Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Latin words

Domina- Female form of the masculine Dominus meaning "Master". This is the term with which a slave or servant would refer to his or her mistress. It is the origin of the word "Dominate".
Villa- Upper-class country house.
Denarius- A small silver coin first minted in 211 BC which was the most basic coin in circulation, much like the penny or one-pence coin today. It's value was debased through decreases in it's weight over time, and it was eventually replaced by the antoninianus.
Forum- Marketplace, much like a city-center today it was a hub of commerce and daily ritual.
Via- Road. The Romans built extensive road networks for transporting troops and goods across the empire. Some examples include the Via Latina, Via Labicana, and Via Appia (aka the Appian Way) leading to Rome (as I've heard all roads do).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Their Words

"Stranger, my message is short. Stop and read it. This is the unlovely tomb of a lovely woman. Her parents gave her the name Claudia. She loved her husband with all her heart. She bore two children, one of whom she left on earth, the other beneath it. She had a pleasing way of talking and walking. She tended the house and worked wool. I have said my piece. Go your way." (Corpus of Latin Inscriptions)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter and It's Roman Equivalent

Many people know that the word "Easter" comes from the Anglo-Saxon Lunar goddess Eostre, who was said to mate with the solar god around the vernal equinox hence the references to those prolific bunnies and eggs. What you may not know is that the romans also had a vernal holiday involving a goddess-mother, Cybele, and her mate, Attis (taken from earlier Phrygian beliefs), who died and descended into the underworld to challenge the forces of death. In later years he came to be associated with the god Dionysus as well. Many of these customs were naturally based on the cycle of the seasons and the life-death-life cycle was representative of the crops, and so very dear to the cycle of people's lives. Christians and Pagans would eventually come to celebrate their very similar holidays around the same time of the year, and today much of the world has forgotten just how similar the stories are. Both traditions set the date for their celebrations around the first full moon after the vernal equinox.