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If you put a bunch of 2nd century CE cultures in a blender and hit spin.

Episode 60: In which the gods explore repatriation for Britain, Egypt, Italy, and India, and Bacchus is wildly unhelpful, as usual.

This episode of Real Housewives of Mt. Olympus brought to you by the latest archaeological news on – and by CLAS-C 387 Roman History.

ROMA, GODDESS OF ROME (entering with BACCHUS, ROMAN GOD OF BREAKING SOCIAL BOUNDARIES): Minerva, Mars, Britannia, I have found that drunken lout Bacchus so that he may help us resolve the issue of who should own diamonds from India: Britannia or Italia.

MINERVA, ROMAN GODDESS OF STRATEGY: Whoa, hold up, how did Italia get in the mix there? And what does Bacchus have to do with it?

ROMA: Britannia claims the Koh-i-Noor Diamond because they conquered India. You saw their triumphus ritual that they call a “coronation.” I argue that because the Romans conquered Britain, the diamond should return to my museum of stolen artifacts in Italia. But because you found this unconvincing, I have brought Bacchus to settle the matter, since he conquered India.

Early drafts of King Charles’ coronation procession were scrapped as “too over-the-top colonial even for the British monarchy.”

MARS, ROMAN GOD OF WAR: I always forget this kid managed to stay upright long enough to conquer something. Dude, what is up with your pupils? What drug are you on?

BACCHUS: (swaying slightly) ALL of them.

ROMA: Ugh, I knew there was a reason why one of my first laws was to outlaw your nonsense. Tell Britannia to give me back the diamond, or so help me I will feed you to your panthers.

BRITANNIA, GODDESS OF THE PROVINCE OF BRITAIN: Hold up, since when does anyone believe Bacchus conquered India? No one can ever put that on a timeline. This kid has been claiming to have “just come back from the East” for thousands of years. Do we even have evidence Romans knew about India?

MINERVA: Actually, the mortals just discovered a Buddha statue carved from Mediterranean marble in Egypt. They think it was a Roman trade good intended for the Indian market.

MARS: What’s a Buddha?

MINERVA: It’s the Buddha. He’s a mortal from India who is venerated as a religious leader who overcame the normal bounds of the mortal condition. He’s actually a contemporary of ours. Bacchus, did you run into him over in India? Should we collect him for our pantheon?

BACCHUS: (still swaying slightly) I ran into ALL of them.

This 2nd century CE Roman sarcophagus showing Bacchus’ triumph over India includes a giraffe, because geography is for geeks and Greeks.

ROMA: Wait, if that statue is from the period when the Romans ruled Egypt, shouldn’t my museum get it?

MINERVA: We’ve been over this. Ownership of cultural heritage artifacts is determined by modern sovereign geographic territory, not by cultural affiliation. A statue made in a Greek style under the Romans intended for India stays in Egypt. End of story.

MARS: Well I’m not going to Egypt to get it back. I’m trying to get out of this relationship with Isis and it’s really difficult. The woman will not take no for an answer. Did you know her brother-husband Osiris was killed and dismembered and she still insisted on dating him? Sewed him back together and everything.

BACCHUS: (slurring) I was dismembered and sewed back together once. It was amazing! And I have my followers dismember people with their bare hands. That’s amazing!

ROMA: Ew. Can I take this useless drunk back to India now?

MINERVA (putting on helmet, reaching for her spear): I’ve got a better idea. If this loser can conquer India, we should be able to do so by dinner. Let’s claim some diamonds.

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To explore how Rome became a global empire that incorporated influences from Britain to India, enroll in CLAS-C 387 Roman History, coming Fall 2023, no pre-reqs or previous experience required. Or to see how Romans just absorbed other cultures’ gods (just in case they were real), enroll in CLAS-C 205 Classical Mythology, also coming up Fall 2023, and earn GEC credits while you’re at it! While you’re waiting, make sure to check back for the continued repatriation adventures of Minerva, Mars, and Roma (and occasionally Britannia). Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!