April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to the City of Rome

Rome was a city on the south-east bank of the Tiber River, in the region called Latium. Roma was often called Roma, which is the proper name for the city. The site was prominently situated on the seven hills. Romulus was the legendary founder of the famed Rome. Romulus was descendant of Trojan hero, Aeneas, one of two surviving leaders to escape the fall of Troy. His tale began…..
In Alba Longa, Numitor was their thirteenth king after Ascanius, the son of the hero Aeneas and founder of the city. Numitor was the father of Ilia (Rhea Silvia; this may have been her name when she became a Vestal Virgin). Amulius, Numitor's brother, plotted to have him remove. Amulius deposed Numitor and imprisoned his brother. Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, was made a Vestal Virgin by Amulius - which meant that she was made a priestess of the goddess Vesta and therefore forbidden to marry. However, the Mars, God of War, came to her in her temple and with him she conceived her twin sons, Romulus and Remus.
Mars: God of War
Upon leaning of the news of Ilia's sons, Amulius would have killed the helpless infants. Amulius had the twin infants placed in a basket; they were thrown into the Tiber, in the hope the infants would drown. At that time the river was flooded and when the waters fell, the trough still containing the two boys, came ashore. They were found by a she-wolf named Lupa, who instead of killing them, looked after them and fed them with her milk. Lupa was helped by a woodpecker that brought them food as well. Interesting enough these animals are sacred to Mars.
Romulus and Remus were then discovered by Faustulus, a shepherd, who brought the children to his home. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the boys as their own. Upon reaching adulthood, Romulus and Remus killed Amulius and reinstated Numitor, their grandfather, as King of Alba Longa, and then they decided to found a town of their own. Romulus and Remus chose the place where the she-wolf had nursed them. Romulus began to build walls on the Palatine Hill, but Remus jeered at them because they were so low. He leaped over them to prove this, and Romulus in anger killed him. Romulus continued the building of the new city, naming it Roma (Rome) after his own name. It's first citizens were outlaws and fugitives, to whom Romulus gave the settlement on the Capitoline Hill.
Romulus and his small group of followers first settled on the Palatine Hill. The city grew larger, due to the people flocking to the city. Romulus realized that he doesn't have enough people in his new city, offered asylum for refugees. Most of them were runaway slaves and outlaws seeking refuge. But it was the city without women.
Romulus tried to persuade his neighbor, the Sabines, to allow his people to marry their women.  They said Hell to Fucking No. Romulus devised a plan, where he invited the Sabines to a festival. He proclaimed a festival and invited many Sabines to it. While the attention of the Sabine men was elsewhere Romulus' men rushed in and carried off the beautiful women. This was the famous "Rape of the Sabine women". The Sabine men were furious and, led by their king Titus Tatius, declared war on Romulus. When the fighting had reached its peak, the Sabine women, who had grown fond of their Roman husbands, rushed between the ranks and begged both sides to make peace. So the battle was stopped, Romulus and Titus Tatius ruled together over the two peoples until Titus Tatius was killed in battle. For the rest of his life Romulus ruled alone, proving himself a great leader in peace and war. He did not die but disappeared one day in a violent storm. The Romans believing he had been taken up to heaven, worshiped him under the name of Quirinus. He was succeeded by Numa Pompilius.

