A Trip to the Art Museum

Several months ago I went to an art museum.  It was for a project – I had to write a lengthy art history essay on one of the pieces of art there.  I hated every excruciating second of that essay, too: I’m very sure that I never want to take another art history class again.

Anyway, I took lots of pictures.  And as usual, I am just posting this now.


So, I hope you all enjoy these fine works of art.  These are all Greek and Roman (and are my favorites from that particular exhibit), but I took a lot more: the Greek and Roman exhibit was the smallest in the museum.  Oy.  Maybe I’ll post some of those later, because those are cool, too.

Also, please excuse the horrible yellow color of the photos – the lighting in the museum sucked.


Doryphoros (Spear-Bearer) by Polykleitos, 120-50 BCE


Statue of an Old Woman, 60-70 AD, Roman


Syrian Mosaic, late 4th/mid 5th century AD




Ptolemaic Ruler in the Guise of Heracles, Graeco-Egyptian, 2nd century BC


Lar Familiaris, from Pompeii, 1st century


Dionysos on a Donkey, Roman, 2nd century AD


Caduceus, Roman, 2nd century
(with myself in the reflection lol)


Corinthian Helmet, 540 BC


Athenian Grave Stele of Philomelos and Plathane, 5th century BC


Funerary Mask of a Young Woman, Egyptian, Roman Period


Pagan Blog Project Update

Alright, so.  I’ve kind of given up on the Pagan Blog Project for the rest of the year.  It’s nearing the end of the alphabet (today’s was a Y post), and I can not think of anything to write for the final few.  I’m also so far behind (I’ve still got tons of letters to write) that I think it’s best to stop for now.



The PBP is scheduled to start again, for a second time, in January.  And with it, I’ll restart the PBP for this blog.  I’ll finally have the chance to start at the beginning as the project itself is beginning, and HOPEFULLY go all the way through.

There won’t be any repeat posts, either – everything will be on a different topic than this year’s PBP.  And I’ll probably end up writing some posts ahead of time, so I’ve got them on hand for each Friday.

In the meantime, the previous posts will still be up here for your enjoyment, and I’ll be posting non-PBP stuff as well.

Virtus Wednesdays: Auctoritas


Two posts in one day?!  I AM ON A ROLL.

Whoa. And I’m actually getting started on the Roman Virtues thing that I promised. Almost two months ago. Yeah.

So, first thing’s first.  This short post is dealing with a little thing called auctoritas.

I’m sure you can think of an English cognate.  Strain your brain for a second, and you’ll come up with one: authority.  The English authority takes its meaning from the Latin auctoritas.

Oxford Dictionaries Online gives these definitions for authority:

The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience,” or, “the power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something“.

The Latin auctoritas is related to the office of the auctor, a political position in which some high-ranking official would recommend a legislative measure to be taken.  If this measure was approved by the Senate before being voted on by the people, then it became known as a senatus auctoritas.

Cicero, the great orator and statesman, gave this helpful phrase: “Cum potestas in populo auctoritas in senatu sit.”  Which basically means “While power resides in the people, authority rests in the senate.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a political thing, either, though for the most part I would say it is.  It refers (thank you, Wikipedia) to the “general level of prestige a person had in Roman society and, as a consequence, his clout, influence, and ability to rally support around his will.”

I think that we can see examples of people with auctoritas in modern-day society as well.  Just take the American presidential elections for a recent example.

Rome Reborn Project


Could it be…?  Is it…?


Why yes.  Yes, it is.

Schoolwork has taken its toll on my fragile mind.  I have the Senior Slump, otherwise known as Senioritis – that deadly disease that affects college seniors and causes them to slack off and generally not care about their school work.  Which is bad.  Obviously.

I’m graduating at the end of May next year – assuming that we all survive December 21st, the END OF THE WORLD.  Just kidding.  No, it’s more like, assuming I can get my arse in gear and turn in all my work/pass all my classes.

