Thursday, June 29, 2017

THE CAVALRY IS COMING BACK
TO FORTS ALONG HADRIAN'S WALL



TURMA! Hadrian’s Cavalry Charge takes place in Carlisle England on Saturday, July 1, and Sunday, July 2, and will see a troop ... or Turma as they would have been referred to in Roman times … of 30 cavalrymen appear together for the first time in more than 1,500 years.

Performing intricate manoeuvres on horseback and showcasing their skills with javelins and other weapons, the event is set to attract an audience of more than 4,500 people.

Bill Griffiths, head of programmes for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and chair of the Hadrian’s Cavalry steering group, said: “Turma! Hadrian’s Cavalry Charge in Carlisle is a major highlight of the six-month HADRIAN'S CAVALRY blockbuster events which are going on this summer at about a dozen museums and outdoor locations along Hadrian's Wall.


Skirmishes with barbarians ... cavalry horse demonstrations ... gladiator fights ... participatory events for visitors of all ages ... here we look at the background to the ambitious project and what you will be able to see.

Hadrian's Cavalry starts on April 8 and runs until September 10 at the museums and sites along Hadrian's Wall at venues LISTED HERE.

The Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition will focus on the story of Roman cavalry regiments which were a vital but less well known aspect of the frontier garrison. Cavalry and part-mounted units were the elite of the auxiliary forces of the Roman army providing long-range reconnaissance, high-speed communications, shock tactics and mopping-up operations on the battlefield.

Alongside presentation of the training, equipment, daily life and military operations of cavalry troopers and their horses, the exhibition will explore the role of the regiments in projecting the Roman imperial image through their impressive armour and other equipment, and the powerful individual stories of regiments who came to Hadrian’s Wall from other parts of the empire. 

Each participating Roman site and museum across the Wall will host part of the exhibition.

Cavalry regiments were stationed at key locations on major road and river crossings along Hadrian’s Wall supported by part-mounted regiments at many other forts. The cavalry regiment at Stanwix just north of Carlisle was one of only three 1,000 strong cavalry regiments in the Roman army.

The cavalry regiments were costly to raise and maintain. The troopers were highly paid and lengthy training was required for both men and horses. Their equipment – including full face parade helmets like that found at Crosby Garrett and horse armour such as the Vindolanda chamfron – was expensive, exotic and designed to impress.

The exhibition programme will include live re-enactment, learning and community engagement activity.

“The sheer quantity, quality and range of objects from sites across Hadrian’s Wall provides opportunities to tell many different stories as well as celebrating the beauty and interest of the objects themselves,” said Bill Griffiths, chair of the Wall-wide project steering group and head of programmes for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

“Evidence from sites along Hadrian’s Wall has informed understanding of cavalry regiments across the Roman empire.

“From Segedunum we know that cavalry horses were stabled with the troopers in adjacent rooms in customised barrack blocks, while Chesters Roman Fort is the best preserved cavalry fort in Britain.

"Many of the best known writing tablets from Vindolanda were written by Batavian troopers posted there following their deployment as shock troops to overpower the druids on Anglesey and before their subsequent deployment to the Danube to support Emperor Trajan in his war against the Dacians.

"The three metre high tombstone of Flavinus from Hexham Abbey is one of the most celebrated portrayals of the cavalryman-barbarian motif from across the empire.

“We are also hoping to work with museums across the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site to assemble a unique collection for this exhibition.”

Hadrian’s Cavalry will cost £790,000 in total, and the remaining £100,000 needed will be generated through ticket sales, donations and sponsorship.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

EDWARD CARPENTER
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


THE last of our three Uranian Patriarchs, Edward Carpenter was born in Brighton England on the 29th of August, 1844, to a very large middle-class family. 

While his brothers went into the military, Edward became a scholar, with great success and eventually even taught at Cambridge where he was required to become ordained as a curate of the Anglican Church.

It was at this time, when he was 24, that he first read Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and was completely changed. He resigned his position at Cambridge and devoted his life to the working class, becoming a Socialist philosopher, lecturing, organizing and speaking for working men.

