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"History is written not by the victors..." Topic

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John the OFM20 Apr 2021 9:27 a.m. PST

…but by those who write things down."

YouTube link

Once again, I highly recommend Max Miller's wonderful Tasting History.
He is discussing why Suetonius had it in for Emperor Vitellius the Glutton.

rustymusket20 Apr 2021 10:39 a.m. PST

Simple and brilliant! Thank you, John.

USAFpilot20 Apr 2021 11:01 a.m. PST

"The Emporer Vitellius is mostly remembered for…"

Actually he isn't. That is to say he just isn't remembered.

The problem with history is that most people don't read it. There is a generation of young Americans who couldn't tell you who fought in WWII and what the war was about. Don't even bother with asking about Ancient Rome. History class has been replaced in school with wokeness class. These kids know nothing about their country but they can tell you that you are a racist by the color of your skin and a misogynist by your gender. We are about to enter the new Dark Ages of civilization.

John the OFM20 Apr 2021 12:12 p.m. PST

Ok, USAFPilot.
What do YOU remember Vitellius for?
You just condemned the Education system, implying that you are smarter and know more than Kids Today.
So, without Googling him, tell me what you remember him for. This isn't an open book test, and you don't have your Internet available. grin

John the OFM20 Apr 2021 12:14 p.m. PST

Oh. And please learn to spell "Emperor".

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2021 12:17 p.m. PST

"Vitellius" was indeed the subject, but USAFPilot committed the evidently unpardonable sin to nudge the thread into the direction of a real and present danger--which Vitellius isn't.

Yes, I too condemn the current education system (I almost entered it until I found out (and I mean 35 years ago) what it was failing to do then.


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2021 1:16 p.m. PST

Great post

While history is generally very poorly taught in high school, at least in Canada it is much better now than it was – for No 1 and No 2 I remember talking with them and their buddies who had no clue who was on which side in WWII – for No 4 son not only was WWII covered but they discussed things like what might have happened if D Day failed, etc

Now if they could do the same thing for math – - -

USAFpilot20 Apr 2021 3:50 p.m. PST

Now if they could do the same thing for math – – -

Speaking of math, the radical woke now consider math as racist. Isn't that crazy? And people wonder how the horrors of the Cultural Revolution or the killing fields in Cambodia under Pol Pot could ever happen. Coming soon to a woke nation near you.

Garand20 Apr 2021 3:51 p.m. PST

I have a BA in History, with a concentration in Ancient & Medieval European history, & I barely know anything about Vitellus. Truth is, he is overshadowed by the more interesting Emperors, in the end.

How history is taught in schools has nothing to do with "wokeness" & has been a problem for decades. And the problems IMHO has much more to do with how schools are structured, funded, & the priorities in how that money is spent. I am married to a non-citizen from South America. I sometimes help my stepson with his History assignments, & for a poor Andean country, their material (granted it is a private school) is more challenging than what my kids are learning in their local US school.

Trying to blame the problems on the educational system on a pop catch-phrase like "wokeness" isn't going to help resolve or properly analyse issues the US has in education.


USAFpilot20 Apr 2021 4:29 p.m. PST

What do YOU remember Vitellius for?

Nothing. Don't ever remember hearing the name.

You just condemned the Education system, implying that you are smarter and know more than Kids Today.

Yes, our education system is circling the drain. India and China have a better education especially in math and science. I'm pretty sure I've heard their students have higher test scores. For the size and wealth of America, we have a substandard education system. I would never presume to be smarter than anyone. Yes, I know more than most kids today, if for no other reason simply because of longevity and a lifetime of curiosity and reading.

without Googling him, tell me what you remember him for. This isn't an open book test, and you don't have your Internet available. grin

Never heard of him. I'm guessing most historians would be at a loss except for those specialized in that era. Off the top of my head I could name the first five emperors because I remember watching "I Claudius" on PBS as a kid and later read a history on the first twelve Caesar's as well as a few works of historical fiction.

USAFpilot20 Apr 2021 4:38 p.m. PST

Trying to blame the problems on the educational system on a pop catch-phrase like "wokeness" isn't going to help resolve or properly analyse issues the US has in education.

