is ?

People have been trying to find some ways of dividing up the year since very ancient times. But it proved to be quite difficult although at first sight everything seems to be very simple.

We all know that a day is the time it takes the Earth to spin once right round on its own axis. But the trouble begins because teh year cannot be divided into an exact number of days as it actually takes  365 and 1/4 days to make the full circuit.

All the ancient peoples, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Greeks, had their own different calendars. However, our present-day calendar is based on one devised by a great astronomer Sosigenes who lived in Rome in the time of Julius Caesar, and who had been asked by the latter to make an exact calendar.

Before that time the Romans had first a ten-month calendar with 304 days; then another of 355 days, divided into 12 months. This explains why in the year 46 before our era, when Caesar became ruler of Rome, this calendar was nearly three months out.

So, at Sosigenes’s suggestion, Caesar decided to have one long year to catch up with the 80 days wich Sosigenes had calculated that the year was wrong. that long year went on for 445 days and was called “The Year of Confusions”.

The following year had 365 days and Sosigenes introduced a leap year to put the calendar right again every four years. The twelve months were alternately 30 and 31 days long, except February which had only 29 days; it had 30 days in leap year.

When Augustus became ruler of Rome, he renamed two of the months after Caesar and himself: July and August. But, as he didn’t like Julius Caesar’s month to be a day longer than his, he ordered an extra day to be added to august, to make it 31 days long too. The extra day was taken off February, which was shortened to 28 days because the change had created seven 31-day months in the calendar instead of the initial six. That is why February has 29 days in leap years now.