Archive by Author

Discovery of the Month: Nero’s Revolving Dining Room

Posted on 27. May, 2015 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

Today we will be starting a new monthly post (like the text spotlight posts) in which we relive and explore the discovery of a Roman artifact, place, or item. Today, we will be focusing on the fabled rotating dining room of Nero!

YouTube Preview Image

The legendary dining hall has been discovered in Rome’s Palatine Hill. The dining hall was discovered whilst archaeologist were excavating the Golden House (Domus Aurea) which was built for Nero (54 to 68AD).

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome

Suetonius

Gaius Suetonius Tranqullus

According to the Roman historian, Suetonius, the dining hall is said to have had a revolving wooden floor in order to allow guests to gaze upon all facets of the room including the painted ceiling with stars. Furthermore, it was described as have panels from which flower petals and different types of perfumes would shower upon the tables.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the recently departed head of the British School at Rome, an archeological institute, said: “People have been trying to find the rotating dining room for a long time. We don’t have much idea about it except for what Suetonius tells us. It could have had a revolving floor, or possibly a revolving ceiling. “If they really have discovered it, that would be exciting.”

YouTube Preview Image

 

Roman Inventions & Technology

Posted on 20. May, 2015 by in Roman culture

Roman technology is the engineering practice which supported Roman civilization and made the expansion of Roman commerce and Roman military possible for almost three quarters of a millennium (753 BC–476 AD).

Reproduced Roman-style wax tablet, from which the codex evolved. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Reproduced Roman-style wax tablet, from which the codex evolved. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

1. Book/Codex- First mentioned by Martial in the 1st Century AD. A codex (Latin caudex for “trunk of a tree” or block of wood, book; plural codices) is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper,vellum, papyrus, or similar materials, with hand-written content. The Romans developed the form from wooden writing tablets.

 

 

 

 

The Great Cameo of France, five layers sardonyx, Rome, ca 23 A.D., the largest of Antiquity. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

The Great Cameo of France, five layers sardonyx, Rome, ca 23 A.D., the largest of Antiquity. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Cameos- a method of carving an object such as an engraved gem, item of jewellery or vessel made in this manner. It nearly always features a raised (positive) relief image; contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image.

Aeolipile. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Aeolipile. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Steam Engine – The earliest known rudimentary steam engine and reaction steam turbine, the aeolipile, is described by a Greek mathematician and engineer named Hero of Alexandria.Steam ejected tangentially from nozzles caused a pivoted ball to rotate. Its thermal efficiency was low.

YouTube Preview Image

Glassblowing is a glassforming technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble (or parison), with the aid of a blowpipe (or blow tube). The invention of glassblowing coincided with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC, which enhanced the spread and dominance of this new technology.[4][21] Glassblowing was greatly supported by the Roman government (although Roman citizens could not be “in trade”, in particular under the reign of Augustus), and glass was being blown in many areas of the Roman world.

Roman Surgery Tools. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Roman Surgery Tools. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Surgery Tools-  A variety of surgical procedures were carried out using many different instruments including forceps, scalpels and catheters. These tools were discovered in Pompeii. You can learn more about these instruments (here).

 

*Information and Images courtesy of Wikipedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, and Britannica Encyclopedia.

Monthly Latin Spotlight Text: 12 Caesars

Posted on 06. May, 2015 by in Latin Language

Salvete Omnes!

Welcome to the second Monthly Latin Spotlight Text Post! By this I mean to summarizes a text of Latin in all its major facets and include an excerpt from the text with Latin and English. This week I thought we would spotlight one of the most interesting, juicy, and somewhat gossipy book from Roman Antiquity.

Suetonius

Gaius Suetonius Tranqullus

Name: The Twelve Caesars
Also Known As: De vita Caesarum (Latin: About (or On) the Life of the Caesars)
Date: 121 AD
Author(s):  Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus or simply referred to as Suetonius
Type of Text: Historic, Opinion Piece &  Gossip/
Genre: Biography
Twelve Caesars.

Twelve Caesars.

Content:
The book contains twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire. These 11 other emperors include: Augustus, Tiberius. Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.
Type of Latin: 
Classical Latin
Distinguishing Features:
The book can be described as racy, packed with gossip, dramatic and sometimes amusing. There are times the author subjectively expresses his opinion and knowledge. Regardless of the former,  The Twelve Caesars is considered very significant in antiquity and remains a primary source on Roman history.
Where is it today:
The oldest surviving text is referred to as M or Codex Memmianus (or Paris, lat. 6115), the oldest extant manuscript, written at Tours ca. 820 and apparently with no direct descendants. By direct descendants, it means that they are no other manuscripts that follow or descend from it.
In Pop Culture:
YouTube Preview Image
Robert Graves, though most famous for his historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God (later dramatized by the BBC) obtained most of his material for his books from Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars. There series is currently in the works to be adapted by BBC & HBO for a new miniseries.
LATIN & ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
Courtesy of Louis le Grand & WikiCommons.

Courtesy of Louis le Grand & WikiCommons.

Incitato equo, cuius causa pridie circenses, ne inquietaretur, viciniae silentium per milites indicere solebat, praeter equile marmoreum et praesaepe eburneum praeterque purpurea tegumenta ac monilia e gemmis domum etiam et familiam et supellectilem dedit, quo lautius nomine eius invitati acciperentur; consulatum quoque traditur destinasse. (Caligula LV.III)
He used to send his soldiers on the day before the games and order silence in the neighbourhood, to prevent the horse Incitatus from being disturbed. Besides a stall of marble, a manger of ivory, purple blankets and a collar of precious stones, he even gave this horse a house, a troop of slaves and furniture, for the more elegant entertainment of the guests invited in his name; and it is also said that he planned to make him consul. (Caligula LV.III)
PLEASE COMMENT BELOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE LATIN TEXTS FEATURED IN THE MONTHLY SPOTLIGHT POST!