Tag Archives: Roman mythology

The Fugalia Festival

Posted on 25. Feb, 2016 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Festival Time!!!!!

In ancient Roman religion, Regifugium or Fugalia (“King’s Flight”) was an annual observance that took place every February 24. The Romans themselves offer varying views on the meaning of the day. According to Varro and Ovid, the festival commemorated the flight of the last king of Rome,

Tarquinius Superbus by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, depicting the king receiving a laurel; the poppies in the foreground refer to the "tall poppy" allegory (see below)

Tarquinius Superbus by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, depicting the king receiving a laurel; the poppies in the foreground refer to the “tall poppy” allegory (see below)

,[ Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic.

He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus (Latin for “proud, arrogant, lofty”) ] in 510 BC. Plutarch, however, explains it as the symbolic departure of the priest with the title rex sacrorum.

Statue of Ovid Courtesy of Wikimedia Common and Author Kurt Wichmann

Statue of Ovid Courtesy of Wikimedia Common and Author Kurt Wichmann

In his Fasti, Ovid offers the longest surviving account of the observance:

Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.

Nunc mihi dicenda est regis fuga. Traxit ab illa sextus ab extremo nomina mense dies. Ultima Tarquinius Romanæ gentis habebat regna, vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen.

Plutarch holds that the rex sacrorum was a substitute for the former king of Rome here as in various religious rituals. The rex held no civic or military role, but nevertheless was bound to offer a public sacrifice in the Comitia on this date. The “flight of the king” was the swift exit the proxy king was required to make from that place of public business. It may be that the two versions are to be reconciled by taking the “flight” of the rex sacrorum as a reenactment of the expulsion of Tarquinius.

 

Roman Love Deities to Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day

Posted on 11. Feb, 2016 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

Well for many of you know that Valentine’s Day is only a few days away. So this post will obviously be Valentine’s Day themed.

Antique Valentine's card. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Antique Valentine’s card. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

If you are lucky enough to have a special someone in your life, I would recommend you check out some of the following posts:

  1. How to write a love letter in Latin
  2. Famous Quotes in Latin
  3. Add a Latin Love Quote to a Card

If you are spending Valentine’s Day on your own this year- fret not- I got some great posts for you!

  1. Lupercalia: The Ancient Roman Love Holiday before Valentine’s Day
  2. 5 Dating Tips from the Roman Poet Ovid
  3. Ovid’s Heroides: The Original Fan Fiction

However, I digress, this post will be focused on love deities. It is important to note the different areas of expertise, because depending on what followers were prayer or sacrificing for…they change the deity to whom they asked. Please note there are much more information on these deities, but they would be posts unto themselves! Comment if you wish to see a certain god or goddess spotlighted!

Venus on seashell, from the Casa di Venus, Pompeii. Before 79 AD.

Venus on seashell, from the Casa di Venus, Pompeii. Before 79 AD.

God or Goddess: Venus

Area of Expertise: love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire

Fragmentary base for an altar of Venus and Mars, showing cupids handling the weapons and chariot of the war god, from the reign of Trajan (98–117 AD)

Fragmentary base for an altar of Venus and Mars, showing cupids handling the weapons and chariot of the war god, from the reign of Trajan (98–117 AD)

God or Goddess: Cupid

Area of Expertise: desire, erotic love, attraction and affection

Pompeiian fresco of Peitho (left) taking Eros to Venus and Anteros, circa 25 BCE, Naples National Museum.

Pompeiian fresco of Suada (left) taking Eros to Venus and Anteros, circa 25 BCE, Naples National Museum.

God or Goddess: Suadela or Suada

Area of Expertise: persuasion, particularly in romance, seduction and love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, while I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day- I do hope this post (and maybe others) made it a bit more special! So remember if your love life is looking a bit in the dumps, you could always try turning your luck to the Roman pantheon.

Next week’s post: Ancient Denistry- just in time for after all that candy from Valentine’s Day!

Pop Culture + Antiquity

Posted on 10. Sep, 2015 by in Roman culture

Salvette Omnes!

This week we will be discussing pop culture and antiquity. The everlasting influence of antiquity can be still be felt in our modern culture, particularly, popular culture. Television shows, movies, and other mediums of entertainment have included ancient mythology and culture for generations. What are most interesting, however, are the examples of references made to ancient times and that are served without exposition.

