Tag Archives: history

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.

YouTube Preview Image


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.

YouTube Preview Image

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)


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.

YouTube Preview Image

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.


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!



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

YouTube Preview Image

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

YouTube Preview Image

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



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?

YouTube Preview Image

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


Game of Thrones & Ancient Rome: Part II

Posted on 30. Apr, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

 Game of Thrones and Ancient Rome: Part II 

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 (OathKeeper;Episode S4E4) 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.


Tyrion Lannister vs. Emperor Claudius

YouTube Preview Image

(As always, please excuse any language- it is after all Game of Thrones)

These two figures represent the black sheep of their families. Both Tyrion and Claudius are born into prestigious families of power, and both are ridiculed and belittled for their physical abnormalities. However, none of their physical traits interfere with their witty minds and capability to lead (in Tyrion’s case: into battle a few times and in Claudius’ case: ruling Rome and into Britain).  I, of course, refer to the Emperor Claudius that many people know from Robert Grave’s series “I, Claudius.” In which, Claudius has the good sense to “play the fool” in order to be overlooked in the chaos and murders of those wishing to be emperor. Tyrion unfortunately does not have this reticent talent.  From the “I, Claudius” series:

Livia: Tiberius wants to be loved, at least after his death if not before. And the best way to insure that… [in reference to Caligula becoming emperor]
Claudius: …is to have someone worse to follow him. Yes, naturally. He’s certainly no fool.
Livia: He’s the biggest fool in my family. I’ve always thought that that was you. But I think now… I was wrong.
Claudius: [Claudius pauses, crafting a response] Grandmother, after all these years you didn’t invite me to dinner just to tell me this.
Livia: Wine has made you bold, hasn’t it.
Claudius: You said you kept in with Caligula because he was to be the next emperor.
Livia: Lost your stutter too I see.
Claudius: But if by then you’re dead, what difference can it make to you?
Livia: Oh, it makes a lot of difference. And that’s really why you’re here.
Livia: I want to be a goddess, Claudius.

Kingsguard  vs. Praetorian Guard

YouTube Preview Image

These two guards of the highest degree and class are sworn to protect their king and/or emperor. They are usually loyal, but are loyal (more so) to those with the large coffer . While the Kingsguard swear their lives to their king and forsake women and children; the Roman praetorian guards are body guards who were allowed to have a family. Furthermore, the Kingsguard is used as a political tool by various characters to promote their allies and give power. While the praetorian guard is both a political tool, but at the same time it becomes its own political body. They were even able to claim Claudius as emperor of Rome.

Proclaiming Claudius Emperor, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, oil on canvas, c. 1867. According to one version of the story of Claudius' ascension to the role of Emperor, members of the Praetorian Guard found him hiding behind a curtain in the aftermath of the murder of Caligula in 41, and proclaimed him emperor.

Proclaiming Claudius Emperor, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, oil on canvas, c. 1867. According to one version of the story of Claudius’ ascension to the role of Emperor, members of the Praetorian Guard found him hiding behind a curtain in the aftermath of the murder of Caligula in 41, and proclaimed him emperor.


Joffrey Baratheon vs. Caligula

Courtesy of Louis le Grand & WikiCommons.

Look like any we know from Game of Thrones? Bust of Caligula at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen Courtesy of Louis le Grand & WikiCommons.

For a Great Comparison Picture- view it here.

Perhaps it is madness or cruelty that is the common thread between these two individuals.  In regards to Caligula: “Some scholars have suggested that an illness made him come unhinged—possibly temporal lobe epilepsy, hyperthyroidism or Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder that can cause mental instability.” (Cohen; History Lists) If you are unfamiliar with all the crazy and “mad” actions of this Roman Emperor; read on:

He went out of his way to humiliate the senate (Suetonius says that he intended to make his horse consul), and encouraged treason trials for his own financial benefit. He also insisted on being treated as a god (in contrast to the wiser policy of Augustus). Excavations in the Roman forum in the summer of 2003 confirmed that he incorporated the ancient Temple of Castor and Pollux within his palace – a sacrilege reversed by his successor Claudius I.

Gaius had three sisters, with whom he was alleged to have committed incest, and they were given unprecedented public honors, being included in the soldiers’ oath of allegiance.