When his parents died, he received an inheritance that he used to purchase a rural estate at Millthrope, which he turned into a veritable Socialist Commune. He repressed his homosexuality for much of his life, channeling his desire into politically inspired friendships.

But the Millthrope house gave him the freedom to express his feelings more openly, and he began to write books on the subject of Uranian Love. He was deeply influenced by Hindu spirituality, and visited India, all of which emerged in his spiritual view of the Socialist movement, which was not so much about political revolution, but directed towards a change in human consciousness, of which homosexuality rapidly became his greatest cause.

While returning from India he met George Merrill on the train. It would be the love of his life. The younger man soon moved into the house at Millthrope, the two became inseparable lovers whose relationship lasted over forty years.

In 1908, he published The Intermediate Sex, the first widely available book on the subject of homosexuality. After the death of John Addington Symonds, with whom he had been closely allied, Edward Carpenter assumed the role as torch bearer, and subsequently published dozens of books and essays for the cause of gay liberation.


He died on the 28th of June, 1929, in Guildford England, and though not widely known at the time, was to later become a spiritual patriarch for the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s and '70s. He is regarded as a Saint and Patriarch of the Religion of Antinous, and remembered as one of the first fathers whose work changed the world with subtle power.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

THE DEATH OF JUDY GARLAND
SPARKED THE STONEWALL RIOTS


THIS is the day the Liturgical Calendar of the Religion of Antinous sets aside for remembrance of Saint Judy Garland, whose death was the spark that ignited the Stonewall Riots on a sultry night in 1969 when a bunch of drag queens and assorted other gay men decided they weren't in the mood to put up with yet another raid by the corrupt and brutal NYPD.

Gays had had enough and they had just suffered a terrible shock — Judy Garland's tragic death on June 22 had rocked the gay world. It was said that 13 twisters raged through Kansas the day Judy died, which — in Kansas — in June — is a pretty safe bet, in any case. But still, and all the same ....

Judy had died in London, and amid much news media hype, her body was flown back to New York for a memorial service which drew a huge crowd of grief-stricken gay men who gathered outside Campbell's Funeral Chapel in Manhattan — on June 27, 1969.

Afterwards, the bars were jammed with gay men drowning their sorrows in booze and drugs while listening to Judy Garland songs full blast on every jukebox.

The mood was electrified by a sense of solidarity in grieving for a fallen idol. Gay men had surprised themselves by turning out en masse for Judy's funeral. They had experienced strength in numbers for the first time. They had been on national TV news.

In an unprecedented move by prime-time national news anchormen, Walter Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley had talked about Judy Garland's "tremendous appeal among male homosexual fans" — at supper time when whole families were watching the evening news!


Blacks were standing up for their rights. Women were burning their bras. The Chicano Movement was gathering steam. And now "ho-mo-sexuals" (the announcers were unaccustomed to speaking the word aloud) were having the audacity to congregate outside a sacred chapel in broad daylight — and they even showed their faces on the evening news!

Straight people were being confronted with homosexuals right there on television beamed into their homes. And — more importantly — homosexuals were seeing themselves and their brothers/sisters on national television news. Gays in isolated places who had worshipped Judy Garland at the movies or on LP and tape, were now watching other gay people weeping for her in New York. For the first time, gay people in isolated places saw themselves on TV. We were not alone in our grief at the passing of a star with whom we somehow innately felt connected.

It was a Friday night. Late June. Hot and steamy. The bars were filled to bursting. Gay men were sharing a rare moment of solidarity in powerful emotions. There was a feeling, not only in New York, but around the world, that a paradigm shift had taken place. A gay icon had died suddenly and tragically (shades of Antinous) and we gay people everywhere found ourselves in a catharsis of identity change. None of us understood what was happening. Just as it was with being gay, we gay men couldn't explain it, we just "felt" it and "knew" it to be true.