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter


Roman Religion: Healing of Mother Isis

Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship is the only Egyptian god that spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She is worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic. She is the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the exploited, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers. Isis is the goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility.
Isis ("Aset" in the native language) had her start as a comparatively minor deity of Egypt. She was a protector of the throne of Egypt and Royal Power. But she had been subordinate in the official Egyptian pantheon to deities more intimately connected with the great King of the Gods, like Ra and Horus.
The collapse of the Old Kingdom brought about several sweeping changes in Egyptian religion. Eternal life, which had once been viewed as the sole province of the King, came to be seen as the reward for all those willing to submit to the proper cults (sound familiar). In this new paradigm Isis took center stage and became the central goddess in the popular religion of the Egyptian people.
The conquest of Egypt by Alexander opened a new era for the cult. In trying to find a religious cult that would unite both Egyptian and Hellenic subjects, Ptolemy Soter crafted the Isis cult as it would be introduced into Greco-Roman society. Osiris was renamed Serapis and identified with a variety of Greek gods (Dionysus, Hades). He became a god of healing and the underworld. Isis was identified with Demeter or Aphrodite. Greek iconography was introduced to the cult which made it visually appealing to the Greeks.
Isis, Osiris and Horus were honored by Greeks and by Egyptian immigrants as a kind of holy trinity, but always it was Isis who was the dominant member of the trio. Isis became the protector of family (especially women), the goddess of fertility and good fortune, and the goddess whose magic could cheat Fate and Death. She was also thought to be a protector of sailors, and sailors sailing from the great port of Alexandria took her cult all over the Mediterranean. Backed by the Ptolemaic regime, the new cult spread throughout Egypt.
The subject of the ethics of the cult is a complicated one. We know that Egyptian culture as a whole was free with sexuality compared to Roman culture. Isis was in fact rather popular with courtesans and other such professions, and there are speculations that Isiac cults may have promoted a kind of "positive sexuality" among a more conservative Roman population. Augustus and Tiberius took this as proof of a "pornographic" cult. Yet the Isiac cult also demanded regular periods of sexual abstinence from its adherents for purposes of ritual purification, and even apparently courtesans readily submitted to these observances. Curiously enough, the early Christians who were quick to complain about the degeneracy of pagan cults could not offer as much criticism about Isis as they could about some other cults in the Empire.
The cult of Isis had the numbers and the appeal to mount a serious threat to Christianity. Some scholars assert that the Holy Trinity of Isis, Serapis and Horus were not really defeated - they were merely absorbed into the new Holy Trinity of Christianity. Osiris: Father, Horus: Son and Isis: Holy Spirit. The reverence for Mary among high Christian churches is similar to faith in Isis. We should consider at the very least that many chapels to the Virgin were built purposely on the remains of temples to Isis, and that furthermore the iconography of the Mary and Jesus is quite similar to Isis and Horus.
Today, Isiac religion is undergoing something of a revival. Among New Age crowds, Isis is a popular symbol among those seeking an alternative to "patriarchal" religions. In fact, Isis worship is part of the "Goddess Spirituality" movement promoted by feminist and other postmodern identity groups. However, their understanding and practices related to Isis are sometimes more conditioned by revisionist politics than by anything resembling history or archaeology.

April 18, 2014

God's conquest of the Egyptian Gods

Hey guys I am about to talk about Roman religion. Roman religion was a melting pot of different cultures around the Mediterranean world and beyond. They were mainly influenced by Greeks, Egyptians, and Persian. Judaism too was part of the Roman religion.

The history of the Jews in the Roman Empire traces the interaction of Jews and Romans during the period of the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 476). Jews, primarily from Western Asia, and Ancient Romans, primarily from Latium in central Italy, are ancient ethnic groups. Their cultures began to overlap in the centuries just before the Christian Era. Jews, as part of the Jewish diaspora, migrated to Rome from Alexandria, where they formed a significant part of the population. The Roman general Pompey in his eastern campaign established the Roman province of Syria in 64 BC and conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC. Julius Caesar conquered Alexandria c. 47 BC and defeated Pompey in 45 BC. Under Julius Caesar, Judaism was officially recognised as a legal religion, a policy followed by first Roman emperor Augustus. Herod the Great was designated ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman Senate in c. 40 BC, the Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC, and Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea (biblical Edom) were converted to the Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD.
Jewish-Roman tensions resulted in several Jewish–Roman wars, 66-135 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and institution of the Jewish Tax in 70 and Hadrian's attempt to create a new Roman colony named Aelia Capitolina c. 130. The Jewish people have been an independant, rebel and ready to fight.
One of their great leader: Moses led to freedom and gave them laws to life by. Many of these laws are in our modern laws today.

Moses was a great prophet, called by God with a very important job to do. As an instrument in the Lord's hand he performed many signs, or "wonders", attempting to convince Pharaoh to allow the Israelites freedom from their bondage of slavery to the Egyptians. These "wonders" are more commonly referred to as "plagues" sent from the God of Israel, as a proof that the "one true God" was far greater than all of the multiple Gods of the Egyptians.

