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Game of Thrones & Ancient Rome: Part I

Posted on 16. Apr, 2014 by in Roman culture

The popular book and television series, Game of Thrones, portrays a world rich with magic, adventure, romance, and history. While most fans of the series thoroughly enjoy the refreshing originality of the series; others would say that Game of Thrones is simply a fantastical interpretation of actual historic events and themes. In this post, I will attempt to analyze some of these historic references that may be obvious or not so obvious. While it is known that a majority of the history that Game of Thrones is based on is much later than Ancient Rome (1400′s or later); I would argue that there are several examples from Ancient Rome that relate to this series.


DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the series and are not up to date on the HBO series’ episodes, I should warn you that there are spoilers ahead! I will not be discussing any events that lie beyond the current HBO series (The Lion and The Rose;Episode S4E2) as I do not wish to deter those who have not read the books from this post. Any quote from the books will not reveal any spoilers or new information.

1) The Wall vs. Hadrian’s Wall

The author, George R.R. Martin, has acknowledged openly his inspiration of The Wall from Hadrian’s Wall:

Certainly the Wall comes from Hadrian’s Wall, which I saw while visiting Scotland. I stood on Hadrian’s Wall and tried to imagine what it would be like to be a Roman soldier sent here from Italy or Antioch.  To stand here, to gaze off into the distance, not knowing what might emerge from the forest.  Of course fantasy is the stuff of bright colours and being larger than real life, so my Wall is bigger and considerably longer and more magical.  And, of course, what lies beyond it has to be more than just Scots. (SF Site Interview; found here.)

Hadrian's Wall or Vallum Aelium.

Hadrian’s Wall or Vallum Aelium.

Hadrian’s Wall was begun in 122 CE  by Emperor Hadrian. The origin for its purpose vary from military defense, to protection from immigration, smuggling, or simply a demonstration of power. Perhaps it was built for all these reason (or none of them).One text,  Scriptores Historiae Augustae: Vita Hadriani, claims:

“(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall 80 miles long to separate the Romans from the barbarians”

Location of Hadrian's Wall

Location of Hadrian’s Wall

In the series, one of the main characters (Jon Snow) gives his account upon seeing The Wall for the first time:

Almost seven hundred feet high it stood, three times the height of the tallest tower in the stronghold it sheltered. His uncle said the top was wide enough for a dozen armored knights to ride abreast. The gaunt outlines of huge catapults and monstrous wooden cranes stood sentry up there, like the skeletons of great birds, and among them walked men in black as small as ants. - Jon Snow’s first impression of  ” The Wall.”

The following video is of Jon Snow seeing The Wall for the first time (please excuse any add-ons; this was the only video available):

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2) Daenerys  Targaryen vs. Boudicca

In Game of Thrones, the once proper and submissive princess is transformed through the series into a barbaric queen, a destitute widow, a mother of dragons, a sacker of cities, and a mother of freed slaves. Daenerys Targaryen is interesting character that evolves quite rapidly and adapts to each of her roles. She is one of the strongest female characters within the series. Here is a perfect quote concerning her character:

I know that she spent her childhood in exile, impoverished, living on dreams and schemes, running from one city to the next, always fearful, never safe, friendless but for a brother who was by all accounts half-mad…a brother who sold her maidenhood to the Dothraki  for the promise of an army.  I know that somewhere upon the grass, her  dragons hatched, and so did she.  I know she is proud. How not?  What else was left her but pride? I know she is strong.  How not? The Dothraki despise weakness. If Daenerys had been weak, she would have perished with Viserys. I know she is fierce. She has survived assassins and conspiracies and  fell sorceries, grieved for a brother and a husband and a son, trod the cities of the slavers to dust beneath her dainty sandalled feet.

Here is an example of her strength and wit from season 3:

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Daenerys Targaryen is highly reminiscent of the strong barbarian queen Boudicca. According to historians,  Boudicca was a capable military leader whose hair is often remarked upon (not unlike Daenerys):

 She was “possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women”, that she was tall and had hair described as red, reddish-brown, or tawny hanging below her waist. Dio also says she had a harsh voice and piercing glare, and habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a torc), a many-coloured tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.

