“Interno del Colosseo” by Giovanni Battista Altadonna

Italian, 1850s

albumen silver print from glass negative

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A Frigid Public Speaker

Martial, Epigrams 3.25

If, Faustinus, you want to cool off
A bath so hot that even Julianus
Could hardly bear to enter it,
Just ask the orator Sabineius
To bathe himself there; that fellow can
Turn the warm baths of Nero to ice!

Si temperari balneum cupis feruens,
Faustine, quod uix Iulianus intraret,
roga lauetur rhetorem Sabineium:
Neronianas is refrigerat thermas.

Baths at Pozzuoli, Girolamo Macchietti, 1570-72

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater in Rome is made of concrete and sand, and is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81–96). These 3 emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty - the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius).

Prayers for the Emperor

Martial, Epigrams 8.4

Note: “Germanicus” = the Emperor Domitian (r. 81-96 CE).

Io!  How great a throng of all the world
Attends at Latin altars, offering up
And fulfilling vows to guard their ruler’s welfare!
I tell you, Germanicus, these joys are not
The property of men alone; I think
That now the gods themselves perform the rites!

Quantus, io, Latias mundi conuentus ad aras
    suscipit et soluit pro duce uota suo!
Non sunt haec hominum, Germanice, gaudia tantum,
    sed faciunt ipsi nunc, puto, sacra dei.

Scene of animal sacrifice during a census (the “Census Frieze”), from the so-called Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus.  Artist unknown; late 2nd cent. BCE.  Now in the Louvre.

anonymous asked:

what are your fav french books? :)

I’d say let me think but I know exactly what to say.

novels :

- Les Misérables, Victor Hugo, 1862 - you know this one, careful very long, amazingly well written and I cried a river at the end (if you don’t know, Jean Valjean is out of jail after 17 years despite Inspector Javert’s hatred for him and tries to become a better man, adopting Fantine (a poor sex worker who was left by her lover and dies)’s daughter Euphrasie/Cosette who was until then looked after and abused by the Thénardier’s family. But Javert is after Valjean who stole a coin from a kid shortly after getting released, Cosette grows up and falls in love with Marius, a rich kid who left his family to fight for the revolution - cause yeah, it’s révolution française time. The movie forgot about half of the book (and Fantine is BLOND FOR FUCK’S SAKE it literally says that “her only treasures are the gold on her head and the pearls in her mouth”) but is still amazing and let’s not talk about the soundtrack) I have an extra copy if you want

- Le Chef d’oeuvre inconnu, Honoré de Balzac, 1831 - short story about a crazy painter in love with the woman he painted

- Les Liaisons dangereuses, Choderlos de Laclos, 1782 - epistolary novel (I’d say watch the movie before (SUCH A GOOD MOVIE), it’s easier then to follow the book) two noble, cruel and manipulative libertines fool everyone - especially prudes and believers - using sex and charisma 

- Manon Lescaut, l’Abbé Prévost, 1731 - SO pretty, the impossible love story between Manon and the knight Des Grieux, their families disagree with their relationship so they keep running away, moneyless but madly in love

plays :

- Ruy Blas, Victor Hugo, 1838 - Spain, XVIIth c, the story of a lackey madly in love with the queen and manipulated by his master who wants the crown

- Bérénice, Jean Racine, 1670 - about the complicated love story between Titus flavian roman emperor and Berenice princess of Judea

- Le Cid, Pierre Corneille, 1636 - Rodrigue and Chimène love each other and want to get married but their fathers have an argument, Chimène’s dad slaps Rodrigue’s who can’t fight back and demands that his son kills him

- Tartuffe ou l’imposteur, Molière, 1669 - Orgon, a court person, and his family are manipulated by the hypocrite Tartuffe who pretends to be very religious and is always being taken seriously because of that (read all of his work anyway)

essais :

- Discours de la servitude volontaire, Etienne de la Boétie, 1576 - about how we become society’s slaves because we don’t fight and almost want it

- De l’Inconvénient d’être né, Emil Cioran, 1973 - about the absurdity of human condition, pretty emo, also wrote Syllogismes de l’amertume, 1952

- Pensées, Blaise Pascal, 1670 - for christians but not only, shows you how to live without fear, without narcissism, hard to read but eye opening

- Le Mythe de Sisyphe, Albert Camus, 1942 - absurd philosophy, why staying alive, should we kill ourselves or fight back

poetry :

- Demain dès l’aube, Victor Hugo, 1856

- Mon rêve familier, Paul Verlaine, 1866

- La Terre est bleue comme une orange, Paul Eluard, 1929

- Crépuscule, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1911(?)

women’s work :

- Lélia, George Sand (aka Aurore Dupin), 1833 - about a strong and spiritual woman who won’t give in to the poet Sténio who loves her 

- Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée, Simone de Beauvoir, 1958 - autobiography if you know her it’s probably from Le deuxième sexe, a feminist bible

- Gigi, Colette, 1944 - short story about a poor 15 yo girl who wishes to be a society woman, helped by her grandmother 

- No et moi, Delphine de Vigan, 2007 - if you were a very bright and very lonely girl growing up, you are desperately going to fall in love with this + the only book written by someone who’s still alive (and quite young)!

- L’Oeuvre au noir, Marguerite Duras, 1968 - the tragic destiny of Zenon, alchemist and doctor from the XVIth century

-  Claire Vénus qui erres par les cieux, Louise Labé, 1555 - poetry

- Femme réveille-toi, Olympe de Gouge, 1790 - feminism (incomplete link)

- Delphine, Madame de Staël, 1802 - Delphine arranges a marriage between a relative and a man and then falls in love with the man

Roman Naumachiae

Naumachia (detail), an imaginative recreation by Ulpiano Checa

A naumachia was a mimic sea battle that oftentook place in a constructed basin. These entertainments also took place in flooded amphitheatres. The opposing sides were prisoners of war or convicts, who fought until one side was destroyed.

The earliest naumachia recorded (46 bc) represented an engagement between the Egyptian and Tyrian fleets and was given by Julius Caesar on an artificial lake that was constructed by him in the Campus Martius. In 2 bc Augustus staged a naumachia between Athenians and Persians in a basin newly constructed on the right bank of the Tiber at Rome. In the naumachia arranged by Claudius on Lake Fucino in ad 52, 100 ships and 19,000 men participated.

The introduction of new technologies initially led to an increased number of naumachia. The first three naumachia were spaced about 50 years apart; the following six, most of which took place in amphitheatres, occurred in a space of 30 years. Less costly in material and human terms, they could afford to be staged more frequently. Less grandiose, they became a feature of the games, but could not be considered exceptional. The iconography bears witness to this. Of some twenty representations of a naumachia in Roman art, nearly all are of the Fourth Style, of the time of Nero and the Flavian dynasty.

After the Flavian period, naumachiae disappear from the texts almost completely. Apart from a mention in the Augustan History, a late source of limited reliability, only the town records (fastia) of Ostia tells us that in 109 Trajan inaugurated a naumachia basin.

A later version of the naumachia was practiced in indoor theatres, such as London’s Sadler’s Wells, during the 19th century. A tank was constructed in the pit and stalls areas, and real boats were used for the purpose.