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daedal \DEE-duhl\, adjective:1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious. 3. Rich; adorned with many things. Daedal comes from Latin daedalus, "cunningly wrought," from Greek daidalos, "skillful, cunningly created."

Third-century Roman sculptures discovered

ROME — Archaeologists have unearthed a set of six marble sculptures in Rome that likely belonged to a high-ranking official of the Roman Empire, Italy's culture ministry said Wednesday.

Led by Roberto Egidi, the group of archaeologists dug up five marble heads representing members of the Severan imperial dynasty as well as a statue of the Greek god Zeus while excavating a public site.
The figures were buried in an ancient fountain of a lavish Roman villa along the Via Anagnina street in southeast Rome.
The "extraordinary" discovery, one of the biggest and most important in recent memory in the Italian capital, sheds light on housing conditions in the suburbs during the imperial period, the ministry said in a statement.
The sculptures, which were unearthed Tuesday, will be handed over to the National Museum of Rome and will be preserved at the Diocletian Baths near Termini station where they will undergo preliminary restorations immediately.
"It may be that the last owner of the villa was a high-ranking official related to the dynasty" of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, the statement said.
"The existence of a mausoleum dating back to the late imperial period reinforces such a hypothesis due to the ritual, common in the second and third centuries, of burying the owner next to his house," it added.
Severus ruled in 193-211 A.D, restoring stability, though not without bloodshed, to the empire after the turbulent reign of his predecessor Commodus. He founded the Severan dynasty that ended in 235 with the assassination of one of his heirs.
The digs were financed by a group of private entrepreneurs who took action after the discovery last June of other relics belonging to the sumptuous Roman country house.

Mythology sites

 iGreekMythology: There’s always something new to learn about Greek mythology, and you can do so by following this great blog.

Classical Thinking: This blog is about Greek literature and thinking at large, but the majority of posts deal with mythology.

 Classics in Contemporary Culture: Learn what role Greek myths and philosophies have in the modern world from this blog.

Tropaion: Here you’ll find discussions of Greek religion, past and present.

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean: You’ll be able to learn about the different religions that came into play in the ancient Mediterranean through this blog.

JPHS Mrs. Zajler’s Mythology Blog: While designed for a high school class, this blog can still be a great educational resource for studying Greek mythology.

Goddess a Day: The goddesses featured on this blog aren’t always Greek, but it’s simple to find posts on those that are.

Language and Literature sites

Greek Language and Linguistics: Get links to some great Greek language learning resources through this blog.

Classical Languages: This blog aims to teach students to speak Latin and Greek.

 Learn Greek Language: If one of your goals is to learn Greek, try out this blog for help.

 Roger Pearse: Try out this blog for a discussion of ancient literature, especially works published in Latin.

 ARLT Weblog: Find resources for learning Latin and for understanding classics on this blog.

 The Campvs: This blog provides fun posts that will entertain and help you learn about classical lit and language at the same time.

 Curculio: Improve your knowledge of ancient texts through the education provided by this blog.

 eLatin eGreek eLearn: Find out more about learning these classical languages online from this blog.

 Roman History Books and More: This site will point you in the direction of books on Roman history worth reading.

 Bestiaria Latina Blog: Study Latin and ancient literature with updates from this blog.

Research and Academia sites

The Classicist Blog: Want to understand what the lasting impact of Greek and Roman culture has been on the world? Then read this blog about classicism in the US.

Rutgers Classics Department Blog: Learn more about what students in the Classics Department at Rutgers are doing.

McMaster Classics: Another college Classics blog, this site will let you know what events are going on at McMaster.

A Forum for Friends of Classics @ Leeds: In danger of being lost, this blog aims to support the continued existence of the Classics Department at Leeds.

IRIS: Find news on this blog about the recent goings-on of Haverford Classics courses.

The Stoa Consortium: Through this blog, you’ll not only learn more about scholarly communication, but find out what’s being researched and spoken about in Classics and Classical Archaeology.

Archaeology sites

 Looting Matters: Learn why it’s so important to watch out for black market antiquities through the posts on this blog.

 The Cultivated Classicist: This student’s blog will show you a wide range of classical artifacts, art and news.

 PhDiva: This archaeologist shares her thoughts on topics like the return of the Elgin marbles here.

 Eliginism: The marble carvings surrounding the Parthenon were removed and smuggled back to England in 1801. This blog deals with the public demand that they be returned to the building where they belong.

Mediterranean Archaeology: Learn more about the archaeology of the Mediterranean world here, including loads of posts on Greece.

Tria Corda: You’ll find all kinds of great pictures and news on archaeology and artifacts from Rome, Greece and other Mediterranean countries here.

The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World: This professor shares his experiences working on research in Greek, Roman and Byzantine history.

 Mediterranean Ceramics: Study pottery from ancient Greece and beyond on this blog.

 V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens) M(erito): You’ll find news on archaeology, history and more here.

Great sites on Greek history

1. Ancient/ Classical History: Through this About.com blog, you can learn about ancient Greece and Rome, from the Greek government to famous figures in mythology.

2. The History Blog: This blog doesn’t focus on Greek history exclusively, but if you search, you’ll find a number of great articles on the subject.

3. WM Blathers: Read through this blog for thoughts on a wide range of ancient Greek topics.

4. Ancient History Ramblings: Want to learn more about research into Greek history being done in Cyprus? Look no further than this blog.

