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Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XXXI

July 3, 2009

Salve, everybody! I'm not here this morning, and I'm guessing neither are you. Man, I love paid holidays--the key part here being the paid part.

You know who else loved a holiday? The Romans. Those wacky, toga-wearing, subjunctive-abusing pre-Italians had a calendar littered with holidays. One aspect of Rome absorbing so many other cultures from around the Mediterranean was that they also absorbed a lot of the deities from other cultures. And, hell, if we're going to absorb a foreign god or goddess, we might as well set aside a day spent worshipping and feasting to the honor of said god or goddess, right? When there weren't enough foreign deities to go around, the Romans started deifying dead emperors, so that they could slap another holiday on the calendar and give themselves an extra day off work.

And boy could the Romans enjoy a day off work. Well, those who weren't slaves. Or among the working class. Or the commoners. But, yeah, the upper echelons of society really knew how to throw a rave. Roman religious festivals tended to revolve around food and drink and, most of the time, nudity was involved. So, it's not just in America where people tuck into vast amounts of various forms of cooked meat and all the trimmings. In fact, "feast" and "festival" are derived from the same root, fas, which essentially meant "divine law". It's not just fun to eat all this food, it was what the gods wanted!

I'm sure that, in between courses and trips to the vomitoria, the Romans would have sure enjoyed blowing some shit up...if they had had gunpowder, that is. Kind of sadly ironic that the Romans didn't have Roman Candles to fire of at one another in the midst of their drunken debauchery.

With all this hedonism being slapped around, it's little wonder that the Romans actually viewed their calendars from the standpoint of "what minor deity can I venerate today by getting shit-faced drunk?" Days when normal business was to be done were referred to, sadly, as dies vacantes, or "empty days"...days where there were no festivals to immerse oneself in. Through several centuries of bastardization, we've turned this term into "vacation".

Okay, enough of that learning horseshit. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, which in America is our "birthday" or the day we gained our Independence from the crown of England. It's a day of grilling hunks of meat, imbibing libationary beverages, and hanging out with people that you probably would rather not be near given most social situations. It's also a day when we can legally turn our backyards into amateur ammo dumps. How fitting, especially for the guy who brings you "Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays"!

To that end, here's a little something that you might find yourself saying at some point this weekend:

Amo merdam incendere. Stercus! Cogito flagrantem meum canem esse!"

Pronounced: "Ah-mo mare-dahm in-can-dare-ay. Stair-coose! Coh-gee-toh flah-grahnt-oom may-oom cah-name ay-say!"

Translation in the hovertext!

Felix quottuor Iulius everyone! Be safe, and think of me when you're eating a hot dog today (I like mine with chili and cheese).

16 comments:

Mr. Condescending said...

haha happy holiday jenks!

Mr. Condescending said...

I like that roman calendar by the way, i think they should reinstate it. And add a Mr C day, and a jenks one!

Susan said...

Is that YOU jenks??? That guy looks way too happy holding that shit!

Happy fourth... off to Atlantic City for a few days.

Cora said...

Happy 4th of July, Mjenks!

Eric said...

Happy Fourth everyone, and Happy Day Before some Minor Roman Diety Day.

PS - is that guy holding a firework or some kind of freakish blue cotton candy in his left hand?

Scope said...

Looks like Skeeter's hair is almost starting to grom back from the little "accident" he had last 4th where he burned off all his body hair when the classic "Lauch-A-Bottle-Rocket-From-Your-Ass-Crack" went awry with an ill timed fart.

Chemgeek said...

You would be so proud of me. I used my 2 years of HS Latin to define the word "puerility" that I came across in a book I'm reading.

And if that wasn't enough, a few pages later the author used the word "indefatigable."

weird.

Soda and Candy said...

Fireworks are illegal in my state, is the 4th exempt from that rule?

Never mind, I prefer watching professional fireworks to setting my backyard on fire.

PS - you execute an extremely successful guilt trip, sir. I just wanted you to know that I want to write you a Chronicle, but it's difficult when I can't have plot lines involving jizzing in someone's eye (my mum reads my blog).

Mordecai Shakescraft said...

I like to tie steaks and burgers to my fireworks before blowing them the fuck up, just to really drive the point home to those 18th Century English bastards. Plus, the meat gets cooked and falls like rain from the sky. In other words, it's pretty much like heaven.

snowelf said...

How I love your Friday morning latin lessons! You know, if I was a Roman, I'd totally be an upper echelon. It's the only way to go.

--snow

The Peach Tart said...

in Peachland we'll be having beer, margaritas, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and what else...watermelon and a peach tart....have a great holiday

mylittlebecky said...

"amateur ammo dumps" that's what she said! or perhaps, question mark. hmmmm

happy day of the fourth!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Mr. C: Thanks, Mr. Condescending. Happy Fourth to you, too!

@ Mr. C: The only problem is, the Romans deified their emperors after they died, so we'd have to floating belly up to get our days on the calendar.

@ Susan: No, Susan, that's not me. And, you're right: the unbridled joy shown by this man as he holds a tiki torch in one hand and a wad of cotton candy in the other with an array of small arms behind him made me think this guy could certainly set his dog on fire accidentally.

@ Cora: Hey, thanks, Cora. Happy 4th to you and your daughter, as well.

@ Eric: I believe that's some blue cotton candy. Or he's impaled a bunch of Smurfs on a paper cone. Either way, he sure does look like he's enjoying it.

@ Scope: I hear Skeeter learned his lesson and shaved his back this year for the 4th. And not just a big number 3 in it, either.

@ Chemgeek: It means "relating to a skunk", right? No, that's pyeurility. Oh, "the quality of being a church bench". No, wait, that's "pewrility". Gosh, I'm stumped on this one.

I chuckle every time I see the word "indefatigable" in a book.

@ Soda & Candy: They're illegal in most states. It's just that the fines are so small, no one cares. Being that we're surrounded by dry pine forests, though, I understand the logic.

PS: I'm Catholic; the guilt thing comes naturally.

@ Mordecai: You, sir, are a genius.

@ Snowelf: You know, most women in Rome were topless. Just saying.

@ Peach Tart: Sounds like a good plan. We've grilled most of the weekend. Brats, hot dogs, and tomorrow burgers. I should look into these "margaritas" you speak of.

@ mylittlebecky: I think "Amateur Ammo Dump" is one of those movies sold in the shoppe mentioned in Thursday's post...

Jeanne said...

You're right -- far more old-age appropriate!

Have a great 4th!

Lisa-tastrophies said...

I loved the part about work days being called empty days! Are you sure you don't teach history? I swear I want to know where you find all this cool info.

Nej said...

Speaking of Roman Candles.....one year, we started the evening off with some roman candles. Shooting them at each other, in a pyrotechnic war of sorts.

One of the shots went directly into one of the duffel bags FULL of fireworks.

You've never seen so many drunks running for cover in your life!!! :-)

The duffel bag erupted for a good 30 minutes.

Every once and a while, some brave soul would go running across the yard, with a garbage can lid, trying to deflect the shots. His/her beer was empty, and the cooler was near ground zero.