Tag Archives: Latin language

Part I of Ancient Roman Pets: Popular Pets

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

Salvete Omnes!

How is everyone’s summer going? I hope it is going well! So this week’s (and next’s) theme is pets within Ancient Rome. This post will attempt to look at the discuss the popular pets within Ancient Rome. Next week, we will look at the most interesting and bizarre pets from ancient Rome! The following order will be from the least popular to the most popular!

 

The “Most Unpopular” Popular Pet: The Cat (Latin: Feles or Cattus)

1st-century BC mosaics in Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, and Jastrow.

1st-century BC mosaics in Italy, Ancient Roman mosaics in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Birds in ancient Roman mosaics. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, and Jastrow.

Popularity Scale: 4/10

Evidence of the Pet: There are two popular cat mosaics one I provided to the right’ the other is seen under a later pet section. Respectively, the latter is from the House of Faun at Pompeii. The cat as a pet is rarely mentioned (except in the case of a BIG CAT owner- which will be discussed next week). The cat, according to Pliny the Elder, was a practical pet to keep in order to keep mice, ferrets, and moles at bay.

Famous Examples: While not very popular in Ancient Rome, they do have a prevalent presence in Ancient Egypt. Here is an amazing article that examines the feline influence through the ancient world. The cat is often associated with the goddess of freedom, Libertas (for that story- check it out here.)

Roman Mosaic from House of Faun. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, Jastrow.

Roman Mosaic from House of Faun. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Marie-Lan Nguyen, Jastrow.

Fun Facts:  I am personally a lover of cats, but apparently they were not popular in Ancient Rome. This may be due to several reasons including the fact that cats are very highly thought of and respected in Ancient Egypt. Perhaps it is this “foreign admiration” that deterred Rome from picking cats as their favorite pet. However, the fact that cats were “unpopular” in Rome does not mean they did not exist. There are a few examples of cats in artwork as I have already listed and provided. Also, this idea that cats are associated with the Roman goddess Libertas or freedom is quite humorous (in my opinion). For any cat owner will tell you that cats don’t listen, care, or really pay attention to their owner unless they have food. They don’t like leashes and are quite “liberal,” “free,” or “independent creatures.”

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The Most Beloved Child Pet: The Bird (Latin: Avis)

Mosaic from a Roman funerary monument, depicting a young boy sitting, with a fixed glaze; his right hand holds a partridge, his left a bunch of grapes with a thrush pecking at them. Beginning third century Sousse mausoleum. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens.

Mosaic from a Roman funerary monument, depicting a young boy sitting, with a fixed glaze; his right hand holds a partridge, his left a bunch of grapes with a thrush pecking at them. Beginning third century Sousse mausoleum. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens.

Popularity Scale: 7/10

Evidence of the Pet: There are several examples of birds on gravestones of children, on mosaics, and in sculptures. WikiCommons provides an ample source of references here.

Famous Examples: One only needs to recall Catullus’ poem to Lesbia and her “sparrow.” (I would rather not discuss whether the sparrow is an actual bird or an analogy. For the sake of this post, let’s say it is a bird.) The poem may be found here. Birds were even kept as “pets” by priest who would house them as a tool for prophetic or divine interpretation(this was known as augury). Emperor Augustus launched the fashion of parakeets and ravens who could speak, and used to pay large amounts for such birds.

Child playing with a bird. Marble, Roman artwork of the Imperial era,. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Jastrow.

Child playing with a bird. Marble, Roman artwork of the Imperial era,. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Jastrow.

Fun Facts:  While birds are now thought to be pets that can be slightly dangerous (due to their disease transmission abilities), they are very popular for Romans. Their presence with children and gravestones is quite interesting and may be a literal portrayal or a symbolic one. For an analysis of the gravestone bird presence; check here.

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The Hardest & Easiest Pet: The Fish (Latin: Piscis)

An array of creatures that may have been found in a "piscine." Sea creatures mosaic from Pompeii; National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Massimo Finizio.

