marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

In Latin American wakes, it's very important to keep awake for fear that the soul of the dead move into your body if you drowse off.

One saying recorded of an ancient Spartan was after an Athenian had been convicted by a court of idleness, the Spartan praised him, saying he had only been convicted of being free.

A Roman custom was that you did not swear by Hercules, or by Bacchus, under a roof -- you had to do it under the open sky.

In Egypt, "priest of Maat" was an honorific that could be used for any magistrate.

The Jacobins forbade all the regional languages as Breton and Basque as counterrevolutionary.

Cyrus had the hobby of gardening. We know this because the Spartan Lysander was profoundly shocked that he would do such labor.

In Kyoto, commoners did not have to bow to lords who passed by.

The peculium of ancient Roman slaves was not just property; it was like a corporation, needed to allow a slave to trade when under the law he was not a person.

Ghent passed a law restricting the making of lace to children under twelve, living at their parents' homes. Otherwise, it was impossible to hire servants, who would make lace instead. Also, they made so much lace that it spread throughout all the classes.

Ancient Egyptians described the gods as "rich in names."

Legends of kings who are hidden away and return in time of need are so pervasive in Latin America that one folklorist found that showing an informant pictures of current day European kings and queens had him asking whether they were immortal, and that they came from caves, didn't they?

In some regions of ancient Greece, such as Athens, killing a slave was murder. In most, it was a religious offense, if not a legal one. Sparta annually declared war on its helots to ensure that any citizen who killed one had no repercussions.

The term when you mount your cavalry on elephants rather than horses really is called elephantry; for camels, it really is camelry.

Many accounts in classical literature have the gods whose names were about to be taken in vain by a false oath to intervene in advance to prevent the oath-taker from taking it.

Tribes in the future Arizona told that the moon was first the Fox -- too bright -- the Crow -- too dark -- the Coyote -- just the right level, but abusing the position to spy and cause trouble -- and finally the Rabbit who was also just right and hung out without causing trouble. (This is why coyotes howl at the moon.)

At Syracuse, men regarded as powerful or politically dangerous had to go to the temple of Demeter and Persephone, wear sacred vestments, take a sacred torch in hand, and swear to do no harm to the community.

In the Deep South, slaves' clothing was so habitually white that colored clothes were recommended as a way to reward slaves for distinguishing themselves.

The British monarch has to stop and ask the Mayor for permission to enter the City of London. (A region much smaller than London.)

The first imaginary moonscapes had the surface all sharp and jagged, with high mountains. After all, the relief was stark, with very sharp shapes, and there was nothing to erode it. (Except there is plenty of orbital dust.)

Rigorous Muslims rulers would, from time to time, forbid chess and demand that all chess boards be destroyed.

The sacrifices to the Charites at Paros involved neither garlands nor music. This was attributed to Minos's having heard of his son's death (the one that lead to the Athenians being sent to the Minotaur in the Labyrinth) while offering it; he tore off his garlands and ordered the music to stop, but completed the sacrifice.

An important innovation of the Paleolithic was changing flint chipping techniques to make more desirable blade flakes -- the pieces of flint chipped off -- for tools as well as shaping the central flint.
Tags: historical tidbits

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