Egyptian Plague- Water Turned to Blood
The first plague that was given to the Egyptians from God was that of turning the water to blood. As Aaron, the spokesman for Moses, touched the "rod" of the Lord to the Nile River it immediately turned to blood, all the fish died, and the river reeked. Partially able to duplicate this miracle, the magicians of Pharaoh also turn water into blood, leaving Pharaoh unimpressed with this great wonder from God.
Seven days the water throughout all the land of Egypt remained in this state, unsuitable for drinking, the perfect length of time to demonstrate that the Lord was superior to all the other Gods of Egypt. In this case of the Nile gods: Sobek & Hapi.

Egyptian Plague- Frogs coming from the Nile River
Still, Pharaoh refused to let the children of Israel go from the presence of Egypt.The second plague that was extended upon Egypt, from the "rod" by Aaron, was that of frogs. The frogs came up from the river and were in their houses, in their food, in their clothing, in every place possible. From the greatest to the least, no one in Egypt escaped the plague of frogs. Pharaoh's magicians were able to bring more frogs in their attempt to imitate the power of God, but only Moses was able to make the frogs go away. This was another attack on an Egyptian Goddess, Heket.

Egyptian Plague- Lice from the dust of the earth
Still Pharaoh would not concede, even after this display of power from the Lord, or magnificent plague, he would not let them go. At the command of the Lord to Moses, Aaron was told to stretch forth his rod and smite the dust of the earth. When he did the dust became lice throughout all the land (Earth God Geb’s skin), on both people and beasts. The very dust that was referred to in the creation process of man is now used to plague men, as a reminder of his mortality and sin which both lead to death.  
Finally, the magicians of Pharaoh are humiliated, being unable to compete with this power that was so much greater than them and the powers those they had from their Egyptian gods and goddesses. This was the last plague that required Aaron's involvement, as the next sets of three plagues are issued by the word of Moses himself.


Egyptian Plague- Swarms of Flies
Moses met Pharaoh at the Nile River in the morning and made the demand, speaking on behalf of the Lord, "Let My people go, that they may serve me." Again, Pharaoh disregarded the request, resulting in a pronouncement of swarms of flies.
This time, however, only the Egyptians are affected by the judgment, or plague, and the children of Israel remain unscathed. This wonder also moves the Egyptian plagues to a different level, adding destruction as well as discomfort to the consequence of their decisions. This attack


Egyptian Plague- Death of Cattle and Livestock
Moses once again demanded of Pharaoh, "Let my people go, that they may serve me", revealing also the next Egyptian plague to occur on the condition of continued disobedience to the request. This plague was given with an advanced warning, allowing a period of repentance to occur, which goes unheeded.
"Tomorrow" the hand of the Lord would be felt upon all the cattle and livestock, of only the Egyptians, as “grievous murrain." This means that disease and pestilence would fall upon their livestock with so severe a consequence as to cause them to die. This plague affected the Egyptian by creating a huge economic disaster, in areas of food, transportation, military supplies, farming, and economic goods that were produced by these livestock. The Goddess Hathor was heartbroken and distraught about the situation. Still Pharaohs heart remained hard and he would not listen to the Lord but remained faith to the Egyptian gods and goddesses.


Egyptian Plague- Ashes turned to Boils and Sores
Unannounced the sixth Egyptian plague is given, for the first time, directly attacking the Egyptian people themselves. Being instructed by the Lord, Moses took ashes from the furnace of affliction, and threw them into the air. As the dust from the ashes blew all over Egypt, it settled on man and beast alike in the form of boils and sores.
As with the previous two, throughout the remaining Egyptian plagues the division is drawn between the Egyptians and the children of Israel, as God gives protection to his covenant people. The severity of the judgment of God has now become personal, as it is actually felt by the people themselves. Even the Great Mother Isis couldn't comfort all the people of Egypt!

