Archive for 'Roman culture'

5 Things You May Have Not Known About Julius Caesar

Posted on 09. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

I do hope everyone’s Fourth of July was safe and nice. Well moving right along- let’s talk about July and the famous man it was named after!

MONTH OF JULY

July panel from a Roman mosaic of the months (from El Djem, Tunisia, first half of 3rd century AD). Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens

July panel from a Roman mosaic of the months (from El Djem, Tunisia, first half of 3rd century AD).
Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens

The month of July, formerly known as Quintilis, was the fifth month or quintus mensis  of the Roman calendar.* Quintilis was renamed July after Julius Caesar in 43 BCE; this was done after Julius Caesar’s death as an honorary gesture by his adopted son and nephew Octavian or Augustus Caesar. The reason that Quintilis was picked for Julius Caesar is due to the fact that this was the month in which Julius Caesar had been born.

*For more information on the names of days and months of the Roman calendar, see our earlier post here.

CAESAR COMES FROM….

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Alexander R, and CNG Coins.

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Alexander R, and CNG Coins.

Many people know of Julius Caesar, but not many know how or where he obtained the cognomen “Caesar.” One historian postulated that it was due to the fact that one of his ancestors was born via caesarean section. The term caesarean probably derives from the Latin verb caedere “to cut” or its perfect (past) stem caes-. The famous Historia Augusta suggests three interesting proposals:

  1. Julius Caesar had bright grey eyes (Latin= oculis caesiis)
  2. Julius Caesar had thick hair (Latin= caesaries)
  3. Or, Julius had killed an elephant at some point in battle (Moorish or Punic= elephant=  caesai)

The latter point is considered to be one that Julius Caesar agreed or favored since there have been many discoveries of coin depicting Caesar’s name and elephants.

CAESAR THE PRIEST?

Flamines, distinguished by their pointed headdress, as part of a procession on the Augustan Altar of Peace. Courtesy of Wikicommons and WolfgangRieger.

Flamines, (Flamen being one priest and the highest one; flamines meaning many and usually comprising of those of less authority) distinguished by their pointed headdress, as part of a procession on the Augustan Altar of Peace. Courtesy of Wikicommons and WolfgangRieger.

According to Paterculus’ Roman History, Julius Caesar was intended for a very different life. After the death of his father (85BCE), he was nominated by his uncle, Gaius Marius, and his political ally, Cinna, to be the new high priest of Jupiter or Flamen Dialis.** However, he was striped of this title and other honors following Sulla’s victory, because Sulla was Marius rival during a civil war. Could you imagine if he had been a priest?

** The extreme honors and restrictions of this position can be found here, and they are discussed at length.

IT’S THE PIRATES LIFE FOR ME!

The traditional "Jolly Roger" of piracy. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Edward England, Manuel Strehl, and WarX.

The traditional “Jolly Roger” of piracy.
Courtesy of WikiCommons, Edward England, Manuel Strehl, and WarX.

Around the late 80′s and early 70′s BCE, Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates and held prisoner. It is reported by Plutarch that Caesar maintained a haughty sense of superiority throughout his captivity.  For example, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents (measurement explained here) of silver, he insisted they ask for fifty. After that ransom was paid, Caesar was bent on revenge. He raised a fleet, pursued and seized the pirates, and imprisoned them. However, his revenged was not done there; he had them crucified ( as he had promised while in captivity…a promise the pirates had taken as a joke).  This chapter of Caesar of life has actually been taken as a topic for a Hollywood film! (More details on the film and its collaborators here).

THE MOVIES GOT IT ALL WRONG

The following clip is from HBO’s Rome series and it depicts the death of Caesar. WARNING: It may be a bit graphic from some.

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On the Ides of March (15 March) in 44 BCE, Caesar was due to appear at a session of the Senate. However, the Senate was currently meeting in the Theatre of Pompey, because the old Senate House or curia was being reconstructed (Most films and TV series do not depict this difference). Furthermore, Caesar’s famous last words “Et tu, Brute?!” are actually a Shakespearean invention.  Ancient Historian have never attributed him to saying anything when he dies. Suetonius reports that OTHERS said that Caesar said “καὶ σύ, τέκνον” ( Ancient Greek for “And you, child?”), but Suetonius does not actually agree or state that Caesar uttered a last phrase. Plutarch simply dictates that Caesar said nothing and was seen to try to hide himself (or shame) by covering his face with his toga.