Damon, of course thoughtful people could write a novel on the problems with just the US education system alone. Out of brevity I condensed much of the problem down to one word. There have been many studies which highlight problem areas. I've observed astounding levels of ignorance about American history from seeming "educated" Americans, some with advanced degrees. I'm talking really basic stuff like ‘What century was the Civil War fought in?, not about some obscure emperor of ancient history.

John the OFM20 Apr 2021 5:11 p.m. PST

So, if YOU don't remember Vitellius for anything, why did you feel compelled to jump in with both feet so you could blame the educational system for Kids Today not knowing who he was?

As it happens, I do remember him, since I read Suetonius years ago.

USAFpilot20 Apr 2021 5:18 p.m. PST

Fair point.. A pilot expression is "that guy is all thrust and no vector". Me.

Mea Culpa

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2021 6:18 p.m. PST

Nah, USAFpilot, I wouldn't describe you that way. OFM is just mad you tried to pull his thread away from the direction he wanted it to go. Whatever that was. Vitellius---wasn't he that sportscaster guy?

John the OFM20 Apr 2021 7:53 p.m. PST

Hijacking is fine if you stay on topic. Somewhat. I do it all the time.
But I must confess that this was a preposterous hijacking.

Garand20 Apr 2021 8:12 p.m. PST

I read Seutonius years ago too, but still probably couldn't tell you much about the guy, other than he was an Emperor. I also am pretty sure it was required reading for one of my classes.


John the OFM20 Apr 2021 8:42 p.m. PST

I read Suetonius for fun. GASP!!!
I was a big fan of I Claudius, and it was a good follow up.
Suetonius reminded me of a fussy old maiden aunt, even more than Livy. Yeah. Fun!

Zephyr120 Apr 2021 8:56 p.m. PST

"What do YOU remember Vitellius for?"

I remember it came in a bottle, and I used to put it in my hair to make it look good. But that was back in the early 1970's… ;-)

Garand20 Apr 2021 9:42 p.m. PST

Livy, now THAT I read for fun!


Cerdic20 Apr 2021 11:16 p.m. PST

Well I had a good British education. No, I've never heard of him either…

deephorse21 Apr 2021 7:46 a.m. PST

Well I had a good British education.

I doubt very much that you did, because there's no such thing as a 'British' education.

Dagwood21 Apr 2021 10:07 a.m. PST

Well I had a good Welsh education followed by an English university education, so I wouldn't know what to call it except a British education !!

I have only come across Vitellius by private (i.e., out-of-school) reading, and wouldn't remember much about him without looking it up. But I have heard of him.

Cerdic21 Apr 2021 12:39 p.m. PST

Deephorse – I was educated in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, often shortened to just 'Britain'. So I would say that, yes, I was educated in Britain.

My comment, of course, was a bit of levity following the lamentation of the state of US education above.

So anyway, what descriptor would you prefer I used?

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2021 1:09 p.m. PST

I've read the name and knew he was a Caesar. Other than that, nothing comes to mind.

John the OFM21 Apr 2021 1:18 p.m. PST

A sort of consensus has been reached here. Unless you go out of your way to research the period, that his name is, at most, just one of those Emperors. Even those who have had a good education find him unremarkable.
So, finding him, or even his name unremarkable is hardly a comment on the state of today's education.

I had read Suetonius years ago for pleasure, but it took Max's cooking video to bring it all back. grin

USAFpilot21 Apr 2021 2:52 p.m. PST

So, finding him, or even his name unremarkable is hardly a comment on the state of today's education.

You're right, not knowing who "what's his name" is has no bearing on the horrid state of education in America.

KSmyth21 Apr 2021 9:40 p.m. PST

When was the last time you were in the education system? I taught in it for 36 years and finished teaching high school history and English. Thought I did a pretty good job. And I imagine the other teachers posting on TMP imagine they are giving it their best shot too.

I retired in 2019, just before the pandemic outbreak, and my former colleagues have worked their butts off to make the best of a horrible situation . . . of course my recollection of USAFpilot is he doesn't think the pandemic is a problem either.

