The Death of Pompey the Great

On this day in the year 48 B.C., Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar’s rival, was assassinated, less than two months after he was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in Greece, and the day before his 58th birthday. Following the battle, Pompey fled through various parts of Greece, first to collect some money at Amphipolis, […]

What Really Happened to the Theban Legion?

As we noted yesterday, the traditional account of the martyrs of the Theban Legion has long been regarded as historically unreliable. However, more modern research has revealed that it may very well not be as unreliable as formerly thought. This was demonstrated by Prof. Donald O’Reilly in an article published in Vigiliae Christianae in 1978, […]

St Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek Archbishop of Canterbury

Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most interesting characters in the history of the English people, a seventh-century archbishop of Canterbury named Theodore. His life and career perfectly show the endurance of the transnational culture created by the Roman Empire, and the role that culture played in spreading the Gospel, […]

Pliny the Younger and the Eruption of Mt Vesuvius

Yesterday and the day before, we marked the anniversary of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius with some excerpts from a letter which Pliny the Younger wrote to his friend, the historian Tacitus. This letter recounts the attempt of his uncle and namesake to rescue people from the town of Stabiae, a mission which ended in […]

The Death of Pliny the Elder

Yesterday, we noted the anniversary of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. One of the most famous letters in all of Latin literature is the eyewitness account of this by Pliny the Younger, written about 25 years at the request of a friend, the historian Tacitus. At the time of the eruption, he […]

The Res Gestae Divi Augusti

On Friday, we marked the anniversary of the death of the Emperor Augustus in 14 A.D. One of the most interesting sources for the events of his life is a monumental inscription titled the “Res Gestae Divi Augusti – the Deeds of the Divine Augustus.” As Suetonius mentions (Div. Aug. 100), the original was engraved […]

The Death of the Emperor Augustus

Today marks the anniversary of the Emperor Augustus’ death in the year 14 AD, a few weeks shy of his 77th birthday. It also marks the anniversary of his first election as consul 56 years earlier, in 43 BC, in the wake of the assassination of his uncle, Julius Caesar. The Roman historians Tacitus and […]

The Year of the Four Popes

The Church has on several occasions seen “a year of three Popes”, when a Pope died shortly after his election, and another was then chosen. The most recent such year was 1978, when John Paul I died on the 33rd day of his papacy, making him the twelfth shortest-reigning Pope in history. There has also […]

The Election of Pope Benedict XIV

Today marks the anniversary of the election in 1740 of Pope Benedict XIV, who is rightly regarded as one of the most learned men ever to sit on the throne of St Peter. He was born in 1675 as Prospero Lambertini, to a noble family of Bologna, the second city of the Papal States. When […]