Tag Archives: roman culture

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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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)


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.


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.

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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.



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.


June 20th: Ancient Roman Festival to Summanus

Posted on 18. Jun, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer! I decided in honor of the summer solstice (the official first day of summer) that I would write about a unknown Roman festival and deity. As many of you know, the Ancient Romans were polytheists; thus, they had many gods they needed to appease throughout the year. June 20th, the day before the summer solstice, was actually a holiday for one of their more obscure deities: Summanus.


Nocturnal Lightning. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Mathias Krumbholz, and Leviathan1983,

Nocturnal Lightning. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Mathias Krumbholz, and Leviathan1983,

Summanus was a deity of evening or nocturnal lightning, while Jupiter (or Zeus) was a deity of diurnal or daytime lightning; as St. Augustine attests to in his De Civitate Dei Book IV, Chapter 23: “diurna Jovis, nocturna Summani fulgura habentur*” Daytime lightning(s) were held by Jove, nocturnal lightning(s) were held by Summanus.”


St. Augustine furthers asserts concerning Summanus: “coluerunt magis quam Jovem.”  “They cared (for Summanus) rather than Jove (Jupiter).”


A marble statue of Jupiter from c. 200 CE Courtesy of WikiCommons, Andrew Bossi, 8646 – St Petersburg – Hermitage – Jupiter, Bobisbob

So, it clear that the Romans had a distinct affinity to this deity even over the king of gods: Jupiter. Cicero (De Divinatione Book 1 Chapter 10):

de fulgurum vi dubitare num possumus? Nonne cum multa alia mirabilia, tum illud in primis: Cum Summanus in fastigio Iovis optumi maxumi, qui tum erat fictilis, e caelo ictus esset nec usquam eius simulacri caput inveniretur.

Are we able to doubt about the (prophetic) force of lightning? Are there not many other (times) with (this) wonders/miracles? At this time, is the following not especially (an example)? When Summanus, on the pediment of greatest and best Jupiter, who (Summanus) was then made of clay (i.e a statue), from the heavens it was struck (lightning), and not anywhere was the head of his statue found.

In response to this omen, it is said that a temple was built to Summanus near the Circus Maximus.

Model of the Circus Maximus. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Pascal Radigue.

Model of the Circus Maximus. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Pascal Radigue.

As the Roman poet Ovid wrote in his Fasti 6 731-732:

“Quisquis is est, Summano templa feruntur, tum, cum Romanis, Pyrrhe, timendus eras.”

A temple was built to Summanus, whoever he is, at that time, when you, Pyrrhus, were a terror the Romans.**

It is clear by this quote that the origin and even the god “Summanus” was somewhat of an enigma amongst his own worshippers and followers.


Summanus may simply be an evolution from summus  meaning highest. Perhaps it is also related to manus meaning hand. Thus, the combination of the name could evoke the imagery of the highest hand throwing down lightning bolts to the earth.  Another theory concerning Summanus’ name is that it is a combination of summus and the term manus which is sort of underworld deity. [For more exploration of this deity and his name; look here.] There is an Italian mountain, Monte Summano (sometimes spelled with only one M), that may have even been named after this obscure deity.  Curiously, the mountain top is frequently hit by lightning bolts.


Traditionally Mount Summano (elevation 1291 m.) in the Alps near Veneto, Italy is considered a site of the cult of god Pluto, Jupiter, Summanus and the Manes.

Monte Summano in the distance. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Twice 25.

Monte Summano in the distance. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Twice 25.

manus or the manes (plural) were chthonic deities (deities of the earth or underworld [chthonic] who were usually sacrificed dark animals as opposed to air deities [Olympian] who were offered light colored animals) that were closely resembled of the Lares or household deities. Martianus Capella (De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii  Book II, Chapter 164) thought that Summanus was simply another name for Pluto.

Lar holding a cornucopia from Lora del Rio in Roman Spain, early 1st century AD (National Archaeological Museum of Spain) Courtesy of WikiCommons & Luis García .

Pluto who was the Roman equivalent to Hades was lord of the Underworld and brother of Jupiter (or Zeus). Jupiter traditional being the king of the gods and the male supreme god of the air, ethereal region, and heavens. While, Pluto resigned in Hades where he reigned in darkness, death, and the afterlife.