Boadicea by Thomas Thornycroft, standing near Westminster Pier, London

Boadicea by Thomas Thornycroft, standing near Westminster Pier, London

Similarly both women find that the death of their husband (in Boudicca’s case) and/or father (in Daenerys’) lead to their doom and exile. However, these deaths do not defeat their spirits, but invigorate them to become warriors. For example, Boudicca leads an uprising against the Romans just as Daenerys plans to lead an uprising against those in Westeros. They both seek to take revenge upon those that have wronged (Westeros and Rome) them whilst avenging the injustices inflicted upon themselves. On a side note, it would seem that Boudicca’s fashion was a point of inspiration for Daenerys as both Khaleesi and the Mother of Dragons  (large necklace, multi-colored tunic, etc.)

For another look at Daenerys and historic figures; check out her comparison to Henry VII: here.

3) Weddings

Wedding are known for being a joyous event in which man and woman become one family and their families in turn recognize and honor the union. However, this would seem not to be the case for weddings in Game of Thrones. They are political advancements, bring short-lived joy, and bloody.  First there was the Red Wedding and now just this week: the Purple Wedding.  In the series, weddings appear to be an event in which people die and the story’s plot takes an unprecedented turn.

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In Ancient Rome, there are various accounts historic and mythological that portray the setting of a wedding, but produce death and havoc.

  • Messalina’s marriage to Sentaor Gaius Silius; although she was already married to the emperor. This action resulted in their deaths.
  • Wedding feast of Pirithous, which resulted in the battle of Centaurs and Lapiths (here).
  • Medea’s poisoned wedding gifts to Jason’s new soon-to-be wife Glauce, which killed Glauce and Medea’s children.
  • Dido, who believes her and Aeneas are married due to their sexual union, kills herself on their “wedding night” because he leaves her.
  • And while it is not ancient, to anyone who didn’t know that the Red Wedding was based on the Black Dinner; here.

 4) The Seven and Lord of Light vs. Roman Pantheon and Christianity

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 In Game of Thrones, religion is a topic sparks (literally-hehe) controversy, allies, and enemies. The Faith of Seven (shown as a seven pointed star) includes seven deities, the Iron Islands have the Drowned God, the North has the Old Gods, and the newest addition- the Lord of Light. The similarities between theses deities and ancient gods can be seen in every region, but within ancient Rome they are as follows:

  • The Father (JUPITER) represents divine justice, and judges the souls of the dead.
  • The Mother (JUNO) represents mercy, peace, fertility, and childbirth. She is sometimes referred to as “the strength of women”.
  • The Maiden (DIANA) represents purity, love, and beauty.
  • The Crone: (CERES) represents wisdom and foresight. She is represented carrying a lantern.
  • The Warrior:  (MARS) represents strength and courage in battle.
  • The Smith: (VULCAN) represents creation and craftsmanship.
  • The Stranger: (PLUTO)represents death and the unknown. It is rarely prayed to.

These seven deities which are the most popular in Westeros and reflect (as I have implied) the Roman pantheon. The other two gods are as followed:

  • The Drowned God:  (NEPTUNE) represent maritime skills and seafaring ability.
  • The Old Gods of the Forest:  (TITANS)  represent a personal and less structured deity/religion than other religions, though some basic social violations are proscribed by it, such as kinslaying, incest, and bastardy. It also upholds the laws of hospitality.

The Old Gods seem reminiscent to the idea of “the natural order” of things. This is why I say they are symbolic for the nature and primordial titans: Cronus , Rhea, Oceanus, Themis, Hyperion (and I would include Uranus and Gaia).

All of these deities being old and ancient, but within the series become undermined by the upcoming religion of R’hllor:

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  • R’hllor: The Lord of Light: (CHRISTIANITY) is a centered belief in the existence of a single, all-powerful god. R’hllor  or The Lord of Light (Judeo-Christian God) is the god of fire, which provides light, heat, and life, and struggles against darkness, cold, and death, represented by an opposing deity, the Great Other (Devil, Satan, Evil). He is often referred to as the “one true god.”

The following was said of The Lord of Light by George R.R. Martin:

The R’hllor religion is strongly influenced by the real-life religion of Zoroastrianism. The central element it borrows is that it is a ditheistic religion: there is one true, “Good” God, locked in eternal combat with an evil deity. As part of this dualism R’hllor, who embodies light, fire, and heat, is opposed on the level of primordial forces by the “Great Other” who embodies cold and darkness.

 5) Wild Fire vs. Greek Fire

In Game of Thrones, wildfire is a dangerous liquid which can explode with tremendous force and burns with a fire that water cannot extinguish, only large quantities of sand. Wildfire is identifiable through the distinctive green hue of its flames. Even in its stored liquid state it gives off a green color.