An array of creatures that may have been found in a “piscine.” Sea creatures mosaic from Pompeii; National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Massimo Finizio.

Popularity Scale: 7.5/10

Evidence of the Pet: There are several examples of fish on mosaics. Varro even records good habits to maintain while providing and caring for fish; which can be seen here. In addition, evidence of piscina (referring to fish ponds or swimming pools) have been found. More on the structure, habitats, and history of piscine may be found here.

Famous Examples: While it may be unclear which fish were kept by Romans; what is clear is that like today- they were easy pets to maintain. However, the more exotic the fish (saltwater vs. freshwater) the more difficult to maintain. Famously, Augustus’ nephew, Hirrus, was noted to owning and keeping extravagant fish ponds.

Thus Hirrus, who, on one occasion, lent Caesar 6,000 muraenae, at a subsequent period obtained 4,000,000 of sesterces (upwards of 30,0001.) for an ordinary villa, chiefly in consequence of the ponds and the quantity of fish they contained. (Greek & Roman Dictionary; here)

An example of a piscine as reconstructed at the Getty Villa. Courtesy of WikiCommons &  Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup .

An example of a piscine as reconstructed at the Getty Villa. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup .

Fun Facts:  Quintus Hortensius, a Roman orator, is said to have mourned the loss of his pet fish as if a person- or family member- had died. Historians are quite sure that while fishes were kept as pets; they were never used for the famous condiment known as Garum. This obviously makes sense since even farmers who raise pigs, cows, etc. have a difficult time (if they are able to at all) to eat their livestock if they treat them more like pets.

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The Most Popular Pet: The Dog (Latin: Canis)

CAVE CANEM "Beware of Dog!" Mosaic. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Radomil

CAVE CANEM “Beware of Dog!” Mosaic. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Radomil. For more on this piece: here.

Popularity Scale: 9/10

Evidence of the Pet: The evidence for the popularity in dogs is the same as the other pets listed above: artwork, literature, etc. However, the reason I would argue that this pet was the most popular is the undying terminology of “Man’s Best Friend.” One fine scholar examines the dogs role (including the lap-dog) in the Classical Journal: here.

Famous Examples: The most famous examples have been provided in the images in this post. The “Beware of Dog” mosaic and the gravestone of Helena.

“To Helena, foster daughter, the incomparable and worthy soul.” 150-200AD Courtesy of Brittany Brittaniae.

“To Helena, foster daughter, the incomparable and worthy soul.” 150-200AD
Courtesy of Brittany Brittaniae.

Fun Facts:  The name “Fido” has often been coined as a popular name for a dog. The name actually comes from the Latin word Fidus meaning faithful, loyal, trustworthy. This common name shows a nice parellal that cats (libertas) and dogs (fidus) have.  The blog has also written a whole article dedicated to this gravestone of Helena, which can be read here. Also, the following page (here) has a sundry of artworks, coins, and descriptions of dogs as pets. This of course outweighs and outshines previously mentioned pets; thus, this confirms my statement that dogs were the “most popular pets.”

 

 

 

 

Unraveling the Dark Side of Latin’s Subjunctive

Posted on 16. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language

Subjunctive. SUBJUNCTIVE.S-U-B-J-U-N-C-T-I-V-E……

Courtesy of Latin Memes & Quick Meme Builder.

Courtesy of Latin Memes & Quick Meme Builder.

Subjunctive usually scares and intimidates many students when learning Latin. This is usually due to the fact that students are unfamiliar with the term subjunctive or grammar within their own language. FEAR NOT! I am hoping that this guide will help and aid all of you who are worried about learning and memorizing the uses of the subjunctive.

While researching for this article, I realized that some people may learn better from a video and others from reading the material. Thus, I have provided both. These are a series of videos that explain the forms, uses, and grammar:

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-Commands & Jussives

The subjunctive is often used to express commands, an order, or prohibition.  This is seen at ne + subjunctive; while the jussive is the unique 3rd person form of the subjunctive.

