Tag Archives: Early Christianity

Oh the Humanity!

Several months ago, I received a letter from the Vatican which had been sent by His Eminence Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State. The letter included my appointment to the position of Academicus Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy for Latin … Continue reading

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The Riddle of a Poor Man’s Epitaph

As I write these lines, I am in Tarragona, about one hour south of Barcelona by train, on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada (‘Golden Coast’). Tarragona, Roman Tarraco, now a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to some of the most impressive … Continue reading

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Sadness, Weariness, and Laughter: An Ancient Latin Poem on Occasion of Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

Between 11-17 May 2015 it is Mental Health Awareness Week, when the Mental Health Foundation, like every year, helps to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. Mental health is hard to define. On their webpages, the Mental Health … Continue reading

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What happened to Pontia?, Or: How a husband buried his beloved wife (and still only managed to talk about himself)

Last week I published a piece about fatal traffic accidents in ancient Rome. When I did my research for this entry, I came across an inscription from Carsulae in Umbria, which puzzled me for a number of reasons – not … Continue reading

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Here lies (insert name here), or: Why reading beyond a quotation is a really good idea

There is an old theory, originally proposed by René Cagnat in 1889 and widely believed by classical scholars, that in the Roman world there were manuals for the use of professional stone cutters and the like, providing them with model … Continue reading

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The Faint Voices of the Poor of Ancient Rome

More often than not, we tend to turn our eyes away from poverty and the poor, the blemish on the conscience of our society in which everything exists in abundance and in which no one would have to suffer from … Continue reading

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St. Valentine’s Glory

Valentine’s Day is imminent: a day for lovers (to celebrate their romance), for the chocolate and flower industries (to make a fortune), and for the ill-informed (to point out that the Romans, too, celebrated a festival around the same time … Continue reading

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Buried Above Ground

The idea that the body is a prison-house or, more drastically still, a tomb of the soul – often shortened to the phrase soma sema – is an ancient one. Rooted in Orphic (rather than Pythagorean) thought, it finds its first … Continue reading

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Meet the gloomiest Romans of all time

Last week, I introduced a (very small) choice of inscriptions that presented a variety of ways in which heartbroken parents had begun to come to terms with the loss of their offspring. An inscription that I chose not to include … Continue reading

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Season’s Greetings

There is no denying it: the festive season is upon us. Could I give my readership a more appropriate present than the text and my translation of two Latin verse inscriptions from the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem – … Continue reading

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