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Introduction to Ancient History

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How do you learn about the ancient world? When did it start and stop? What areas of the world do you look at? Look here for answers.

Common Ancient History Questions
Ancient / Classical History Spotlight10

Birth of the Roman Emperor Gratian

Friday April 18, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History: In the year A.D. 359, the future Roman emperor Gratian was born. Gratian was the son of Emperor Valentinian I.

When Valentinian died, Gratian ruled in the west and his uncle Valens ruled in the east. Gratian had been fighting the Alamanni while Valens was dealing with the Goths at Adrianople. Gratian was scheduled to come to Valens' assistance, but arrived too late to prevent the disaster, whether because he was actually too late or Valens had jumped the gun in order to take the credit for what he wrongly assumed would be victory.

The disaster at Adrianople is one of the major turning points in the fortunes of Imperial Rome and a possible date for Rome's fall.

Read more about Gratian.

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Roman Emperor Otho's Death

Wednesday April 16, 2014
This Day in Ancient History: On this day in ancient Rome, in the year of the 4 emperors, the short reign of Emperor Otho ended when he, like Nero two emperors earlier, committed suicide. Read more about Otho. Otho committed suicide when he heard that his army had been defeated at Bedriacum, described by Tacitus Histories 2.46-50. Otho's death was treated as a nobly Stoic end and beneficial to the Republic.
It was also the time of the festival in honor of the grain goddess Ceres, who was associated with the earth goddess Tellus, known as the Cerealia. The Cerealia was one of the sets of ludi Romani 'Roman Games.

This Day in Modern History: Ancient historian Jane Ellen Harrison died in 1928.

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Cerealia

Saturday April 12, 2014
Detail of a fresco with Ceres (Demeter) as an allegory for August, painted by Cosimo Tura.

On this day -April 12: In Rome, on this day (or starting tomorrow) a yearly festival in honor of Demeter/Ceres was held with games in the Circus Maximus. In his Fasti Ovid reminds the reader that it's thanks to the grain goddess Ceres that we don't have to live on acorns. Her offerings include grain, incense and pig.

Read more about Cerealia.

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First of the Soldier Emperors, Septimius Severus

Friday April 11, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History:

Statue of Septimius Severus at the British Museum. Height: 198.000 cm. Roman, about AD 193-200 Found at Alexandria, Egypt.
CC Flickr User cubby_t_bear
Septimius Severus, first of the Solider Emperors was born in Africa, at Leptis Magna. He would die in 211 after ruling for 18 years. He came to power after he marched on Rome as the avenger of the assassinated Emperor Pertinax who lived for 66 years, but only ruled for 87 days.

Read more about: Septimius Severus - the first of the soldier emperors.

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