EX: ne transferis= Do Not Cross!

EX: eamus =let us go OR amemus= let us make love

 

-Deliberative Subjunctive ” What am I to…”

The deliberative subjunctive is a question as shown above.

EX: quid faciam = What am I to do

 

-Wishes

When you want to wish someone good luck or wish something on someone (even).

EX: Sit Vis Vobiscum= May the Force be with you

 

- Indirect Commands or Questions

What is meant by Indirect is simply the idea that someone is relaying what they have already been told. This is usually introduced by a asking or saying verb along with ut or ne followed by the subjunctive.

EX: mihi imperauit ut abirem= She ordered me that I should go away or to go away.

EX: petebam quid dicturus esset= I was asking what he was about to say or would say.

 

-Result Clauses “so…..that”, “So….as to”

The “that” clause is expressed by “ut + subjunctive.” The subjunctive is normally present, imperfect, or perfect. The “so” portion could be accomplished with adeo, ita, tam, sic, eo, tantus, tot, talis (which all mean differing amounts of ‘so, so great, so much, thus, or of the such of sort’.)

EX: Tam fortis erat ut uini non posset  = He was so brave that he could not be defeated

 

-Causal Clauses “because, since”

The subjunctive with conjunctions such as quod, quia, quoniam, quando, cum ( which all mean since or because) are providing a clause that explains the reason or cause for an action.

EX: adsunt cum me amarent = They are present since they used to love me.

 

- Purpose Clauses “in order to/that, to”

Purpose clauses are generally conveyed with ut + subjunctive or ne+ subjunctive. The subjunctive is present in primary sequence and imperfect in secondary. (Here is a brief page on sequence and sentences).

EX: uenio ut uiderem= I come in order/so that I may see

 

-Temporal Clauses “When….” “Until…”

The subjunctive is used in temporal (time) clauses for two reasons.

1) With dum, donec (both meaning until) and antequam, pruisquam (both meaning before)- the subjunctive is used when the intending action of the clause is being expected or waited for.

EX: manebat dum Caesar ueniret= he waited until Caesar should come

2) Cum with the subjunctive (imperfect or pluperfect) when you are referring to the past.

EX: cum haec dixisset, exiit= When he had said these things, he departed.

 

Fear Clauses I fear that/lest”

Usually fearing verbs take the infinitive ( I am afraid to jump), but with a subjunctive they are translated like ( I am afraid that she will jump  on me). This is done with ut+ subjunctive or ne + subjunctive.

 

-Relative Clauses

First I should explain that a relative clause is usually introduced by pronouns like qui, quae, quod, (who, what, which, that), and is “relative” or “relates” to something/someone expressed in the previous part of the sentence.

EX: “The girls WHO like flowers.” “The cat WHICH are sleeping

However, the use of a the subjunctive in a relative clause is a bit different. When the relative clause hides a result, purpose, or causal clause- a subjunctive is used.

EX: milites  misit qui hostis circumdarent = He sent soldier who would surround the enemy.

 

- Conditions “If clauses” ( If X happens, then Y is the result.) [ X being the subject of one clauses and Y being the subject of the other]

Conditions that have subjunctive in both clauses  then it should be translated with ‘” would, should, were,”

EX:

Present Subjunctives-  future time- (If X were to happen Y would happen)

Imperfect Subjunctives-  present time- (If X were now happening, Y would be happening)

Pluperfect Subjunctives-  past time- (If X had happened, Y would have happened)

 

 

Here is a great and inspirational video for any learner, who is struggling with Grammar & Subjunctives! *Warning this may contain some adult humor since it TED Talks are usually aimed at college students.

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Some material and examples are in courtesy and alterations of thoses used in “Reading Latin” by Jones & Sidwell

 

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!