It’s Emperor Trajan’s Fault

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Tropaeum Traiani AdamclissiThis is the 2nd Toastmasters speech I put together for the 2nd project: “Organize your speech”. As a reminder, the objectives for this speech, as outlined by the manual are:

  • Select and appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech
  • Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message
  • Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another
  • Create a strong opening and conclusion.

With that in mind, here’s the speech — including the props:

I’m gonna let you into a secret – the reason why I’m here tonight, is this:

Tropaeum Traiani Adamclissi

What you’re looking at is a monument called Tropaeum Traiani, erected in my hometown Constanta in Romania some 2000 years ago. And while it obviously was erected way before I was born (I know I look it but I am not that old) – it actually had a huge impact on the  trajectory of my life.

The monument was erected by order of the Roman emperor Trajan – Traianus as the Romans themselves called him. Trajan ruled Rome for about 20 years starting in year 98 AD and it is to him that Rome owes its expansion across the civilized world, as it was known at the time.

Unfortunately, Trajan is little known to most of us – one of the main reasons being the fact that during his ruling there was no turmoil inside the Roman Empire, and during his ruling, the Roman Empire went through an era of peace and prosperity.

Peace, prosperity and lack of drama don’t make for good literature – which is probably why William Shakespeare turned his attention to the likes of Julius Caesar in his plays: an assassination makes for better theatricals after all!  Quite likely, another reason why Trajan is not so well known is because Old Will chose Julius Caesar and not Trajan – after all, whenever we think of Rome, we automatically think Julius Caesar!

However, while Caesar is responsible for overthrowing the Roman Republic and paving the way for the Roman Empire – it is Emperor Trajan who actually saw Rome expand to its largest during his reign. A warrior himself (he was a leader of one of the Roman legions), he has conducted a very aggressive military expansion of Rome leading to the East all the way to Asia. And it was during this expansion that he came to fight the Dacians.

Who were the Dacians you might ask? Well, we have to go back to my hometown again for that! Back in time when Trajan’s was ruling Rome and pushing his armies to the East, the territory nowadays known as Romania was inhabited by a group of Thracians called Dacians – and the territory itself was known as Dacia, spanning north of the Danube river.

The Romans approached the Dacians from the South of the Danube river in their attempt to conquer them – and were faced right away with the logistics of having to cross a rather wide as well as wild river before they could engage in battle with the locals. Having set camp south of the river, the Romans found themselves immediately and constantly to be the subject of guerilla-style attacks at night from the Dacians who would cross over the river and night and cause havoc in the Roman camp night after night.  This has annoyed Trajan so much that he himself travelled to the East to take charge of the battlefield. He commission his best engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus, to build a bridge over the Danube river (Trajan’s bridge) which when finally completed, secured the path for the Romans armies to cross the bridge and finally face the Dacians in what became a fierce war in between 2 very strong and fearless sides.

The war with the Dacians overall lasted overall about 6-7 years, one of the longer wars Rome has seen for the conquest of a territory – and having finally reigned victorious, Trajan ordered the Tropaeum Traiani to be raised in the Easter part of Dacia – my hometown. The reason behind it was to commemorate the great moments of the battles with the Dacians as well as serve as a warning to any potential attackers from the East that Rome is a military force capable of winning any battle.

The conquest of the Dacian territory by the Romans established the foundation for the development of a new nation: the Romanians. And since yours truly was born in Romania, I owe being me to this conquest and as such to this monument. So ultimately, if you’re wondering why I’m here tonight doing this, the answer is simple: it’s Emperor Trajan’s fault!