Black History Culture : African origins of Rome?

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by I-khan, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. I-khan

    I-khan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Taken from raceandhistory.com

    Writer's Note: This article is a response to the latest hit movie, "The Gladiator," which is only minimally factual. Historically there were far more Africans in the Roman Empire than what was depicted in the movie, but that is Hollywood and Hollywood reflects racist American culture.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans did not display any hard core race prejudice as is evidenced today. What they did display was an attitude that manifested itself as that of superior toward the subordinate. The Romans were what could be considered a colonial power--actually a conquering power is better--and they brought captives from different parts of the world--especially Africa.

    The point must be made at this juncture that not all Africans in Rome were slaves, or servants. On the contrary, some were writers, generals, philosophers, and emperors (a good example of a Roman general was Septimius Serverus, whom the Antiochene chronicler, John Malalas, said was dark-skinned). Moreover, a number of African slaves in Rome became prominent citizens and contributed to Roman culture.

    The African in the Roman Empire worked, lived without fear of racial animosity, entertained, and in many respects worshipped the same gods at the same place of worship together with other slaves, servants and freedmen. Seneca, the Roman statesman, philosopher, and intellectual said that among his own people the African's color was not noticeable.

    It must be said that despite this statement by Seneca there was some somatic classifying of Africans, Roman group stereotyping, even Romanocentric behavior regarding the "Aethiops," a term widely used to describe Africans. However, I will limit my brief study to the positive aspects of the Africans in Rome. I am compelled to say, however, that the amicable relationship that had existed between ancient Greece and Africa (Aethiops/Ethiopia) did not develop in a continual progressive manner between Africans and Romans. The Greeks told us through their art, literature and scholars of the greatness of Africans/Aethiops/Blacks. The Romans, on the other hand, viewed the Africans from a political and cultural perspective. This, I believe, was predicated on the fact that the Roman populace had little contact with Africans prior to conquest, and most importantly their subjugation by the African general, Hannibal of Carthage, left them with bitter memories.

    Carthage had flourished for seven hundred years and was the seat of commercialism and education. The Romans after they conquered Carthage, out of jealousy, destroyed the great libraries they found at Carthage. some of the libraries (books and manuscripts) they gave to their Numidian allies. The Carthaginians had records of all their achievements. Unfortunately, the only Roman writers that referred to those manuscripts were Sallust and Pliny.

    Excluding the above mentioned factors as they relate to the early behavior and attitude of the Romans' toward the Africans, most Africans/Aethiops were acknowledged for their cultural contributions to Roman society, or rather the Roman Empire. There was no law which prohibited Africans from assuming roles of responsibility and authority.

    In fact, as stated earlier, Africans became emperors, writers, philosophers, entertainers, generals and popes. After centuries of subjugating African people, the Romans became more acquainted with their subjects and their impeccable character and talents.

    Historical models are: Tiro, an African born a slave about the year 103 B. C. in Arpium, a city of Latium. He was born on the estate of Cicero, the Roman statesman and lawyer. In fact, it was Tiro who invented shorthand. When Cicero, who was still his slave master died, Tiro opened a shorthand school in Rome. He died in 4 B. C.

    Terence, another African was born about 190 B. C. He was sent to Rome as a slave and was bought by a Roman Senator, Terentius Lucanus, who named Terence after him. He was emancipated because of his extraordinary talents. He wrote six plays and his works were studied with great interest. He was/is highly regarded as one of the greatest humanists of all time. He wrote: "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto" (I am a man and nothing human is alien to me). Terence died in 159 B. C.

    Fronto was another exceptional African writer; he taught the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who was up to a point depicted accurately in the movie. There was Apuleius another African writer, and Slavius Julians, an African who edited the Paraetorian Edict.

    On another note as it relates to our subject, Lusius Quietus was one of Rome's greatest African generals (in the movie it is Maximus, he was of minor significance). Quietus served under Emperor Trajan. The Emperor named him his successor to the Imperial Purple. Quietus and other African soldiers defended the Dacians. Moreover, when the Jews revolted, Trajan sent Quietus to suppress the revolt, which he did with extreme severity. The Jews called the rebellion "The War of Quietus."

    Similarly, African soldiers distinguished themselves under the reign of Emperor Diocletian.

    Interestingly, at least ten Africans became Emperors of Rome. They are listed on the historical record as the following: Macrinu, Firmus, Emilianus, Septimius Serverus, Pescennius Niger, Aquilus Niger, Brutidius Niger, Q. Caecilus Niger, Novius Niger, and Trebius Niger who was a proconsul in Spain.