And THAT moment was when the Manhattan police happened to stage one of their periodic raids on queers. Basically it was a routine raid on an average gay bar. Nobody had reckoned with what would happen next. Even gay men were surprised by what happened next.

ESPECIALLY gay men.

We were men who had been accustomed to being timid fraidy-cats. Men who had never dared to stand up for their sexuality. Drag queens and faggots never fought back. That was a fact of gay survival. We knew we were gay. And we knew what we weren't. We were not "MEN".

Grief turned to outrage. It was a spontaneous uprising fuelled by rage. The vice squad was overwhelmed. Reinforcements had to be sent in. Gay men stood their ground and advanced on the police, pushing them back.

It was the turning point for us. Gay men throughout America — and later in London, Berlin, Sydney and elsewhere — began standing up for themselves under the banner "Remember Stonewall".

In a sense, Judy Garland died for us. Had it not been for her tragic death — strangling on vomit over a toilet bowl in a London hotel suite — there might not have been any Stonewall Riots.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia puts the Stonewall Riots into a spiritual context:


"It was the first resistance by homosexuals against the repression of two thousand years, and the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. The importance of the Stonewall Riots is the awakening of gay consciousness, the throwing off of the coils of the python that had for so many centuries enveloped our divine form of Love. This sacred revolt is holy to Apollo, Dionysus, and Diana combined as the guardian spirits of Homosexuality. Our modern Gay society was born on this occasion, and all of the peace and freedom that we have obtained in the these short decades are due to the courage that erupted on that Sacred Night in front of the Stonewall Bar."

Monday, June 26, 2017

WHAT THE CHINESE THOUGHT OF ROME:
TALL BUT NOT NICE TO THEIR RULERS


THE Ancient Romans never quite made it to China ... but the Chinese made it to Rome ... and sent back reports of tall and virtuous people who wore odd clothes and tended to dispose of their rulers on a whim.

One of the best Chinese travel reports is in the "Weilüe," a 3rd Century AD account of the interactions between the two nations. Here's what China had to say about their imperial neighbors!

From a translation by the University of Washington’s John E. Hill:


This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone.
This region has pine trees, cypress, sophora, catalpa, bamboo, reeds, poplars, willows, parasol trees, and all sorts of plants. The people cultivate the five grains [traditionally: rice, glutinous and non-glutinous millet, wheat and beans], and they raise horses, mules, donkeys, camels and silkworms. (They have) a tradition of amazing conjuring. They can produce fire from their mouths, bind and then free themselves, and juggle twelve balls with extraordinary skill.
The ruler of this country is not permanent. When disasters result from unusual phenomena, they unceremoniously replace him, installing a virtuous man as king, and release the old king, who does not dare show resentment.
The common people are tall and virtuous like the Chinese, but wear hu (‘Western’) clothes. They say they originally came from China, but left it.
They have always wanted to communicate with China but, Anxi (Parthia), jealous of their profits, would not allow them to pass (through to China).

Here's a description of some of Rome's trade goods:


This country produces fine linen. They make gold and silver coins. One gold coin is equal to ten silver coins.
They have fine brocaded cloth that is said to be made from the down of "water-sheep". It is called Haixi ("Egyptian") cloth. This country produces the six domestic animals, which are all said to come from the water.
It is said that they not only use sheep's wool, but also bark from trees, or the silk from wild cocoons, to make brocade, mats, pile rugs, woven cloth and curtains, all of them of good quality, and with brighter colours than those made in the countries of Haidong ("East of the Sea").
Furthermore, they regularly make a profit by obtaining Chinese silk, unravelling it, and making fine hu ("Western") silk damasks. That is why this country trades with Anxi (Parthia) across the middle of the sea. The seawater is bitter and unable to be drunk, which is why it is rare for those who try to make contact to reach China.

You can read the full account at SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

HADRIAN'S VILLA OBSERVATORY TOWER
IS ALIGNED TO THE SOLSTICES


HADRIAN designed his personal observatory at his sprawling villa outside Rome to be in alignment with the Solstices

Imagine the scene during the Solstice cycle: First, he would observe the setting sun sending a shaft of goldish-red light through a certain slit in his observatory tower to illuminate a golden statue of the Egyptian Goddess Isis.

