Tag Archives: roman culture

Augustus’ 2,000th Death Anniversary

Posted on 19. Aug, 2014 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

Do you know what today is? I’ll give you a hint: the world has been planning and excited for today! It has been 2,000 years in the making. This date marks the 2,000th anniversary of Augustus Caesar’s death.

The statue known as the Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Soerfm.

The statue known as the Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Soerfm.

If you are not familiar with Augustus or Octavian Caesar, please refer to one of our past and information posts: here. However, this article is somewhat dated (2009) and I will be writing a new one soon. So fret not.

On this day, it should be known and celebrated that several archaeological sites have been brought to the attentions of the public. The demand for restoration, visiting, and access is a matter that now plagues the news and media beyond academics and journalists. Hopefully the world may see more sites restored and open for learning and inspiring.  The following place, the House of Augustus, is one of the areas that will hold special hours and be on display:

Fresco paintings inside the House of Augustus, his residence during his reign as emperor. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Cassius Ahenobarbus.

Fresco paintings inside the House of Augustus, his residence during his reign as emperor. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Cassius Ahenobarbus.

The Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) will be open as well for extended hours and was aptly prepared for the ominous day. Namely the Ara Pacis will have a laser light projection upon it to show the original (or similar to the original) color palette. If you seek more knowledge of this famous artifact, you may also read on the Ara Pacis: here.

Ara Pacis Augustae, the "Altar of Augustan Peace", as reassembled.Courtesy of WikiCommons & Manfred Heyde

Ara Pacis Augustae, the “Altar of Augustan Peace”, as reassembled.Courtesy of WikiCommons & Manfred Heyde. For a colorful image; check it out here.

One of the most highly debated structure is the actual Mausoleum of Augustus, which according to The Telegraph:

“Officials have said the city of Rome did seek a sponsor to help restore Augustus’ mausoleum in time for the 2014 celebrations, but found no takers. With just two million of a required four million euros available, work will now be finished in 2016. (Kington)”

However unfortunate the finances may be, it is simply a marvel that such monuments still exist!

The Mausoleum of Augustus. Courtesy of WikiCommon &Soerfm.

The Mausoleum of Augustus. Courtesy of WikiCommon &Soerfm.

I find it marvelous the probably hundred if not thousands of events that will be taking place today in honor of this first emperor of Rome. A list of some of the more popular events including museum tours, educational talks, festivals, etc. are reported on this site by country: here. Also, here is an article of the events and places that Rome has to offer.

On a more personal note, I went to the Getty Villa Museum this last weekend (as I often go) I took a stroll around to see what I could find that was Augustan. Please browse my findings below:

Bust of Augustus Caesar 25-1BC in marble. Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

Bust of Augustus Caesar 25-1BC in marble. Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

 

Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

 

Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

 

Funeral Crown (perhaps Augustus wore something like this?) 50-25 BCE made from gold and glass. Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

Funeral Crown(perhaps Augustus wore something like this?) [50-25 BCE] made from gold and glass. Courtesy of the Getty Villa.

Well that is all I have on this news, but I am sure you will find much more information as the events of today unravel across the world! I hope that you take some time out of your busy day to indulge yourself in something Roman. From sitting and watching a Roman film or TV series to cooking a Roman meal (check out some ideas here) or maybe simply raising a toast to a man that changed the face of Western Civilization. Since it is from Augustus’ politics, beautification, laws, and standards that we have many of our current ideals, laws, and mores.

Valete Omnes!

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.”

 

 

 

 

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.