And since I never wrote that Latin response, I think I'll try to do it now (I did my math last night. I'm pretty sure I did it wrong. *shrugs* And I'll try to do my physics test tonight and tomorrow, along with my English).
The First Man In Rome
Pages blah to blah
When I reached the ending few pages of this section, I became highly confused as Gaius Marius made extensive reference to the act of Roman soldiers being forced "under the yoke" by Jugurtha's forces in his letters to (forgot his name). Apparently this act was of extreme disgrace to Rome and this puzzled me even more. As far as I know, a 'yoke' either comes solidly wrapped in an egg, or it is a special type of wooden bar placed on oxen or horses. So, industrious and enlightened as I am, I remembered the glossary that you had stressed the importance of earlier. So I went and looked it up.
And found that it wasn't so much the yoke that was important to the Romans, it was what going under it represented. Because the yoke represented servitude, and it was suspended low enough that to pass under it one would have to stoop, this would be our modern day equivalent of getting down and kissing their toes (who knows, maybe they had to do that too). It was so important, in fact, that the Romans not look weak in this respect that they preferred their armies to fight to the death rather than pass under the yoke.
When I read that, I put the book down and thought, "That is really stupid." Then I thought about it for a moment. And I still thought it was pretty stupid, but no stupider that, say, our country-wide conservatism in the wake of September 11. All large powers, be they ancient or modern, by self or mass definition, feel they have reputations to uphold. The Romans were powerful, and the slightest bit of weakness could be taken as a threat to that all-consuming power. We are the United States of America; any kind of dissention among the ranks could certainly be a threat to national security (I'm being sarcastic. I think).