Martin Rapier21 Apr 2021 11:56 p.m. PST

I've never heard of Vitellus either, just another also ran Emperor, there were plenty of those. As for history teaching in schools, over here it is determined by whatever the current rote learning fad the government has imposed on the national curriculum. Kids get WW2 rammed down their throats, Our Finest Hour and all that.

"Wokeness" is just a lazy term of abuse slung around to explain why things were much better when we were kids though, and is the new "PC".

John the OFM22 Apr 2021 6:02 a.m. PST

I would add "woke" to the TMP Naughty Word list of words that get bleeped.
It's nothing but a chip on the shoulder annoying phrase.

USAFpilot22 Apr 2021 8:03 a.m. PST

" Ironically, despite the United States having the second-best education system globally, it consistently scores lower than many other countries in benchmarks such as math and science. According to the Business Insider report in 2018, its education ranking was 38th in math scores and 24th in science."

We are all going to be dealing with the results of a poorly educated society.

And John the OFM, it doesn't surprise me that you support censorship.

John the OFM22 Apr 2021 8:44 a.m. PST

"Support censorship." Right.
TMP has a bot that automatically inserts Bleeped text in place of Naughty Words. That's more comic relief than censorship. It
If you're referring to crackpot "scientific" sites, note how carefully I chose my words. I don't, and did not call for their suppression. I simply said that it's a shame that "journals" that support crackpot lunatic anti-science fraudsters exist. "Peer review"? What's that? When I see it in JAMA, I'll believe it.

Deleted by Moderator

If Bill "censors" Left and Right here for "politics", in the future I'll use Latin instead. Sinister and Dexter.

deephorse23 Apr 2021 2:44 a.m. PST

So anyway, what descriptor would you prefer I used?

I'd prefer one that was more accurate. Because you list England in your profile I'm prepared to hazard a guess that you had an English education. The education system in Scotland is very different, and since the so-called National Curriculum only applied to England, I would further guess that Wales is different too.

In my case I had a Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) education. This was because the exams that I would ultimately have to sit were set by the JMB. Consequently I was taught a curriculum designed to help me pass those exams. Other exam boards existed and the curriculum for them would have been different.

Then, you might go on to university, or a jumped up university that used to be a polytechnic. They set their own courses and examinations, so yet more individualism creeps in.

Consequently there is no such thing as a 'British' education.

John the OFM23 Apr 2021 7:36 a.m. PST

All this drama, nonsense and folderol over a cooking video and a pouty response to it. grin
I would have been happy with "that meal looks disgusting."

Cerdic23 Apr 2021 10:30 p.m. PST

So, because I put British instead of English, I'm insulting Scotland (and maybe Wales) by failing to recognise that their system is different?

But if I had said English instead of British, I would have risked being mistaken for some sort of English nationalist who uses 'England' as a synonym for Britain and ignores the existence of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and probably Cornwall, Yorkshire, and the Isle of Wight…!

Seems I'm bollixed either way!

And all I wanted to do was post a lighthearted comment that used the fact that I was NOT educated in the USA for comic effect.

Never mind, at least I've learned something about a Roman Emperor!

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Apr 2021 3:49 a.m. PST

Speaking of math, the radical woke now consider math as racist.

Do you have any examples for this? Teaching math, I always look for a good sample of people who fail to grasp maths and blame themself.

That said… Vitellius
Got to power in the four emperor year (afaik as #3), afaik raised by the western legions. Was a rival of Vespasian, who was at that time busy in the East sieging Jerusalem and raised by his legions to emperor. The estern faction managed to destroy Vitellius forces in a battle in northern Italy when they greeted the rising of the sun with cheers (as customary in the East), which panicked the western legions as they thought their enemies yelled to reinforcements in their back.
Not sure about anything that he actually did, except bribing the Pretorians (who did not, as Emperor). Perhaps he never got the chance to make any policy, and I have zil knowledge of his career before.
Hopefully that WAS about Vitellius, and not some brick that my mind made up from factures of knowlege about others.

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