The Roman Messenger Who Couldn’t Reach the Gods

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The Roman Messenger had a very important message to take to the Admiral of the Batallion – hundreds of centurions had to receive their birthday best wishes and there were many telegrams to be delivered. In his busy day, the Roman Messenger had lots of jobs to do – making sure he arrived on time, to pick up parcels and pump up his bicycle wheels. Juno – the wife of Jupiter, goddess of women and childbirth cooked him a hearty Roman Messenger breakfast in the mausoleum. The god Mithras hatched out of an egg like a chicken. The Roman Messenger called on Venus, the Goddess of love and asked her to help him wash his hair and get ready for his big day – a grand meeting with the Gods. Venus is supposed to be the most beautiful goddess in the Roman Empire, which is why she spends so much time washing her hair! He had a long soak in the bubbles of the Frigidarium. The Roman Messenger set off at the time of the new festival to mark the naturalization of new gods – the Saturnalia, the Lupercalia, the Equiria, and the Secular Games. The Roman Messenger glimpsed the calendar – he noted the date – February 27th – the time when Equiria, a festival in honor of Mars, was being celebrated and traditionally the time of year when new military campaigns were prepared. The Roman Messenger knew there would be horse races so he hoped one of the Gladiators would be able to pick him up on the way.

The life of a Roman Messenger was a very hectic one – there were schedules and round the clock timetables, active agendas and appointments. Some of the letters he had to deliver had addresses in Latin – which complicated the matter somewhat. Before he could go to the ampitheatre to watch animals and people fighting, the Roman Messenger had an urgent telegram to deliver to the Gods in the high heavens – but when he got to his bicycle, parked outside his villa, he noticed the wheel was flat and had a puncture. The bell no longer made a ringing tone and the spedometer was broke. So it looked like he would have to go on foot. He had to battle with the gladiators and barbarians to make his way through the crowds. Ares, the Greek god of war joined in. Fortunately, his protector – the god Zeus – had given the Roman Messenger a special locket that he wore around his neck, given to him at birth. It contained an amulet as a protection against evil and was worn on a chain, cord, or strap. He prayed in the basilica and lararium for a sunny day because Jupiter – the chief Roman god, equivalent to the Greek god Zeus – had been throwing around thunderbolts and thunder roared loudly in the background.

Oh for some lucky omen ! that perhaps a lare (a household God) would come and finish his househld chores for him or, indeed that a kind Samaritan would give him a lift in his chariot to Londonium (these days known as London) – he loved to speed along racing chariots, and Celtic warriors rode into battle on them. Fortuna – Roman goddess of luck and good fortune must have smiled on the Roman Messenger – because as he was turning the bend, a chariot screeched to a halt at the side of the road.

Plautus lent the Roman Messenger one of his slaves to help carry the scrolls and parchments. He asked some of his gang to give a bit of a hand – there was bubulcus – the ploughman and coquus – the cook (who offered to make the picnic for the journey), he took fresh fruit and vegetables from holitor – the market gardener. The Roman Messenger asked calator – the footman to lend him a new pair of shoes for the trip and cantrix – the singer gave him his compact disc player so the Roman Messenger could listen to music on his way, nutrix – the nurse offered her first aid kit (since she was sure he would get blisters and sore feet en route).

Mithras was a favourite god of Roman soldiers and there were several temples to him along Hadrian’s Wall. The Roman Messenger stopped off for a picnic on his way to the Temple, resting on a stone wall. Neptune, God of the sea, offered the Roman Messenger a boat in which to sail on his journey along the aquaduct. Neptune knew that there were lots of sea monsters so he gave the Roman Messenger a trident with three prongs that he usually carried in his left hand. This is the weapon he usually carries because it is good for spearing fish, which I guess is something you might need if you are a sea god, and may indeed come in handy if you’re a Roman Messenger. Under the empire, the Saturnalia was celebrated for seven days, from December 17 to 23, during the period in which the winter solstice occurred. All business was suspended, slaves were given temporary freedom, gifts were exchanged, and merriment prevailed. The Roman Messenger took a holiday along the Apenine coast and paddled on the seashore, building sandcastles to the Gods before continuing.

