Tag Archives: Ancient

ARTICLE: THE BALLISTA


The Ballista

The ballista is an ancient missile launcher designed to hurl long arrows or heavy balls. The largest could accurately hurl 60-pound (27-kg) weights up to about 500 yards (450 m). The Greek version was basically a huge crossbow, while the Roman ballista was powered by torsion and used two separate arms joined at their ends by the cord that propelled the missile. Once the Roman Empire declined, so too did the ballista—it was too challenging and expensive to build. Which weapons took its place? More… Discuss

 

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Concordat of Worms (1122)


Concordat of Worms (1122)

The Concordat of Worms was an agreement reached by Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V that put an end to the first phase of the power struggle between Rome and what was becoming the Holy Roman Empire. Under its terms, the king was recognized as having the right to invest bishops “by the lance” but not “by ring and staff,” meaning he could grant them secular but not sacred authority. What message about the divine right of kings did the concordat convey? More… Discuss

Today’s Birthday: Julia Drusilla (16 CE)


Julia Drusilla (16 CE)

Drusilla was the sister of the Roman Emperor Caligula, a man widely characterized as insane, autocratic, and cruel. Drusilla was reportedly her brother’s favorite sibling. During banquets at his residence, she consistently occupied the seat of honor normally reserved for the host’s wife and, perhaps because of this practice, was rumored to be Caligula’s lover. Upon Drusilla’s death, Caligula had the Roman Senate declare her “Diva Drusilla,” deifying her as a representation of what goddess? More… Discuss

The Deipnosophistae


The Deipnosophistae

Written in the 3rd-century by the Greek writer Athenaeus, the Deipnosophistae professes to be an account of three banquets held at the house of a scholar and wealthy patron of the arts. The work is invaluable for providing information about the Hellenistic leisure class of the Roman Empire, particularly in terms of food and sexuality. In the course of conversation, the banqueters quote about 700 authors, many of them otherwise unrecorded, and discuss the story behind what famous statue? More… Discuss

This Day in History: Fire Ravages Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (1823)


Fire Ravages Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (1823)

In 1823, a worker repairing the roof of Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls accidentally started a fire that resulted in its almost total destruction. The church, built under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, had retained its original character for nearly 1,500 years. Reconstruction work began almost immediately with the aim of recreating the original structure. The viceroy of Egypt contributed alabaster pillars to the rebuilding effort, while the Russian emperor sent what? More… Discuss