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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
What splendid chutzpah, what astounding grit!
Our pioneer of mental health designed
a test to tell the fit from the unfit!
It sicks refinement on the unrefined.
The mastermind would have my yes be yes
when I’d prefer a sliding scale to rhymes
of true or false—hard to know how to assess
Peculiar odors come to me at times,
or, Everything is turning out just as
the Old Testament prophets said it would.
He must have gone home to his gin and jazz,
his wife still at the PTA, his mood
improving when he saw Consuela’s hips
swiveling the vacuum’s sweet apocalypse.
It may be tempting to use quotes such as the one above to make inferences about what life must have been like for the German women Tacitus wrote about. However, ethnographies such as the Germania are more useful in garnering information about Tacitus’ Rome than they are accurate accounts of Roman Germany. When constructing the cultural geography of the world they lived in, the Romans often defined themselves,
like the Greeks before them, in contrast to a cultural “Other” or “barbarian.” This dichotomy between Roman and non-Roman, West and East, civilized and uncivilized, is a regular theme throughout Classical literature and art. The use of the social construct of
the cultural “Other” in Roman ethnographies was both an exercise in Roman selfdefinition and a means of social control. This rhetoric of “Otherness” often uses constructs of gender in order to delineate cultural distinctions between the dominant group and the “Others.” In this paper I will examine how two Roman authors, Julius Caesar and Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, use the social constructions of gender and the
“barbaric Other” in their ethnographies of Germans to construct ethnocentric and inverseethnocentric worldviews. I will demonstrate that the two ethnographies are political commentaries about the Roman world, not accurate depictions of “real life” for German women during the Roman period.
"Mayor Indbur – successively the third of that name – was the grandson of the first Indbur, who had been brutal and capable; and who had exhibited the first quality in spectacular fashion by his manner of seizing power, and the latter by the skill with which he put an end to the last
farcical remnants of free election and the even greater skill with which he maintained a relatively peaceful rule.
Mayor Indbur was also the son of the second Indbur, who was the first Mayor of the Foundation to succeed to his post by right of birth – and who was only half his father, for he was merely brutal.
So Mayor Indbur was the third of the name and the second to succeed by right of birth, and he was the least of the three, for he was neither brutal nor capable – but merely an excellent bookkeeper born wrong.
To him, a stilted geometric love of arrangement was "system," an indefatigable and feverish interest in the pettiest facets of day-to-day bureaucracy was "industry," indecision when right was "caution," and blind stubbornness when wrong, "determination."