Archive for 'Roman culture'

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!

10 Facts about Ancient Rome that You Didn’t Know

Posted on 18. Sep, 2014 by in Roman culture

Saluete Omnes,

I hope everyone’s week is going well. My week is going okay other than the horrible heat wave in California. So for your viewing and intellectual pleasure. I will present to you 10 Facts about Ancient Rome that will make you think, giggle, and ponder the world of antiquity.

 

1.The early Romans thought Christians were literally practicing cannibalism when they heard that they consumed bread and wine as symbolic representations of the body and blood of Christ.

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Lamre, and Shizhoa.

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Lamre, and Shizhoa.

2. The abbreviation SPQR can be found on many Roman statues, buildings, and military sta.ndards. It stands for “senatus populusque romanus.” meaning “The senate and people of Rome.”

3. The Romans had gods for doors (Forculus), hinges (Cardea), and thresholds (Limentinus).

4. In response to a 73 B.C. revolt against Rome by Spartacus the gladiator, 6,000 slaves were crucified.

Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus's followers on the road between Rome and Capua. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’s followers on the road between Rome and Capua. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

5. Sometimes gladiator blood was recommended by Roman physicians as an aid to fertility

6. Some men were advised to use hippopotamus skin to make hair grow. Men and women would remove hair with bat’s blood or hedgehog ashes, or keep hair from turning gray by coloring their hair with oil mixed with earthworm ashes

7. The Romans sometimes trained some female slaves to fight as gladiators.

YouTube Preview Image

8. In battle, Romans sometimes grouped together and held their shields all around them in a formation called “the tortoise.

9. The Romans divided their days into 12 hours, measured by a sundial.

10. The Vestal Virgins were female priests who tended the sacred fire of Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire. If they lost their virginity, even as a result of rape, they were buried alive in an unmarked grave. In the 1,000-year history of the temple, only about 18 Vestals received this punishment (recorded).