    Africans were authorities on medicine and they were often quoted by Caelius Aurelianus and Galen.
    Other noted Africans were Domituis Afer, orator, Arnobius Afer, Christian writer; and Victorianus Afer, a scholar of rhetoric whose statue was erected in the forum of Emperor Trajan.

    With regard to the subject of religion, three Africans became popes in Rome. They were Victor 189-199 A. D., Melchiades 311-312; and St. Gelasius 496 A. D. It was Victor who sent a letter to the Eastern Churches requesting them to observe Easter on the same day as the Western Churches. The Eastern Churches refused and Victor excluded them from his communion. Afterwards, Victor was killed in the sixth persecution under Emperor Serverus. It is befitting to say that all three of these African popes contributed immensely to the development of Christianity in Rome.

    Continuing with religion, Saint Benedict the Moor is a saint of the Catholic Church. He was born at Fradella, a village of the Diocese of Messina in Sicily in 1526; he died April 4, 1589. His parents were slaves from Ethiopia. Because of Benedict's religious piety, their master freed him. Furthermore, owing to his strict virtues he was made superior of the monastery of Santa Maria de Jesus at Palermo. He devoted his life to caring for the sick and needy. He became known as "The Holy Negro." He was sought by persons from every class on matters of religion and other human concerns. He died at the age of 63; as a consequence of his God-filled life, a vigorous cult developed immediately after his death. His veneration became especially popular in Italy, Spain, and South America. The city of Palermo chose him as its patron saint. He was pronounced Blessed in 1743 by Pope Benedict XVII and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

    In conclusion, color prejudice seems to have developed in the first century A. D. as a phase of the struggle among Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism. Furthermore, the French anthropologist, Topinard, believes the Rabbis of the fifth century were the first to stress differences of race and color. The historical record asserts that he is correct.

    Topinard states, "In the first century when Christianity was beginning to establish itself in Rome the doctrine of a separate creation for whites and Africans was defended by the Babylonian Rabbis and later by Emperor Julian. In 415 A. D. when one council was debating whether the Ethiopians/Africans were descended from Adam and the theory they were not was making considerable progress, St. Augustine in his "City of God" interjected and declared that no true Christian would doubt that all men, of no matter what form, color, or height were of the same protoplasmic origin.

    These early Rabbis did say with conviction that a Black skin was the result of a "curse" on them by Noah. The signs of this "curse" said the Rabbis were a "Black skin, misshapen nose, lips and twisted hair."

    Lastly, Africans in ancient Rome before the philosophical structure of color prejudice and racism, like others conquered by the Romans, were treated as captives. There is no historical record from my studies that suggest wanton cruel treatment on the basis of color or ethnicity. A slave was a slave whether he was a Syrian, Thracian, or an African.

    The Romans after becoming accustomed to Africans from various parts of Africa and their varying complexions treated them with consideration and respect.

    References:
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Romans and Blacks, By Lloyd A. Thompson (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990)
    Septimius Serverus: The African Emperor, By Anthony R. Birley (Yale University Press, 1988)
    Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience, By Frank M. Snowden (Cambridge University Press, 1970)
    Before Color Prejudice, By Frank M. Snowden (Cambridge University Press, 1984)
    African Glory The Story of Vanished Negro Civilizations, By J. C. deGraft Johnson (Black Classic Press, 1986)
    History of The African People Vol. II Africans in Europe, By G. K. Osei (The African Publication Society, 1971)
     
  2. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa and Peace and Love!




    .......Good fine I-khan, and from the same primary source is this:

    HOW THE N BECAME CORRUPTED

    The Romans are probably the first Europeans to misrepresent the word for God, which was "N-g-r"
    About the early part of the First Century, Romans tried to invade Ethiopia. (see BLACK HISTORY CHART http://community.webtv.net/nubianem/blackworldnubianempire or go to http://community.webtv.net/paulnubiaempire for a list of Nubian Pharaohs and Queens.

    The Romans who were speakers of Latin always knew of Blacks, there were Blacks in Rome, Italy had an ancient Black presence long before the Latins migrated from Central Asia and North Eastern Europe during the 'Aryan' migrations. In fact, the Latin ethnic groups is still in existance in the northern part of Italy even today. This part of Italy still grips about Hannibal's invasion which happened about two thousand two hundred years ago!!!!

    The Romans had a name for Blacks, it was "Niger" and it meant Black or people of African origins. Thus, Septimus Niger would have meant, Septimus the Negro. Yet, how did the Romans connect the word "Niger" to Black.

    In ancient times, Blacks were worshipped as Gods. The Gods of Greece came from Egypt. The worship of the Black Madonna is connected with the worship of Isis, the Egyptian Goddes. Moreover, Blacks in Egypt called their Pharaohs "En-ger" or "N-g-r" he was literally referred to as "THE GOD."

    It is very possible that when the Romans tried to invade Nubia, they asked for the name of the God and the term "N-g-r" was probably used in place of "leader" or "king". In Angola, the same also happened during the 1600's when the word "N-gola" which means "King" (notice the "N" and the "g" in this word as well), came to be "Angola,' the name of a kingdom in south western Africa.
    (Read more on Nubian, Egyptian, West African and ancient American trade and commercial connections in ancient times; see the book, "Susu Economics: The History of Pan-African Trade, Commerce, Money and Wealth," published by 1stBooks Library, www.1stbooks.com also see www.barnesandnoble.com




    http://www.raceandhistory.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/127#Responses
     
  3. ChosenSeed

    ChosenSeed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The evidence shows that Romans had far more color than people think. They were as a group much darker than modern day southern Italians. When you look at the Roman artifacts where color is used, it's obvious. The modern historians have added a veil of confusion to what a Roman was. The modern historians renamed the eastern Roman empire the Byzantine Empire. In addition they made Roman citizens living in Egypt something other than Roman. They kind of leave them without a true identity because they are some of the best preserved images of what Romans looked like.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    The history of a nation is, unfortunately, too easily written as the history of the dominant class.”

    ~~~~~~~

    Kwame Nkrumah



    THE
    GLOBAL AFRICAN PRESENCE

    by
    Runoko Rashidi



    http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/runoko.html
     
  5. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa,

    .......And the drum beat goes on sister cherryblossom.

    Peace In,
     
  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This speaks to African presence, but I don't know about African origins.
     
  7. noor100

    noor100 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Julius Caesar wasn’t Italian, says historian, he was a black man … from Africa

    By DEREK CLONTZ
    Your World Report

    Controversial historian Mario Bonafini received hundreds of death threats and was actually forced into hiding after an unnamed insider leaked a pre-publication copy of his explosive new book, Julius Caesar Was NOT Italian.

    Julius CaesarAnd far from being a spoof, the book is backed up by decades of solid research that proves Caesar came to Rome from Ethiopia and was of black descent.

    “I printed the truth, and if the truth hurts, so be it, ” Dr. Bonafini told me in a trans-Atlantic telephone interview before death threats drove him into hiding late last month.

    “Caesar rose to power and ruled a Roman empire that still stands as one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen.

    “Italians have always been proud of the fact that they share a gene pool that produced such a man. But my research proves their pride is misplaced and without basis. Caesar categorically was not Italian. He was a black man from Africa.”

    According to Dr. Bonafini’s research, Caesar arrived in Rome when his parents migrated north to what is now Italy around 100 B.C. The death of his parents during a flu epidemic in 98 B.C. left the toddling Caesar without a home.

    By a twist of fate, he was adopted by the influential Roman family that produced a long line of Roman leaders, most of whom carried the generic title “caesar.”

    He went on to become the greatest ruler of ancient times, leading a society and culture that continues to influence our thinking about politics, architecture and the arts today.

    Dr. Bonafini’s book outraged fellow historian Franco Brugnoli, who doesn’t dispute the controversial author’s research - but argues that Julius Caesar “was a Roman at heart regardless of his genetic heritage or the color of his skin.”

    “Caesar was reared by Romans in Rome and in that sense, he was a Roman himself,” Dr. Brugnoli told me exclusively. “It really doesn’t matter who his parents were or where he was born.”

    While Dr. Bonafini remains in hiding, his book is poised to sell like hotcakes when - and if - it is released. A spokeswoman for publisher Francia-Samsa said: “This book will sell, make no mistake. The question is, are we willing to take the heat? It’s going to be racially incendiary to say the least.”
     
  8. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa,

    ......Right, right, there is some truth in what you say; but isn't our job to discover those origins if they exist? After all, we can no longer just accept current history or his-story, in my view.

    Peace In,
     
  9. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa,

    ......Excellent drop sister noor100, for real. However, the link shows "blank," can you look into that? Maybe its just my set-up:

     
  10. FDR

    FDR Active Member MEMBER

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    Hey! that picture of that ancient dude looks like my grandfather lol (he was from Sicily). But the only things that Northern Italians share with Southern Italians is a common language and love for soccer. Other than that, we are hated for our dark features. But my grandfathers on both sides of my fam had distinctly African features (although good luck trying to get my white racist grandmother to admit that lol)...

    But not all Jewish scholars agree on the Hamatic curse since, everyone all around the world is brown or black (including most Israeli's and Jews)
     
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