5. Antiochepedia: Through this site, you can learn all about the history of ancient Antioch.

6. Past Thinking: Here, you can read about archaeology, museums and digital preservation of the past–with a few posts here and there specifically about classical history.

7. Ancient World Bloggers Group: Join up with these bloggers in talking about and promoting the study of the ancient world.

8. Ancient Tides: This blog aims to make history more accessible, even that of ancient Greece, by linking it to today’s events.

9. Mike Anderson’s Ancient History: Find out more about Greek culture and society with posts on wars, philosophy and religion.

10. Art History: Immerse yourself in the lessons of art history through the posts on ancient art in this blog.

Ten great films about the Greeks

. “Jason and the Argonauts.” This adaptation of the story of the Greek hero Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece may be the most entertaining Greek history movie on this list. This film is famous for its stop motion special effects animation by Ray Harryhausen, who also worked on the Sinbad films.

 “Alexander.” No list of the best Greek history movies would be complete without a film about the life of Alexander the Great. Many such movies have been made, but few of them have been good. This one, while controversial, did well at the box office. This picture was directed by Oliver Stone and stared Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. However, Alexander's life story was too big and eventful to be told in one movie, so Stone had to take many shortcuts in this film by including significant historical inaccuracies.

 “The Odyssey.” Eric Roberts and Armand Assante star in this TV movie about the adventures of Odysseus. This is one of the best Greek history movies because it won an Emmy and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

“Ulysses.” Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn star in this adaptation of Homer's epic poem, “The Odyssey.” This movie lacks the spectacular special effects employed in films today, but its focus on the story and the exceptional performance by Douglas make this one of the best Greek history movies ever made.

 “Barefoot in Athens.” This is one of the best Greek history movies because it features an Emmy-winning performance by Peter Ustinov as Socrates. This made-for-TV film about the trial of Socrates is difficult to find because it is not yet out on DVD.

 “300.” Frank Miller saw the movie “The 300 Spartans” as a child, and it inspired him to write a graphic novel about the Spartans at Thermopylae. This movie is an adaptation of that novel. The Greeks are buffed, the special effects are excellent, and the action is fast-paced. This is an extremely violent movie that was panned by many critics. Audiences, however, loved it.

“Troy.” Brad Pitt stars in this film version of one of the most significant events in Greek history. The movie was extraordinarily expensive to make and market, but the worldwide box office receipts justified the cost, as Pitt's star power filled theaters.

 “Helen of Troy” (2003). There are plenty of battle scenes in this Greek history movie, but the emphasis in this film, unlike other accounts of the Trojan War, is on Helen and her family. Sienna Guillory plays the title character.

 “Socrates.” Director Roberto Rossellini based this movie about Greek history on Plato's account of the last days of Socrates. Jean Sylvere is outstanding as the title character.

“The 300 Spartans.” This film, featuring exceptional performances by Richard Egan and Ralph Richardson, is one of the best Greek history movies because it tells the story of one of the most important military engagements in Western civilization's history, the Battle of Thermopylae.

Greek Gods

Zeus was the king of the gods and the ultimate ruler of Mt. Olympus. He was the son of Rhea and Cronus. Zeus, along with his brothers Poseidon and Hades overthrew his father in an extensive ten year campaign commonly referred to as the clash of the titans. He went on to become the pivotal figure in ancient Greek mythology and fathered a huge number of the characters that are prominent in the stories of this age.
Poseidon was the god of the seas and the bringer of earthquakes. He was given this position after playing an integral role in the clash of the titans. He was worshiped widely and thought of as the protector of many Greek towns and cities. It was said that Poseidon had an ability to calm the oceans to allow for a smooth crossing and bountiful fishing.
The most multifaceted deity in the Greek pantheon was Apollo. Known as the god of light, sun, prophecy, truth, medicine, healing, poetry, art, and music, he was believed to be extremely powerful. Apollo is usually depicted clean shaven and with youthful features. Symbols associated with Apollo include the laurel, lyre, and the bow.
Ares was the deity associated with war. He was thought of as barbaric, chaotic, and unpredictable, and was believed to have an immense lust for blood. His half sister was the goddess Athena; she acted as his assistant in planning strategic warfare. The dog and vulture were typically associated with Ares.
Another important deity was Dionysus. He was born to Zeus and Semele in the ancient city of Thebes. Dionysus was associated with merriment, ecstasy, wine, and celebrations. It is suggested that Dionysus possessed a profound beauty which was in part to blame for him being hidden away to be protected against the vengeful goddess Hera, another of Zeus' wives.
The brother of Poseidon and Zeus, Hades, played an integral role in the destruction of their father and the beginning of Olympian rule. Declaring victory over Cronus the three brothers divided up the world and realms. Hades took control over the underworld, albeit with benevolence and balance.

