Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27

February 27 was Equirria, a horse racing festival in honor of Mars.
The Equirria (Festival of Mars - held on February 27, First Equirria and March 14, Second Equirria) were holy days with religious and military significance at either end of the new year celebrations for Mars. The Roman state placed great emphasis on celebrating the god of war - to support the army, and to boost public morale. Priests performed rites purifying of the army. Celebrants held horse races on the Campius Martius (field of Mars), and drove a scapegoat out of the city of Rome, expelling the old and bringing in the new.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24

February 24 was Regifugium. Regifugium celebrated in honor of expulsion of the last king and founding of the Republic.

In the Roman religionRegifugium or Fugalia was an annual observance that took place every February 24. In Latin, the name of the observance transparently means "flight of the king."
What exactly this observance was occasioned by is a matter of some controversy. According to Varro and Ovid, this was a festival commemorating the flight of the last king of Rome,Tarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. Ovid's Fasti contains the longest surviving account of the observance; he begins:
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.
(Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days1 from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.)
Plutarch disagrees; he holds that since the Rex Sacrorum, substitute for the former king of Rome in various religious rituals, 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.
The two theories can be reconciled if we take the custom of swift exit required of the Rex Sacrorum to be nothing more than a remembrance of the flight of Tarquinius Superbus.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23

February 23 was the festival for Terminalia, honoring the boundary god, Terminus. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22

February 22 was the festival of Carista. On this day, Romans celebrated renewal of family ties, offerings to familial lares. 



demotivational posters - BEERGIONNAIRES


Ancient Greece’s secret weapon.

Submitted by:


Submitting 1 LOL


Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17

February 17 marked Quirinalia. Festival of the ancient god Quirinius, a sabine war god. 

Quirinus was originally most likely a Sabine god of war. The Sabines had a settlement near the eventual site of Rome, and erected an altar to Quirinus on the Collis Quirinalis, the Quirinal Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome. When the Romans settled there, they absorbed the cult of Quirinus into their early belief system — previous to direct Greek influence — and by the end of the first century BC Quirinus was considered to be the deified Romulus.[2][3] He soon became an important god of the Roman state, being included in the earliest precursor of the Capitoline Triad, along with Mars (then an agriculture god) and Jupiter.[4] Varro notes the Capitolium Vetus an earlier cult sited on the Quirinal, devoted to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva,[5] among whom Martial makes a distinction between the "old Jupiter" and the "new".[6]
In later times, however, Quirinus became far less important, losing his place to the later, more widely known Capitoline Triad (Juno andMinerva took his and Mars' place). Later still, Romans began to drift away from the state belief system in favor of more personal and mystical cults (such as those of BacchusCybele, and Isis). In the end, he was worshiped almost exclusively by his flamen, the Flamen Quirinalis, who remained, however, one of the patrician flamines maiores, the "greater flamens" who preceded the Pontifex Maximus in precedence.[7]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16

The 16th of February was the Fornacalia was held in honor of bread, and the ovens used to dry grains. 

The Fornacalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the goddess Fornax in order that the grain might be properly baked¹. The festival is said to have been instituted by Numa Pompilius². The time for its celebration was proclaimed every year by the curio maximus, who announced in tablets, which were placed in the forum, the different part which each curia had to take in the celebration of the festival. Those persons who did not know to what curia they belonged, performed the sacred rites on the Quirinalia, which fell on the last day of theFornacalia. The Fornacalia continued to be celebrated in the time of Lactantius³.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15

 February 15 was Lupercalia. Purification and fertility festival. Romans not certain to which god holiday was dedicated. Citizens gathered before the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf. A goat and dog was sacrificed. Two noble youths were smeared with the blood and ran through the streets. They whipped passers-by with strips of goat skin, imparting fertility. 


Dr. Oleson is a dynamic speaker. I heard him lecture years ago and the ideas and his presentation are still vivid in my memory. The AIA chose him as this year's Norton lecturer, one of the highest honors that the Institute can bestow. I am excited that they chose San Antonio as one of his destinations.