Egyptian Plague- Hail rained down in the form of fire
Pharaoh is warned of the impending doom that will be faced if he does not listen to the Lord, and forget his own Egyptian gods and goddesses.
Hail of unspeakable size and ability to destroy, would rain down from the sky and turn to fire as it hit the ground. The Lord, in showing Pharaoh that "there is none like Him in the Earth", allows those who are willing to hear His word, and do as He commands, to be saved.
A division is now felt between the Egyptians in the form of those "converted" to the Lord, as shown by their obedience and willingness to escape to the protection of their "houses." Similarly we are warned to make our houses a place of refuge from the world today, we have been warned.
Interestingly enough, the crops that were destroyed by the hail consisted of flax and barley, which were ripening in the fields. These two particular crops were not the mainstay of their diet, but were used more specifically for their clothing and drinks. This destruction would make their life uncomfortable, but as far as affecting their food supply, the wheat still survived. This gave the Egyptians still another chance to turn to "the One True God", and forsake their own Egyptian gods and goddesses, thus showing His mercy and grace even yet.

Egyptian Plague- Locusts sent from the sky
Still Pharaoh would not listen to the message of the Lord; still he relies on his own Egyptian gods and goddesses. Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh with the same request, "Let my people go so that they may serve me", and pronounced the judgment of locusts if not heeded. This is the second wave of destruction to follow the hail, and whatever crops were left in tact after that display, were now completely consumed by the swarms of locusts that were unleashed from the sky. This wonder definitely affected their life source. By hitting them in their food supply, the Lord displayed the possibility of eminent death if a change of heart did not occur. Even Seth, God of Storms and Chaos, is horrific of the destruction. Yet still, Pharaoh would not listen.

Egyptian Plague- Three Days of Complete Darkness
Darkness now fell upon Egypt, unannounced, as a prelude to the future fate to be felt by the Egyptian empire when the message of the Lord was not heeded, and they still turned to their own Egyptian gods and goddesses. Three days of palpable darkness, that was so immense it could be physically felt, covered the land of Egypt.
The sun, the most worshipped God in Egypt other than Pharaoh himself, gave no light. The Lord showed that he had control over the sun as a witness that the God of Israel had ultimate power over life and death. The psychological and religious impact would have had a profound influence on the Egyptians at this point. Darkness was a representation of death, judgment and hopelessness. Darkness was a complete absence of light.

Egyptian Plague- Death of the Firstborn
Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was worshipped by the Egyptians because he was considered to be the greatest Egyptian God of all. It was believed that he was actually the son of Ra himself, manifest in the flesh.
After the plague of darkness felt throughout the land was lifted, Pharaoh resumed his position of "bargaining with the Lord" and offered Moses another "deal." Since virtually all of the Egyptian animals had been consumed by the judgments of the Lord, Pharaoh now consented to the request made, to let the people go, but they must leave their animals behind to feed his people.
This was a totally unacceptable offer, as the animals were to be used as the actual sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord is uncompromising when He has set the terms.
Enraged by the refusal, Pharaoh pronounced the last deadly plague to be unleashed upon the land from his very own lips as he warns Moses that if he EVER sees Moses again he’ll kill him. And Moses countered and said God is going to send Death to all the firstborn sons and animals in Egypt.

Well you knew the rest of the story Moses got his wish: his people's freedom. Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God reveals himself and offers them a Covenant: they are to keep His law, and in return he will be their God and give them the land of Canaan. After all,the Israelites god had weaken the gods of Egypt with plagues and then disarmed their army by drowning them in the Red Sea. Egypt has been decimated as a world power. And now Yahweh is coming on a swift cloud to Canaan.

April 14, 2014

Daily life of Roman life: Slavery

Slavery had a long history in the ancient world and was practiced in Ancient Egypt and Greece, as well as Rome. Most slaves during the Roman Empire were foreigners and, unlike in modern times, Roman slavery was not based on race.
Slaves were considered property under Roman law and had no legal personhood. Unlike Roman citizens, they could be subjected to corporal punishment, sexual exploitation (prostitutes were often slaves), torture, and summary execution. The testimony of a slave could not be accepted in a court of law unless the slave was tortured—a practice based on the belief that slaves in a position to be privy to their masters' affairs would be too virtuously loyal to reveal damaging evidence unless coerced (yeah right). Over time, however, slaves gained increased legal protection, including the right to file complaints against their masters.
How did people become Roman Slaves?
People became slaves among the Romans by the following ways:

  • Prisoners of war
  • Sailors captured and sold by pirates
  • By way of punishment
  • They were born in a state of servitude. Under Roman law, the offspring of slave women assumed the status of their mothers.
  • Slaves bought outside Roman territory
  • In hard times, it was not uncommon for desperate Roman citizens to raise money by selling their children into slavery.

