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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

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

Habits

Articles referring to the people’s ways of life and behaviors in Greek and Roman societies.

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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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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Decameter and decimeter

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Following the acquisition of the abstract concept of number and its graphical representation, man needed to create a numbering or numeral system that would allow him to comfortably work with large quantities. To do this man needed to create a hierarchical system of multiple orders or levels, so that a certain number of units of a level were to become higher-level unit and so on. The criterion for organizing such a system is called "base". So between us ten units are a set of ten and ten tens are one hundred or a century and ten hundreds are a thousand.

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Graecia capta (by Romans)

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The Romans came very soon in relation to Greek culture: the last Roman kings were Etruscans, people heavily influenced by Eastern and Greek culture, Sicily and southern Italy were soon colonized by the Greeks (south of Italy is called precisely Magna Grecia, "Great Greece" ); see http://en.antiquitatem.com/paestum-world-heritage-doric-temples

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Three times three

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In general the Romans are very superstitious and very ritualistic. His conception of the world, in a sense it can be called animist because they believe that everything is pervaded by a divine force which justifies its development and virtuality, leads them to constantly be aware of the signs that manifest the will of the gods or announce the future. And this in turn requires constantly celebrate rites and ceremonies which discover the future and the will of the gods and spirits in order to propitiate his favor or stop their anger. So they do not undertake any action without consulting those signs.

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God “Terminus” is the guarantor of private property of the field

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Terminus is a Roman god who sets the boundaries of the fields and cities and is also at the crossroads. He is represented as a rectangular stone block whose top is usually included head of Hermes or Mercury. It is also sometimes depicted with male genitalia, given its apotropaic character to "turn away" harm or evil influences. So he is called Hermes.

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