Once again we will be meeting in the Fiesta Room, located in the Coates University Center. The closest parking is at Alamo Stadium or Lot M (between the Ruth Taylor Complex and Stadium Drive). Our website has a link to maps (Coates University Center is #2 on the Print Map), or you can contact me for directions.

If you would like to join us for dinner with the speaker before the lecture, please contact me (info below).

7:30 PM Tue 22 Feb: Fiesta Room

Dr. John Peter Oleson, Department of Greek and Roman Studies, University of Victoria


The ancient Mediterranean cultures knew far more about the deep sea than is generally realized. Pharaohs, emperors, scientists, fishermen, ships’ captains and sponge divers were all personally concerned with the topography and environment of the sea floor. Comments by the scientist-philosophers Aristotle and Posidonius indicate that by the early Hellenistic period, many areas of the Mediterranean Sea had been accurately measured down to 2000 m. This was an impressive accomplishment given the materials and technology available at the time. Both the difficulty of the undertaking and the apparently comprehensive scope of the inquiry reveal a profound and, so far, underrated interest in the deep sea among Greek and Roman intellectuals. In a richly illustrated talk, Prof. Oleson presents the surprising results of his research concerning ocean science and navigation in the ancient Mediterranean.

Suggested Bibliography/Websites

· J.P. Oleson, “Ancient Sounding-weights: a contribution to the history of Mediterranean navigation,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 13 (2000) 293-310.

· J.P.Oleson, “Testing the Waters: The Role of Sounding-Weights in Ancient Mediterranean Navigation,” pp. 119-76 in R.L. Hohlfelder, ed., The Maritime World of Ancient Rome. Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Suppl. 6. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.

Lupercalia: How Whipping Equates Fertility – (1st C BC)

By: The Scribe on May, 2007
lupercaliaEvery year on February 15th, the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia festival in honor of the she-wolf who suckled their founders – twin brothers Romulus and Remus – when they were infants. The festival was meant to purify the city and ensure fertility… however, the rituals involved were perhaps some of the strangest traditions ever practiced in ancient Rome. Oddly enough, by the time the festival was at the height of its popularity in the 1st century BC, the Romans had forgotten most of the festival’s origins, even to which gods it was originally dedicated.

The religious ceremonies of the Lupercaliawere directed by the Luperci, or “brothers of the wolf”, and began at a cave on Rome’s Palatine Hill – where Romulus and Remus were believed to have lived with the she-wolf as children. These male priests were responsible for the ritual sacrifices of two male goats and a dog, after which two young Luperci would be led toward the altar to have their foreheads ‘anointed’ with the sacrificial blood.
festival of the lupercalia
The priests wiped the blood off their knives with a piece of wool soaked in milk before smearing it on the mens’ foreheads, after which these young Luperci were expected to laugh and rejoice. Some studies have speculated that the ritual blood-smearing was a remnant from another ancient ritual originally practiced at the festival, but long forgotten: human sacrifice.
After the sacrifice came a feast for all the participants, after which the priests would cut thongs from the skin of the sacrificed goats and dress themselves in the rest of the skin. Then, the priests would run around the boundaries of the city holding the leather thongs and whipping people with them – in fact, young women would line up along the city limits and bare their flesh praying to be whipped, as this ‘ritual whipping’ was believed to bring fertility and ease the pain of childbirth.
festival of the lupercalia image 2
This festival was so popular that it continued to be celebrated long after the Christianization of the Roman empire, until 494 AD when the Pope shifted the festival’s focus and refashioned it as the “Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14

February 14 was Parentalia. These were private and public ceremonies for the spirits of the familial dead. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ides of February

February 13 was the festival to honor Faunus the rustic god. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12

February 12A day holy to Diana. 

