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The Man Who Stopped the Olympics Was Born

By January 11, 2014

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This Day in Ancient History (January 11):
TheodosiusOn this day in A.D. 347, Theodosius may have been born in Spain. Theodosius became the Roman emperor Theodosius I or Theodosius the Great. He was the last of the Roman emperors to rule both the eastern and western sections of the Roman Empire. He was also responsible for banning the Olympic Games and other pagan practices and making Catholicism the state religion at the expense of Arianism.

This was also the first of the two January days for the Carmentalia festival honoring Carmenta, who, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, was a nymph, a seer and the mother of Evander, son of Hermes and the founder of the town of Pallantium (part of the city of Rome) who may have brought the Arcadian Lycaeon festival to Rome in the form of the Lupercalia.

Plutarch says the following about Carmenta and the Carmentalia in his Life of Romulus:

This Carmenta is thought by some to be a Fate presiding over human birth, and for this reason she is honoured by mothers. Others, however, say that the wife of Evander the Arcadian, who was a prophetess and inspired to utter oracles in verse, was therefore surnamed Carmenta, since "carmina" is their word for verses, her own proper name being Nicostrate. As to her own name there is general agreement, but some more probably interpret Carmenta as meaning bereft of mind, because of her ecstasies under inspiration, since "carere" is the Roman word for to be bereft, and "mens" for mind.

Photo © Trustees of the British Museum, produced by Natalia Bauer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme

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