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Scary Stories From Ancient Rome

Posted on 16. Oct, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkins for sale during Halloween. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Pumpkins for sale during Halloween. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Some of the first scary stories were told and recorded in Latin, and while sure there have been scary stories from all cultures and times- we are focusing on Latin and Ancient Rome. The following list is comprised of stories I have read, learned about, or researched that scared me, disturbed me, or simply were applicable for the theme of this post.

 

HOW ANCIENT ROME INSPIRED OUR MODERN NOTION OF HELL 

Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

1. Vergil’s Aeneid Book 6: The hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas, must visit the underworld, and Vergil’s vivid descriptions would later provide Dante with much of his material for the InfernoAeneid Book 6 is a classic unto itself, and via Dante, it has become the archetype for western notions of Hell.  For the texts: English (here) & Latin (here)

A ROMAN ACCOUNT OF ZOMBIES (FOR GREEK ZOMBIE [HERE]

Participants of a 2009 zombie walk in Moscow. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Participants of a 2009 zombie walk in Moscow. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

2. Lucan’s Bellum Civile Book 6: In this book, Pompey the Great’s son Sextus enlists the witch, Erictho, to reanimate the corpse of a slain soldier from the battlefield so that he can issue a prophesy of the future. During the necromancy, the corpse prophesies the defeat of Pompey as well as the assassination of Julius Caesar. English (here) & Latin (here)

THE ROMAN WEREWOLF

Ancient Example of Werewolf: Dolon wearing a wolf-skin. Attic red-figure vase, c. 460 BC. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Ancient Example of Werewolf: Dolon wearing a wolf-skin. Attic red-figure vase, c. 460 BC. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

3. Petronius’ Satyricon 61-63: During the Cena Trimalchionis (the Dinner of Trimalchio) the guests decide to tell one another some ghost stories. Niceros tells the story of a fellow traveler who shed his clothes, urinates around them, and then turned into a wolf. Trimalchio follows it with a story about witches who turn a boy into straw. LATIN & ENGLISH (here) #61-63 Latin Accompany.

WANTON GORE AND BRUTALITY

4. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 6: The Tale of Marsyas: In the contest between Apollo and Marsyas, the terms stated that the winner could treat the defeated party any way he wanted. Since the contest was judged by the Muses, Marsyas naturally lost and was flayed alive in a cave near Celaenae for his hubris to challenge a god. Apollo then nailed Marsyas’ skin to a pine tree, near Lake Aulocrene (the Turkish Karakuyu Gölü), which Strabo noted was full of the reeds from which the pipes were fashioned. English (here) &  Latin ( 382-400) (here).

ROMAN GHOSTS

 

5. Pliny the Younger’s Epistle 83: In this letter, Pliny inquires of Sura whether he believes in ghosts, and then relays a ghost story he himself heard: a house in Athens which was beset by a phantom that rattled its chains at night. A particularly brave and logical philosopher decides to purchase the house and stays there. When the ghost appears, he follows it to a patch of ground, where later some bones are found wrapped in chains. When the skeletal remains are buried properly with the chains removed, the ghost goes away. LATIN (here) #27 & ENGLISH (here)

ROMAN WITCHES & CURSES

Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, 1886. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, 1886. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

6. Apuleius’ Golden Ass, Books 1-3: Lucius visiting Thessaly, he ends up staying in the home of a witch and accidentally gets turned into an ass.  This condition from which he spends the rest of the story trying to cure himself. . English (here) & Latin (here)
Suggestions for more stories?  Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Happy Halloween!

 

Emperor Commodus, Vladmir Putin and Hercules

Posted on 08. Oct, 2014 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

This week I was torn on what to write about until yesterday. Yesterday was Putin’s birthday and with it an interesting art exhibit in his honor. Thus, this post will be a news jacking post. I do hope you enjoy.

 

Hercules also known as Herakles was a renowned and famous demigod that was originally a Greek hero and later migrated to Roman myth and cults. He was famous for his portrayals within myth as a force of purification, rebirth, and the guardian. He is most famously known for his 12 labors which include feats of struggle via a monster(s), clever opponent, dire situations, or simply him using his logic to outwit an enemy.