 

 

Well, thank you for reading and have a wonderful rest of the week!

 

How Ancient Rome Shaped America

Posted on 02. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

 

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Fourth of July Cake. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Victorgrigas.

Fourth of July Cake. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Victorgrigas.

In honor of this patriotic holiday, let us discuss the impact that both Ancient Rome and Latin made on America as a new country.

Ancient Rome & America

The following video discusses at length the impact and fascination that Ancient Rome has held over America since its inception to modern day. The parallel between America and Ancient Rome has been drawn many times by countless people including authors, politicians, activists , citizens, and even philosophers. However, this particular blog post would like to examine the similarities between Ancient Rome and Early America.

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Founding Fathers & Ancient Rome

Declaration of Independence, a painting by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Congress on June 28, 1776. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Harpsichord246.

Declaration of Independence, a painting by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Congress on June 28, 1776. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Harpsichord246.

The Founding Fathers (Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, etc.) were well educated men who received an education in the Classics (here).  This education aided in their ability to understanding history and choosing from it a new political system.  The resemblance between the Ancient Roman Republic and America’s political system is uncanny. America’s advent of the executive (President & Vice President similar to the two consuls), judicial (Supreme Court), and legislature (Senate) branches were directly derived from the Ancient Roman model. You can read more in depth here.

ARCHITECTURE

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The structure of America’s political system is not the only area in which the Founding Father’s sought to derive inspiration. The architecture of many of the political structures in America resemble Roman ones. While the video shows a generic comparison between Roman and American architecture, I provide the following detailed examples of this Neoclassical movement:

The present U.S. Supreme Court building. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Pine.

The present U.S. Supreme Court building. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Pine.

 

Jefferson Memorial Building. Courtesy of WikiCommons & EditorASC

Jefferson Memorial Building. Courtesy of WikiCommons & EditorASC

These two buildings (US Supreme Court and the Jefferson Memorial) are extremely reminiscent of the classical architecture seen in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In my opinion, they highly resemble the Roman Pantheon.

Pantheon in Rome. Courtesy of Jean-Pol GRANDMONT & WikiCommons.

Pantheon in Rome. Courtesy of Jean-Pol GRANDMONT & WikiCommons.

Lastly, I would love to show the similarities between the Washington Square Arch and  the countless Roman arches. These arches have been dedicated to thevictories, lives, and triumphs of emperors such as Trajan, Constantine, Titus, Septimius Severus, and others.

Washington Square Arch. Courtesy of WikiCommons & MBisanz.

Washington Square Arch. Courtesy of WikiCommons & MBisanz.

 

Arch of Constantine. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Arpingstone.

Arch of Constantine. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Arpingstone.

 

LATIN

The whole purpose of this blog is to show how the language that is considered “dead” by most (check out my post that argues against this-here) is actually alive, thriving, and in fact-well. Latin was a language that many people knew intimately well into the late 1800s.  I have a favorite clip from the film Tombstone that shows this familiarity and yet underlines the fact that Latin was an educated man’s language (the post is here). Here are some Latin phrases that either shaped America or are prevalent today:

Seal of Washington D.C. Displaying the Latin Motto "....." meaning "Justice for All." Courtesy of WikiCommons & Illegitimate Barrister.

Seal of Washington D.C. Displaying the Latin Motto “Justitia Omnibus” meaning “Justice for All.” Courtesy of WikiCommons & Illegitimate Barrister.

 

Each State has a Latin Motto- What’s yours? Check it here!

ANTE BELLUM- BEFORE THE WAR-As in status quo ante bellum, “as it was before the war”. Commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War.

DEO VINDICE-Motto of the Confederate States of America.

E PLURIBUS UNUM-out of many, one-Literally, out of more (than one), one. .It is used on many U.S. coins and inscribed on the Capitol.

