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Bye-Bye Blog

Friday May 30, 2014
That's right, this blog is going away on May 31. About.com has decided to eliminate blogs from the sites. This site is NOT going away. There are still several thousand pages of articles and resources available, and, probably, more to come, but these little blog-snippets will be gone shortly.

Had this been simply a farewell to the blog, I would have used a comma, and written the header as "Bye-Bye, Blog," but this is also my farewell blog post. I am leaving About.com, after 17 years. Our collective title was recently changed from "Guide" to "Expert" and I am not an expert in Ancient History, but a generalist, with many other areas of related interests that I will now pursue full-time, as a student. Ὁ βίος βραχύς.

I will continue to run my Ancient/Classical History Facebook page and my personal Ancient/Classical History blog where I intend to post mostly material on mythology and book reviews. My Facebook page is still https://www.facebook.com/pages/AncientClassical-History/265812982591. I will post links there to articles on the personal blog, as I write them.

The About.com Archaeology Guide/Expert, who runs a very closely related site on the topic of the ancient world, has suggested I occasionally write a guest post for her -- something I will definitely keep in mind.

Thank you all for 17 years of correspondence, help, and friendship.

My last Ancient/Classical History at About.com newsletter.

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome

Tuesday May 27, 2014
Today St. Martin's Press releases the first in a new series by historical fiction author Ben Kane. This one is about the second Punic War and, as the title suggests, features one of the fiercest enemies Rome had to confront. I haven't had a chance to read more than the the first chapter, but I have enjoyed Ben Kane in the past (see The Forgotten Legion, and a review of volumes 2&3 of the same series) and so am looking forward to hours of pleasure with this one and its successors. Kane points out in his note that he has taken historical liberties with details that we don't know about, which seems fair to me, and explains his selection of geographic terms and descriptions for Hannibal's crossing of the Alps -- one of the most famous parts of the Hannibal story.

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome
Ben Kane
496 Pages
St. Martin's Press: 978-1-250-00115-3.

His Triumph Went on and on and on

Monday May 26, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History - May 26:

Trustees of the British Museum, produced by Natalia Bauer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
In ancient Rome, following the Julio-Claudian emperors and the chaotic year that followed the end of the first imperial dynasty, the Flavian dynasty ruled Rome. There were 3 Flavian emperors, the last being the unpopular Domitian. [See the first 12 Caesars.] After Domitian came the period described as the 5 Good Emperors. Trajan was the second of these. He was concerned with the Danube region where the local king, Decebalus, had been causing trouble for Rome from the time of Domitian. Trajan, wishing to put an end to the aggravation, increased the legions to 30, their largest number to date. He marched his army across the Danube where King Decebalus swore his allegiance, but then reneged, so Trajan marched back in in 106. After Decebalus committed suicide, Trajan made Dacia a province, enjoyed a great new influx of wealth from Dacian mines, and celebrated a fabulous triumph in 107 lasting 123 days. A column was built visually depicted Trajan's victory over the Dacians. (Source: DIR Trajan)

A Greek Philosopher Predicted It

Saturday May 24, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History - May 25:

Eclipse © Clipart.com
The Rogue Classicist says that it may have been on this day in 585 B.C. that Thales predicted a solar eclipse. Eclipses were not yet familiar events and because during eclipses the sun disappears in the middle of the day, they could be frightening.
Herodotus
© Clipart.com

Herodotus 1.74 wrote about the significance of the occasion of Thales' predicted eclipse: It stopped years of fighting between Medes and Lydians [in Anatolia; see map BCc].

    [1.74] Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place. The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on.
There is controversy over this. It is not clear that Thales actually knew how to predict solar eclipses and if there was a solar eclipse on that day it may have been one with a corona so that the sky would not have gone completely dark. Perhaps in the passage Herodotus writes about the momentous eclipse and the affect it had on battle, the predicted eclipse was of the lunar variety and the battle it interrupted was in the evening. (For more of this line of reasoning, see Thomas Worthen's Herodotos's Report on Thales' Eclipse, in Electronic Antiquities Volume III.)

