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Introduction to Ancient History


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


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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Emperor Caracalla Was Assassinated

Tuesday April 8, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History: Severan DynastyCaracalla came to power honestly enough, but when he succeeded his father, Septimius Severus (of the Severan Dynasty), in A.D. 211, he was supposed to share the imperial purple with his brother, Geta. Caracalla soon put an end to his competition and started a bloodbath.

The tondo of the Severans shows Septimius Severus, his wife, Julia Domna, and their two sons, Geta and Caracalla. The face of the younger brother has been obliterated, presumably after Caracalla's fratricide and damnatio memoriae.

In 217, Caracalla himself died violently.

Also on this day in modern history, classicist E.R. Dodds, author of The Greeks and the Irrational (see Shame Culture) died.

Severan Dynasty Tondo photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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The Megalesia

Friday April 4, 2014
On this day in ancient history, Romans celebrated the Megalesia.

CC Flickr User Marshall Astor
At first, Rome was just one small city-state in the area of Latin-speaking people known as Latium, on the west side of the peninsula of Italy. She soon spread out, dominating the peninsula. Rome was an almost unstoppable force.... Until Hannibal and the Second Punic War.

Carthage was an obstacle to Italy's control of the Mediterranean and Hannibal's troops were defeating the Romans in battle and terrorizing the countryside. The Romans learned from Hannibal and adapted his techniques. Eventually they defeated him militarily, but before that, they tried a religious technique. They consulted the Sibylline Books, which contained prophecies to guide the Romans. One prophecy concerned a certain Phrygian goddess whose cult in Rome included the April Megalesia.

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