Hades with Cerberus (Heraklion Archaeological Museum). Courtesy of WikiCommons, Stella Maris.

Hades with Cerberus (Heraklion Archaeological Museum). Courtesy of WikiCommons, Stella Maris.

Thus, the correlation between Pluto and Summanus at Monte Summano may not be coincidental. Agreeing with Martianus Capella, Summanus simply may be a different aspect of Pluto.  Jupiter and Pluto were brothers, but often are seen as complete opposites. One is light, and one is dark (the yin and the yang if you will.) Therefore, perhaps this “Pluto Summanus” (lord of evening lightning)  is simply the aspect of Pluto that contrasts  Jupiter’s supremacy over daytime lightning.


“Archeological excavations have found a sanctuary that dates back to the first Iron Age (9th century BCE) and was continuously active till late antiquity (at least the 4th century CE). The local flora is very peculiar as in ancient times pilgrims used to bring flowers from their native lands.”


In research for this blog entry, I was attempting to find a picture of at least one flower that may be found on this mountain(Easier said than done!). I made an interesting discovery. In Gardeners Chronicle & New Horticulturist (view it here)  an article from 1905 on the species of the Daphne (Yes, this is taken from the Daphne who runs away from Apollo). At the bottom of the first column, there is a paragraph dedicated to this wondrous flower. The entry goes:

The plant requires sunshine and calcareous rock. I found it last year on Monte Summano exposed to the hottest sun on the dolomite rocks with hardly any soil. It forces its roots into the living rock and so finds needful freshness and nourishment.”


Daphne petraea. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Enrico Blasutto.

As of today, this particular flower is only found in the Alps (where Monte Summano is) and is a protected plant. Due to the fact that this flower is only now existent near Monte Sumano or within a general pollinating area, I would conjecture that the original source from which the flower existed is gone. I would argue, henceforth, that this was one of the many floral offerings brought to the ancient sanctuary and thus one of the “peculiar” floral populations on Monte Sumano. For a closer and more extensive look at this flower, direct your attention here.


Roman relief depicting a scene of sacrifice, with libations at a flaming altar and the victimarius carrying the sacrificial axe. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Wolfgang Sauber.

Roman relief depicting a scene of sacrifice, with libations at a flaming altar and the victimarius carrying the sacrificial axe. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Wolfgang Sauber.

It is said that on this day round cakes in the shape of wheels were offered to Summanus along with two dark oxen (since he is considered a chthonic deity). The round cakes were usually made from flour, milk, and honey. The wheel has often been argued by scholar to be a solar symbol. However, it is unclear as to why a nocturnal lightning god would relish in solar symbolic cakes

Modern Day    ; also known as a wheel cake.  Courtesy of WikiCommons & Reguly.

Modern Day Kolacz ; also known as a wheel cake.
Courtesy of WikiCommons & Reguly.

There is one solution to this contradiction: Pettazzoni offers in his essay on “The Wheel in Ritual Symbolism of Some Indo-European Peoples” (view it here)that the festival was actual celebrated on June 20th, because it was the natalis or birthday of his temple built by Circus Maximus.

Thus the wheel cakes known as summanalia are not in reference to the deity himself, but the time of year. June 20th is the day before the Summer Solstice . The Summer Solstice being the longest day of the year.

Diagram of the Earth's seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Tauʻolunga.

Diagram of the Earth’s seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere.
Courtesy of WikiCommons and Tauʻolunga.

Finally, it should be noted that festival for any deity no matter how small or new they were taken seriously. There were taken seriously by those who were pious and fearful of the gods, and by those who wanted to party and have a great barbeque. Sometimes, the animals that were sacrificed after having been killed were eaten by the attendees of the festival and celebration. In modern day, many of us can relate with our various patriotic holidays that somehow call for us to bbq- perhaps this is where the tradition comes from!

BBQ. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Murcotipton.

BBQ. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Murcotipton.

Thanks for reading! Hope you all found this as interesting as I found it to write it!



*Fulgura is a neuter plural noun, but the word lightnings does not exist in our English vocabulary, but habentur means “were held”- which is third person plural.

**The Pyrrhic War occurred  roughly 270 BC.

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).

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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!