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Romulans – Star Trek’s Nasty Vulcans from Ancient Rome

Romulan fights Andorian for Vlad

Romulan fights Andorian for Vlad by GizmoDoc via Flickr (costumers, not professional actors)

Romulans are an alien, imperial race in the original Star Trek TV show, sharing common ancestry with the Vulcans.

Instead of using their considerable intelligence for the promotion of peace, as do Vulcans, Romulans are bellicose and at perpetual war with the Federation (an interplanetary organization that includes humanity).

The Romulans are notorious for being able to “cloak” their ships with a device that renders them invisible. This makes for dramatic battle scenes similar to the contemporary naval destroyer and submarine.

The creators of the original Star Trek chose the name Romulans to resemble Romans, which subconsciously resonates with ideas of power, military intelligence and forceful acquisition.

As screenwriter Paul Schneider says:

It was a matter of developing a good Romanesque set of admirable antagonists … an extension of the Roman civilization to the point of space travel

The Romulan home world is actually two planets in the same solar system: Romulus and Remus. Again, this is a direct borrowing from Roman mythology .²

In a humorous vein, Romulan ale is a blue, illegal drink that many Federation officers mention during moments of lively banter.

A female Romulan Commander in 2268 via Memory Alpha

A female Romulan Commander in 2268 (via Memory Alpha)

In this image (immediately right) we see a Romulan Commander whom Captain Kirk seduces in order to gain freedom from captivity. When she finds out their mutual affection was a ruse on the part of Kirk, she’s hurt and he feels a bit badly.

Interspecies love is no big deal in the Star Trek universe. People with a true eye as to what sci-fi is all about tend to be less concerned about things like gender, age, sexual orientation and race.

However, some sci-fi buffs still seem to be hung up on these conventional categories. Maybe they like to fantasize about a better world but are not mature enough to put their fantasies into reality.

¹ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulan This reminds me of an arrogant man I once knew who felt that North Americans lacked “culture.” He (somehow) physically escaped the grip of his communist country to benefit from living in our free society. But ideologically, he was still imprisoned. He had no appreciation, other than his visible excitement at the mere mention of scanners and computers, for the depth and innovation of North American culture.

² Read my notes for more: http://marker.to/anwBFm

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The Glory and, sadly, the Gory of Rome

young woman taking pictures at the Pantheon, Rome

Rome is the vibrant capital of Italy, with a long and complicated history, dating back to the 8th century BCE.

The founding of Rome is understood in terms of two mythic tales. One about Romulus and Remus. The other about Aeneas. The Romulus and Remus myth seems to have mostly won out. Any popular videos I’ve seen about Rome tell about their being suckled by a she-wolf but ignore the tale of Aeneas. Such is life… and history.

I’m not a Roman historian so, rather than spend days rewriting something I’m only mildly interested in, I have highlighted some main points here. Readers wanting more could also check out the lively podcast at Spotify: The History of Rome (mobile).

The Capitoline she-wolf with the boys Romulus ...

The Capitoline she-wolf with the boys Romulus and Remus. Museo Nuovo in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Roman Religion before the time of Christ is quite engaging. It overlaps with Greek myth. The strong-armed Romans borrowed much from Greek culture, which they admired for its sublimity.

But Roman Religion also has its own quirks—including the belief in personal deities for almost every occasion, divination, and from a contemporary perspective, irrational superstitions.

I strongly recommend John Ferguson’s The Religions of the Roman Empire.¹  Also, Sir J. G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough² offers some intriguing theories about pagan priestly succession in ancient Rome.

According to Frazer, a potentially new priest challenges and ultimately slays an old priest. So being a priest is not exactly a cushy job in some corners of ancient Rome. This didn’t apply to all pagan priests. I’ve highlighted the story here.

Pre-Christian Rome fell in the 5th century to Germanic invaders. In the 6th century Rome became an important center for the Christian Church, with Vatican City on the West bank of the Tiber river.

When the Roman Empire was at its peak, the city of Rome symbolized worldly power and also of the cruel persecution of the early Christians. Ironically, the geographic focal point for the persecution of Christians eventually became the worldwide center for Christianity and later, with the East-West Schism and Protestantism, for Catholicism.