Then there would be oracles at midnight. You can just see the cluster of priests and augurs, chanting and offering sacrifices amidst billowing clouds of incense. 

An Etruscan haruspex or two would be wearing yellow robes and conical hats as they inspected the entrails of animals. Patrician augurs would be wearing their finest ceremonial togas as they listened for messages from nocturnal birds. Babylonian astrologers would be clad in garish robes with multi-tiered crowns as they scanned the heavens and babbled to each other about their arcane calculations. 

And naturally the Egyptian priests would do their utmost to out-do all the others with outlandish make-up, headdresses and robes to the cacophony of sistrums, gongs and the whoosh of incendiary incense sending up pastel-colored clouds of smoke to the wailing of a priestess of Isis in the throes of a trance.

Scores of Imperial court officials and hangers-on would be stifling yawns as the oracles took most of the night. 

But yawns would turn to gasps of wonder and praise when the Emperor announced that he had just seen the RISE OF THE STAR OF ANTINOUS over the eastern horizon.

Then at dawn, the Emperor would climb stairs to the upper chamber to observe the Solstice Sunrise on June 21st.

He would announce the outcome of the oracles and whether the Antinoian Auspices for the coming year were favorable.

Modern Priests of Antinous annually celebrate rites at the HOLLYWOOD TEMPLE OF ANTINOUS to mark the Solstice.

Meanwhile, an Italian archaeologist and her team spends Solstice at the ruins of a tower on a hillock at Hadrian's Villa which was the Emperor's own private observatory. 

These experts, led by MARIA DE FRANCESCHINI, have demonstrated that the observatory tower is in fact aligned to the Solstices. She believes the observatory was dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, who raised Osiris from the dead to become a god of resurrection and transfiguration — just as Hadrian declared Antinous a god of resurrection and transfiguration.
 

For centuries, experts had been mystified by the layout of the sprawling complex of marble baths, banquet halls, luxurious residences, gardens, shrines and unidentified structures 30 kilometers outside Rome.

Hadrian's Villa was a sprawling complex of buildings, temples, gardens, a zoo and — yes — even an observatory tower on a hillock on the edge of the compound from which Hadrian could observe the heavens. 


 But, in an article published in the journal Nature last year, De Franceschini wrote that she believes the mystery-shrouded Rocca Bruna Tower, long held to be Hadrian's private observatory, is in fact aligned so as to produce sunlight effects for the seasons.

She describes her findings personally in the video at the top of this entry. 

De Franceschini says that during the summer solstice, rays of light pierce the tower and another of the villa's buildings. In the Rocca Bruna Tower, dawn sunlight during the summer solstice enters through a wedge-shaped slot above the door and illuminates a niche on the opposite side of the interior (image courtesy nature.com). And in a temple of the Accademia building, De Franceschini has found that sunlight passes through a series of doors during both the winter and summer solstices. 

"The alignments gave me a new key of interpretation," says De Franceschini, who adds that the two buildings are connected by an esplanade that was a sacred avenue during the solstices. Based on ancient texts describing religious rituals and study of recovered sculptures, she thinks the sunlight effects were linked to religious ceremonies associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis, who was adopted by the Romans.

De Franceschini, who works with the University of Trento in Italy, has published a book describing the archaeo-astronomical work, VILLA ADRIANA ARCHITETTURA CELESTE. She credits two architects, Robert Mangurian and Mary-Ann Ray, for initially noticing the light effect in Rocca Bruna.

According to nature.com, Robert Hannah, a classicist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, says that De Franceschini's ideas are plausible. "They're certainly ripe for further investigation," he says.

Hannah believes that the Pantheon, designed by Hadrian in Rome with a circular opening at the top of its dome, also acts as a giant calendrical sundial, with sunlight illuminating key interior surfaces at the equinoxes and on the spring equinox on April 21st, the city's birthday.