The Relationship Between Gods and Humans in "Aias" and the Poetry of Sapphos

By Sujay Kulshrestha

Reading Greek plays provides valuable insight into the relationships between gods and humans. While both gods and humans have fairly similar personalities Greek gods have a certain amount of power that, given motivation from an arrogant mortal, they are all too willing to manipulate for their own entertainment without regard to the consequences for others. In Aias, Sophocles begins by telling the story of Ajax some time after the events in Homer’s Iliad. Over the course of the play, Sophocles relates that Ajax feels slighted, because he was not awarded the now-deceased Achilles’s armor. As a result, he decides to try to exact revenge and eventually commits suicide over the blow to his honor, leaving the question of whether his suicide is an honorable action or not. In the play, the relationship of the gods and humans is a malevolent one; the gods do not act as companions or advisors but instead act as strict stewards. In the poetry of Sappho, however, the relationship is quite different. Sappho, a female Greek poet, whose life is shrouded in mystery, depicts the relationship between humans and gods as that of a loving parent, willing to grant assistance when necessary. There is a noticeable contrast evident in the connection between gods and humans in both Sophocles’s Aias and Sappho’s poetry, chiefly in the different types of parental nature that the Gods take in each.
One trait present in gods from both the works of Sappho and Sophocles is a parental nature. In both the poetry and the play gods act similar to parents−albeit with different parenting styles−providing advice, admonishments, and assistance to humans. In Aias the god’s parental nature reveals itself at the beginning, when Athena summarizes the events surrounding Ajax for Odysseus. Athena brings Odysseus to witness the maddened state of Ajax, afterwards stating: “consider him well, then, and never allow yourself to speak arrogant words against the gods…” (154-6). Here Athena uses Ajax to teach Odysseus a valuable lesson on the meaning of humility and respect; the advice that Athena gives Odysseus is reminiscent of a parent telling their child to be humble and never disrespect elders. Athena’s characterization in Aias is that of a stern mother, simultaneously looking out for her son while at the same time preemptively reprimanding him for future arrogance or disrespect.
Just as Athena acts like a mother in Aias, Aphrodite acts as a mother in the poetry of Sappho. Aphrodite’s nature in Sappho’s poetry is that of a protective mother−Sappho, the speaker, desperately requests romantic assistance, a situation that the reader learns has occurred before. This coddling mother characterization is evident in the first fragment, in which Aphrodite says to Sappho, “Whom shall I persuade this time to welcome you in friendship? Who is it, Sappho, that wrongs you?” (Miller, Fr. 1, 18-20). Evidently Aphrodite is more than willing to appease Sappho’s romantic frustration; she is prepared to go and coerce friendship with Sappho. Thus, Aphrodite also comes off as motherly in Sappho’s poetry, though with a somewhat softer, more maternal nature.
Although both Sophocles and Sappho depict gods as parental figures in their works, the gods’ actual characterizations differ greatly. Sophocles portrays Athena in Aias as very stern and authoritative, while in Sappho’s poetry the various gods depicted seem protective and caring, almost pampering Sappho. In Aias, the main interaction is with the god Athena. Athena interferes before the beginning of the play, stopping Ajax from murdering the Greek commanders, Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Odysseus. She prevents an attack by driving Ajax insane, making him believe that he kills the Greek commanders when he actually slaughters cows and sheep: “...I stopped him. Spinning illusions of his own most deadly joy, I drew him to your captured herds…” (60-63). Here we learn that Athena protected Odysseus by resorting to savage means; rather than rousing Odysseus or simply restraining the already crazy Ajax, she augments the madness of Ajax, causing him to butcher helpless livestock. This action demonstrates her characterization as a less maternal figure than Aphrodite in Sappho. Similarly, Athena forces Odysseus to witness the madness of Ajax, sharply telling him to stay and watch: “Stay! Face him! What he has become is no threat to you” (82-3). Athena coerces Odysseus to watch Ajax in his state of madness to teach him a lesson−after they finish talking to Ajax, she warns him against demonstrating conceit. Furthermore she goes on to threaten him, stating that success is fleeting and can be taken away in a day (153-63). Watching Ajax, evidently, is an exercise in learning humility, through both watching the effects of a lack of humility and threats on consequences of acting prideful. In short, Sophocles portrays Athena as a tough-love sort of parent, willing to take a harsh stance to prevent insolent behavior.

On the other hand, Sappho portrays gods as benevolent entities, willing to assist in anyway possible to ensure happiness. In contrast to Athena, who threatens punishment, the gods in Sappho’s poetry overindulge Sappho. Generally, the gods from Sappho’s poetry have a greater maternal nature than Athena does in Aias. The first example of this occurs in the very first fragment, where Sappho begs Aphrodite to help her catch the attention of a potential romantic interest. Sappho’s depiction is far more maternal than Sophocles’s; Sappho states that Aphrodite, “with a smile on your immortal face, asked me what was wrong this time, and why I called you this time…” (Miller, Fr. 1, 14-16). Aphrodite comes to Sappho with a gentle disposition, smiling and ready to assist. Although the repetition and emphasis on the word “this” in lines 15 and 16 indicate a sense of long history of similar requests from Sappho, Aphrodite seems to be willing to oblige once again to make Sappho happy. Sappho also depicts this maternal nature in the second fragment, where Sappho calls Aphrodite to a paradisal place in order to celebrate a happy occasion. She asks Aphrodite to celebrate with her because of the nature of their relationship−had Aphrodite not been so supportive and willing to assist, Sappho would probably be more reluctant to include Aphrodite in her celebration. Furthermore, the inclusion of Aphrodite in Sappho’s celebration indicates the dynamic of their relationship, which is similar to the relationship between a mother and a daughter. While in the first fragment Sappho calls upon Aphrodite to help her in a time of need, Sappho also includes Aphrodite in celebrations of happy events thereby demonstrating that their relationship is very close. Sappho’s portrayal of the relationship between her and Aphrodite indicates an intimate mother-daughter dynamic in which Aphrodite comes off as a highly maternal figure.