The “Hammer or Witches” was a disturbed and irrational ‘manual’ supported by leading theological universities. It told how to identify and torture witches. It was a bestseller, second only to the Bible for almost 200 years.

The historian Arnold Toynbee and others observe that soon after the Christian Romans gained power, they began persecuting individuals (heretics and witches) just as the pagan Romans had previously persecuted Christians.

Toynbee believes it is mostly power – and the greed and arrogance that goes with it – that is responsible for this barbarous behavior among human beings. Religious justifications are just window dressing. The real cause of persecution is human brutishness and misery.

How many people like this do we know today? Is it any wonder we usually don’t want to have anything to do with them!

In 1871 Rome became the capital of modern Italy.

¹ Chances are you don’t have to pay $40 for this book. It’s in most major libraries. And secondhand and remaindered booksellers tend to sell it for under $10. I once saw it in used paperback for a dollar.

²  This is a huge, multi-volume work but there are several abridged versions.

Related » Acts of the Apostles, Aeneas, Aeneid, Julius Caesar, Church FathersMythic Inflation, Romulus and Remus, Vestal Virgin


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Sibyl

A Sibyl

A Sibyl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term Sibyl represents alleged prophetesses who were consulted in ancient Greece and Rome. They apparently prophecized in ecstasy, under the temporary possession of Apollo. The Oxford Classical Dictionary notes that

Originally the Sibyl seems to have been a single prophetic woman, but by the time of Heraclides (1) Ponticus… a number of places claimed to be the birthplace of Sibylla, traditions concerning a number of different Sibyls began to circulate, and the word came to be a generic term rather than a name.¹

Ten Sibylline oracles have been recorded by history. The best known Sibyl is said to have resided in a cave at Cumea, near Naples—The Cumean Sibyl.

In Vergil‘s Aneid this Sibyl is visited by Aeneas before his descent to Hades. She is also believed to have composed the original Sibylline books.

Study for the Phrygian Sibyl fresco by Raphael...

Study for the Phrygian Sibyl fresco by Raphael for the Chigi Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These prophetic works were taken to Rome, where they were guarded by two nobles. Extended volumes of Sibylline books survived into the 4th century CE.

M. C. Howatson and Ian Chilvers relate a story about the Cumaean Sibyl where the god Apollo asks what she would want in return if he were to make love with her. She asks for a lifespan equal in years to the number of grains in a heap of sand. It turns out there are 1,000 grains of sand. She forgot, however, to ask for youthfulness, so grew wickedly old and miserable, wishing only to die.²

Another famous Sibyl lived in Erythia in Asia, “The Erythian Sibyl.”

Sibyls appear in Christian art and literature. Early Christian interest in the Sibylline oracles raised them to a status comparable to the Old Testament Prophets. As Celia E. Schultz puts it:

The fact that many of the Sibylline oracles touch on Christian and Jewish themes is a reflection of the popularity of the Sibyl as a prophet of the Messiah for early Christian writers.³

Picture of Shirley Ardell Mason, aka Sybil Isa...

Picture of Shirley Ardell Mason, aka Sybil Isabel Dorsett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1973 a popular novel, Sibyl, was written by Flora Rheta Schreiber based on the life of Shirley Ardell Mason, a woman diagnosed with so-called multiple personality disorder (MPD). In 1976 the book was made into a film with Sally Field as Sibyl.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, at least two other novels have been entitled Sibyl.

¹ “Sibyl” in The Oxford Classical Dictionary: Oxford University Press 1996, 2000 CD ROM version.

² Concise Companion to Classical Literature, Oxford 1996, p. 493.

³ Schultz, Celia E. “Sibyls and the Sibylline Books.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. : Oxford University Press, 2010. Oxford Reference. 2010. Date Accessed 16 Nov. 2015 http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195170726.001.0001/acref-9780195170726-e-1162.

The plethora of images listed below shows that, although closed down as an institution, the idea of the Sibyls continues to fascinate and inspire through the centuries.

