March 15, 44 BC
How Diarrhea Changed the World
On this day in 44 BC Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by a cadre of Senators who called themselves “the Liberators.”
During Caesar’s reign the Roman Empire achieved an unprecedented amount of power and land area, stretching from Britain to Africa to the Middle East. Caesar conquered Gaul and led the first Roman invasion of Britain.
The Roman Civil War of 50 BC divided …Read more
Answer: only during Leap Year…
The great-grand-daddy of our February 29th Leap Day goes back to the ancient Romans. I know what you’re thinking: Don’t we have anything that doesn’t go back to them? Uh, yes: numbers, and thank god for that, or taxes would be an even bigger drag. Also the dates of the month aren’t Roman—for which you’ll be …Read more
She-wolf suckles Romulus & Remus
It’s Lupercalia time, baby.
On this day the ancient Romans remembered the She-wolf who suckled the baby Romulus—the future founder of Rome–and his brother Remus.
The priests of Rome, known as the Luperci, or ”Brotherhood of the Wolf,’ would commemorate this day by running around in loincloths smacking women on the back with an animal-skins.
What is immediately apparent in a comparison between the sacred rites of then and now is …Read more
February 9th is Showtime for Apollo, the sun god of the ancient Greeks, whose chariot rode across the heavens each day.
February 9 wasn’t the only feast for Apollo. The Spartans celebrated Apollo in August (Carneia). The Athenians celebrated his birthday in May (Thargelia) and held a harvest festival in his honor in October (Pyanepsia).
But according to Roman records, at some point the Festival of Apollo was celebrated on the Vth (5th) day before …Read more
If you’re like everyone I know, you had a baby this Fall.
But if you (or your loved one) are still expecting, you might want to give a shout out to Carmenta today, the Roman Goddess of Prophecy, Protectress of women in childbirth, and an early symbol of women’s lib.
Today marks the first day of Carmentalia, the Roman festival in her honor, observed by the women of ancient Rome.
This corresponds in name to the …Read more
Today is the Granddaddy of all holidays. Celebrated around the world, New Year’s Day transcends culture, language and religion.
The strange thing is, how of all days did this arbitrary night–December 31 to January 1–come to represent the changing of the solar calendar? It is neither a solstice nor equinox, nor the anniversary of any momentous event.
Russia once celebrated the New Year on September 1. The Chinese New Year falls in late January through early …Read more
The Romans knew how to party. So much so that their toga ensemble has become the symbol of a decadent good time, especially in the “Greek” system in colleges across North America. Of course the Greeks didn’t wear togas—the Romans got it from the Etruscans—but we’ll let that slide.
Thanks to writers like Ovid and Cicero, we know that every month of the Roman calendar was flooded with festivals and sacred days for …Read more
When midnight comes and drops silence for sleep, and dogs and dappled birds are hushed, The man who remembers the ancient rite and fears the gods, rises up (barefoot) And makes a thumb sign between his closed fingers to avoid some ghostly wraith in the quiet. When he has washed his hands clean with fountain water, he turns around after taking black beans, Glances away and throws, saying: ‘These I release; I redeem me …Read more