A pair of armbands from Hellenistic Greece (c.200 BC).
They depict depict the mythical Tritons with a long serpentine tails, one male and one female. Each are carrying a small Eros figure. There are hoops behind each of the triton’s heads where a sleeve could be attached to prevent the armbands slipping down the arm. This was a practical necessity as each arm band weighed over 6 and a half ounces.
Source:The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ancient Egyptians believed the tears of the goddess Isis made the Nile overflow each year. They celebrated the flood, which happened twice annually, with a festival called the “Night of the Tear Drop.”
My personal pictures of Herculaneum
I have heard people claim that Romans would feast until they were full, then go to a a “vomitorium” to throw up the food so they could keep eating. This is a myth. The truth is much more mundane: the vomitoria were actually passages that enabled the masses to move quickly to and from their seats in an amphitheater. These made it possible for thousands of Roman citizens to be seated within minutes.
King Canute has had a raw deal from history. He took his throne down to the beach in order to show his servile courtiers that not even a king could control the waves (that was in God’s power alone). But, ironically, he is now most often remembered as the silly old duffer who got soaked on the seashore because he thought he could master the tides. When, for example, Ryan Giggs tried last year to use a super-injunction to stop the swell of news about his private life, he was hailed as ‘the King Canute of football’.
For Aloys Winterling, the Emperor Caligula offers another case of the Canute problem. He has generally gone down in history as a mad megalomaniac: so mad that he gave his favourite horse a palace, lavish purple clothing, a retinue of servants, and even had plans to appoint it to the consulship, the highest political office below the emperor himself. In fact (so Winterling argues) his extravagant treatment of the animal was a pointed joke. Caligula was satirising the aims and ambitions of the Roman aristocracy: in their pursuit of luxury and empty honours, they appeared no less silly than the horse.
Caligula occupied the Roman throne for just four years, between 37 and 41 AD. He was the son of the glamorous imperial prince Germanicus (who died in mysterious circumstances in Syria in 19 AD), and spent much of his childhood on military campaigns with his father. Hence his name: although he was born Gaius Caesar Germanicus (and his official title was the Emperor Gaius), the soldiers nicknamed him ‘Caligula’ or ‘Little Boots’, after the mini-military uniform, boots included, in which he used to be dressed – and it stuck. At the death of the elderly Emperor Tiberius, he was eased onto the throne, aged 24, ahead of Tiberius’ natural grandson, who was murdered not long afterwards. The popularity of his father – plus the fact that, through his mother, Agrippina, he was a direct natural descendant of Augustus, the first emperor – provided a convenient veil for what must have been a nasty power struggle, or coup. But another coup soon followed. Four years later Caligula was assassinated, and the throne passed to his uncle Claudius, found, as the story goes, hiding behind a curtain in the palace, so terrified was he in the confusion that followed the murder.
Caligula’s reign may not have started too badly. There was perhaps one of those brief honeymoon periods which regularly accompanied a change of ruler in ancient Rome.