And I need to haul ass and work on my senior paper.  It’s going to be a 25 page monstrosity discussing the influence of the Etruscans on early Roman culture.  That, and taking classes in which I will be translating St Augustine’s “City of God” and Sophocles’ “Antigone” and “Oedipus the King”, and taking a class on Greek and Hellenistic Religions.


This post about school does tie into paganism, though, I swear.

Well, sort of.

…Er, not really.  But it is about ancient Rome!

So yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to take a 3-D immersive, digitalized tour inside several reconstructed areas from ancient Greece.  We got to wear these weird glasses, and I kind of felt like Geordie la Forge.  Er.  One of the sites was the Pnyx, the hill on which the Athenian ekklesia (Assembly) met.  The other was the theater and adjacent Thersileon of Megalopolis, which was originally a Greek structure but was, of course, added onto by the Romans.

The guy who gave my class and I the tour is involved with a project called “Rome Reborn”.

This is a collaboration of tons of architects, scientists, and classicists and is an attempt to digitalize in 3-D the city of Rome, from the year 320 AD.  They use archaeological evidence and literary sources to do so, and have done a wonderful job so far.

Here is the website for the project, and below is a cool video – check it out!

Roman Archaeology: October


Yeah.  It’s been a while.  I picked a horrible, horrible time to start writing about the virtues: I have been swamped with schoolwork.  Senior year in college, yay!…?

No.  Not “yay”.  More of an “ohmygod thisismylastyear whatamigoingtodoafterthis?!”  Because after May of 2013, I’m done with being an undergraduate.

And, apparently, I have to wait a year to go to graduate school.  Senior project not done for the Fall semester = no graduate application until the NEXT Fall semester!  Sooo…I get to do archaeology for a few months.  Maybe.  And spend the rest of that time learning Italian.

So anyway.  Sorry to bother you with this brief insight into my personal life.

In addition to missing the virtue posts, and the pagan blog project posts, and pretty much everything else, I missed the archaeology post for October.

I’ll get started on that right now – taken from this thread at The Cauldron forum (thanks Aisling!).  For those who aren’t so interested in archaeology, bear with me – a non-archaeological post should be up soon.


  • The poisonous purple snake that the natural historian Aelian describes as being extremely venomous has been discovered!  And, fortunately, it is a very rare snake.  That lives in southern Asia.
  • really cool article (with pictures!) on the cave tunnels at Baiae.  These were used by the Cumaean Sibyl and were thought to be an entrance to the underworld.
  • Scientists think that they have found the exact spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated.  But really, they’ve known the general area of it for years so, nothing too knew here.
  • Two Roman shipwrecks – one from the early Empire, the other from about the 6th century CE – have been discovered off the coast of Turkey.
  • Four tomb raiders lead authorities to a previously-unknown sanctuary of Juno.
  • A Roman cat (the animal, not a hipster) discovers a 2,000 year old catacomb system.
  • A one-of-a-kind ceramic lamp in the shape of a dog’s head is found in a a bath complex in ancient Deultum, in Bulgaria.
  • The ancient Romans loved their orchids.
  • And, finally, an interesting article on female oracles.

U is for Unknown Deities

When I say “Unknown Deities”, I’m talking about three different things: first, those deities whose names are known but whose functions and attributes have been lost; second, those deities to whom temples and altars were dedicated, even though the dedicator didn’t have any idea to whom s/he was giving the offering; and third, the “Hidden Gods”, the Dii involuti.

The first category is what Varro called the Dii incerti, or “deities whose function is unknown”.  Probably the most well-known example of this type is Furrina: not only did she have her own festival, the Furrinalia, but she also was assigned her own Flamen – so she was a very important deity to the early Romans. And, unfortunately, all we know besides this is that she had a sacred spring in Rome.  We have no idea what people would have given her offerings or prayed to her for.

The next category doesn’t really have a name.

These are deities whose functions are known, but whose name is not.  So, for an example, take the deity Aius Locutius – the Spoken Voice.

