Festivals in ancient Greece and Rome were important periods of time during which people performed “activities that are most often thought of as communications with the superhuman world.” Marked by a variety of unique cultural rituals and traditions, festival days stood in stark contrast to ordinary life in ancient Greece and Rome. Processions, sacrifices, athletic events, and musical performances were just the start of some of the interesting highlights. The ways in which the ancient people chose to express themselves on these special calendar days is fascinating. In examining both its contrasts and similarities to today, studying ancient culture can be seen as the study of our own humanity. To demonstrate some of the unique aspects of culture in ancient Greece and Rome, we compiled a list of these 9 facts about some festivals in ancient Greece and Rome.
Ruins of a grand Roman countryside villa (villa rustica) were discovered by a local school teacher at the end of the 19th century outside the village of Borg in the municipality of Perl (Germany). The villa consisted of three wings covering an area of more than 7.5 hectares. The complex was excavated in the late 1980s and a plan to reconstruct an authentic representation of the buildings as they originally appeared in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD began in 1994. The project was completed in 2008 although further excavation work is still undergoing.
Italica is a well-preserved Roman city located in modern-day Santiponce, 9 kilometres north of Seville in Spain. The city was founded in 206 BC during the Second Punic War (218-202) when the Roman commander Publius Cornelius Scipio settled his Italian veterans on this site following a victory at the Battle of Ilipa. Although the nearby town of Hispalis (Seville) would always remain a larger city, Italica became an important centre of Roman culture and was awarded the title of colonia. The name Italica reflected the veterans’ Italian origins. Coordinates: 37° 26′ 38″ N, 6° 2′ 48″ W
Felix dies natalis, Roma! (Happy birthday, Rome!) This week on the 21st of April is the traditional date given for the founding of Rome. According to Roman mythology, the founders were Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and supposed sons of the god Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. The twins were then abandoned by their parents as babies because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their great-uncle Amulius, but were saved by a she-wolf who nursed them. Romulus killed his brother after a vicious quarrel and went on to establish a city which he named after himself.
Located in the village of Nennig in the delightful Upper Moselle Valley, the Roman Villa Nennig (German: Römische Villa Nennig) houses a richly illustrated gladiatorial mosaic, one of the most important Roman artefacts north of the Alps. Protected by a dedicated building built about 150 years ago and covering an area of roughly 160m2, the mosaic vividly portrays musicians, hunting scenes and gladiatorial contests.
In an effort to share more of our favourite ancient objects from around the world, Ancient History Encyclopedia staff have taken a closer look at some really amazing objects or structures. Today’s Object in Focus is the Meroe Head of Augustus.
This month’s masterpiece from Hadrian’s Villa is a series of heavily restored mosaic panels depicting bucolic scenes with animals. The first panel depicts a rocky landscape with a flock of goats peacefully grazing by a stream. A standing bronze statue dressed in a long tunic is standing on a rock. It holds a bunch of grapes in its right hand and a thyrsus in his left hand. The statue is probably an image of the god Dionysos meant to evoke a sacro-idyllic landscape. Dionysus was also considered to be a god of fertility and there seems to be a human phallus represented on the tablet next to the statue. The phallus was a symbol of his power, the ability to create new life.