>Roman high school

You reified a doomed social system with less life expectancy than a giant tortoise. High school is an innately wasteful and communist institution and waste of money. It never existed in Rome and never would have under industrialization.

Other than that your book sounds pretty realistic!

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Sep 14·edited Sep 14Liked by Aporia

"If your country has a functioning legal system, it’s because people in the past copied all or most of its law from either England or Rome."

If we are being entirely fair, the Germanic tribes developed their own /Leges/ /Barbarorum/, which featured a highly distinct systematisation of legal thought to the Romans; this governed their respective tribes and was similar to Anglo-Saxon legal conventions prior to the Norman Conquest. We could not designate this system rival to Roman or English law as we presently understand them, but it existed amongst the heathen barbarians of the Northern climes.

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Sep 13Liked by Aporia

“There is no necessary connection between law and morality.”

We noticed.

Did the Roman’s say that?

Did anyone say this before the moderns?

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Sep 13·edited Sep 13Liked by Aporia

> they don’t want a depressed child, a schizophrenic child, or a bipolar child. Yet among those serious mental illnesses, the second has genetic overlaps with creativity. Remove all the schizophrenics from a population and you’ll likely lose most of its artists, too.

Most parents don't want an autistic child either, yet autism overlaps with scientific and technological brilliance. Removing the autists is likely to set back technological progress.

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I randomly stumbled on this post.

But you can consider me sold as a reader.

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The Roman Empire was anything but eugenic. We actually have concrete data on this point, specifically DNA from human remains. If we look at alleles associated with educational attainment (a proxy for cognitive ability), we see that mean cognitive ability rose considerably from the Neolithic to the time of the Roman Republic. It then fell during the time of the Empire. Finally, an upward trend began during Late Antiquity and continued into recent times (Piffer et al., 2023).

An earlier study noted a similar trend in ancient Greeks (Woodley of Menie et al., 2019). Mean cognitive ability seems to have fallen throughout the Mediterranean world during the Imperial period. There were probably three main causes:

• A decline in fertility and family formation, particularly among the upper classes.

• A corresponding increase in female hypergamy, often by freed slaves, which reduced the reproductive importance of upper-class women.

• An increase in the slave population, particularly foreign slaves, which would have disrupted local cognitive evolution. To the extent that the upper class had surplus individuals, they could no longer move down into lower-class niches and eventually replace the lower class, as happened in late medieval and post-medieval England (Clark, 2007). Such niches were deemed fit only for slaves (Frost, 2022)

This cognitive decline reversed during Late Antiquity, when Christianity became the State religion. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The Church intervened extensively in social life, particularly in matters of human reproduction. To be specific, the Church supported the formation of monogamous families, discouraged slavery, at least during the long period from 500 to 1500 AD, and created the peace, order, and stability that eventually allowed the middle class to expand and become dominant.

I share the author’s concerns about the genetic health of our population. We are flesh-and-blood beings, and the state of our society ultimately depends on our ability to think and understand the world around us.

But I don’t believe that Pagan Rome is an example worth emulating. We will not reverse our current cognitive decline by beating up on the poor and weak. We will do it by promoting the social practices and restraints that Christianity used to promote.


Clark, G. (2007). A Farewell to Alms. A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Frost, P. (2022). When did Europe pull ahead? And why? Peter Frost’s Newsletter, November 21. https://peterfrost.substack.com/p/when-did-europe-pull-ahead-and-why

Piffer D, Dutton E, Kirkegaard EOW. (2023). Intelligence Trends in Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of Roman Polygenic Scores. OpenPsych. Published online July 21, 2023. https://doi.org/10.26775/OP.2023.07.21

Woodley of Menie, M.A., J. Delhez, M. Peñaherrera-Aguirre, and E.O.W. Kirkegaard. (2019). Cognitive archeogenetics of ancient and modern Greeks. London Conference on Intelligence


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Imagine trying to explain this book to a Roman and that it was written by a female.

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Reminds me of Larry Niven's Kzin.

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I was directed to this essay by Helen Dale from her Substack post here: https://www.notonyourteam.co.uk/p/helen-elsewhere

I ended up making several comments on this Aporia essay over there.

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The flaw with this line of thinking is that it’s not taking into account that Christianity was a Roman phenomenon that developed in a Roman world. It wasn’t an alien thing that had been imported from another planet. This lends credence to the notion that Rome had many internal contradictions and flaws (slavery, polytheism, expansion of citizenship, etc.) that would have broken down regardless. Christianity was merely the particular ideology that happened to fit the requirements at the time. The notion that Rome would have continued to develop exactly the same way without having these contradictions solved seems like a fantasy.

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Akschually, English law is so reliant on Roman-through-Curial-inspired equity that it is hard to say Common Law is not a fruit of the Civil Law tree.

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