Warning – detour for history ahead!

According to legend, in about 391 BCE a Roman plebeian by the name of Marcus Caedicius heard a voice that had called out to him from an area near the temple of Vesta.  The voice warned him that the Gauls were marching south, and that the Romans should prepare themselves for an attack.  Caedicius immediately went to the tribunes to warn them.

However, because he was a plebeian – and one who had reportedly fallen on hard times – his warning was ignored.   In another city outside of Rome the Gauls met with Roman ambassadors to make peace terms – but the Romans, a group of three hot-headed young brothers, violated the oath of neutrality they had taken as ambassadors: the oldest brother, Quintus Fabius, killed one of the Gauls.  After several more slights, the Gauls decided to march on Rome.

They succeeded in capturing the city, and the remaining Roman citizens (some had fled earlier) barred themselves behind a blockade on the Capitoline Hill.  After a long time, during which many of the Gauls had died due to poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions, an exiled Roman general by the name of Marcus Furius Camillus received a message that he was needed to save Rome.  He arrived in Rome during an infamous negotiation, in which the Gallic chieftain Brennus was cheating the Romans out of their gold (the Romans had agreed to pay Brennus 1,000 pounds of gold to get him and his Gauls outside the city, but Brennus was using heavier weights in order to procure more gold).

Camillus threw his sword down upon the weights, yelling either “vae victis!” (“Woe to the vanquished”), or “It is not gold, but steel that will redeem the native land!”  In any case, the Romans won the day and the Gauls went back to the Apennines.

/end history

Anyway.  The Romans, deeply embarrassed that a voice had warned them but they had paid no heed, built a temple to that voice.  But they didn’t know which deity had warned them, and didn’t want to offend any gods by dedicating a temple to the wrong one, so they dedicated the temple to the anonymous Aius Locutius.

Another aspect of this category is used in both ancient and modern worship.  If a deity helps you, and you don’t know which deity it was (having not asked for help from a specific deity), offerings are commonly given with the expression “Si deus, si dea”, which means “if god or goddess”.  Just to be on the safe side.

The final category is one that I’ve touched on previously, though only briefly.  This is the category of the Dii involuti, the Hidden Gods.  These deities are above even Iuppiter – in fact, under certain circumstances, he must gain their approval before undertaking a task or throwing a certain type of thunderbolt.  They are supposedly hidden behind the clouds, and no cult has every been ascribed to them.

It is speculated that the Di involuti include the Fates (the Fata) or gods of favor.  However, no one really knows who they are – not even their number, gender, or forms.


T is for Tellus

Tellus, known as Terra Mater (literally “Mother Earth”) in the Imperial age, is the principle goddess who is associated with earth, i.e. the ground.  Fitting since her name comes from the Latin noun tellus, which means earth, land, or territory.

Originally, Tellus received homage in the early Republic and was listed by the antiquarian Varro as one of the 20 Di selecti, the main deities of ancient Rome.  By the time that Imperial Rome came around, she was commonly known as Terra Mater.

Her attributes are the cornucopia – a sign of plenty and bountiful harvests, which makes sense as she is a deity of the earth – and bunches of flowers and fruits.  She is usually depicted reclining on the ground.

Tellus, the central figure in this panel from the Ara Pacis. Photo courtesy vroma.

Most often she is paired with Caelus, the sky, though Tellumo is recorded by St. Augustine as being her male counterpart.  She is also associated with Ceres, goddess of grain, agriculture, and fertility (among other things).  In fact, both goddesses share several festivals: the Sementivae, and the Fordicidia, which takes place during the Cerealia (a festival dedicated to Ceres).

Tellus did not have her own priest: instead, public offerings were given to her by the Flamen Cerealis, the priest of Ceres.  She did, however, have her own temple, which was located in the Carinae neighborhood on the Oppian Hill and dedicated on December 13th, 268 BCE.  According to Cicero, within the temple was stored an object called the magmentarium, as well as a representation of Italy which hung on a wall.