The representation of the relationship between gods and humans in both Aias and Sappho’s poetry indicates a parental relationship between the Greek gods and humans. The gods treat humans as children, with less wisdom and a need for education that they must fulfill. However, the respective representations differ when examining the actual relationship in context. Sophocles depicts Athena as a tough love sort of parent, willing to shock and threaten in order to help in the long run. Her use of Ajax’s madness to teach Odysseus a lesson is a key example of this nature. Conversely, Sappho illustrates a very close relationship with Aphrodite, similar to that between a mother and daughter, confiding in Aphrodite in both celebration and crisis. As a result, Aphrodite’s characterization results in more of a maternal nature than Athena’s. Overall however, it is evident that both writers view gods as authoritative figures, despite the intense similarity in the respective personalities of gods and humans.

Ben Ali's pillaging of Carthage must become a thing of the past

With the removal of Ben Ali from power, archaeologists have hopes of restoring the ancient site to the people of Tunisia

One of the most interesting consequences of the recent political upheavals in Tunisia has been that Tunisian archaeologists have at last been able to speak out against the damage inflicted on the ancient site of Carthage by the regime of the former president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. It is a truly depressing tale of how greed and philistinism have come close to destroying large parts of one of the world's most important archaeological sites.
The site of the ancient city of Carthage has been fought over many times in its long and turbulent history – most famously in 146BC, when a Roman army captured the city and obliterated it in a shocking episode of brutal annihilation. Roman intent that their great enemy should never rise again was reinforced by the curse that the victorious Roman general Scipio placed on anyone who dared to rebuild the city. Yet Carthage did rise again. The city, with its excellent harbour, occupied far too important a strategic position to be left deserted for long. The new city went on to have a distinguished history as the capital of the new Roman province of Africa, and later as one of the great centres of ancient Christianity. In short, Carthage is an archaeological site of world historical significance. Yet once again, its very existence is under serious threat – this time not from the weapons of an invading army but the bulldozers of unscrupulous property developers.
Carthage's problem in modern times has been that it occupies some of the most expensive and sought-after real estate in the Maghreb. Since the 1960s the urban sprawl of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, has spread ever closer to the site of Carthage, which lies some 12km to the east across the Bay of Tunis. In 1972, alert to the dangers that such urban expansion posed, a few enlightened figures in the Tunisian ministry of culture and Unesco set up a campaign to safeguard the site of Carthage.
The strategy that was developed under the dynamic and ingenious leadership of Abdelmajid Ennabli, a Tunisian archaeologist who had been appointed conservator of Carthage, proved to be a highly effective one. Teams of archaeologists from all over Europe and the US were invited to excavate areas of Carthage that were under particular threat of appropriation. The spectacular nature of many of their archaeological discoveries, such as the famed Punic circular war harbour excavated by a British team, had the desired effect of placing Carthage firmly back in the spotlight. Vindication arrived in the form of the conferral of the prestigious status of Unesco world heritage site in 1979, followed six years later by national legislation that established the entire 400-hectare site as a protected zone where building was prohibited.
This high-profile success, however, proved to be something of a false dawn. In 1987, Ben Ali came to power in a palace coup and, despite official pronouncements to the contrary, the new regime quickly showed it had more interest in enriching itself rather than protecting Tunisia's rich cultural heritage. I started excavating in Carthage in the mid-1990s and it was clear that Ennabli and those who had strived for decades to protect Carthage were fighting a losing battle against a cabal of influential businessmen and politicians who all enjoyed presidential patronage. For these people Carthage was nothing more than a piece of prestigious real estate ripe for "economic development". The legislation that protected the ancient city was a mere inconvenience that could be ignored and brushed aside.
As an archaeologist one understands that the needs of the present have to be balanced against the preservation of the past, but the regular flouting of the planning laws by members of Ben Ali's family had little to do with solving Tunisia's severe housing shortage. One only has to look at the brochure for the "Residences of Carthage", a luxury housing development illegally built on protected land to see that. One can marvel at the chutzpah of the developers' boast of its proximity to Roman ruins when there is little doubt that they were probably built on top of Roman ruins. Other members of the ex-ruling dynasty have been accused of stealing priceless archaeological artefacts and appropriating historic state buildings for their own private use. In short, Ben Ali and his extended family, the Trabelsis, not only treated Carthage as if it were their own private property but also flouted the rule of law (that they were charged to uphold) to continue their pillaging of Tunisia's national patrimony.
With the removal of Ben Ali and his crooked regime from power, Ennabli and a number of like-minded professionals have once more stepped forward to lead a new campaign to safeguard Carthage. Their demands are straightforward. First, the new Tunisian government needs to urgently approve the protection and development plan for Carthage that the previous regime had been stalling on (for the nefarious reasons set out above) since its drafting in 2000. Second, all illegal building projects on the site of Carthage and its environs must be halted immediately. Lastly, it must as quickly and transparently as possible restore to the people of Tunisia the national heritage that was stolen from them. These measures are essential if the new government is to prove to a sceptical public that it really can provide a much-needed fresh start for Tunisia. If it delays for too long, the danger is that people will start taking justice into their own hands, and the consequences of that could be absolutely catastrophic.

The man behind St. Valentine's Day

Mystery and romance are two of the most popular elements in the stories and movies of yesterday and today.