Even without explaining the references story writers continue to incorporate ancient ideas quietly into pop culture, even into movies or shows that have very little to do with antiquity. Here are some examples you might have missed:

 

  1. The Simpsons
YouTube Preview Image

The Simpsons might have had a few classically themed episodes, including the episode featuring Homer as Ulysses in their own version of The Odyssey. But, one of the most fleeting yet deep classical references on the show would be Mr. Burns’ address. The local,  billionaire Mr. Burns happens to live on the corner of Mammon Lane and Croesus St.

What’s the reference? You may ask.

Mammon, in the New Testament of the Bible, is greed or material wealth, and in the Middle Ages was often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell. Scholars do not agree about its etymology, but it is theorized that Mammon derives from Late Latin mammon, from Greek”μαμμωνάς mammonas“, Syriac mámóna (“riches”), Aramaic mamon (“riches, money”), a loanword from Mishnaic Hebrew ממון (mamôn) meaning money, wealth, or possessions.

In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus’ wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as “rich as Croesus” or “richer than Croesus” are used to indicate great wealth to this day. Croesus is credited with issuing the first true gold coins with a standardized purity for general circulation.

2. Futurama

YouTube Preview Image

Seen in the episode “Crimes of the Hot” is the indulgent automaton Hedonismbot. The name alone could remind one of certain circles in Antiquity but the overall design of the robot is certainly, yet never blatantly explained, to remind the viewer of a certain god of wine and pleasure- Bacchus. In the clip above, Hedonism bot sponsors an opera, which is reminiscent of the delegations of theater the Roman god Bacchus has.

Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the primary or most important intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain). This school of thought was practiced as a type of philopsphy one should live their life around not only during Greek times, but Ancient Roman times as well.

3. SHAZAM!

At one point or another you might have heard kids yell the word “Shazam!” with the same enthusiasm as other comic book sound effects like “Kapow!” To anyone without extensive knowledge of graphic novels it seems like a simple, fun, and made-up word. Although it is made-up its also an acronym using the names of a few entities you might recognize.

The comic hero Billy Batson (also known as Shazam or Captain Marvel)  would yell the word “Shazam!” to invoke powers, specifically, the genius of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the unbreakable will of Atlas, the lightning of Zeus, the power of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. While the clip is a bit silly and retro, it gets the point across!

YouTube Preview Image

*Hercules is Roman version of the name while Herakles is the Greek. Zeus is known as Jupiter in Roman mythology, and Mercury is known as Apollo in Greek mythology. So, SHAZAM actually invokes both Greek and Roman deities alike.

4. Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles (Spoilers Below)

YouTube Preview Image

The Incredibles was an interesting and completely unexplained reference to the myth of Saturn. After some intense investigation one of the main characters discover the name of the main villain’s master plan: “Kronos” or (Greek god: Saturn, Roman god: Saturn).

Painting by Peter Paul Rubens of Cronus / Saturn devouring one of his children

Painting by Peter Paul Rubens of Cronus / Saturn devouring one of his children

Mad with jealousy and a desire “to even” the playing ground (or to be the strongest himself!)  for those of the population without superpowers, the villain created a killing machine to defeat all superheroes. Unexplained to the children in the audience is how this alludes to Saturn’s madness for power that drove him to devour his children to prevent any one of them from growing stronger than himself.

 

Although it was a cool name, the villain should’ve remembered how it ended for Saturn.

5. MUSIC!- Arcade Fire – Reflektor

We’ve even seen allusions to ancient times in our modern music, such as with Arcade Fire’s album named Reflektor.

YouTube Preview Image

The album cover art is a photograph of Auguste Rodin’s 1893 sculpture “Orpheus and Eurydice”. Two songs in particular, “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”, reference the Orpheus myth.

The Orpheus Myth is retold my the Roman poet Ovid in the Metamorphoses. I have written other post on Ovid such as Dating Tips by Ovid and The Original Fan Fiction.

This myth, perhaps not famously remembered by general audiences, is not explained in the lyrics themselves but the story’s romantic and tragic tones can be felt in the songs. The only direct reference is in “Its Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” which starts with the lyrics  “Hey, Orpheus! / I’m behind you / Don’t turn around / I can find you.”

If you are interested in more classical reference in pop culture- check out my post about Disney Mythology vs. Greco-Roman Mythology.