Read more about Ancient Solar Eclipses

Presocratic Philosophers - Thales

On This Day the Mother of the First Christian Emperor...

Tuesday May 20, 2014
This Day in Ancient History - May 21:

St. Helena © Clipart.com

Saint Helena, mother of the first Christian emperor, Constantine I,
traveled to the Holy Land where some believe she discovered the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

It is possible that Helena was born Christian, but it is thought that she converted. Details about her early life and even her death are scanty. Helena (Flavia Iulia Helena) was born in about 250 and died when she was about 80, according to Eusebius, sometimes called the father of Church history. Helena is thought to have come from Drepanum, in the Roman province of Bithynia [see map] because of the honor her son paid to the area.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Helena's saint's day is May 21. In the Roman Catholic Church, it's August 18.

Read more about St. Helena.

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Moses Finley

Tuesday May 20, 2014
This Day in History - May 20: On this day in 1912, Moses Finley was born in New York City. After studying law, during the McCarthy era, Finley moved to England and taught classics at Cambridge University. He died on June 23, in 1986.

Among other books, Finley wrote The World of Odysseus, The Ancient Economy, Politics in the Ancient World, and Land, Debt, and the Man of Property in Classical Athens.

Also on this day in history, in 1957, classical scholar Gilbert Murray (b. January 2, 1866) died.

In ancient history, this may have been the day the first Council of Nicaea started in 325 A.D. See: The Arian Controversy and the Council of Nicaea.

Related:

A 14-Year-Old Became Emperor

Friday May 16, 2014
On this day in ancient Roman History - May 15:
He wouldn't last long on the throne, since he was assassinated at 17/18, but on this day in A.D. 218, the flamboyant Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, whom we call Elagabulus, became emperor of Rome. One of the reasons Elagabalus was so unpopular was that he tried to make his Syrian god the dominant one of the Roman Empire, but there are other, more colorful charges against him. Read more about Elagabalus.

Related:

Beans Appeased the Dead

Friday May 9, 2014
On This Day in Ancient History - May 9:
In ancient Rome, Romans appeased the spirits of the dead with beans. This was part of the Lemuria or Lemuralia, which was held on May 9, 11, and 13. Ovid describes the event in Book V of the Fasti. Also, from May 7-14, the Vestal Virgins prepared sacred cakes (mola salsa) for the Vestalia, held in June.

In modern history, Sir James Frazer died on this day in 1941.

Now is the Month of Maia...

Thursday May 1, 2014
Our month of May may have been named for the spring goddess or nymph Maia. She was the loveliest of the Pleiades, who were daughters of the familiar Titan Atlas. although H. J. Rose says Maia is connected with an obscure goddess named Maia who is distinct from this, the Greek mother of Hermes. A Renaissance song celebrates the month and shows some of the things we associate with her today. You may be interested to note that the Homeric Hymn to Hermes shows the nymph as a shy, retiring troglodyte.
Now Is the Month of Maying; Lyrics by Sir Thomas Morley: Source: threequarterale.com

Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing! Fa la la la la!
Each with his bonny lass, a-dancing on the grass, fa la la la la!

The Spring, clad all in gladness, doth laugh at Winter's sadness! Fa la la la la!
And to the bagpipes' sound, the nymphs tread out the ground! Fa la la la la!

Fie! Then why sit we musing, youth's sweet delight refusing? Fa la la la la!
Say, dainty nymphs and speak! Shall we play barley break? Fa la la la la!

The Pre-Caesarian Calendar: Facts and Reasonable Guesses H. J. Rose The Classical Journal Vol. 40, No. 2 (Nov., 1944), pp. 65-76

Floralia Celebrated

Saturday April 26, 2014
Flora is the goddess honored during the Floralia, a festival that runs from the end of April to May 2. FloraMay is not one of the major months for Roman festivities, so it's almost a shame to write about her festival in April, especially since the Floralia is associated with more modern May Day celebrations. However, the Floralia does start on April 28. Besides, Flora is associated with the love goddess, Venus, with whom April is linked.

Photo of the painting of Flora by Louise Abbéma, 1913. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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