St. Valentine's Day contains small traces of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. The history of St. Valentine's Day brings intrigue, romance, secrecy and devotion that should be portrayed in a novel or a Hollywood movie. I am sure this would be an awesome movie that many would enjoy.
Saint Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. The emperor outlawed marriage for the young men that he wanted for soldiers.
Valentine was a martyr who defied the emperor by secretly performing wedding ceremonies for young lovers. He was a true romantic and lived by following his heart and doing what he felt was right, regardless of the consequences.
Also at that time period Christians were condemned for believing in God. Some believe that Valentine also helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured for their beliefs.
When the emperor discovered what Valentine was doing, he had him arrested and ordered to death. The interesting part is while he was waiting for his sentence to be carried out, he was said to have fallen in love. The woman was the jailor's daughter who visited him regularly while he was in prison. Just before his death it is said that he wrote her a letter and sent out the very first "valentine" greeting which he signed "From your Valentine." That expression is still used today.
The stories of this man and his good deeds certainly call attention to his appeal as a sympathetic hero. And most significant to the Valentine's Day tradition - a romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France. And one of the most popular today with the legend of his goodness and romantic heroism.
Some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death, which probably occurred around 270 A.D. Others claim that the Christian church decided to celebrate the holiday in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" celebrations of the Lupercalia festival.
Lupercalia was a fertility festival where members of the Luperci would gather at a sacred cave and sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification to their gods. Then they sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and went out in the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goat hide strips to make the crops and women more fertile in the coming year.
Then all the young women would place their names in a big urn. The bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become matched for the year with the chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
I can't imagine that kind of match up today. But look at the way finding a mate has evolved. Nowadays there are claims that one can find true love over the Internet with online dating.
The Roman "lottery" system for romantic pairing was finally found un-Christian and was outlawed.
Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D.
Later, during the Middle Ages, in France and England it was believed that Feb. 14 was the beginning of the birds' mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine's Day should be a day for romance. In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes as "valentines." By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.
Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s the first mass-produced valentines were sold in America by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the "Mother of the Valentine," made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap."
It is estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas, according to the Greeting Card Association.) A fact I find interesting is that approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection at the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
I would love to see those valentines. I still think the handmade valentines are the best. I have kept every one of them from each of my children.
This Feb. 14 is mine and my husband Darby's 15th wedding anniversary. He usually gives me a card and flowers, but maybe if he reads this he will give me a homemade valentine.
Remember to write down your thoughts for loved ones and this year "make" them a handmade valentine. Happy St. Valentine's Day.

Unearthed Roman statues date to a troubled era

Cache found near Rome probably depicts members of the Severan dynasty

A rich cache of ancient Roman statues representing a troubled imperial dynasty has been unearthed on the outskirts of Rome, according to Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
Most likely depicting members of the Severan dynasty, the statues were found by a team of archaeologists excavating a Roman villa along the Via Anagnina.
"We first saw a white nape, belonging to a Roman matron. Then, the head of a child emerged, then another male head and one more,” archaeologist Magda Fossati of Rome’s archaeological superintendency told the daily La Repubblica.
Indeed, buried all together in a basin at the center of the villa’s atrium, there were six finely sculpted statue fragments.

“The statues date to the third century A.D. We are talking of a bust, two male heads, a woman head, a girl head and a life-size statue possibly representing a naked god Zeus,” the ministry of culture said in a statement.
According to the archaeologists, the clothes and the hairstyles of the sculptures indicate that the statuary represents members of the Severan imperial dynasty.
Ruling the Roman empire from 193 to 235, the dynasty was founded by Libyan-born Lucius Septimius Severus.
He became emperor in 193, in the year of turmoil that followed the murder of Commodus.
Other members of the dynasty include Severus’ son, Caracallaresponsible for the murder of his brother Geta and one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants in Roman history; Julia Domna, wife of Severus and rumored of an incestuous relationship with her son Caracalla; and Elagabalus (or Heliogabalus), who scandalized Rome for his sexual excesses.
The dynasty ended with Alexander Severus. His death at the hands of his own troops triggered a troubled 50-year period known as the Crisis of the Third Century in which the Roman empire nearly collapsed.
The archaeologists believe that the last owner of the villa was a high-ranking officer closely related to the Severan imperial family.
“Near the villa we found a mausoleum which probably belongs to the last owner. In the Severan time, it was a well-known practice to bury the owner near its house,” Roberto Egidi, the director of the excavation, told La Repubblica.
Experts are now wondering why the Severan statues were buried all together in a basin. The statues appear to have been carefully buried, with a piece of tufa placed between each marble fragment as to create a protective padding.
“I still have goosebumps. It appears that those who buried these statues really wanted to preserve them up to our days,” said Daniela Spadoni, technical assistant at Rome's superintendence.
Moved to the National Museum of Rome, the statuary will undergo conservation treatments before going on display.

List of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

1. Aphrodite- Goddess of love and beauty. Her husband is Hephaestus. Ares is her lover. She has a son called Eros.

2. Apollo- God of the Sun, music, archery, poetry, plague, healing and prophecy. His father is Zeus.

3. Ares- God of war, murder and bloodshed. His father is Zeus.

4. Artemis- Goddess of moon and night, wild animals, hunt. She is virgin Goddess and protector of maidens

5. . Athena- Goddess of wisdom, warfare and reason. Her father is Zeus.

6. Demeter -Goddess of fertility, grain and harvest. Her brother is Zeus.

7. Dionysus - God of wine, festivals. He is a son of Zeus.

8. Eros- God of love and lust.

9. Hades- God of the underworld. Brother of Zeus.

10. Hephaestus - God of fire and the forge.

11. Hera - Goddess of marriage, women and childbirth.

12. Hermes- God of flight , thieves, commerce, and travelers. Messenger of the gods.

13. Hestia- Goddess of the hearth, family and home.

14. Poseidon- God of the sea and horses.

15. Zeus- The father of all fathers. He is the king of gods. He is the father of Hermes, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Athena, Ares, Persephone, Apollo, and Artemis.


