It was 2762 years ago today…well, at any rate, according to the great Roman antiquarian Varro.
He stated that Rome had been founded on 21 April 753 BC. Between 8 and 9 AM, to be exact. This coincided with the festival of the Parilia, a spring fling related to the solar agricultural calendar.
Flash forward to 21 April of the year AD 121—1888 years ago to the day.
To honor the birthdate of Rome, the emperor Hadrian inaugurated a new, much more elaborate festival, marked by chariot races in the Circus Maximus. Here is the commemorative type Hadrian issued (in this case, a gold aureus). On the reverse is the Genius (i.e., personification) of the Circus. He holds a stylized chariot wheel and wraps his arm around one of the two turning posts of the Circus, known as the metae. [Hey, did you know this type bears the only true year date ever to appear on a coin struck in the ancient mint of Rome?—Ed.]
Then just two days ago a bunch of nutters [on this Blog, that’s a compliment—Ed.] on bikes from the Seven Hills were celebrating Rome’s birthday with, ummm, a revival of those chariot races in the Circus Maximus. For the glorious details, see what is indisputably the world’s greatest website on the Eternal City, eternallycool.net.
Meanwhile, back in the States…
This weekend—Saturday 25 April to be specific—there will be a massive Rutgers Classics throwdown on the steps of Brower Commons on New Brunswick’s College Avenue.
It’s the Rutgers Classics Greek & Roman Fashion Show. Rutgers’ Top Ancient Models, tag teaming with the Ludus Magnus Gladiatores, the premiere gladiatorial reenactment troupe on the planet.
Five shows in all, each lasting 20 minutes or so. And we’ll have a minimum 20 people on stage per show, with the gladiators mixing it up in between, and the inevitable DJ Korenelius on the wheels. So it’s going to be dynamic from start to finish. Current prediction for the weather is 79 degrees and sunny….
SHOW ONE: 11 AM SHOW TWO: 12 PM
SPECIAL FEATURE: 1 PM keynote performance by LVDVS MAGNVS GLADIATORES
SHOW THREE: 2 PM SHOW FOUR: 3 PM
Thanks especially to the Sisters of the Rutgers Theta Tau Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority; NYC designer Jessica Deschamps (see her creation in magenta above); Mr. Brian Beyer and the Latin students of Montgomery (NJ) High School, who made all the props for the day; Creative Director William Whelan (d-stroy advertising); and John J. Ebel Esq., Al Barbato (pictured above as retiarius), and each of the other men and women of LVDVS MAGNVS GLADIATORES. All these have been amazingly helpful in making this event happen.
The full Rutgers Day program book is available online here. Plus program books will be distributed widely on Rutgers Day at information tents, parking lots, student centers, etc. For continual Rutgers Day streaming news see the right-hand side of this blog!
Don’t miss breaking news about Saturday’s event—sign up for the RU Classics Greek & Roman Fashion Show Facebook group!