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In reality, George R.R. Martin most likely took inspiration from Greek Fire:

Greek fire in use against another ship.

Greek fire in use against another ship.

Greek fire was an incendiary weapon used by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. It was typically used it in naval battles to great effect as it could continue burning while floating on water. It provided a technological advantage, and was responsible for many key military victories. Although the term “Greek fire” has been general in English and most other languages since the Crusades, in the original Byzantine sources it is called by a variety of names, such as “sea fire,” “Roman fire,” “war fire,” “liquid fire,” or “manufactured fire.”


Next week, we will be looking at Tyrion Lannister, the map of Westeros, animal symbolism, the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow, the King’s Guard, and more!

200 Latin Roots to Improve Your Vocabulary

Posted on 09. Apr, 2014 by in Latin Language


Whenever learning a new language, students are often overwhelmed by the fact that they must study the grammar and vocabulary. Vocabulary can be tough for anyone, but especially for those learning a new language for the first time or one like Latin which not spoken. However, the vocabulary in Latin should be easier since Latin is integrated into many modern languages: French, Italian, Spanish, English, etc.

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Here is a wonderful list of the most basic roots any Latin learner should know! This list is also helpful to anyone wishing to improve their vocabulary along with test taking skills. So, if you are studying for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or even the SATs; this is a great chart for you to study, make flash cared and improve your ability to dissect words to discover their meanings!

