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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

A modern Zeuxis

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Recently the Prado Museum has celebrated a painting exhibition titled "Juan Fernandez Labrador. Still Lifes ". Juan Fernandez is a painter of the Spanish Golden Age, little known, who painted mostly "still lifes". His representative works are paintings of "bunches of grapes".

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Democracy is equality

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In ancient Greece, the Athenians had some superiority complex with regard to the rest of Hellenes or Greeks. They were proud of their city, of their Acropolis (from aker and polis = high city, the upper town, the citadel, the fortress) in which it was the great temple of the goddess Athena, their eponymous (from epi and noma), the one who gives the city of Athens its name, the virgin (they call her Athena parthenos); they felt themselves especially proud of their "democracy" (from “demos” people and “cracy” power or government)

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Is it interesting to know details and anecdotes of the Ancient World?

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Surely there are many people, including friends from "facebook", to whom these various anecdotes or comments about the ancient world interest little or interest nothing at all indeed. Probably somebody thinks they are writings made by self-absorbed people who don´t really care about the real and current problems of the crazy world we actually live in because he or she considers that the Ancient World is far away. Of course it is a respectable opinion.

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The Pillars of Hercules

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The mythical hero Hercules (because he does not reach the category of a god) couldn´t imagine that his famous columns representing the two mountains he placed when he opened the strait that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea (Mare Nostrum = our sea, for the Romans), one in Africa, the other in Europe, would actually be, in effigy, naturally, in the pockets and bank accounts of millions of persons all over the world.

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The Last Day of Pompeii

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The lively city of Pompeii was located at the foot of Mount and Volcano Vesuvius in a rich and fertile place. Its 20,000 inhabitants were not aware of the tremendous danger looming over them. (Interestingly in Latin there is not a specific term to designate volcanoes; they call them "mons sulfureus"= “sulfur mountains” or with some similar name).

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The names of the months are Roman

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Among the many things that the Romans have left us no less important is the calendar with the names of the months, days and seasons. To understand the logic and coherence of the names "september= September; october= October; november= November and december= December," which etymologically means "seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth" we must know that the primitive Roman year had ten months and began in March.

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The fascinating source of the word "fascinating"

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Sometimes we are "fascinated", attracted, impressed, or touched (touché in French) to find out the origin of a word, as if as we removed the curtain we could look at what was behind or buried in the deepest part of valley. That is the strength of the etymology of the words, the knowledge of which provides us basic information on which their later extended meaning sits.

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Aut insanit homo aut versus facit Either the man is crazy, or he's writing poetry

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“Aut insanit homo aut versus facit” is one of many "topics" of the Latin poet Horace Quintus Flaccus; topic in the etymological sense of "place", passage appointment, from Greek τόπος. The verse, become “maxima”, sentence, is quoted by many people in a variety of contexts.

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The ox as a monetary standard

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At some point in the hominids’ evolution must appear the goods exchange or barter. This so simple and straightforward system can be used even today for exceptional trade operations, but certainly it would be very cumbersome for the development of an economy with large trade or huge commercial exchanges. It was necessary then to find a valuation system based on a pattern or unit. That is, it was necessary to invent the money, the coins and the currency and this happened in the Bronze Age, in the second millennium BC.

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What is an epigram?

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The word comes from the Latin epigramma, and this from the Greek ἐπίγραμμα (from ἐπί = on and γραμμα =, writing, letter), which means "inscription". Its etymology refers to burial or votive inscriptions on stone or other material, naturally short

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