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Today's Featured Article - Horace

Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC) was a prominent Roman poet. He is known in the English-speaking world as Horace (/ˈhɔrɪsˌ/). In the Latin-speaking world, he is not known as anything, because Latin is dead, and so is Horace. In the dodgier neighborhoods of Rome in those days, he was known as Flaccid Quint.

It being over 2,020 years since those days, it is surprising that he is known as anything at all, but the reason is that the most frequent subject of the poetry of Horace was Horace. Horace was an officer in the Republican Army at the time it bombed at Philippi, which was around the time that Rome bombed at being a republic. When Octavian (or Augustus) became emperor, Horace stuck around as an official spokesperson. His poetry did a historic balancing act between toeing the party line and being of interest to normal people.

R. Barrow writes that Horace "tells us far more about himself than any other great poet in antiquity," R. Barrow evidently being one of the few who finds this interesting. By comparison, Rock And Roll Fred tells this writer far more about himself than does anyone else at the bar, and it is not.

Anyway. Horace was born on 8 December 65 BC — no one seems to know what day of the week that was — in Venusia in southern Italy. His home was on a trade route between Apulia and Bucania, and his appreciation of language may have been enhanced by those using that route, assuming that truckstops were not much different then from now. His mother must often have washed his mouth out with soap (in Latin, lava). It is possible that soldiers were relocated to his region from Rome for their role in the Social War, which proved that they "do not get along with others," and this could have been a source of even more crude language. His father was at one time a slave but gained his freedom and became an auctioneer, yet another basis of Horace's off-color writings. Horace has some very nice things to say about his father, but nothing at all to say about his mother. Mothers often complain that "You never write me."

Horace's mother invites our speculation, except that this entire section has been guesswork. Nevertheless, spending decades doing the same supports large departments at many modern universities. (more...)

Recently featured: Horace

Yesterday's Featured Article - Glory hole

Glory Hole

A glory hole is a type of architectural adornment that first became fashionable in the Italian Renaissance period. Glory holes in this time were often covered in gold leaf, and had either bas-relief or, in sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini's case, sculptural details that came out of the frame too much to be considered as such, and were generally imagery from both Biblical creatures and Classical creatures, most notably angels and cherubs, for it was convention that the creatures be able to fly because of the large scale on which these glory holes were often constructed.

But the form of the glory hole has changed a lot over the years. As a seminal piece of the YBA movement that pervaded during 1992, artist Tracey Emin installed Glory Hole at the Tate Modern in London: two walls of a toilet cubicle, one of which with a small hole in around the middle of the door with a few strips of duct tape so that, as Emin put it, "the viewer [could] more comfortably slide his/her eyes in and out through the hole." This changed the public's perception of the glory hole dramatically.

In the Italian Renaissance, glory holes served two purposes for the rich clergymen who were the usual clientele for the architects and sculptors who built them: (1) as a statement of how well-endowed the people who commissioned and displayed them were when entertaining guests, and (2) so that owners could perform various parts of their daily routines, often accompanied by their wives, such as praying, for these tremendous objects usually portrayed religious iconography, and were seen as a way of getting closer to God. On the left here is one of many glory holes in St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome/Vatican City. Although traditionally used by popes after Pope Paul Borghese V, the founder of St. Peter's, this one is now used mainly for display purposes, though is still used for some ceremonies and special occasions. (more...)

Featured today, a long long time ago

Featured Ernest Hemingway, featured on 21 April 2014. See the featured version.
Ron Paul, featured on 21 April 2012. See the featured version.
UnNews:Study: Blueberries are actually just peas holding their breath, featured on 21 April 2011. See the featured version.
Dylan Thomas, featured on 21 April 2010. See the featured version.

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On this day...

Romulan Thumb

April 21: Rome's Birthday (Italy) 1700 BC Emperor Palpatine kills Jamie Lynn Spears and then uses the Force to get Shmi Skywalker pregnant with Anakin.

  • 753 BC - Rome is founded by Romulus and Remus after building it in a day.
  • 754 BC - The Romulans declare an uneasy truce with the rest of the humans on Earth.
  • 949 BC - A group of Romulans unable to get dates known as the 'vool-cahns' decide to leave Earth and start their own planet.
  • 1349 - The Spanish Inquisition is not expected.
  • 1350 - A Belgian man expects the Spanish Inquisition, and is promptly beaten to death.
  • 1684 - Isaac Newton proposes the idea of "gravity". It is rejected by the non-seculars, and Newton is laughed at and beaten.
  • 1700 - Mr. T pities another fool.
  • 1792 - Tiradentes, a revolutionary who was leading a movement for Brazil's independence, is hanged and quartered in an exciting event at the Superdome.
  • 1836 - Sam Houston royally teabagged Santa Anna and his sleepy Mexicans
  • 1900 - Creamed corn is deemed just thing to spice up that Sunday dinner.
  • 1918 - French whores rejoice: "The Yanks Are Cumming" proves true and profitable.
  • 1943 - Inspired by American Revolutionaries, horses in France begin a campaign "No Mastication Without Representation".
  • 1944 - Horses in France receive the right to vote.
  • 1955 - Bob Hope decides this radio thing is old and busted. If only he knew.
  • 1966 - The Girl from Ipanema is discovered to be like a samba that, swings so cool and sways so gentle, that when she passes each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!
  • 2003 - Homosexuals finally learn to use a keyboard with two hands.
  • 2006 - April 21st decides to change its name to July 14th. July 14th does not approve and in retaliation changes its name to August 25th, and refuses to acknowledge the month of April any more - this leads to a mass surge in calendar production when everyone takes sides - April lovers stick to the original 12 month calendar, whereas July fanciers take up a new streamlined 11 month number. With pictures of kittens on it. Everything goes back to normal the next day when Mr. T pities April 21st.
  • 2008 - John Prescott admits to his bulimia being fraudulent after being caught on a 72 hour Pizza Hut binge.
  • 2009 - George Bush expects the Spanish Inquisition, and is shot by a Muslim.
  • 2010 - The Spanish Inquisition expects the Spanish Inquisition, and is promptly befuddled resulting in an impromptu tea/river dance party that leads to the very fabric of space and time ripping apart. The noitisiuqnI hsinapS meanwhile is not amused.

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The elusive sign to the Stairway to Heaven.

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