SIC SEMPER TYRANNISis a Latin phrase meaning “thus always to tyrants.” The full quotation is Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis (literally: “Thus always I eradicate tyrants’ lives”), “death to tyrants” or “down with the tyrant. John Wilkes Booth supposedly quoted it at the assassination of Lincoln.

 

Reception

Some of the Founding Fathers were even portrayed like the Romans. This is Ceracchi's bust of John Jay ( a Founding Father). Courtesy of WikiCommons and Daderot.

Some of the Founding Fathers were even portrayed like the Romans. This is Ceracchi’s (more here) bust of John Jay (a Founding Father/more here) in a toga. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Daderot.

America has seemed fascinated by this aspect that they are similar to the Ancient Romans; however, this comparison is not without some hesitancy. For we all recall that the Romans and their Empire eventually fell. This comparison has brought countless of book titles such as “Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America,”  “Why America Is Not a New Rome, ” and so on. In fact two years ago, a museum exhibit was designed to compare the Ancient Romans and Americans. An overview (here) and a review (here), I have provided to those who were unable to attended during its run. It seemed to have been an interesting exhibit that compared Roman gladiator helms to those of the NFL, and even showed some of the Founding Fathers’ busts with them in togas!

 

 

 

4 Examples of Latin & Video Games

Posted on 25. Jun, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salve Omnes!

Video games permeate through our world from the popular game consoles, Facebook games, phone apps, and so on. But, I bet you didn’t know that some of your favorite video games…actually have Latin in them! Here is an awesome basic video that shows some of the more popular instances, but some of which I explain more in depth later on.

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POKEMON

Pokémon (or Pocket Monsters) at little creatures trainers duel with in order to win gym badges and defeat evil. Pokémon have different abilities, shapes and sizes; they usually exhibit one major element (grass, water, fighting, ground, psychic, fairy, etc.).  If you are interested in more of the origins of  Pokémon terms, names, and word; please check out this site here.

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Mereyl (Mare-sea)

Dugtrio (Tri- Latin root for 3)

Teddiursa (Urse- Bear)

Sealeo (Leo-Lion)

Litleo (Leo-Lion)

Torterra (Terra- Earth)

Luxio (Lux- Light)

Xerneas (Cernunnos Celtic god based on a deer itself from the Latin ‘cervus’)

Lunatone (luna-moon)

Solrock (sol-sun)

FINAL FANTASY XIV: A REALM REBORN

Curiously, the Final Fantasy writers utilize many ancient monster and mythological creature names for their games. There has been plenty of discussion about this facet of the game, but it  assumed that the creatures are simply not copyrighted and thus can be used.  The latest monster addition is of the mythical monster Scylla (here). However, the Latin within this game can be directly seen within some of the villain’s names.

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Gaius Van Baelsar (Legatus of the XIVth legion and overseer of the occupation of Ala Mhigo)- Gauis is a very popular first name amongst Roman men.

Nero Tol Scaeva (Members of the XIVth legion)- Nero was the popular nomen (Latin for name) for the Emperor Nero. Scaeva means a left handed person, and fittingly all his cut scene picture him using his left hand primarily.

 Livia Sas Junius (Members of the XIVth legion)- Livia is a popular name amongst Roman women, but most notably the name of Emperor Augustus’ second wife.

Solus Zos Galvus  (First Emperor of Garlemald)- Solus  means alone or only in Latin. This may refer to the fact that Solus is the emperor and the only one with power.

GAMES IN LATIN

Do you like video games? Do you want to play one that is completely in Latin? The following site (here) has Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: Adventure of Link all in Latin!

 

SMASH BROTHERS

This game is designed to allow all your favorite Nintendo characters duel against one another with various weapons and background.

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However, the Latin for this game ties in with one the most popular music tracks that can be played during the dueling.

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For the translation both official and literal, please visit here. I don’t wish to spam this post with lyrics.

 

ANCIENT ROME in VIDEO GAMES

For video games that touch upon Ancient Rome are countless, but for an entire list check here. However, one particular game that I played growing up was the city-building game known as Caesar I-III. Did anyone else play?

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For one of the more recent Ancient Rome themed video games (Ryse: Son of Rome) check out a historical analysis here.