ab-, a-, abs- away from, without abnormal, absent, abstain, avert
acu- sharp acupuncture, acute,
ad-, a-, ac-, af-, ag-, al-, ap-, ar-, as-, at-  movement to or toward; in addition to accept, adapt, affect, aggression, approximate, ascend
ag-, act- do act, agent
am-, amat- love amatory, amorous
ambi- both sides ambidextrous, ambivalent
ann-, -enn- year, yearly anniversary, annual, millennium
ante-, anti- before, against antebellum,antediluvian anticipate,
aqu- water aquamarine, aquarium, aqueduct
audi- to hear, hearing audio, auditorium, audible
aug-, auct- grow, increase augment, augend,
bell- war antebellum, bellicose, belligent
ben- good, well benefit, benevolent
bi- two bicycle, binoculars, binary
brev- short, brief abbreviation, brevity,
cad-, -cid-, cas- fall cadence, accident, case
caed-, -cid-, caes-, -cis cut scissor, incision, incisor
cand- glowing, brilliant, shiny candle, incandescent, candor,
cap-, -cip-, capt-, -cept- take, hold capture, captive, recipient,
capit-, -cipit- head capital, precipitation, decapitation
carn- flesh carnal, carnivore
carp- wrist carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal
cav- hollow cavity, cave
ced-, cess- go proceed, procession, succession,
celer- quick(ly) celerity, acceleration
cent- 100 century, cent,
ceter- other “et cetera” = “and the rest, others”
circum- around circumference, circumnavigate,
clar- clear, distinct clarity, declare
con-, co-, col-, com-, cor- together community, coalesce, conjoined,
corn- horn cornucopia, unicorn
cred- believe, trust credulous, credit, incredible
curr-, curs- run current (river), cursive
de- away from descend, dementia
dent- tooth, teeth dental, dentures
dict- speak, say dictate, predict, dictionary
doc-, doct- teach doctor, doctrine
duc-, duct- lead conduct, produce, abduct,
dur- hard durable, obdurate, duress
ed-, es- eat edible, obesity
ego- I, myself, the self egocentric, ego
err- stray error, aberration
extrem- outer most extreme, extremities,
fac-, -fic-, fact, -fect- make, do manufacture, factory,
fer- carry, bear transfer
fin- end finish, finite
form- shape form, formation, conform, deformity
fort- strong fort, fortification
frang-, -fring-, fract-, frag- break fracture, fragment, infringe
fug-, fugit- flee fugitive, refuge
fund-, fus- pour fusion, profuse, profusion, transfusion
gen- race, kind genes, genetics
glob- sphere globe, global
grad-, -gred-, gress- walk, step, go transgress, gradations, regress
grand- grand, big grandiose, grandeur
graph- write, draw telegraph, graphite,
grat- thankful, pleased gratitude, gratuity, grateful,ingrate
grav- heavy grave, aggravation
hab-, -hib-, habit-, -hibit- have habit, inhibit, prohibition,
hom- same homogeneous
hospit- host hospitality, hospital
ign- fire, firey ignite, igneous rocks, ignition
in- (1), im- in, on invite, incur, immitate
in- (2), il-, im-, ir- not, un, no impossible, irrational, inappropriate, illegal
inter- between intermission, intersection
intra-intro- within intramural, introspection
irasc-, irat- be or grow angry irate, irascible
is-, iso- equal isometric, isosceles triangle
jac- lie adjacent
ject- throw eject, reject
janu- door, begin janitor, january
jus-, jur- law jury, justice
juven- youthful juvenal
labor- work labor, collaboration
lacer- tear laceration
lact- milk lactate, lactose
lamin- layer laminate
larv- mask larva,
lax- not tense relax, laxative, lax,
leg- send legate, relegate
lev- lift, hold elevate, lever, levitation
liber- free liberty, liberation
libr- book library, librarian
lig- bind ligament
lingu- language, tonigue bilingual, linguistics,
liter- letter literal, literacy,obliterate
loqu-, locut- speak, speech colloqual, eloquent,
luc- light, bright lucent, lucid, Lucifer (bearer of Light)
lumin- light luminous
lun- moon lunar, lunatic
magn- large magnitude, magnanimous
manu- hand manual, manufacture
man- stay permanent, remanence,
medi-, -midi middle middle, medieval, median
merc- reward, wages, hire mercenaries, mercantile
min- small minute, minority
moll- soft mollify, emollient
morph- shape morph, morphology
mov-, mot- move, motion motive, motivation, movie, motor,
mult- many multiple, multiply, multitude
nasc-, nat- born natal, native, nascent
necr- dead necrophilia, necropolis
noct- night nocturnal
nu- nod innuendo
nunci- announce pronunciation, enunciation
ob-, o-, oc-, of-, og-, op-, os- against obstinate, obstreperous, occur, offend, omit, oppose, ostentatious
oct- 8 octagon, octopus,
-oid -like asteroid (like a star)
-onym name antonym, pseudonym
orn- decorate ornament, ornate
oss- bone ossification
ov- egg ovum
pac- peace pacifism
pal- stake impale
pand-, pans- spread pandemic
pasc-, past- feed repast
pati-, pass feel, suffer patience,passive
pauc- few paucal, paucity,
pecun- money pecuniary
ped- feet quadruped, pedal
pell-, puls- drive propellant,repellent
pen- almost peninsula, penultimate, penumbra
pent- 5 pentagon
per- through permeate, persistence, pervade
pessim- worst pessimistic
pet- strive towards appetite, competition
pil- hair depilatory, epilator
ping-, pict- paint depiction, picture
phon- sound microphone
plas- mould plastic
plac-, -plic- please placid,
plan- flat explanation, planar, plane
plaud-, -plod-, plaus-, -plos- approve, clap, applaud explosion, implode, plaudits, plausible
plur- more plural, surplus
pole-, poli- city metropolis, politics
pon-, posit- put component, position, postpone
prehend-, prend-, prehens- grasps prehensile, comprehend
prem-, -prim-, press- press pressure
prim- first primary, primeval, primitive
priv- separate deprivation, privilege
pro- forward procrastinate, propulsion, produce
propri- property, ownership appropriate, property, propriety
prot- first protoplasm, prototype
proxim- nearest proximity
pub- sexually mature pubescent, pubic
pugn- fight pugnacious, repugnant
pung-, punct- prick puncture, pungent
puni- punish punishment, impunity, punitive
purg- cleanse expurgate, purge
qui- quiet quiet, requiem
quot- how many, how great quotient
rad-, ras- scrape abrade, erasure
reg-, -rig-, rect- straight direct, erect
retro- backward, past retrospect, retro,
rid-, ris- laugh ridiculous, ridicule, derision
rod-, ros- gnaw erosion, rodent
rog- ask interrogation, derogatory
rump-, rupt- break eruption, rupture, interrupt
sacr-, secr- holy sacred, sacrosanct
scand-, -scend-, scans-, -scens- climb ascend, descend, transcend
scop-, scept look, examine telescope, microscope
sec-, sect-, seg- cut dissect, section, segment,
sed-, -sid-, sess- sit reside, supesede
serv- save, serve conserve, serve, servitude
sign- sign design, signal, signature
sol- alone desolate, solitude
spec-, -spic-, spect- look, see speculation, suspicious
st- stand stasis, stable, station
stingu-, stinct- apart distinguish, exstinct
stru-, struct- build construe, structure
sub-, su-, suf-, sug-, sup-, sus- under submarine, suppress,
tac-, -tic- be silent reticent, tacit
tang-, -ting-, tact-, tag- touch tangible, tactile
tempor- time temporal, temporary
tend-, tens- stretch extenuate, tension
termin- end, boundary terminal, terminate
terr- earth terra, terrain, subterranean
test- bear witness testimony, testament
tex-, text- weave (literal or words) textile, subtext, context, texture
tim- be afraid timid, timorous
torn-, tourn- turn, rotate tournament, tornado
tot- whole, all total, totality
trans-, tra-, tran- carry transport, transfer
traum- wound trauma, traumatic
tri- three triangle, trivia
trin- three of each trinity, trinary
ultim- farthest ultimate
un- one unicorn, unicycle
urb- city suburban, urban,
ut-, us- use use, utility
vad-, vas- go evade, pervasive
vag- wander vagabond
ven-, vent- come circumvent, convention
ver- true, truth aver, veracious, verify, verisimilitude, verity
vi- way via, deviate
vid-, vis- see visual, vivid, video
vinc-, vict- conquer victory, victor
vit- life vital
viv- live vivid, survive
voc- voice vocal, invocation,

