Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ante Diem XI Kalendas September

Modern Date : August 24th

Ante Diem XI Kalendas September
The Festival of Vulcan

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

The Volcanalia
This day continued the Volcanalia, though unamed as such, and the fires of the previous night were allowed to burn out, or put out if they had been buildings in the city. The Rite of Mundus was performed this day, in which an effigy representing the sky was placed upside down in a pit and and covered with a large stone called the lapis manalis. Three times a year, including today, the stone was removed to allow the spirits of the underworld access to the upper regions of the earth. The Rite of Mundus was Christianized into St. Bartholomew's Day festivities, which continued until 19th century in London.

This day is also sacred to Ops, a goddess representing the fertility of the earth, also known as Consivia, whose festival begins tomorrow.

On this day in 79 AD, at 1 PM in the afternoon, Mount Vesuvius erupted. The fact that this occurred during the Festival of Vulcan was no coincidence to the Romans. Pliny the Elder died during the eruption at Pompeii. He was on a boat that had made two trips to rescue citizens, but it did not make it back from a third attempt. He was an accomplished writer of Roman history and culture, and his nephew, Pliny the Younger followed in his footsteps.

The sack of Rome in 410 AD by the Visigoths continued for the second day today.

On this day in 358 AD the ancient city of Nicomedia in Bythinia, was destroyed by an earthquake.

This day was once the first day of the Egyptian intercalary month which had been originally used for adjustments.

August was originally called Sextilis, or the sixth month (after March). It was renamed in honor of Augustus Caesar, the most revered of the Roman emperors.

This is the eighth day commemorating Odin's Ordeal on the world tree Yggdrasil.

The Nativity of Osiris
In Egypt, this day was the Nativity of Osiris. Osiris was son of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Osiris was the god of the underworld and of vegetation. His birthplace was said to be Rosetau in the necropolis west of Memphis. Brother of Nephthys and Seth, and the brother and husband of Isis. Isis gave birth to Horus after his death, having impregnated herself with semen from his corpse. Osiris was depicted in human form wrapped up as a mummy, holding the crook and flail. He was often depicted with green skin, alluding to his role as a god of vegetation. He wore a crown known as the 'atef', composed of the tall conical white crown of Upper Egypt with red plumes on each side. Osiris had many cult centers, but the most
important were at Abydos (Ibdju) in Upper Egypt, where the god's legend was reenacted in an annual festival, and at Busiris (Djedu) in the Nile delta.

One of the so-called "dying gods", he was the focus of a famous legend in which he was killed by the rival god Seth. At a banquet of the gods, Seth fooled Osiris into stepping into a coffin, which he promptly slammed shut and cast into the Nile. The coffin was born by the Nile to the delta town of Byblos, where it became enclosed in a tamarisk tree. Isis, the wife of Osiris, discovered the coffin and brought it back. (The story to this point is attested only by the Greek writer Plutarch, although Seth was identified as his murderer as early as the Pyramid era of the Old Kingdom.)

Seth took advantage of Isis's temporary absence on one occasion, cut the body to pieces, and cast them into the Nile. (In the Egyptian texts this incident alone accounts for the murder of Osiris.) Isis searched the land for the body parts of Osiris, and was eventually able to piece together his body, whole save for the penis, which had been swallowed by a crocodile (according to Plutarch) or a fish (according to Egyptian texts). In some Egyptian texts, the penis is buried at Memphis. Isis replaced the penis with a reasonable facsimile, and she was often portrayed in the form of a kite being impregnated by the ithyphallic corpse of Osiris. In some Egyptian texts, the scattering of the body parts is likened to the scattering of grain in the fields, a reference to Osiris's role as a vegetation god. 'Osiris gardens' - wood-framed barley seedbeds in the shape of the god, were sometimes placed in tombs - and the plants which sprouted from these beds symbolized the resurrection of life after death.

It was this legend that accounted for Osiris's role as a god of the dead and ruler of the Egyptian underworld. He was associated with funerary rituals, at first only with those of the Egyptian monarch, later with those of the populace in general. The pharaoh was believed to become Osiris after his death. Although he was regarded as a guarantor of continued existence in the afterlife, Osiris also had a darker, demonic aspect associated with the physiological processes of death and decay, and reflecting the fear Egyptians had of death in spite of their belief in an afterlife. Osiris was also a judge of the dead, referred to as the 'lord of Maat' (i.e. of divine law).

Legendary ruler of predynastic Egypt and god of the underworld. Osiris symbolized the creative forces of nature and the imperishability of life. Called the great benefactor of humanity, he brought to the people knowledge of agriculture and civilization. The worship of Osiris, one of the great cults of ancient Egypt, gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean world and, with that of Isis and Horus, was especially vital during the Roman Empire.

Hera Thelkinia
On the 20th day of the lunar month of Metageitnion, the Greeks celebrated this festival in honor of Hera as Thelkinia, which some translate as the Charmer and others as the Enchanter.

St Bartholomew
All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a patronymic, means "son of Tolomai" and scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John, who says he is from Cana and that Jesus called him an "Israelite...incapable of deceit." The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded by King Astyages. This explains why he is the patron saint of butchers and leather-workers, although not why he is also the patron of plasterers. Tradition has the place as Abanopolis on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and that he also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. The Gospel of Bartholomew is apochryphal and was condemned in the decree of Pseudo-Gelasius.

Jerome, in the prologue to his Commentary on Matthew, mentions a number of apocryphal Gospels -those according to the Egyptians, Thomas, Matthias, Bartholomew, the Twelve, Basilides, and Apelles: probably he depends upon Origen, for he himself disliked and avoided apocryphal books, with few exceptions; the Gospel according to the Hebrews, for instance, he hardly reckoned as apocryphal. Of this Gospel of Bartholomew we have no sort of description: we find it condemned in the Gelasian Decree, which may mean either that the compiler of the Decree knew a book of that name, or that he took it on trust from Jerome. In the pseudo-Dionysian writings two sentences are quoted from 'the divine Bartholomew,' and a third has just been brought to light from the kindred 'book of Hierotheus'. But one cannot be sure that these writers are quoting real books. The manuscripts do not call it a Gospel, but the Questions of Bartholomew. It contains ancient elements and can be found in translation here:

St Bartholomew's symbol is the butcher's knife. In Bologna, August 24, is the Feast of the Pig and a pig is carried through the streets, roasted and distributed to the waiting crowds.

There was a famous fair at Smithfield in London on St Bartholomew's Day, which featured conspicuous consumption of ale and pork. Apparently it was fairly licentious, judging by this statement from Brathwait, Whimzies 117 (1631):

"No season through all the yeere accounts hee more subject to abhomination than Bartholomew faire: Their Drums, Hobbihorses, Rattles, Babies, Iewtrumps, nay Pigs and all, are wholly Iudaicall. The very Booths are Brothells of iniquity, and distinguished by the stamp of the Beast."

This was also a day for weather oracles.

If Bartlemas Day be fine and clear
You may hope for a prosperous autumn that year.

Some say it brings the cooler autumn weather, as in this proverb "St Bartholomew brings the cold dew." Some say he ends the forty days of rain presaged by a wet St Swithin's(July 14).