Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts

Saint Valentine and the Goddess Juno

On February 14 each year, Valentine's Day sends business soaring. Flowers, chocolates, and jewelry are on this day's most wanted gift lists to be exchanged between lovers. But how did Saint Valentine came to flowers, jewels, and chocolates? Or is he actually even the patron saint of lovers? For none of this has he done any work; it all involves an unusual inheritance that fell to him late in death.

Galileo Galilei: Master of Science and Self-Promotion

Galileo’s career started in a monastery in Florence; but his father saw a doctor in him. Defying his father, he studied mathematics instead of medicine. He made his first invention at 22. At 25, he was lecturing at the University of Pisa and building high class musical instruments. He had to move to Padova after being mobbed out from Pisa.

Livia, First Empress of Rome

Livia was the first First Lady of Rome. As the wife of Octavian Augustus, she was the first Empress of Rome. She was grossly vilified by Roman writer Tacitus roughly a hundred years after the event. Matthew Dennison came to her rescue with a book about her life. The biography was intended to rectify some entrenched myths even historians had a problem leaving behind.

Livia Drusilla Julia Augusta

Saint Helena, Empress of Rome

Flavia Iulia Helena is one of the few early saints that really existed. She must have been an energetic lady, and this into high age. She shared the Roman Emperors' penchant for building representative stone piles and went on a spending spree on churches. According to legend, she was the first archaeologists and an avid collector of assorted bric-a-brac.

Christina, the Female King of Sweden

Christina of Sweden was five when her father King Gustav II Adolf fell in the battle of L├╝tzen. Upon his death, her mother Queen Maria Eleonora was put under house arrest and exiled to castle Gripshom. On the express wish of the king, Christina was raised and trained as a prince and not a princess. At 16, she declined to co-rule with a regency council; instead she took full control at 18 when coming of age.

Good Queen Berta in Switzerland

Queen Berta of Burgundy, formerly Princess of Swabia, Queen of Upper Burgundy, and Empress of Rome, was buried in Payerne, a small town in today's Republic and Canton of Jura, Switzerland. She was first revered as a saint there, but her story started to grow as time went by. Soon she was known as Good Queen Berta. Still later, she acquired the name Queen Berta the Spinner. Even later, she would become godmother to a newly established republican state. And her story lives on today.

Cosmati Mosaics: Recycled Art

In the 12th and the 13th century, an Italian family business elevated recycling to an art form. Named for Cosmas, the founding father of the enterprise, they are collectively known as the Cosmati. Using ancient art buried in the rubble of Rome, they created outstanding works of art. 

Naval Arms Race in The Mediterranean

The history of the Mediterranean Sea is the history of naval development and armament. Ships played an important part in the Persian Wars of the Greek city states against the Persian Empire as well as in the Peloponnese War between Sparta and Athens and their allies. The Punic Wars of the Romans saw a lot of naval action as well as their in-house squabbles leading up to Octavian taking power as Emperor Augustus. 

About Roman Numerals (and Not Numbers)

Roman numerals are still used today (you'd know that if you would stay to the end of a movie). And they are numerals, not Roman numbers. If the Romans had used different numbers from what we use today, we would have the hell of a time converting them to our numeric system. Roman numbers, in fact, don't exist, scrap the term and start using Roman numerals correctly. 

The First Woman Employee at the Vatican

In 1934, Hermine Speier became the first female employee in the Vatican in the modern sense of employee with a salary and a pension plan. She wasn't a nun, and more surprisingly, she wasn't even Catholic.