Related » Mistletoe, DSM-IV-TR

The Libyan Sibyl by Cliff

Michelangelo's rendering of the Erythraean Sibyl

Michelangelo’s rendering of the Erythraean Sibyl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sibylla Palmifera

Sibylla Palmifera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelangelo's Delphic Sibyl, Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Delphic Sibyl, Sistine Chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sibyl seated among Classical ruins

Sibyl seated among Classical ruins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Janssens, Abraham - The Agrippine Sibyl

Janssens, Abraham – The Agrippine Sibyl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guercino - Persian Sibyl

Guercino – Persian Sibyl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Detail of the vault (one of the 4 sibyls : Sib...

Detail of the vault (one of the 4 sibyls : Sibyl of Delphi) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sibyl velasquez

Sibyl velasquez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo, The Liby...

Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo, The Libyan Sibyl, post restoration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cumaean Sibyl Deutsch: Cumäische Siby...

Cumaean Sibyl Deutsch: Cumäische Sibylle a Sibila de Cumas, por Michelangelo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Domenichino - Cumaean Sibyl

Domenichino – Cumaean Sibyl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image by John Leech, from: The Comic History o...

Image by John Leech, from: The Comic History of Rome by Gilbert Abbott A Beckett. Bradbury, Evans & Co, London, 1850s Tarquinius Superbus has the Sibylline Books valued (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Prophet Hosea and the Delphic Sibyl Fresco...

The Prophet Hosea and the Delphic Sibyl Fresco Borgia Apartments, Hall of the Sibyls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Venus

Venus, Pan and Eros

Venus, Pan and Eros (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myth

In mythology Venus is the Roman parallel to the Greek Aphrodite. But Venus is somewhat more subdued than Aphrodite.

Venus is a goddess of seduction and, in one set of rites and myths, she is associated with Roman wine fesitvals (Vinalia). In this festival she’s seen as a mediator between Jupiter and the Roman people.

She is also the mother of Aeneas, who according to the poet Vergil, is the founder of Rome. In a sense, then, Venus was regarded as the mother of Rome.

But she was no chaste mother. Her name literally means sex, and she was the lover of Mars, who with the mortal Rhea Silva begat the twin brothers Romulus and Remus.

Since Rome was named after Romulus, who after disposing of Remus became the first ruler of Rome, Venus plays a kind of dual role in the founding of Rome. As such, she was given a sacred solemnity among the Romans that Aphrodite never enjoyed among the Greeks.

Mars and Venus have a romantic rendezvous. Fresco from the “House of Sallust” at Pompeii, now in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples. – Image via Tumblr

Venus’ first known temple was built shortly after 295 BCE. And despite New Age and Jungian attempts to treat her as some kind of pristine archetype, and others’ attempts to link her to the Vedic term for desire, her historical roots remain obscure.

However, her character did develop, as most mythic entities do, in step with the sociopolitical changes in Rome. The influential aristocrat Sulla called her his “Protectress” and, by the time of the Roman Empire, Venus was incorporated into the official pantheon.

English: Venus orbits the Sun at an average di...

Venus orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 108 million kilometers (about 0.7 AU), and completes an orbit every 224.65 days. Venus is the second planet from the Sun and it revolves round the Sun approximately 1.6 times (yellow trail) in Earth’s 365 days (blue trail) http://weelookang.blogspot.com/2011/06/ejs-open-source-kepler-3rd-law-system.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Astronomy

In astronomy Venus is the second planet from our sun. Due to its brightness, Venus looks like a star and is called the “morning star” or “evening star.” Venus is also the hottest planet in the solar system. It’s not the closest but its composition contributes to its high heat.

Related Posts » Aliens, Cupid, Earth, Ishtar, Libra, Taurus


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Vestal Virgins

Vestal Virgin by Morin 1791 Terracotta by mharrsch via Flickr

The Vestal Virgins were a priesthood of virgin women in ancient Rome, probably of patrician class.

The Vestals apparently were instituted by the Roman King Numa and were thought to be the symbolic or perhaps spiritual daughters of the earliest Roman Kings. Wikipedia nicely sums up their crucial role to the well-being of ancient Rome.

In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins (Vestales, singular Vestalis), were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome. They cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children, and took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.¹

Statues in the House of the Vestal Virgins, Fo...

Statues in the House of the Vestal Virgins, Forum, Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vestals served for a minimum of 30 years, with a maximum of lifetime service. They answered to the head priest (pontifex maximus) and lived in a building near the Forum called the Atrium Vestae.