Roman Slaves - The Slave Auctions
Slaves taken in the field, or in the storming of cities, were sold at auction, “sub corona,” as it was called, because they wore a crown when sold; or “sub hasta,” because a spear was set up where the auctioneer stood. These were called Servi or Mancipia. Those who dealt in the slave trade were called Mangones or Venalitii: they were bound to promise for the soundness of their slaves, and not to conceal their faults. Sometimes slaves stood on revolving stands, and around each slave for sale hung a type of plaque describing his or her origin, health, character, intelligence, education, and other information relevant to purchasers. Prices varied with age and quality, with the most valuable slaves fetching prices equivalent to thousands of today's dollars. Because the Romans wanted to know exactly what they were buying, slaves were presented naked. The dealer was required to take a slave back within six months if the slave had defects that were not manifest at the sale, or make good the buyer's loss. Slaves to be sold with no guarantee were made to wear a cap at the auction.

Slaves worked in a wide range of occupations that can be roughly divided into five categories:

Domestic: Well educated slaves were valued by the Romans. they worked as tutors or teachers of their children, accountants, musicians, managers, artists, secretaries, doctors and even as cooks. The day in the life of this type of slave was infinitely better than any other slaves. Because they were highly valued they were better treated, although they were subject to the same Roman Laws and no basic human rights accorded to them. They were given clothes which were appropriate to their slave status and their roles.

Imperial or public; owned by the state worked as laborers on public buildings, bridges, road building, sewers, public baths etc. Public slaves also worked in temples and other public buildings both in Rome and in the municipalities. Most performed general, basic tasks as servants to the College of Pontiffs, magistrates, and other officials. Some well-qualified public slaves did skilled office work such as accounting and secretarial services. They were permitted to earn money for their personal use.
Because they had an opportunity to prove their merit, they could acquire a reputation and influence, and were sometimes deemed eligible for manumission. During the Republic, a public slave could be freed by a magistrate's declaration, with the prior authorization of the senate; in the Imperial era, liberty would be granted by the emperor. Municipal public slaves could be freed by the municipal council

Urban crafts and services; These worked in private household attending to every need of the masters and mistresses - cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, serving etc. City slaves also worked in factories which produced various products

Agriculture:  Farm slaves probably lived in more healthful conditions than urban cousins. About half of all slaves in the Roman Republic and Empire worked in the countryside, the remainder in towns and cities.

Mining slaves numbering in the tens of thousands were condemned to work in the mines or quarries, where conditions were notoriously brutal. They were called Damnati in metallum ("those condemned to the mine") were convicts who lost their freedom as citizens, forfeited their property to the state, and became servi poenae, slaves as a legal penalty. Their status under the law was different from that of other slaves; they could not buy their freedom, be sold, or be set free. They were expected to live and die in the mines.

Essential labor 
Slaves worked everywhere – in private households, in mines and factories, and on farms. They also worked for city governments on engineering projects such as roads, aqueducts and buildings. As a result, they merged easily into the population. 
In fact, slaves looked so similar to Roman citizens that the Senate once considered a plan to make them wear special clothing so that they could be identified at a glance. The idea was quickly rejected because the Senate feared that, if slaves saw how many of them were working in Rome, they might be tempted to join forces and rebel (remember Spartacus).

Free at Last (barely)
Manumission is the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. A freed slave was the libertus of his former master, who became his patron (patronus). The two had mutual obligations to each other within the traditional patronage network. The terms of his manumission might specify the services a libertus owed. A freedman could "network" with other patrons as well.
As a social class, former slaves were libertini. Men could vote and participate in politics, with some limitations. They could not run for office, nor be admitted to the senatorial class. The children of former slaves enjoyed the full privileges of Roman citizenship without restrictions.
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