The earliest known purpose-built Christian church, dating from around A.D. 235, was discovered in the Roman fortress of Dura-Europos, which was overrun by the Persians in 256.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

In his efforts to secure a triumph following his beating up on some Cilician hill tribes in 50 B.C., the Roman politician Marcus Tullius Cicero reportedly wrote at least once to each of the 600 members of the Senate, omitting only a couple of men who were his sworn political enemies

And who is Cupid and where did he come from?

And who is Cupid and where did he come from? Cupid was the Roman God of Love. Cupid was the equivalent of the Greek God of Love who was named Eros (“eros” as in “erogenous” zone- get it)? So the picture of two hearts with an arrow through them represents two people who have fallen in love with each other – and are now united as one. Pretty cool and romantic!

Red roses represent passion. It is believed that red roses were the favorite flowers of Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love.
We see a lot of birds paired together for Valentine’s Day. Did you know that birds paired together symbolize fidelity and nesting? And since doves mate for life – they are often depicted in cards and floral arrangements for this holiday. The dove is the symbol for the Greek goddess of Love otherwise known as Aphrodite. (Now you know why many couples choose to release doves on their wedding day).
Now here is my favorite little known fact about love symbols. We all know that “X” stands for a kiss when we write it on our cards; but do you know why? In medieval times the average person (really peasant) could not write. Therefore, they signed their name with an “x” and then they would kiss the “x” to represent their honesty attached to their signature. This is how the letter “x” came to represent a kiss. So this is where the concept of “sealed with a kiss” comes from. I love this stuff! Happy Valentine’s Day!

House and Temple of Vestal Virgins Opened to the Public

After spending years making renovations, the Roman Forum has opened nearly seven acres of land to the public. The land includes the House of the Vestal Virgins and its Temple dedicated to Vesta.

The ruins are from the ancient Roman priestesses consecrated to the Goddess Vesta. The priestesses were devoted to the preservation of the "sacred fire" as part of the ritual of the Roman city government.
The Roman Forum has reconstructed what was destroyed in the fires of Nero in 64 CE. When the shrine was first built, it was said to be the origin of the city of Rome.


philomath \FIL-uh-math\, noun:A lover of learning; a scholar. Philomath is from the Greek philomathes, "loving knowledge," from philos, "loving, fond" + mathein, "to learn, to understand

What Is The Registered Nurse Symbol And What Does It Stand For?

To nurses, and health care professionals in general, the registered nurse symbol stands as a symbol of accomplishment for completing school. It has become known over the last century as representation for healthcare professionals as a whole for the care and dedication put into this profession. In nursing school the registered nurse symbol is symbolic of the caring nature in nursing. One may ask where did the registered nurse symbol come from? Read on to find out.

The Caduceus, or registered nurse symbol, is a staff that is wing topped with two serpents winding around it to the top. This staff was, according to legend, carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. It was given to him by Apollo.
The symbolic representation of two intertwined snakes appeared early in Babylonia and is related to other serpent symbols of fertility, wisdom, and healing, and of sun gods. This staff of Hermes was carried by Greek heralds and ambassadors and became a Roman mark for truce, neutrality, and noncombatant status.
This symbol has been the insignia of the healthcare branch of the U.S. Army since 1902. The registered nurse symbol, or caduceus, is much used for this purpose much like any other symbol would be used for services such as the Postal Service, commerce or ambassador positions. Since the 16th Century it has replaced the Asclepius one serpent symbol as the image of choice for medicine.
Some people see the registered nurse symbol or Caduceus as a negative symbol for the profession, but even still, it’s a positive symbol of caring for those of us in the profession. No matter what the registered nurse symbol might seem like to others, to the common public it still remains a image from the nursing and medical fields in general, and consequently stands as a positive symbolic representation for them and a sense of comfort.
This goes on to give the public a comforting feeling as they know how it is linked to healthcare in general. No matter the association with ancient mythology, the registered nurse symbol is regarded by most to be a positive image.
Many “medical” organizations use a registered nurse symbol of a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. Its meaning is ‘heralds staff’ from the Greek word karykeion. Itself based on the word ‘eruko’ meaning control or restrain.
The registered nurse symbol or caduceus is used by other types of organizations, these are generally commercial or military in the U.S. Countries like New Zealand uses include pharmaceutical companies. A study confirmed that the connection of the caduceus and medicine was solidified around the 7th century A.D.
This was around the time Hermes had come to be associated with the study of alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as sons of Hermes, or hermeticists. Cult associations can be found linked to the registered nurse symbol otherwise known as the caduceus.
The magic staff of Mercury, otherwise known as Hermes, was the Caduceus. Associated today as the registered nurse symbol. Back in the time of Hermes this symbol was an image for heralds and commerce, not medicine. The other words associated with this symbol were caducity, imply temporality, and senility

Aphrodite, Eros, Anteros, Himeros, and Pothos: A Greek Love Squad

Before the advent of Christianity, Greek culture had multiple deities established to represent all aspects associated with living on this earth. Their polytheistic outlook called for a series of gods to preside over everything that made up nature, afterlife and the human condition; life, death, war, even emotions were all ruled/explained by the actions and presence of a Greek god or goddess.
Emotion is the key word here. Human feelings are certainly tricky things and can even lead to disastrous results if not understood properly. Probably the one emotion that plagues humans the most is love.
Being such an integral part of the human condition, the subject of love is nothing short of complex. It's a force that invokes the deepest and darkest desires of any person; it can bring out the best in us along with our very worst.
The Greeks apparently thought so too, which is why they put so much time and effort into properly worshiping love in all it's forms.