Origins of April Fools Day

Posted on 01. Apr, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

April Fool’s Day comes around each year and with it jokes, hoaxes, and elaborate “breaking” news articles. These “jokes”  spam our email, social media outlets, and lives from the moment we wake till the end of our day. At times, they can be humorous or playful (like Google’s Pokémon Challenge; here), they can be misleading (Boudicca’s grave, Robin Hood’s bones; here), or even cruel (death and alarming hoaxes; here).

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April Fool’s Day is the one day of the year where boundaries of societal norms can be transgress; whether it be a ridiculous news article or the elaborate hoaxes. These jokes which would not normally be “accepted” on any other day; however, on April Fool’s Day they are received with open arms and laughing spirits. The first day of April allows all people no matter how popular or unpopular, wealthy or poor, young or old( and so on) a chance to create jokes, pranks, and hoaxes to surprise, scare, or even trick their neighbors and friends.


The history of April Fool’s Day from antiquity to today has changed quite drastically. However, this notion of transgressing boundaries permeates through all the holiday’s transformations and alterations. From the transgressions of male and female, divine and mortal, life and death, low class and high class, religious piety and impiety, and so on are seen within this history’s formation and evolution. How society and people choose to step beyond these boundaries or straddle between them. It is an interesting holiday that is worthy of investigation.

So what boundaries will you cross today?


April Fool’s Day and Feast of Fools

It is thought that April Fool’s Day is the result of the Ancient Roman festival Hilaria and the Medieval festival known as the Feast of Fools. The Feast of Fools, also known as festum fatuorum,( feast of fools) festum stultorum (feast of the silly or simple), was celebrated during the months of December or January. The Medieval festival,  Feast of Fools, finds its roots within the Roman festival known as Saturnalia. You can learn more about the Saturnalia here. So like the Saturnalia, the Feast of Fool sought to overturn the societal norms of status and class.

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel.

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel.

Feast of Fools and the Church

In the festival, young people would chose to play a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, or abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule.  Participants of the festival would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the nearest main church, giving names such as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, or Pope of Fools.  This consecration ceremony often mocked the performance of the highest offices of the church. While other participants dressed a sundry of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practiced all manner of revelry within the church building. The Feast of Fools was eventually discontinued and forbidden 1431 for its blasphemous manner.

 April Fool’s Day and Hilaria

The ancient festival known as Hilaria (Latin for cheerful, merry, joyful) was celebrated on the vernal (spring) equinox in honor of the goddess Cybele. The goddess Cybele has a long and extended history from Anatolia to Rome.

Cybele enthroned, with lion, cornucopia and Mural crown. Roman marble, c. 50 CE. Getty Museum

Cybele enthroned, with lion, cornucopia and Mural crown. Roman marble, c. 50 CE. Getty Museum

The Romans celebrated Hilaria, as a feria stativa (a set free day [i.e no work]), on March 25 in honor of Cybele, the mother of the gods. The days of the festival were devoted to general rejoicings and public sacrifices (hence its name), and no one was allowed to show any symptoms of grief or sorrow( unless it was the “Day of Mourning”).

According to the historian Herodian, there was a procession and a statue of the goddess was carried. Before this statue, the most costly works of art belonging either to wealthy Romans or to the emperors themselves proceeded. All kinds of games and amusements were allowed on this day; masquerades were the most prominent among them, and everyone might, in his disguise, imitate whomsoever he liked, and even magistrates.

