Appian Way

Begun in 312 BC, the Appian Way is perhaps the most famous Roman road of all. It was wide enough for two carts to pass in opposite directions or for five soldiers to march side by side. Building the Appian Way was a massive undertaking, but the excellent craftsmanship of the road was apparent for centuries.

Ancient Rome was famous for many things, many of them big and flashy. Gladiators, triumphs, and emperors often spring to mind, but perhaps Rome’s most enduring contribution to history is more humble: their roads (which all led back to Rome), a vast, interconnected network spanning as many as 322.000 km at its maximum.

Roman Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain

The huge Roman aqueduct built in Segovia, Spain, by the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117).

One of the best preserved Roman engineering works, the structure was constructed from approximately 24,000 dark colored Guadarrama granite blocks without the use of mortar. The above ground part is 2,388 feet long. And it consists of approximately 165 arches that are more than 30 feet in height.

Roman Baths

Roman baths, used for both socializing and cleaning, were a marvel of engineering. The water was heated by the fire lit under the pool and the hot air was circulated between the walls of the bath; so that both the water temperature and the temperature of the building would remain constant. The water used in the Roman baths was generally carried from the water source to the bath with the help of aqueducts.

The dirty water coming out of the baths had a function. These dirty waters were drained from the canal and used to clean the dirty canals of the latrinas (Public Toilet) next to the baths.

For the Romans, these baths were an important part of daily life. They would go every day and stay for a few hours. The wealthy Romans used to come with their slaves. The slaves brought in usually took on the task of carrying towels and drinks. Before bathing in Roman baths, sports exercises were done. Running, weight lifting and wrestling are examples of these. After the exercises, the servants would smear their masters with oil and then scrape off the oil with the help of a board or bone. In this way, great dirt would be removed.

In the Roman bath, body cleaning was done with an apparatus called strigilis. With this apparatus, sweat, sand and dust sticking to the body were removed, and then the body was lubricated in the area called aleipterion.

Roman baths were also present inside various palaces or castles. The Romans used the same name (Thermae) for them as well. The design of the baths is mentioned a lot on Vitruvius’ De architectura.

Since the limits of socialization were exceeded in some baths and there were incidents such as prostitution, it was decided that women would enter the bath from morning to noon and men would enter the bath in the afternoon. So they were prevented from entering to baths together.

For example, Emperor Trajan forbade men and women to bathe together in the Ephesus Bath in 98 AD.

Ides of March

Today in History –> On this day in history in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar, the”dictator for life”of the Roman Empire, was murdered by his own senators at a meeting in a hall next to Pompey’s Theatre. The conspiracy against Caesar encompassed as many as sixty noblemen, including Caesar’s own protege, Marcus Brutus…

#TodayInHistory #JuliusCaesar #IdesOfMarch

Days of the Week: Saturday

The seventh day is Saturday – the only day in English named for a Roman deity (Saturn) and not a Germanic/Norse one.  Saturn has no parallels in Viking lore – except perhaps to the Jötnar (giants) since Saturn was king of the Titans.  It is also unusual that Saturn would be left standing, even as a throwback to Roman culture, since he was a strange god and more feared than loved.  Since Saturn was the god of time and renewal, though, it may be appropriate that his name is retained for the last day of the week.

The Vikings had their own name for Saturday – and it had nothing to do with gods or goddesses.  The Vikings called Saturday Laugardagur, which means “Pool Day” or bathing day.  Saturday was the day that Vikings took a bath (whether they needed it or not).  This custom, peculiar for its time, was remarked on by observers from England to the East.  In Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, Saturday is still called a form of this name.

Our names of days tell a story of how our various ancestors interacted with each other. Modern peoples are blended from many different cultures. This is especially true of English speakers, whose language and customs still carry the signs of the dozen or so major groups that formed that island nation. Every day is an intrinsic memory of Roman themes interpreted through a Viking lens, then sieved through the medieval church before being more-or-less taken for granted by most people today. When we look at the days’ names, we see an example of how things change and how they remain the same.

Cicero

People will disagree with me, but hands down best politician in history and it’s not even close:

~ He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus.

~ He advised the legendary Pompey on his somewhat botched transition from military hero to politician.

~ He lambasted Mark Antony and was master of the smear campaign, as feared for his wit as he was for exposing his opponents’ sexual peccadilloes.

~ Brilliant, voluble, cranky, a genius of political manipulation but also a true patriot and idealist, Cicero was Rome’s most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times.

~ Machiavelli, Queen Elizabeth, John Adams and Winston Churchill all studied his example.

If you haven’t read any of his books I’d suggest reading his book: “Orations” and then one or more of “Tusculan Disputations” or “On the Commonwealth and On the Laws” or “On Moral Ends” or “The Nature of the Gods.”

#Cicero