Monday, July 28, 2014

NEED TO MAKE A HASTY EXIT?
HEAD FOR THE VOMITORIUM



NEXT time you are in a theatre, look to see if it has a vomitorium in case you need to make a quick exit.

We have all heard lurid tales of extravagant banquets in Ancient Rome at which guests would over-indulge in food and drink and would need the help of a slave to help them vomit.

The slave would use a feather to assist in the regurgitation process ... and would hold a vessel in front of the person's mouth.

There is a popular misconception that Roman villas had a special room for this purpose ... a vomitorium.

According to Cicero, Julius Caesar escaped an assassination attempt because he felt ill after dinner. 

Instead of going to the latrine, where his assassins were waiting, he went to his bedroom and avoided assassination. This may be the origin of the misconception.

Actually, however, a vomitorium is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance. They can also be pathways for actors to enter and leave stage.

The Latin word vomitorium, plural vomitoria, derives from the verb vomō, vomere, "to spew forth." In Ancient Rome, vomitoria were designed to provide rapid egress for large crowds at amphitheatres and stadiums, as they do in modern sports stadiums and large theatres.

The Circle in the Square Theatre, designed to reflect the theatres of ancient Greece and Rome, is the only Broadway theatre that has a vomitorium. The vomitorium is still used in many of their productions as an entrance and exit for the actors.

The Cockpit Theatre, built in London in the 1960s, is one of the very few purpose-built theatres in the round in London and features four vomitoria as corner entrances between four banks of raked seating arranged in a square.

In addition the Mark Taper Forum, one of the three theatres making up the Los Angeles Music Center, has two vomitoria. It has a strong thrust stage such that the audience sit in an amphitheatre-type array.

If a performance makes you sick, just head for the vomitorium ... to find your way outside fast.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

YOU MAY SOON CARESS YOUR OWN ANTINOUS
THANKS TO 3-D SCULPTURAL COPYING


SOON you may be able to acquire an exact copy of a famous statue or bust of Antinous ... indistinguishable from the original ... thanks to 3-D imaging technology.

Not everyone can afford to seek out every Antinous statue or bust in museums scattered around the world.

And of course no one is permitted to touch them, or even use a flash camera to take a snapshot.

Imagine how compelling it would be to be able to not only look at an artifact but also to handle it and feel the skill and artistry of the who created the piece on Imperial commission from Hadrian himself.

Now, a team of research engineers from Lancaster University in the UK have tried to achieve just that by offering schoolchildren the chance to handle ancient Egyptian artifacts at the nearby KENDAL MUSEUM – without any fear of damaging the 3,000-year-old relics.

Using a simple digital SLR camera used to photograph objects from every angle, readily-available software to stitch the images together into a 3D model, and the university’s simple SLS printer, the team reproduced a range of objects including pottery, a clay head and a figurine of a warrior.

"These Ancient Egyptian items are so rare that normally we don’t let anybody touch them," says the museum's archaeology curator Morag Clement, pictured here holding some of the replicas. 

"With these copies, people can pick them up, touch and interact with them instead of just viewing them behind glass," he adds. "We can also put them into loan boxes sent out to schools to teach the children about history."

The use of this technique could also make it easier to digitally repair broken antiquities. 

The replicas were created by PhD student John Kaufman and Dr Allan Rennie from the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University. John Kaufman painstakingly photographed every object from 360 degrees. 

"Normally this would be done with a laser scanner," he says. "But as part of my research, I used a much cheaper digital camera to see if I could make this method more accessible."

Up to 150 photos of each object were then digitally stitched together to create a 3D virtual image of the original.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SOLDIER OF ROME
WROTE OF HOMESICKNESS FOR THE NILE


A newly deciphered letter home dating back to the time of Hadrian and Antinous reveals the homesickness of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.

In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them.

This image of a plaintive young Egyptian in Roman toga dates from the era and was found at Antinoopolis, not far from where this letter was discovered.

In the letter, Polion says that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see his family and the Nile which he misses so much.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: "I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind," it reads.

"I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ..." (Part of the letter hasn't survived.)

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response.

"While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger," he writes. "I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother …"

The letter was found outside a temple in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis over 100 years ago by an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt.

They found numerous papyri in the town and did not have time to translate all of them.

Recently Grant Adamson, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, took up the task of translating the papyrus, using infrared images of it, a technology that makes part of the text more legible.

His translation was published recently in the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists.

Adamson isn't sure if the soldier's family responded to his pleas, or if Polion got leave to see them (it's unlikely), but it appears this letter did arrive home.