Joffrey’s cruelty and madness can be accredited to his parent’s incestuous relationship and thus producing his abnormal genetics (i.e. mind). However, George R.R. Martin neither mentions nor confirms this hypothesis. However, it should be noted that George R.R. Martin is familiar with Emperor Caligula’s exploits, because he named one of his deviant cats: Caligula.

*** “EUREKA” MOMENT: I say that Tyrion is like Claudius and Joffrey is like Caligula; just as Claudius and Caligula were Uncle and Nephew-so are Tyrion and Joffrey.


War of the Five Kings vs. Year of the Five Emperors

In both cases, kings and emperors claim power when they have none or seek to take power where they see weakness. But unlike the War of the Five Kings, the Year of the Five Emperors features the succession and death (assassination) of five different emperors within a year.  The War of the Five Kings is the fight and struggle of five men fighting each other within several years.

The Seven Kingdoms are at war with one another… false kings destroying the country… the Usurper is dead. The Starks fight the Lannisters, the Baratheons fight each other.                                                                                               ―Daenerys Targaryen to Ser Jorah Mormont

The Year of the Five Emperors refers to the year 193, in which there were five claimants for the title of Roman Emperor. The five were Pertinax, Didius Julianus, Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus and Septimius Severus. All these “emperors” fought, plotted, and bribed their way to power.  You can read about the crazy year of 193; here.

In Game of Thrones, the War of the Five Kings includes Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, and Balon Greyjoy; all of whom are contending for the Iron Throne after Robert Baratheon’s death.

The following video is from the episode “The Lion and the Rose” in which Joffrey has a performance of the War of the Five Kings shown to his guest:

YouTube Preview Image


The Mad King vs. Emperor Nero

Robert Baratheon: “What about Aerys Targaryen? What did the Mad King say when you stabbed him in the back? I never asked. Did he call you a traitor? Did he plead for a reprieve?

Jaime Lannister: “He said the same thing he’d been saying for hours… “Burn them all.”

— The Mad King’s last words.

The Mad King, also known as Aerys II Targaryen, was known for his madness and his obsession with fire and burning people alive. His madness is often attributed to the incestual relationships his family, the Targaryens, were known for having. Jaime Lannister, also known as the King Slayer, reveals exactly how mad the Mad King was (WARNING-there may be some language):

YouTube Preview Image

The reason I pair the Mad King to Nero is due to the infamous phrase “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned.” This phrase that portrays this emperor as uncaring and slightly delusional. First, I should state that the phrase itself is anachronism. There were no fiddles during the Great of Fire ( 64 CE). Nero thus played a fiddle-like instrument known as the lyre. Suetonius records Nero’s singing and playing in his “Life of the Twelve Caesars:”

For six days and seven nights destruction raged, while the people were driven for shelter to monuments and tombs…Viewing the conflagration from the tower of Maecenas and exulting, as he said, in “the beauty of the flames,” he sang the whole of the “Sack of Ilium,” in his regular stage costume.

Artwork depicting the Great Fire of Rome

Artwork depicting the Great Fire of Rome. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Hubert Robert, & Mattes.

Thus, I feel as if their love for fire and mad attitude render them worthy comparisons.

Roman Empire vs. Map of Westeros

 My final point is to illustrate the remarkable resemblance between Westeros and the Ancient Roman empire in maps. Here is Westeros:

YouTube Preview Image

A cleaner more precise map; can be found here in an interactive map (like google maps).

Ancient Rome

Roman Empire Trajan 117AD . Courtesy of WikiCommons & Tataryn77.

Roman Empire Trajan 117AD . Courtesy of WikiCommons & Tataryn77.

As you can see, the capital (Rome or King’s Landing) is in the southern realm of the map, the Wall (Hadrian or Night’s Watch) is north, the East is exotic and unfamiliar (like Egypt, Ancient Near East, etc.) and so on. The climates are quite similar to the ancient world with northern being colder and southern being more Mediterranean. Here is a behind-the-scenes look on how the HBO production staff handled the realms, worlds, and sets. And you will be able to see how the makers of Game of Thrones pulled from history (and the real world) to create the HBO series.

YouTube Preview Image



Thank you for reading! Please feel free to comment below for questions or themes you wish for me to explore in next week’s post or the following weeks!

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).

YouTube Preview Image


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. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Public Domain, & Eugene A.

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. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Marshall Astor on Flickr.

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. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Giovanni Dall’Orto.

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!