Few classical buildings have been investigated for astronomical alignment, says Hannah, partly because it is much easier to check for alignments in prehistoric structures such as Stonehenge, which do not have potentially contradictory artefacts.

De Franceschini spends every solstice at Hadrian's villa, seeking further verification. Our thoughts and prayers go with her during this special season of the Solstice.


We can envision Hadrian, sick with grief and alone after the death of Antinous, ensconced in his observatory tower scanning the heavens for a sign from his Beloved Boy, praying to Isis for her to work her magic on Antinous.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

MADRID PRADO CELEBRATES GAY PRIDE
WITH HISTORIC EXHIBITION



GAY PRIDE is always a big event in Madrid, with thousands of people joining the street parade in the city’s center to celebrate the LGBTQ community and advocate for equal rights. But this year will be the biggest yet, as the Spanish capital will host WorldPride, becoming the international hub for the 2017 celebrations.

The festival … which takes place from June 23 to July 2, and coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first Gay Pride protest in Spain ... encompasses a broad program of cultural activities.

Among them is a particularly beguiling exhibition at the Museo del Prado titled “The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of Difference” … a rehang of some 30 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the museum’s permanent collection that focuses on same-sex relationships.


The show, co-curated by the Prado’s Álvaro Perdices and Carlos G. Navarro, explores how understanding and tolerance towards these stories of love and friendship have changed throughout the centuries.

It features artworks ranging from the Greek sculpture of Orestes and Pylades by the School of Praxiteles, to Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath and El Maricón de la Tía Gila by Goya.

At the museum, the issues of of same-sex relationships, the artists’ identity politics, and the persecution that they suffered in some cases hadn’t been properly explored or teased out across the collection, except in some specific examples, like Matteo Bonuccelli’s Sleeping Hermaphrodite or José de Ribera’s Maddalena Ventura,” the exhibition’s curators told artnet News.

This is the latest in a series of high-profile institutional exhibition and events around the world exploring LGTBQ issues, including, most notably, the recent show at London’s Tate Britain “Queer British Art (1861-1967).”


But in terms of classical art, it seems that the Prado might be truly breaking ground since, according to the curators, other key art historical museums like Paris’s Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, St Petersburg’s Hermitage, or London’s National Gallery have yet to implement such readings of their collections.

“The response has been incredibly positive,” Perdices and Navarro added. “The art world at large has praised this initiative and, at the museum, conservators and other staff have been extremely collaborative and enthusiastic.

In fact, the Prado has asked that this reading of the collection become available on a permanent basis, through audio guides and on the website. And the catalog is almost sold out already!”

Friday, June 23, 2017

EXPERTS SUGGEST ROMAN CHARIOTS
WERE PULLED BY SHETLAND PONIES



A horse bone unearthed at Britain's only Roman hippodrome horse-race track suggests that chariots could have been pulled by Shetland ponies, according to archaeologists.

The find was made in Colchester, England, when a large entrance gate was uncovered.

The "well preserved" gate was thought to be one of 12 that gave 8,000 spectators access to the site for 150 years.


It was the fifth to be discovered by archaeologists from the Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) since the excavation work at the 450m-long circus started in 2004.

Experts have also been examining the "ambiguous" hoof which appeared to belong to a large Shetland Pony which was used for chariot racing.

CAT Director Philip Crummy said: "This is our most interesting find for a long time at the Roman circus in Colchester.

"Also, as the bone of a Roman horse from the site of a Roman circus, it is very rare.


"It is another exciting find but quite ambiguous as to what it means.

"There has been a long-running debate about the size of the horses which would have been used to race the chariots and this discovery suggests they would have been quite small.

"It suggests it would have been about nine hands quite is small but the bone has not been looked at properly yet.

"It also looks like the bone is showing signs of arthritis which can be common in horses which work too hard and it can be made worse by them doing sharp turns.

"Of course, we are not certain why it was in the circus bit it is a very exciting to see it.

"If we could do more excavating and then found some more horse bones of a similar size it would help us to be more confident about what it was used for."