The Myth of Cybele and Attis

The myth of Cybele and Attis is one of tragic love. It is also a story of self-mutilation and regeneration, which is reflected in the Hilaria festival’s schedule and activities.

Cybele and Attis (seated right, with Phrygian cap and shepherd's crook) in a chariot drawn by four lions, surrounded by dancing Corybantes.

Cybele and Attis (seated right, with Phrygian cap and shepherd’s crook) in a chariot drawn by four lions, surrounded by dancing Corybantes.

Cybele rejected Zeus’ advances; he would not take her answer of “No.” On night as Cybele slept, Zeus spilled his seed on her. Eventually, Cybele gave birth to Agdistis, a hermaphroditic deity so strong and wild that the other gods feared him. In their terror they cut off his male sexual organ and from this blood sprang an almond tree.

The river Sangarius’ daughter named Nana ate the fruit of the almond tree. As a result of this snack, Nana delivered a boy child 9 months later. Nana decided to expose the child; much like Oedipus. But the infant’s death was not fated. Instead, reared by shepherds, the boy soon became healthy and handsome. He, in fact, became so handsome that his grandmother, Cybele, fell in love with him.

The boy, named Attis, was unaware of the love Cybele bore him. But since she was a goddess, Attis dare not refuse her. In time, Attis fell in love with another. It was the daughter of the king of  Pessinus, and he wished to marry her. The goddess Cybele became insanely jealous and drove Attis mad for revenge. Running crazily throughout the mountains, Attis finally stopped at the foot of a pine tree (hence why the tree is used in the festival). There Attis castrated and killed himself; and from Attis’ blood sprang the first violets. The tree took care of Attis’ spirit, but Attis’ flesh was a different story. Cybele unable to save him called out to Zeus for help. Attis’ body would have decayed had not Zeus stepped in to assist Cybele in the resurrection of Attis.

Schedule of the Festival of Hilaria

The activities of Hilaria were ones of both celebration, death, mourning, rebirth and celebration. This is due to the fact that the spring equinox was the first day of the year in which the length of night and day were equal. It was by this marker that a “New Year” was set and in which the winter was official gone and the rebirth of the year occurred. This is why Hilaria is considered a Death and Rebirth festival and coincides with the goddess Cybele and Attis.

The Full Festival’s Schedule (courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • March 15 (Ides): Canna intrat (“The Reed Enters”), marking the birth of Attis and his exposure in the reeds along the Phrygian river Sangarius where he was discovered—depending on the version—by either shepherds or Cybele herself.The reed was gathered and carried by the cannophores (“Reed-bearers”).
  • March 22: Arbor intrat (“The Tree Enters”), commemorating the death of Attis under a pine tree. The dendrophores (“tree bearers”) cut down a tree,suspended from it an image of Attis, and carried it to the temple with lamentations.  A three-day period of mourning followed.
  • March 23: On the Tubilustrium, an archaic holiday to Mars (Greek Ares), the pine tree was laid to rest at the temple of the Magna Mater (or Cybele), with the traditional beating of the shields by Mars’ priests the Salii and the lustration of the trumpets perhaps assimilated to the noisy music of the Corybantes.
  • March 24: Sanguem or Dies Sanguinis (“Day of Blood”), a frenzy of mourning when the devotees whipped themselves to sprinkle the altars and effigy of Attis with their own blood; some performed the self-castrations of the Galli. The “sacred night” followed, with Attis placed in his ritual tomb.
  • March 25 (the spring equinox on the Roman calendar): Hilaria (“Rejoicing”), when Attis was reborn.
  • March 26: Requietio (“Day of Rest”).
  • March 27: Lavatio (“Washing”), noted by the poet Ovid and probably an innovation under Augustus,when Cybele’s sacred stone was taken in procession from the Palatine temple to the Porta Capena and down the Appian Way to the stream called Almo, a tribute to the Tiber River. There the stone and sacred iron implements were bathed “in the Phrygian manner” by a red-robed priest. The return trip was made by torchlight, with much rejoicing.
  • March 28: Initium Caiani, sometimes interpreted as initiations into the mysteries of the Magna Mater and Attis at the Gaianum, near the Phrygianum sanctuary at the Vatican Hill.


Well, thanks for reading! I hope it was worth your time and you learned something new. Now, I am wishing you all a safe and happy April Fool’s Day!