One of the stories says that Artemis (or the Roman goddess Diana) took Hippolytus, son of Theseus, after he was brought to life again by Asclepios, and brought it to Italy, at her temple in Aricia, where he became her priest, under the name Virbius (he who lived twice).

And a curious fact: in the Romanian language, the Latin name of the Roman goddess Diana became the word “zana”, which means “fairy”. In folk tales, the fairies would usually wander through the woods, in large groups. In many tales, a young man sees the fairies bathing and steals some clothes. When they discover someone is watching, they get out of the water, get dressed and fly away. The fairy whose clothes were stolen can’t go away, so she hides behind a bush, promising to marry him if he gives her back her clothes (which have magical powers). The young man refuses and gives her other clothes, they marry and they live happily for a while, until, one day, she manages to find her fairy clothes. When she does, she can fly back to her sisters, leaving her son and her husband, who will be forever sad. Because, when someone was married to a fairy, the other women mean nothing to him any more. Not exactly Actaeon's story, but anyway, the man who saw the fairies naked is punished for this, with an eternal sadness.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 9th

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 the Ides (13th) of February.
Unlike the Ides of March, the Ides of shorter months were observed on what we consider the 13th of the month, not the 15h.
Yes, the 9th is actually four days before the 13th, not five, but the Romans always included the dates they were counting from and to. In other words, by Roman calculations Wednesday would be three days before Friday, and the 9th would five days before the 13th. (Don’t think about it, just thank the Arabs.)
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In the Christian Era, February 9 became the Feast Day of St. Apollonia and the Martyrs of Alexandria. No they weren’t ancient Egypt’s pop fusion sensation, but a group of early Christians who were killed in 249 AD by angry pagan mobs. Among the Christians was Apollonia, whose teeth were beaten out. Then, when she was ordered to renounce Christ or be burned alive, she leapt into the fire to meet her death.
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In more recent times, a third Apollo milestone occurred on February 9:
Sixty-eight years after the Wright Brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk, another charioteer of the heavens, Apollo 14, splashed into the Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971, having completed a successful mission on the moon.
Though not the first trip to the moon, Apollo 14 was a much needed success after the disastrous Apollo 13 mission, in which man’s cutting-edge technology crashed down to Earth in Icarian defeat.
More important, Apollo 14 was the first time in history that anyone played golf on a planet other than Earth. (Okay, technically, a satellite, but still…)
Alan Shepard attached a six-iron head to a metal collection device, with which he hit two golf balls on the surface of the moon. Shepard was admittedly no Tiger Woods…
Actual transcript:
Shepard: Got more dirt than ball. Here we go again.
Mission Control: That looked like a slice to me, Al.
No, I’m not making that up. Fortunately, Shepard’s third swing went “miles and miles and miles” by his own calculation. Shepard’s estimate was later reduced to only a few hundred yards.
Either way, the drive was indisputably out of this world…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Greek Philosophers ("Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue)

Teleconference Lecture Tomorrow : "The Battle of Marathon and Modern Sports"

"The Battle of Marathon and Modern Sports"
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
1:00 PM ET/ 10:00 AM PT (90 minute lecture and Q&A) 
Proclaimed, "The fittest man in the world" by Men's Fitness magazine and one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine, Dean Karnazes is an internationally recognized endurance athlete and bestselling author. His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat. 
Location: Teleconference from anywhere in the world
Free registration:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February 5

February 5 was Fornacalia. A celebration of grain ovens.
 The Fornacalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the goddess Fornax in order that the grain might be properly baked¹. The festival is said to have been instituted by Numa Pompilius². The time for its celebration was proclaimed every year by the curio maximus, who announced in tablets, which were placed in the forum, the different part which each curia had to take in the celebration of the festival. Those persons who did not know to what curia they belonged, performed the sacred rites on the Quirinalia, which fell on the last day of the Fornacalia. The Fornacalia continued to be celebrated in the time of Lactantius³.