Ancient Rome had no separation of church and state, so the Vestals were maintained at public expense. They were pretty and pure looking, in keeping with ancient Roman aesthetic and moral ideals. Chosen by lots among eligible girls aged 6-10 years, the Vestals guarded the sacred flame at the temple of Vesta, near the Forum.

Constantin Hölscher Im Tempel der Vesta

Constantin Hölscher Im Tempel der Vesta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their ongoing purity was essential. If found unchaste, a priestess could be buried alive as punishment. In 83 CE, for instance, Domitian executed three Vestal Virgins on charges of immorality. In 90 CE the chief Vestal, Cornelia, was buried alive.

It’s hard to know if these charges had any truth to them, or whether they were simply trumped up by the PTB, for whatever warped reasons.

The concept of the Vestal Virgin has inspired artists through the ages.

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestal_Virgin

Related Posts » Romulus and Remus


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Aeneid

Painting by Jean-Joseph Taillasson: Virgil rea...

Painting by Jean-Joseph Taillasson: Virgil reading the Aeneid to Augustus and Octavia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Aeneid is an epic poem written in Latin by the Roman poet Virgil. Thought to be largely historical in its heyday, it tells of the mythic journey and adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who in ancient legend founded Rome.

Aeneas had already been known through Homer, who depicted him as a righteous, trustworthy soul, loyal to Rome.

Virgil in his Aeneid furthers Homer’s emphasis on Aeneas’ piety by representing him, in keeping with fashionable Roman ideals, as a symbol of filial, societal and spiritual devotion—i.e. devotion to parents, to the glory of Rome and its many deities.

The poem had a great influence on Dante, and was core university reading in the Middle Ages. Today, it still fascinates students of myth and classical studies. And for depth psychology, Aeneas makes a journey to the underworld, which speaks to the importance of the so-called collective unconscious.
Related Posts » Sibyl

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Aeneas

Venus and Juno provoke Dido's love for Aeneas....

Venus and Juno provoke Dido’s love for Aeneas. Painted Limoges enamel plaque, ca. 1530. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aeneas is a Trojan hero and son of Anchises and Aphrodite. He’s usually described as the first true hero of Rome.

In Homer‘s Illiad Poseidon prophesizes that Aenas and his descendants will rule the Trojans. Other writers portray Aeneas as the founder of several Greek centers, such as Delos and Crete. Aeneas has also been described as the founder of Lavinium and the head of the Latin League.

The Roman poet Vergil in his Aeneid furthers Homer’s emphasis on Aeneas’ piety by representing him, in keeping with fashionable Roman ideals, as a symbol of filial, societal and spiritual devotion—i.e. devotion to parents, to the glory of Rome and its deities.

Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas draws from the Fourth Book of the Aeneid, dramatizing the aborted marriage of Queen Dido of Carthage and prince Aeneas. A sorceress had convinced Aeneas that Jove (Jupiter) expected him to leave Carthage. The stricken Dido’s sorrowful When I am laid in earth reminds us of the price we might have to pay for listening to dark sorcerers instead of trusting in God and our own good judgment. Wikipedia outlines the story upon which Purcell’s opera is based:

English: "Dido & Aeneas" (2005) Deut...

English: “Dido & Aeneas” (2005) Deutsch: “Dido & Aeneas” (2005) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aeneas had a year-long affair with the Carthaginian queen Dido (also known as Alyssa), who proposed that the Trojans settle in her land and that she and Aeneas reign jointly over their peoples. A marriage of sorts is arranged between Dido and Aeneas at the instigation of Juno, who was told of the fact that her favorite city would eventually be defeated by the Trojans’ descendants, and Aeneas’s mother Venus (the Roman adaptation of Aphrodite), realizes that her son and his company need a temporary reprieve to reinforce themselves for the journey to come. However, the messenger god Mercury was sent by Jupiter and Venus to remind Aeneas of his journey and his purpose, compelling him to leave secretly. When Dido learned of this, she uttered a curse that would forever pit Carthage against Rome, an enmity that would culminate in the Punic Wars. She then committed suicide by stabbing herself with the same sword she gave Aeneas when they first met.¹

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeneas