Monday, July 18, 2011

Spellcheck recognizes "Servian", but not "McDonalds". That's kind of nice, actually.

It's July 18th! Today is the 2,401st anniversary of the Battle of Allia, between Republican Rome and the Gaulish Senones. The Senones accused some Roman diplomats of a serious violation of international law, and demanded they be turned over to face justice. Long story short, the Romans refused and the Senones' army took to the field. A few miles north of the city they met the Roman army - a militia composed of Greek-style phalanxes with the weakest auxiliaries on both flanks - and promptly obliterated it. Rome was sacked, and the Senones stuck around until the plague struck (likely a consequence of too many unburied Roman bodies lying around).

The battle is notable because it was the last time Rome would be sacked for 800 years. The Romans built the Servian Wall (you can see a bit of it if you're ever in the McDonalds in Termini Station); they changed the relationship between social class and military status (no more putting all the nobles on the front line to get slaughtered first); and they abandoned the rigid phalanx for the famous testudo formation (the flexibility of which was a key to eventual Roman military dominance in the Mediterranean world). In many ways, the defeat at Allia built the foundations of Roman success for centuries to come.

In much the same way as those ancient Romans, the Library Society has regrouped and reevaluated our strategy after the evening events of the past few weeks. The conclusion we've reached: if y'all are going to keep coming out in droves, we're gonna have to start charging for summer lectures!

Though we knew the speakers would be good, we figured the hot weather, scant advertising, and traditional lack of summer programming would keep event attendance down. How wrong we've been. Last week's great Bastille Day event with Alan Hoffman brought in about 120 people. Your loyal blogger very much enjoyed his conversations with the dear folks at the Alliance Francaise who were responsible for the wine and snacks... "I know we had 19 RSVP's yesterday... we're up to 60 today"... "'I'm pretty sure we're going to break 100.', 'Yes ma'am, we're at 115'"... you get the picture.

Our thanks to everyone who has come out and made our summer events so successful. Unless we're lucky enough to have a guest speaker fall in our laps, we should be done with lectures for a little while. Pub Quiz night is this Thursday... bring $5 and some friends for beer, snacks, and a lot of nerdy fun!

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