Aphrodite - Goddess of Love and Beauty

Aphrodite (known as Venus in Roman mythology) is the main goddess associated with love, beauty, and sex. Born from the castrated genitals of Uranus after they were tossed into the sea- although some accounts describe her as the daughter of Zeus- Aphrodite is one of the more prominent gods.
She is seen as a symbol of fertility and sexuality; Aphrodite is often regarded as the most beautiful goddess in all of Mount Olympus. Fearing that her good looks would cause inner conflict amongst the gods, Zeus married her off to the lame Hephaestus.
While her beauty was legendary, even a goddess like Aphrodite couldn't avoid the downfalls that came with being attractive; depicted as vain, badly tempered, and quick to offend. She was also far from excited about being married to the ugly smithing god and so, cheated on him often.
Her life of adultery led to a number of consorts, with a list comprised of both immortal and mortal lovers: Adonis, Anchises, Hermes, and Ares just to name a few. Needless to say, her extensive amount of intercourse also led to Aphrodite bearing many children.
Accompanied by Aphrodite is her loyal retinue, known as the Erotes. This group is fiercely loyal to Aphrodite and act as her constant travel companions. Together they symbolize every piece that makes up Love.
They all have very similar characteristics, portrayed as child like, winged, male, gods of love. Their numbers vary, based on the literature where they happened to be mentioned.
However, while the Erotes are sometimes described as a countless amount of angelic boys, four have been mentioned specifically and named. The following are those very four described in more detail.

Eros - God of Love

Eros (known as Cupid within the Roman religion) is the male god of love, sex, and is associated with eroticism (due to his name). There are actually two different versions of Eros and his role within the Greek myths.
In one adaptation of Eros, he is worshiped as a fertility god and has a place in the pantheon as one of the first deities since the beginning of time. This version places him in a much more powerful position, as he is not only love personified, but also life itself. In a world where nothing existed, Eros has been described as emerging from the primordial stew called chaos, along with other major forces: Gaia (mother earth) and Tartarus (purgatory).
In the second rendering of Eros however, his role is much more toned down. He is the son of Aphrodite, born from the resulting union of her and Ares. This version places Eros as a part of the Erotes (with the entire force based on his image) and is never seen leaving his mother's side.
Probably one of the most famous myths he is directly involved in, is the tale of him and his wife Psyche, which can be found here.
Armed with a bow and arrow, Cupid is always looking to pierce the hearts of mortals and gods alike, making his victims fall in love.

Anteros - God of Requited Love

Anteros is sometimes seen as the brother of Eros, in the version where Eros himself is the son of Aphrodite and Ares. He represents requited love, reciprocal love or more simply put, love that's returned. Anteros was created as an answer to the feelings of loneliness that caused his brother suffering.
After Anteros was born, Eros finally had a loving sibling to keep him company, a counter-love which completed the circle. The two usually work with one another and are often depicted alongside their mother Aphrodite, holding the scales of love.
The lesson from his creation story shows that love cannot thrive or grow without the opposite side reciprocating those same feelings.
Anteros also works as an avenger of sorts when it comes to love that isn't reciprocated; he punishes those who curse either love or the attempted sincere advances made upon by others. Essentially the Anti-Eros, (hence his name) he casts punishment on those who harshly reject offered love.

Himeros - God of Desire and Unrequited Love

Himeros is the god of sexual desire. Like his brother Eros, he is often seen wielding a bow and arrow. However, unlike the main son, he uses these weapons to induce his targets with strong lustful urges. Not much else is known about him. Being a part of the Erotes, his character isn't prominently featured in adventures.

Pothos - God of Yearning and Wanting

Finally last, but certainly not least, on this roster count is Pothos. He is the embodiment of longing, sexual yearning, and lustful desire. In some myths he is actually the son of Eros himself- in the stories where he a much greater god, independent of Aphrodite.
Same as with Himeros, the two are usually bundled together when myths are referring to the Erotes. As with most of the other winged child love gods, he was present during Aphrodite's rise from the sea.
"[For an aristocrat in Rome at the time of Julius Caesar], farm management meant, primarily, slave management. Fortunately, Cato had left detailed instructions on the subject. He distinguished, of course, between domestic and farm slaves although, in general, he treated all 'like beasts of burden, using them to the uttermost, then, when they were old, driving them off and selling them ... like shoes or pots and pans, casting them aside when they are bruised and worn out with service.' With domestic slaves Cato had advice on how and when to praise, threaten, reprimand or reward. To prevent conspiracies he promoted dissension and rivalry among them. He entrusted the chief steward with major responsibilities and permitted him to be shaved by the local barber, to gossip with other stewards in taverns and brothels, to participate in neighborhood clubs, to play ball and to attend the theater. The more willing and cunning slaves he encouraged to buy slaves of their own to train and to sell at a profit. The slovenly and the lazy he flogged.