"I tend to think so. The letter was addressed to and mentions Egyptians, and it was found outside the temple of the Roman-period town of Tebtunis in the Fayyum not far from the Nile River," Adamson wrote in an email to Live Science.



Polion, who lived at a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was part of the legio II Adiutrix legion stationed in Pannonia Inferior (around modern-day Hungary).

Friday, July 25, 2014

THE INUNDATION OF THE NILE
THE FIRST MIRACLE OF ANTINOUS THE GOD


ON JULY 25 the Religion of Antinous joyfully commemorates the First Miracle of Antinous — the Bountiful Inundation of the Nile which ended a drought which had caused food shortages throughout the Empire.

The famine had overshadowed the tour of Egypt by the Imperial entourage in the year 130. The half-starved Egyptians looked to Hadrian, whom they worshipped as pharaoh, to perform a miracle which would end their misery.

But as Hadrian and Antinous traveled up the Nile during the summer and autumn of 130, the Nile once again failed to rise sufficiently to water the fields of Egypt — Rome's "Bread Basket" and chief source of grain and other staple foodstuffs.

It was a humiliating disappointment for the Emperor following the jubilant welcome by peoples during the earlier part of his tour through the Eastern Empire. In Ephesus and other cities he had been welcomed as a living god.

But the Egyptians had given him and his coterie what little they had in the way of food and wine — and he had failed to convince the Inundation Deity Hapi to bless them with bounty. Hapi is one of the most extraordinary deities in the history of religion.

Hapi is special to us especially because Hapi is hermaphroditic. With many other such deities, the gender division is down the middle of the body (like some Hindu deities) or the top half is one gender and the bottom half is the other.

But Hapi is very complex and the genders are mixed throughout his/her body. Male deities invariably have reddish-orange skin in Egyptian Art and female deities have yellowish skin. Hapi has bluish-green skin. Hapi has long hair like a female deity but has a square jaw and a beard. Hapi has broad shoulders yet has pendulous breasts like a nursing mother. Hapi has narrow hips and masculine thighs, but has a pregnant belly. Nobody knows what sort of genitals Hapi has, since they are covered by a strange garment reminiscent of a sumo wrestler's belt.

Hapi is both father and mother to the Egyptians. Hapi provides them with everything necessary for life. As Herodotus wrote, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile". Hapi wears a fabulous headdress of towering water plants and she/he carries enormous offering trays laden with foodstuffs.

The Ancient Egyptians had no problem worshipping a mixed-gender deity. I think it is very important to draw the connection between Hapi and Antinous, especially since the First Miracle that Antinous performed as a god involved Hapi. The Egyptians accepted Antinous into their own belief system immediately and were among the most ardent followers of Antinous.

They had no problem worshipping a gay deity who had united himself with a hermaphroditic deity. It must have seemed very logical and credible to them.

It made sense to them and enriched their belief system, made it more personal since they could identify more easily with a handsome young man than with a hermaphrodite wearing a sumo belt (Hapi forgive me!).

Herodotus also said he once asked a very learned religious man in Egypt what the true source of the Nile was.

The learned man (speaking through an interpreter, since most Greeks never bothered to learn Egyptian) paused and finally told him the true source of the Nile is the thigh of Osiris.

We think of it as a strange answer. We think of the Nile as an "it" and the source as a "geographical location". But the Egyptians thought of the Nile as "us" and its true source as "heka" — the magical semen of the creator.

So, a learned Egyptian would have assumed that a learned Greek would understand what was meant: That Hapi is the equivalent of Dionysus, who was "incubated" in the inner thigh of Zeus after his pregnant mortal mother Semele perished when she could not bear the searing sight of her lover Zeus in all his divine panoply.

It's a very poetic way (a very Egyptian way) of saying that the "true source" of the Nile, which is to say Egypt itself, is the magical heka/semen from the loins of the original creator.

We will never know what happened during that journey up the Nile along the drought-parched fields with anxious Egyptian farmers looking to Hadrian for a miracle. All we know is that Antinous "plunged into the Nile" and into the arms of Hapi in late October of the year 130.

And then the following summer, Hapi the Inundation Deity provided a bountiful Nile flood which replenished the food stocks of Egypt — and the Roman Empire.

Our own Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains the more esoteric aspects of this special Religious Holy Day:

"The Dog Star Sirius appears, and the sacred Star of Antinous begins to approach its zenith in the night sky of the northern hemisphere. The appearance of the Dog Star once announced the rise of the Inundation of the Nile, though it no longer does due to the precession of the Equinox, which is the slight alteration of the position of the stars.
"After the Death and Deification of Antinous, the Nile responded by rising miraculously after two successive years of severe drought. It was on this day, July 25th, in the year 131 that the ancient Egyptians recognized that Antinous was a god, nine months after his death, following their custom of deifying those who drowned in the Nile, whose sacrifice insured the life-giving flood.

"Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, it is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the big dog, which is the hunting dog of Orion. Mystically, Sirius and the constellation Canis Major is Antinous Master of Hounds and Orion is Hadrian the Hunter.

"The position of Orion, along the banks of the Milky Way, our galaxy in relation to Sirius is a mirror image of Pyramids along the bank of the Nile, which is the same relationship as Antinoopolis to the Nile, with the Via Hadriani, the road which Hadrian built across the desert to the East, linking the Nile with the Red Sea — Rome to India.

"We consecrate the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer to the advent of the Egyptian deification of Antinous and the miracle of the Inundation of the Nile."

The First Miracle of Antinous the Gay God is enshrined in the hieroglyphic inscription on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS which stands in Rome.

The East Face of the Obelisk, which is aligned to the rising sun Ra-Herakhte, speaks of the joy that fills the heart of Antinous since having been summoned to meet his heavenly father Ra-Herakhte and to become a god himself.

Then the inscription tells how Antinous intercedes with Ra-Herakhte to shower blessings upon Hadrian and the Empress Sabina Augusta.

And Antinous immediately calls upon Hapi ...

Hapi, progenitor of the gods,
On behalf of Hadrian and Sabina,
Arrange the inundation in fortuitous time
To make fertile and bountiful, the fields
Of Both Upper and Lower Egypt!
We joyfully celebrate this, the First Miracle of Antinous!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE HELIACAL RISING OF THE DOG STAR




Arise in Me…Sothis,

Let me be cleansed

Let me be renewed

Let the Inundation flood

Across the heart

Dog Star Returns

A New Antinous coming forth

To set the soul in order

To purify with clear water

That we may be whole again

~FLAMEN ANTONIUS SUBIA


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MAP OF ANCIENT ROMAN TRAVEL ROUTES
ALLOWS YOU TO FOLLOW ANTINOUS



WE know that Antinous and Hadrian traveled to many far-flung provinces of the Roman Empire ... and now an interactive map helps you appreciate how long it would have taken ... and how it would have cost ... to follow in their footsteps.

Rome was at its largest under Hadrian. The Roman Empire stretched across the length and breadth of UK, Europe and beyond covering a staggering 1,061,780 square miles (2,750,000 square km).

But its size was can also be attributed to its downfall as managing such a large expanse of land proved costly and time consuming. 

To put this expanse into perspective, historians have created the interactive ORBIS: Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World that lets you explore the Empire, and see how long it would have taken ... and how much it would have cost ... to travel the world in the time of Antinous and Hadrian.

The map of the Roman world was created by Walter Scheidel, an historian in the Classics and History Departments at Stanford.

It features 632 sites including urban settlements and mountain passes, and covers close to 4 million square miles (10 million square km) of land and sea.

The map reveals how much it would have cost to travel on roads and seas across the Roman Empire, and calculates the route based on the season or mode of transport chosen.

Map modes include travelling by foot, horses, relay, oxcart, porter, private chariot, and during a rapid military march.

Travelling by Imperial Entourage is perhaps the only option missing.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

YOUR FRIENDS REALLY ARE YOUR FAMILY
STUNNING NEW GENETIC STUDY PROVES



YOU may unsuspectingly choose friends who have some DNA sequences in common with you, a new analysis finds.

Researchers compared gene variations between nearly 2,000 people who were not biologically related, and found that friends had more gene variations in common than strangers.

The study lends a possible scientific backing for the well-worn clichés: "We're just like family," or "Friends are the family you choose," the researchers said.

"Humans are unique in that we create long-term connections with people of our species," said Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist at Yale University involved in the study. "Why do we do that? Why do we make friends? Not only that, we prefer the company of people we resemble."

The researchers did the study because they wanted "to provide a deep evolutionary account of the origins and significance of friendship," Christakis said.

The new study is based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, which is a large, ongoing study looking at heart disease risk factors in the people living in one town: Framingham, Massachusetts. The researchers looked at data on people's DNA, as well as who was friends with whom.

After analyzing almost 1.5 million markers of gene variations, the researchers found that pairs of friends had the same level of genetic relation as people did with a fourth cousin, or a great-great-great grandfather, which translates to about 1 percent of the human genome.

The most common gene shared by friends was the "olfactory" gene, which is involved in a person's sense of smell.

Although 1 percent may not sound like much, Christakis said in a statement, "to geneticists it is a significant number.


He said, "Most people don't even know who their fourth cousins are, yet we are somehow, among a myriad of possibilities, managing to select as friends the people who resemble ourselves."