1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email
N.S. Gill

Ancient History


Follow me on:

Did the Romans Suffer From Spring Fever?

Thursday April 24, 2014
I was sure they did until I looked up the definition and symptoms. I think of spring fever as a sense of excitement with a hefty dose of fun-loving irresponsibility. Just the sort of excitement that leads to college kids' notorious spring breaks. A sort of spring Saturnalia. At the tail end of April the Romans celebrated a series of festivals I can't help thinking of as silly-sounding and proof that they suffered from (my definition of) spring fever. "Let's find something, anything, to pin it on and have a party for." First there was Vinalia, Read More...

Happy Birthday!

Monday April 21, 2014
On this day in ancient history - Parilia and Rome's Birthday: What Happened on Rome's Birthday?

In ancient Rome, this was the date of the Parilia and was the accepted date for celebrating the birthday of Rome in 753 B.C.

Ovid describes the Parilia in his Fasti. After Ovid's persona invokes the relevant god, Pales, he describes the carrying of ashes of calves and bean stalks, jumping over bonfires, and the water sprinkling involved in a purification rite. Ovid connects the Parilia with the birth of Rome by suggesting, among other options, that the fire of the Parilia is like the fire burning Troy that Aeneas escaped.

Do you know how to wish someone a happy birthday in Latin? If so, please post your version on Saying Happy Birthday in Latin. If you don't know, this Latin happy birthday page provides a variety of suggestions.

Also See:

Festival of Ceres

Saturday April 19, 2014
CeresThe Romans celebrated a festival of Ceres (Greek Demeter) at around this time each year. The final day and greatest celebration was on the 19th of April, according to "Curiosities of Popular Customs And of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities," by William S. Walsh, which goes on to describe the events:
"They crowded in the Circus or race-course, where nuts and other trifles were thrown among them; and, besides the horse-races, it was the practice to set foxes loose in the Circus with lighted torches tied to their tails ... [symbolic] it is thought, of the red blight or rust that burns up the corn."
Ceres Picture © Clipart.com

Also See:

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.

Also See:

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.

Also See:


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.

Also See:

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.

Also See:

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.

Also See:

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.

Also See:

April is the Month of Venus

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Lely's Venus. A 1st or 2nd Century AD Roman copy of a Greek original.
CC Alun Salt at Flickr.com

On the Kalends of April, the Romans celebrated not April Fool's Day, but the Veneralia, a festival to honor Venus. Elaine Fantham's edition of Ovid's Fasti, mentions that Ovid's treatment of the holiday involves "an otherwise unattested ceremony of washing the goddess's image in the running water of the river" as well as other customs, specifically, "bathing garlanded in myrtle," burning incense for the spirit of manly fortune, and supplicating the aspect of Venus known as Venus Verticordia.

More on Venus

Also See:

Join me on Facebook

Top Related Searches
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Ancient / Classical History

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.