"Farm slaves, distinguished as 'speaking tools' from 'mute' tools (animals) and 'lifeless' tools (equipment), were to be worked to the limits of their endurance and to be sold when they were no longer productive. The bailiff and perhaps a few specialists in viniculture and orchardry were permitted to marry.
Most of the others were manacled and locked up at night. If caught stealing or stepping beyond the boundary stones or listening to itinerant astrologers (troublemakers who preached dangerous thoughts), they were to be beaten and assigned to hard labor. Habitual recalcitrants were hung overnight on a cross; captured runaways were branded on the forehead and locked in an iron collar inscribed with instructions for their return and an offer of reward. Incorrigible slaves were to be prodded to a place of execution, flogged and hoisted and nailed to a beam and left to strangle.
"In general, the employment and treatment of slaves was a pragmatic question, and many slaveholders accepted Aristotle's judgment: 'Every assistant is as it were a tool that serves for several tools; for if every tool could perform its own work when ordered or by seeing what to do in advance - thus shuttles wove and quills played harps by themselves - master craftsmen would have no need of assistants and masters no need of slaves.' On the other hand, slave rebellion was the greatest peril confronting [Roman] society. A good citizen exhibited no sentimentality in face of such a threat."

Arthur D. Kahn, The Education of Julius Caesar

Archaeologists: Orion the Hunter - Greek myth born in Syrian Mountain

Syria (Damascus) - During the sixties of the 20th century, a statue of a bull dedicated to the Greek god Orion was discovered in Younan Mountain near the town of Bloudan in Damascus Countryside.

The state bore Greek inscriptions stating that the statue is an offering to Orion from an ancient warrior named Tamanaius.

Orion is a mythical figure whose origin various according to the several stories. One story tells that the gods Zeus, Hermes and Poseidon come to visit a man named Hyrieus who roasts a whole bull for them, and when they offer him a favor, he asks for the birth of sons, and thus Orion is born.

Other stories say that he is the son of the sea god Poseidon, and that he had incredible strength and beauty and excelled at hunting wild beasts, hence his title of "Hunter."
In one story, Orion fell in love with the daughter of a king and seduced her, prompting the king to blind him. Orion journeyed to the distant east so that the rays of the sun can restore his sight. Afterwards, he accompanied the goddess of the hunt Artemis.
Archaeological finds in a Roman temple found in 2009 suggest that the legend may have originated somewhere around the mountains of Bloudan, particularly Younan Mountain, and later the myth reached Greece and was incorporated into the Greek myth cycle.
Younan Mountain is located 6 kilometers northeast of Bloudan and is 2100 meters high. Three dilapidated ancient structures were uncovered on the western peak of the mountain and near the northern and western slopes.
Excavations at the westernmost of the structures uncovered a pedestal that is believed to have been either a sacrificial altar or a beacon used for guarding the site. These remains are believed to be part of a temple dating back to the Roman era.
So far, work in the central structure focused on the areas surrounding it, as the rubble of the structure itself makes it impossible to excavate until it is gradually approached from every side.
The easternmost structure dates back to the Byzantine era, and was probably a monastery constructed from stones taken from the other two structures. This structure contained the most important finds in the site, including bronze coins dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD, iron and bronze arrowheads and spearheads, in addition to nails and other metal artefacts.
Part of the mountain was recently given to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate which intends to rehabilitate the monastery's site by building a new church there and a number of services facilities near the archaeological site, all of which will be constructed to suit the nature of the site and allow people easy access to the site.

Will Dholavira ruins rewrite history of ancient theatre?

AHMEDABAD: The 5,000-year-old Harappan ruins of Dholavira in Kutch have the capacity to rewrite an important portion of the history of theatre of the world. Until now, it was believed that Greek and Roman theatre, with their amphitheatres and poignant plays, were the oldest in the world - dating back 2,500 to 3,500 years. But, archaeologists who excavated Dholavira say they found remains of what can be the world's oldest stage.

Well-known archaeologist R S Bisht, who is credited with excavating Dholavira, says, "We found a multipurpose open field which must have been used for everything, from sports like wrestling and bullock cart races, to plays." The field is 283 metres by about 45 metres and is placed between a citadel or what is known as the upper town, and the middle town in the ruins.
Of course, plays in those days were not the same as today. They were more like a joyous procession with a variety of performances, including skits and dances happening at the same time.
Yadubirsingh Rawat, director of Gujarat government's department of archaeology who was part of Bisht's original team, adds, "You can call the field 'rangbhoomi' or arena or stadium. We found steps around it which were used as stands for the audience. Also, they seemed to be adding a new layer of mud to the field every year. The mud was imported from outside Dholavira." This layering gave the stage unique acoustics and sonorous quality.
Adds Bisht, "The stands had gates with stones that look worn out, as if bullock cart after bullock cart had passed over it. The stadium was a very popular part of the Dholavira settlement."
One corner of the field has a smaller stadium which could have been the green room where performers dressed up before walking onto the main stage. It could also have been used for exclusive shows for the royalty of the time.
"We excavated a small two metre by two metre portion of the field and found it was scattered with hundreds of jewellery beads," Bisht says. "You can imagine performers decked in beads from top to bottom, freely dancing and the beads falling everywhere
The excavators also found row after row of peg holes, which may have been used to erect temporary stalls and dividers during performances.

Group tries to bring Greek warship to New York

My merchant ship (Trireme)

NEW YORK — A group of history buffs wants to bring a full-size replica of an ancient Greek warship to the United States and row it in New York Harbor.

The ship is known as a trireme (TRY-reem). It is the same kind of ship the Greeks used in 480 B.C. in their war against invading Persians. Researchers built a replica in Greece in 1987, but it hasn't sailed since 1994.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a New York group, Trireme in New York City, Inc., is trying to raise $3 million to restore the replica and bring to the United States, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The group is also trying to recruit 170 rowers to row the ship during a tall ships festival in New York on July 4, 2012.