Various beliefs, rituals, and other observances concerning the supernatural
held or practiced by the ancient Romans from the legendary period until
Christianity finally completely supplanted the native religions of the Roman
Empire at the start of the Middle Ages. The original religion of the early
Romans was so modified by the addition of numerous and conflicting beliefs in
later times, and by the assimilation of a vast amount of Greek mythology, that
it cannot be reconstructed precisely. Because extensive changes in the religion
had already taken place before the literary tradition began, its origins were in
most cases unknown to the early Roman writers on religion, such as the
1st-century BC scholar Marcus Terentius Varro. Other classical writers, such as
the poet Ovid in his Fasti (Calendar), were strongly influenced by Alexandrian
models, and in their works they frequently employed Greek beliefs to fill gaps
in the Roman tradition.Gods of the Roman People.
The Roman ritual clearly
distinguishes two classes of gods, the di indigetes and the de novensides or
novensiles. The indigetes were the original gods of the Roman state, and their
names and nature are indicated by the titles of the earliest priests and by the
fixed festivals of the calendar; 30 such gods were honored with special
festivals. The novensides were later divinities whose cults were introduced in
the historical period. Early Roman divinities included, in addition to the di
indigetes, a host of so-called specialist gods whose names were invoked in the
carrying out of various activities, such as harvesting. Fragments of old ritual
accompanying such acts as plowing or sowing reveal that at every stage of the
operation a separate deity was invoked, the name of each deity being regularly
derived from the verb for the operation...
Castles history: Deep in the
Carpathian Mountains, in the heart of rural Romania is Transylvania, where
perched atop a rocky peak, there has been a fortress of some kind for nearly
1,000 years and the fortress that stands here today is now known as ‘Dracula’s
Castle’ (the actual Castle Dracula is in ruin on a secluded site near the Arges
River). Bran Castle was originally a stronghold built by the Knights of the
Teutonic Order in 1212. At that time it was called Dietrichstein. By the late
1200’s the castle had been overtaken by the Saxons who had used the castle to
protect Brasov, an important trade center. In 1370 the fortress was used against
invading Turks. It remained an important feudal fortress through out the middle
ages, its role was the defence against invasion. The castle has four towers, the
Powder House Tower is the oldest, it is part of the original castle built in
1212. It houses the Cannon’s Gallery, the Gunner’s Room, and was also where the
castles gunpowder was stored. In the 15th century during restoration of the
castle the Observation Tower and the Eastern Tower were added. The Eastern Tower
was built with murder holes that were used by the soldiers to drop hot water and
pitch on the castles attackers.
In 1622 the Gate Tower
was added and the castle’s south wall was strengthened to 11 ft. thickness to
withstand cannon fire. In 1921, Queen Maria of Romania, brought the royal court
architect to Bran Castle for extensive renovations which transformed this
"fortress" into a Royal Residence. The ancient Gunner’s Room became the Royal
Chapel, the defense gallery of the tower was remodeled into apartments for the
Queen’s ladies in waiting. A fourth floor was added to the tower for the Queen’s
Secretary. Queen Maria had an elevator installed in the fountain which is in the
interior court. The elevator descended 197 ft. to a tunnel which opened onto the
lovely park grounds in the valley below. Bran Castle has been opened to the
public for at least 40 years, a museum, it offers glimpses into the past, such
as the Chancellor’s Office, the Council Hall and the Garrison Rooms. Also on
display are lovely examples of feudal art, weapons, statuary, furniture and
Few really believe in vampires, monsters and witches, but these enduring characters of Halloween and the movies have a basis in real life that is often more interesting than the fantasy.Think of Halloween and your mind conjures images of ghosts, vampires, witches and monsters. Our modern versions of them have largely been crafted by popular literature and, more influentially, the movies. But like many fantastic characters of myth and lore, they have a basis in reality.Sometimes the true stories of these creatures that haunt our imaginations are just as weird and amazing as their fictional incarnations:
Today's vampire persona -
the elegant blood-sucking creature of the night - comes primarily from
Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, published in 1897.
Stoker's story, in
turn, was based loosely on the real-life Vlad Dracula (1431-1476), a
prince who actually did live in Transylvania in the Carpathian
Mountains of Romania. The name Dracula is derived from a Romanian word
that means "devil" or dragon." Obviously, Vlad Dracula was not a
vampire, but Stoker undoubtedly used the historical figure as the basis
of his vampire story because of Vlad's bloodthirsty style of dealing
with those who opposed him. A Brief History About the Dracula states:
"Vlad's brutal manner of terrorizing his enemies and the seemingly
arbitrary manner in which he had people punished earned him the
nickname 'Tepes' or 'theImpaler,' the common name by which he is known
today. Stories of Vlad's cruelties were circulating through Europe. His
end came at the hand of an assassin at some point toward the end of
December 1476 or early January 1477."
The legend of the vampire
predates Bram Stoker and even Vlad the Impaler. Vampires Thru the Ages
traces them back to 1047 and a document referring to a Russian Prince
as "Upir Lichy" or Wicked Vampire. A century later, Walter Map's De
Nagis Curialium includes accounts of vampire-like beings in England.
Waves of vampire hysteria swept through Prussia and Hungary in the
1700s, fueled perhaps by disease, ignorance and maybe a psychotic
serial killer or two.
The tradition of the
vampire has been firmly established into our modern culture by
Hollywood, television and the highly popular novels of AnneRice.
His arch-enemies sat around him enjoying a sumptuous banquet. After a suitable period of toying with his prey, the host cackled evilly, pulled a lever and sent his guests plunging to the deaths in a concealed pit below.It may sound like something out of an Austin Powers film, but this is actually a medieval explanation for the mysterious "disappearance" of the Picts, with the Dr Evil character played by no less than Kenneth MacAlpin, reputedly the first King of Scots. With their nobility wiped out, the story went, it was easy for MacAlpin to take over and enforce Scottish ways on the rest of the Picts.Stories telling how the Scots came to live in Scotland contain someof the more inventive tales among its myths and legends.
the Scots are the descendents of an Egyptian princess, Scota, and their
language, Gaelic, was humanity's original form of speech as spoken by
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
These beliefs were taken seriously
in times gone by. The idea that the Scots are the sons and daughters of
Scota and her husband, Gaythelos, whose name supposedly gave us Gaels
and Gaelic, gave them a connection to one of the world's great cultures
and a touch of its status. And creating a lineage with a special
connection to the Bible was another good idea, emphasising the shared
membership of the international club of Christianity.
The people who seemed to
have been displaced by the Scots were something of a puzzle to early
historians. Henry of Huntingdon, who lived from 1080 to 1160, commented
inhis book, Historia Anglorum that the Picts, mentioned by the
Venerable Bede in his earlier history, had inexplicably vanished.
Alex Woolf, a historian who
specialises in early medieval history at St Andrews University, says:
"His [Henry's] idea is to continue Bede's history up to the present,
which was about 1140. So he starts copying out Bede's introductory
chapter, and, when he gets to the bit about the four languages of
Britain, he says:, 'Hang on a minute, that's not right, the Picts don't
exist anymore,' and that 'they have so completely disappeared even
their language has gone.'"
The story about the
fiendish use of trapdoors beneath the seats of his dinner guests was an
attempt at an explanation that dates back at least as far as the 12th
century. "It's the Dr Evil version of Kenneth MacAlpin," says Woolf.