Happy Saturnalia. Courtesy of eternallyCool.net

Merry Saturnalia to all of you! Well, was Saturnalia the ancient Roman Christmas? Mary Beard, professor in classics at Cambridge, sheds here some light (I have to thank EternallyCool for the above picture – from the British Times, probably – and for the link).

[Know more on Saturnalia by reading our two posts : 1 & 2]


Now, this research blog being based on dialogue my friend Mario asked me a few questions. I solicited him to be slightly rude. I think he loved it. Here is an excerpt of our conversation that may provide some information on the nature of this blog, Man of Roma.

Mario. Yours is a thoughtful blog. Why the hell are you talking of dialectic thought? Sounds like one of those school nightmares. It is not at all clear.

MoR. I simply mean that in the Man of Roma’s blog thought unfolds like in a dialogue at three levels. First we have a dialogue in the mind of the writer, who is searching and striving for greater clarity. Since it is though necessary to get out of one’s mind’s boundaries, we also have a dialogue with external authors, dead or alive.

Mario. You mean books?

MoR. Yes, books, mostly. Good books in general, and classics in particular. We need to rise above the superficiality of every-day life. We need some depth in our daily routine. A good read allows to do this in a way accessible to all.

Books can fly. Fair use

Mario. Sounds so bookish. Is this what you’re proposing to the young? The ideal of the stuffy bookworm instead of the active person who delves into the real world?

MoR. Books imply some danger, like everything. If they are an excuse for escapism, they are no good medicine. We have to find inspiration in the Italian intellectuals of Humanism and Renaissance. Petrarch was writing letters to Livy and Cicero, who had lived more than one thousand years before him.

Mario. Checcavolo, are you sure?

MoR. Of course, and he was all but nuts. He started humanism. And when, after a few generations, Machiavelli returned home he used to take off his dusty clothes and after cleaning himself and wearing a decorous attire he entered his library in order to have dialogue with the minds of ancient men. He asked questions. They replied. Nothing bookish about it. These Renaissance men were looking for inspiration. They seemed to look at the past but they were preparing the future. Something not easy to understand today. It was this New Learning which empowered Europe. My method post explains in detail my view of dialectics. The importance of classics is also explained here and here.

Mario. I see. But aren’t you interested in a dialogue in real time with living people? (I think we can continue eating our Carbonara, what d’ya think?)

Pasta alla Carbonara. Courtesy of EternallyCool.net

MoR. (Savouring Carbonara with his good friend and sipping nice red wine from Cerveteri) Of course I am interested in living people, and here comes the third level, the dialogue with the readers of this blog, or with friends (like you), with colleagues, acquaintances. Real life conversation is delightful (Fontana Morella red – or white – wine is cheap but very good) though the experience of a blog written in English has been amazing. It has allowed me to engage dialogue with people from so many parts of the world: America, UK, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, China, Sweden etc. So stimulating and thrilling! (even though sometimes I talk too much)

[A long pause. Food needs its indulgent rite]

Mario. In short, your blog is based on the technique of dialectics which involves a dialogue carried out 1) within your mind, 2) among minds (mostly through books) and 3) with blog readers and people you meet in real life.

MoR. Yes, that’s the idea. Don’t know exactly where all this will take me, but it’s the core of it all. Being a dilettante philosopher (of the streets of Rome) I’m not content with just blogging, I need a method in my blogging. It remains to be seen if this will bring any fruit.


We leave the small terrace overlooking the tiled Roman roofs. The air is fresh. It has been raining a lot recently.

Italian version

Related posts:

Method and Encounter with Magister
The Weird Story of a Beautiful Girl Whose Body Was Found Incorrupt in a Coffin

9 thoughts on “Merry Saturnalia! Man Of Roma: A Blog Based On Dialogue

  1. @Arvind
    Merry Saturnalia to you too Arvind! Saturnalia were surely related to the Indo-Europeans, so there might be a connection with India too. But I have to check. Thanks for popping in!


  2. Happy new year to you once again Man of Roma

    One thing that has been implied by ur posts time and again but never stated explictly until this one is
    >>I’m not content with just blogging, I need a method in my blogging. It remains to be seen if this will bring any fruit.