Roman relief (3rd century AD) depicting a sequence of the Labours of Hercules, representing from left to right the Nemean lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Erymanthian Boar, the Ceryneian Hind, the Stymphalian birds, the Girdle of Hippolyta, the Augean stables, the Cretan Bull and the Mares of Diomedes.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Marie-Lan- Nguyen.

Roman relief (3rd century AD) depicting a sequence of the Labours of Hercules, representing from left to right the Nemean lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Erymanthian Boar, the Ceryneian Hind, the Stymphalian birds, the Girdle of Hippolyta, the Augean stables, the Cretan Bull and the Mares of Diomedes.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Marie-Lan- Nguyen.

Heracles was so popular in antiquity for his feats that cults were established in his honor in both Greece and Rome. One of the most famous followers of his cult would have to be Emperor Commodus.

Commodus as Hercules, Capitoline Museums. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Marie-Lan-Nguyen.

Commodus as Hercules,
Capitoline Museums. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Marie-Lan-Nguyen.

Commodus was extremely proud of his physical prowess and his good looks; thus, he has many statues and busts commissioned (like the one above in the lion skin with a club).  He truly felt that he was a reincarnation of Hercules since he was a leader, skilled warrior and hunter, and being proud of who he was (i.e. that he was proud to be left handed).

Just like Commodus and modern day leader has taken on the approach of identifying and perhaps even propaganda of being a modern day Hercules.

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It is an interesting political stance to take for a modern Russian Leader.  More so, I wonder what it invokes in historians and viewers to see a modern leader compare himself  to an ancient mythical figure.  Perhaps more than this being a comparison between Hercules and Putin- it is one of Putin and the prolific leaders of Ancient Rome. Thereby, it is a comparison between Russia and Ancient Rome.

While I am still unsure what the full implications are, I am hopeful to have some awesome comments on your thoughts!

TV Shows that have Latin

Posted on 02. Oct, 2014 by in Latin Language

Salvete Omnes!

I hope everyone is enjoying their first taste of fall. In sunny sunny California, I am grateful for the cool down in the weather. But even more so, I am excited for the return of all my favorite shows! So this week I would like to take a moments and pay attention to some popular, unpopular, and even new series that use Latin.

 

1. Walking Dead

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While the Walking Dead does not usually have Latin reference, the newest season introduces a place that is entirely Latin! Terminus is a new area that is introduced in the Walking Dead season 4. However, for anyone with any Latin experience- this name means something distinctly. “Terminus” means the end, the limit, the bouder; however, “the end” is the most common definition and it is quite open ended. Thus, it leads the audience who can deduct its meaning to either mean “the end” of their journey, their struggles or perhaps even in their own demise.

2. How to Get Away with Murder

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How to Get Away with Murder follows in suit with other legal and law shows in their terminology and lingo like Law and Order, Boston Legal, etc.. Within this series, there is a moment within the professor’s course in which she discusses a case. Within this case, the terms “mens rea” (guilty mind) and “actus reus” (guilty act) are introduced. These legal terms are just two of countless ideas, ideologies, phrases, and words within the legal world that are in Latin.  For a complete listing of Latin legal term; check it out here.

3. Medical Dramas: Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Scrubs, House M.D etc.

These shows are full of medical terms that are in Latin and Greek. While, I do not have a video (and pictures are difficult for shows due to copyright infringement) I hope this list will assist in your understanding of Latin Medical Terms (here)

4. Occult Shows: Supernatural, Witches of East End, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, etc..

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Latin tends to be the go-to choice for spells and incantations. Furthermore, it seems to be the language in which other worldly entities use as well to draw power. I am unsure why Latin gets the reputation for being so magical when clearly Egyptian or even Summerian magic would be far older and more potent. However, I won’t complain too much because it gets Latin out there!

5. Lost

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While I have never watched Lost, I do know the show had many followers and fans (despite its ending).  The following clips of Latin are spoken and captioned as well as native speakers. I was quite surprised at the detail provided to actual conversational Latin.

6. Honorable Mentions

There were a few in which I wanted to mention, but could not find an exact phrase, quote, or tangible use of Latin for this blog. They are as follows: HBO’s Rome, HBO’s Deadwood, American Horror Story, I, Claudius, Big Bang Theory, Friends, and others.

I challenge you to find some clips or even quotes from your favorite show with references to Latin.