Every year, the Romans celebrated the birthday of their city on the 21st of April, the day on which, according to early traditions, Romulus founded Rome by tracing the pomerium, the sacred urban boundary separating the city (urbs) from the country (ager). The celebrations were held during the Parilia, a rural festival associated with flocks and… Continue reading 21 April AD 121 – Hadrian celebrates Rome’s 874th birthday with circus games (#Hadrian1900)
In the early year of AD 121, Pompeia Plotina, the greatly respected widow of the emperor Trajan, sent Hadrian a letter asking him to help the Epicurean school in Athens solve an issue regarding the rights of succession. According to Roman law, the head of the school was obliged to appoint a new leader from… Continue reading Early AD 121 – Plotina writes to Hadrian on behalf of the Epicurean school in Athens (#Hadrian1900)
On 18 February AD 121, Titus Haterius Nepos, the prefect of Egypt, visited the Colossus of Memnon at the Theban necropolis and heard the statue sing. Nepos immortalised his encounter by inscribing his name upon the right leg of the statue. In a five-line text written in Latin, Nepos attests that he heard Memnon an hour… Continue reading 18 February AD 121 – Titus Haterius Nepos, prefect of Egypt, visits the Memnon Colossus (#Hadrian1900)
Happy 1945th birthday, Hadrian! As is tradition, I baked Hadrian a birthday cake. This year, I chose to cook Cato's recipe for savillum (a kind of cheesecake), one of my favourite desserts from antiquity. Savillum recipe in Latin (from LacusCurtius): Cato’s De Agricultura 84: Savillum hoc modo facito. Farinae selibram, casei P. II S una conmisceto quasi libum, mellis P. et ovum… Continue reading Felix dies natalis, Hadriane!
As if 2020 hadn't hurt us enough already, on Saturday 19th December, we lost one of the greatest Roman scholars, Professor Anthony Birley. The sad news of his passing at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle was announced in a statement released by the Vindolanda Trust on Monday 21st December (see here). Anthony Birley was… Continue reading In memoriam: Anthony Birley (1937-2020)
Antiquity was a very colourful place! The myth of all-white marble classical sculpture that remained uninterrupted for centuries has been put to rest thanks to modern science. Over the past thirty years or so, ground-breaking research in pigmentation have revealed new evidence for painted and ornamented surfaces on classical sculpture. Modern techniques such as X-ray… Continue reading Hadrian in colour, by Danila Loginov
Hadrian's deep concern with consolidating and defining the Empire started very early in his reign. Upon ascending the throne, the new emperor abandoned Trajan's newly conquered provinces beyond the Euphrates and rapidly took the opportunity to carry out his new frontier policy. He first embarked on a quick inspection of the military bases along the… Continue reading AD 120 – The army erects a wooden palisade on the German frontier (#Hadrian1900)
Between the 10th of December 118 and the 9th of December 119, the river boatmen of the Rhône, the nautae Rhodanici, made an offering to their indulgentissimus princeps Hadrian (CIL XII, 1797). They erected a statue of the emperor in the town of Tournus (Tournon-sur-Rhône) between Valencia (Valence) and Vienna (Vienne), at the confluence of… Continue reading AD 119 – The boatmen of the Rhône river erect a statue in honour of Hadrian (#Hadrian1900)
One thousand nine hundred years ago, the city of Tomis, a Greek colony on the west coast of the Euxine (Black Sea), honoured Hadrian with a large bilingual inscription, carved on what was probably the pedestal of a statue carrying the Emperor's effigy. The inscription (CIL III, 7539), found in two fragments in Constanța (Romania), begins… Continue reading AD 120 – The city of Tomis honours Hadrian with a bilingual inscription (#Hadrian1900)
Today (April 21) is the traditional date given for the founding of Rome. According to Roman mythology, the founders were Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and sons of the god Mars and Rhea Silvia. The twins were then abandoned by their parents as babies (because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their great-uncle Amulius)… Continue reading Happy birthday, Roma!