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Roman soldiers drew penises all over Hadrian's Wall more than 1,800 years ago
A cadre of cocksure Roman soldiers deployed in 207 A.D. to repair parts of Hadrian's Wall—the 73-mile-long stone fortification erected to keep Celtic Britons at bay in the Roman empire's most northern border — apparently took time to scrawl some, uh, explicit graffiti at a nearby quarry.
Here are the turgid details, per Smithsonian:
Two shallow relief busts spotted on the rock ledge could represent self-portraits left by the soldiers, or perhaps a mocking caricature of the men's commanding officer.
A third marking is less open to interpretation.
But the unabashedly phallic symbol isn't simply a reminder of mankind's enduring juvenile tendencies: Michael Collins, Historic England's inspector of ancient monuments for Hadrian's Wall, tells Cahal Milmo of I News that the Romans generally viewed the phallus as a good luck charm.
Indeed, the Rock of Gelt phallus is just one of many associated with the Roman Empire's sprawling 73-mile northern border. In an interview with CNN's Emily Dixon, Newcastle archaeologist Rob Collins says he has identified 57 other etchings of male genitalia scattered across the length of Hadrian's Wall.
This is hilarious for obvious reasons, but it's worth noting that not all Roman-era grunt humor was relatively harmless: a Roman soldier once sparked a riot by mooning unsuspecting civilians, per Slate.
According to Josephus' account in The Wars of the Jews, a Roman soldier bared his rear to an audience of Jews celebrating Passover, and thereby incited a furious riot that killed "upwards of thirty thousand." However, a closer examination of Josephus's account shows that the soldier was not mooning the crowd, but rather farting in their general direction. Josephus puts it more delicately: "One of the soldiers, raising his robe, stooped in an indecent attitude, so as to turn his backside to the Jews, and made a noise in keeping with his posture.
Roman soldiers: They're just like us!
About 1,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers, 16 helicopters and hundreds of Humvees, heavy equipment and shipping containers are headed to Thailand for the first stop of Pacific Pathways 2020, an Army approach to bulking up in the region with a light but persistent footprint that follows the "places, not bases" mantra of the Pentagon.
This year also will bring similar Pathways four- to five-month troop deployments (but not from Hawaii) to the Philippines and, in a first, an Oceania rotation to locations including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Palau and Yap.
The fall time frame will include another first for the Army: Defender Pacific, in which 8,000 to 10,000 mainland-based soldiers will practice rapidly deploying for 30 to 45 days through the second and first island chains that China defines around the South China Sea.
In 2021 Defender Pacific could jump to 30,000 soldiers rotating through on relatively short notice, Defense News reported. About 85,000 soldiers are assigned to the region.
There's nothing quite like finding out that the nifty little trinket you blew a paycheck on when you were a junior enlisted service member is actually worth three-quarters of a million dollars. (Take that every SNCO who ever gave a counseling statement on personal finances.)
Special Operations Command review finds deployment and leadership issues but no 'systemic ethics problem'
The long-awaited Special Operations Command's ethics review has finally been released, which argues that there is no "systemic ethics problem" in the special operations community while acknowledging a range of underlying problems stemming from a high operations tempo and insufficient leadership.
John Kelly, the retired Marine general who worked as President Trump's chief of staff for more than 16 months, told a crowd in Sarasota, Florida on Monday that he trusted John Bolton and thinks he should testify in the Senate impeachment trial.
"If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton," Kelly said during a town hall lecture series, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, mentioning claims in a forthcoming memoir by Trump's former national security advisor that the president told him a freeze on military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on the country opening an investigation into the Bidens.