    It remains to be seen if this will bring any fruit.

    Forgive me, if I sound too dumb but time and again you talk of “fruit”

    I fail to understand that you what kind of fruit ore you expecting?

    I mean to say, if you want to spread awareness/clear myths about the great roman culture, you have already done that to a great extent. If you want to understand cultures and understand cross-culture exchanges … it is still being done. If you want to bring a more humanitarian attitude among individuals by a better understanding of their origin and roots… you still have done that.

    But if you want more, what is it? All the things that I stated above is though a continuous process but why do I feel that you are convinced that this blog is not serving the purpose it was initially supposed to.

    Please, I hope you do understand the implied meaning of my statements and not take it in the literal sense.

    Lastly, as usual I asked you something that is totally out of context and not to mention, perhaps the most difficult question by me till date.

    That’s what you expect from silly people from me who have returned to your blog after ages…

    PS: This comment could very well be removed….No issues Sir.


  3. @Falcon

    Ah ah ah, you are making me laugh dear Falcon. Happy New Year again! 🙂

    (plus you praise me too much)

    What do I mean by ‘fruit’ … simple: I have to clarify things – first to myself and then to others – about such trivia as the roots of the Western civilisation and what is surviving of our ancient past today.

    Being no little thing. Being rather a crazy project that can also be explained by the fact that I am a dilettante. Such work cannot but be at its beginnings.

    No solitary work, though, readers’ feedback helping a lot, with contributions or just questions.

    There have been exchanges with you Indians regarding the East-West relationship and other stuff, to make an example.

    Recently, North-American Italians have provided hard-to-reply queries, testimonies and stimuli.

    Today I was happy a couple of posts from here have inspired this Australian young man in a small part of his thesis on Jeremy Bentham. He has for example clarified to me that at the times of the Greco-Romans people were looking for happiness. To the Greek Epicurus, for example, virtue was instrumental, the end being pleasure (in the noble sense = happiness).
    Later, with Christianity, the end became virtue, even at the expense of happiness. Clarifying, this idea now working in my mind, even though we must be careful, hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure) having some very dangerous aspects: one of the problems of modern societies.

    So in brief (I’m never brief) I’m foolishly trying to understand those thousands of behaviours (concepts, artifacts etc.) that make the roots of a civilization. I see some tiny fruit only recently. The Big Thing having yet to arrive (if it ever can arrive).

    All the best
    From Southern West


  4. @ Man of Roma

    >> Ah ah ah, you are making me laugh dear Falcon.

    I take that as a compliment. Now Whenever somebody tells me that I bore everyone stiff with my blabber, I have a written evidence that my blabber can make someone laugh!!! It proves that I have indeed got a sense of humour.
    Secondly, I have accomplished a difficult task of making people smile and laugh… In this world it is far more easier to make someone cry than to make someone laugh. Now I am talking Philosophy.. it’s all the Rome’s affect!!! Damn, I have a rep to protect ! 😛

    >>(plus you praise me too much)
    If I do then you deserve it! On second thoughts, I might have done to impress some female readers who visit your blog and thereby might just direct traffic on my blog. Besides, you never know what might develop later. I am so smart! B)

    >>I see some tiny fruit only recently. The Big Thing having yet to arrive (if it ever can arrive).

    You yourself said it! A mammoth task that you have taken will remain at the level of some tiny fruits . No matter how hard one may try, since there are centuries of knowledge handed to us by the men who were much wiser than us. And we have only one life to understand them…
    Secondly, don’t expect/wish too much. It is only when we desire/expect that we are pulled towards grief and sorrow.
    Look I am talking philosophy again… you have a hypnotic effect! 😀


  5. Dear Falcon,

    glad you feel happy because you made me laugh.

    I deserve to be praised, flattered? I hope not lol. I am not an Emperor, like someone we know well 😉

    As far as the mammoth task, who the hell cares, dear Falcon, it is such fun this dilettante exploration.
    I don’t expect glory or money from it, and even less praise from the happy few who think they detain the monopoly of knowledge (and which often bore me to tears).

    So I have nothing to lose 🙂

    All the best, dear Falcon,
    From this weird, weird West


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