Happy Lupercalia & “Fall of the Roman Empire” Magazine Photos

For Ancient Romans, today was a festival day celebrating Lupercalia! This was an ancient pagan ritual for cleansing the winter days and also to rejuvenate health and fertility in the land. After a religious sacrifice young Roman men would race naked, or nearly naked, around the Palantine Hill in Rome and strike young women in the crowd with leather thongs called februum (yes, February comes from this word!) in order to endow them with a health pregnancy, or (if not yet pregnant), grant them fertility, or so they believed. The word februa in Latin means “Purifications” or “Purgings”. So to honor the season before spring and to get the earth ready to be fruitful again, a fertility ritual like Lupercalia took place to welcome the season.

So, welcome Lupercalia!

Pictures below of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” taken from a French Magazine called Bonnes Soirées, April 1964. https://stephenboydblog.com/fall-of-the-roman-empire/

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Was Stephen Boyd the inspiration for this 1965 paperback artwork?

I came across this book in one of my many book store visits one day, and was startled to pick it up and see Stephen Boyd’s face on the cover! This Pocket Cardinal edition was published in December 1965, just around the time of “The Bible” and “Genghis Khan”. “The Fall of the Roman Empire had been out the year before. It seems that the artist took Stephen’s face and modified it (he did not include Stephen’s magnificent cleft chin, for example!) for the Greek warrior on the cover.

By the way, this novel “The Shining” written by Stephen Marlowe (not to be confused with Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name – so many Stephen’s in this post!) is an excellent ancient Greek novel written in a very Mary Renault sort of fashion. It is about a fictional character who is an actor turned warrior called Hiero of Marathon. Hiero gets caught in all sorts of Peloponnesian war adventures, including the siege of Syracuse and ending with Xenophon’s famous march of the Ten Thousand through Asia. There are some excellent character sketch’s of historical figures, such as Alcibiades, Socrates, Cyrus, Lysander and Gylippus.  It’s a hard one to find, but if you love ancient Greek fiction, it’s worth tracking down. And the added bonus- you have Stephen Boyd inspired artwork on the cover!

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Saturnalia and Stephen Boyd’s Favorite Sweater

Happy mid-December everyone and, as far as Romans would be concerned, we all want to welcome Saturnalia! Saturnalia was the a week long Roman celebration of the god Saturn, who was honored around the time of the winter solstice which. It took place from around Dec 17-23. The celebration began with a sacrifice then a grand banquet at the Temple of Saturn in Rome.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_(mythology): “The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost “Golden Age” before the rule of Saturn was overthrown, not all of them desirable except as a temporary release from civilized constraint”

Unusual liberties prevailed during this celebration; people held private parties and exchanged gifts; slaves and master roles were reversed; schools were closed; no criminals were executed; war ceased and mirth prevailed. Saturn himself was one of the oldest Titan gods who had ruled Italy during the era of the Golden Age. That age expressed an ideal human world without violence and suffering, so it seems fitting that at year’s end we contemplate these “best of times.”

So, what does that have to do with Stephen Boyd’s favorite sweater? Well, unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of Stephen in what is now considered a cultural trend:  the ugly Christmas sweater! But, I do have lots of pictures of Stephen in one particular sweater which he seemed to really, really like. He has been photographed in this sweater over the years, so he must have kept it in his closet for certain occasions!

So, that being said, Happy Holidays everyone, Io Saturnalia, and enjoy the Stephen in His Favorite Sweater pictures!

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Tacitus on the battle in the Teutoburg Forest

http://www.livius.org/te-tg/teutoburg/tacitus.html

 

Lucius Stertinius was dispatched by Germanicus with a flying column and routed the Bructeri as they were burning their possessions, and amid the carnage and plunder, found the eagle [4] of the nineteenth legion which had been lost with Varus. The troops were then marched to the furthest frontier of the Bructeri, and all the country between the rivers Amisia [Ems] and Lupia was ravaged, not far from the forest of Teutoburg where the remains of Varus and his legions were said to lie unburied.

 

Germanicus upon this was seized with an eager longing to pay the last honor to those soldiers and their general, while the whole army present was moved to compassion by the thought of their kinsfolk and friends, and, indeed, of the calamities of wars and the lot of mankind. Having sent on Caecina in advance to reconnoiter the obscure forest-passes, and to raise bridges and causeways over watery swamps and treacherous plains, they visited the mournful scenes, with their horrible sights and associations.

 

Varus’ first camp with its wide circumference and the measurements of its central space clearly indicated the handiwork of three legions. Further on, the partially fallen rampart and the shallow fosse suggested the inference that it was a shattered remnant of the army which had there taken up a position. In the center of the field [5] were the whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood their ground, strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near lay fragments of weapons and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently nailed to trunks of trees. In the adjacent groves were the barbarous altars, on which they had immolated tribunes and first-rank centurions.

 

Some survivors of the disaster who had escaped from the battle or from captivity, described how this was the spot where the officers fell, how yonder the eagles were captured, where Varus was pierced by his first wound, where too by the stroke of his own ill-starred hand he found for himself death. They pointed out too the raised ground from which Arminius had harangued his army, the number of gibbets for the captives, the pits for the living, and how in his exultation he insulted the standards and eagles. 

 

And so the Roman army now on the spot, six years after the disaster, in grief and anger, began to bury the bones of the three legions, not a soldier knowing whether he was interring the relics of a relative or a stranger, but looking on all as kinsfolk and of their own blood, while their wrath rose higher than ever against the foe. In raising the barrow Caesar laid the first sod, rendering thus a most welcome honor to the dead, and sharing also in the sorrow of those present.


[Indulging in a little fantasy, my two favorite subjects; ancient Roman history and photos from Stephen’s movie The Fall of the Roman Empire]

For a great novel based on the events of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 a.d., read this excellent book “Give me back my Legions!” By Harry Turtledove.