The Roman Messenger hired a carrier pigeon to despatch news to the empire – he had already travelled two hundred miles and was quite foot sore. His back ached from his heavy postal sack and the wax tablets he was carrying. There were many stones in his sandals so as he crossed a number Roman aquaducts, he bathed his blisters and broken toenails. There were romantic love letters for Gorgon, in Greek mythology, one of three monstrous daughters of the sea god Phorcys and his wife, Ceto. The Gorgons were terrifying, dragonlike creatures, covered with golden scales and having snakes for hair. They lived on the farthest side of the western ocean, shunned because their glance turned people to stone. Two of the Gorgons, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal; Medusa alone could be killed. The hero Perseus killed Medusa and brought back her head, with the help of the deities Hermes and Athena. From the blood of Hermes sprang the winged horse Pegasus, her son by the God Poseidon – the Roman Messenger jumped a ride a further two hundred yards.

Zeus’ letters always came by air mail – well he was Chief of the gods; God of the sky. Another popular Roman god in Britain was Mercury . He was the messenger of the gods which is why he has wings on his cap. Usually he had wings on his feet and a special staff which told everyone that met him that he was a messenger. Mercury also looked after trade and travellers which explains why he was often worshipped in the small villages or vici that grew up around the Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall.

At the head of the earliest pantheon were the triad Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus (whose three priests, or flamens, were of the highest order), and Janus and Vesta – all waiting for their post to be delivered. On his postal route, the Roman Messenger worshiped Diana on the Aventine Hill and propheciesed about the estimated time of arrival. The Secular Games, which included both athletic spectacles and sacrifices, were held at irregular intervals, traditionally once only in about every century, to mark the beginning of a new saeculum, or era. The Roman Messenger loved the decathlon and athletic sports – he put his rucksack to one side and ran a relay race against Cupid – quite a match. In High Rochester, Mars, the god of war, and Hercules the legendary strong man battled with the Roman Messenger. They sparred and fought with spears and swords. Vergi meanwhile published his Aeneid and the legendary Trojan hero, Aeneas, challenged the Roman Messenger to a game of cards – but the Roman Messenger had to carry on his way and couldn’t stop for the final. People today still tell mythical stories about the life and times of the Roman Messenger (and in fact, if the truth be told, complain about the late deliveries).

Caesar Caesar Salad

Caesar Caesar Salad had a crown made from a radish and wore a toga made from a lettuce leaf. His rosy cheeks were really tomatoes and Caesar Caesar Salad had a beard that was really watercress ! Caesar Caesar Salad ate egg sandwiches for his tea – which he grew in his greenhouse by the Meditteranean Sea. Caesar Caesar Salad loved cucumber too – which, in his greenhouse, grew and grew.

Circle the words in the story above that are salad vegetables.

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Hail Caesar Caesar Salad !

Circle the letters S – A – R inside these words where Caesar is hiding.

starch

 

sacrosanct

 

star

 

saccharine

 

sacred

 

sacrifice

 

sacrilege

 

sacrilegious

 

sarcasm

 

sardonic

 

salesperson

 

salver

 

salary

 

satire

 

satirise

 

saturated

 

saver

 

start

 

starfish

 

safeguard

 

sanitary

 

plaster

 

pulsator

 

saturday

 

scar

 

self – assurance

Caesar’s Stirring Speech

 

Add the letters S – T – E – R to complete these words :

pla __ __ __ __

 

mon __ __ __ __

 

ma __ __ __ __ y

 

ta __ __ __ __

 

bla __ __ __ __

 

fa __ __ __ __

 

si __ __ __ __

 

pe __ __ __ __

 

mon __ __ __ __

 

Ea __ __ __ __ n

 

We __ __ __ __ n

 

spin __ __ __ __

 

my __ __ __ __ y

 

boo __ __ __ __

 

clu __ __ __ __

 

du __ __ __ __

 

flu __ __ __ __

 

song __ __ __ __

recipe
Peanut Butter Banana Chariot Wheels
Ingredients
Bananas
Peanut butter
Crunchy cereal
Use a table knife to cut bananas into 1/2 inch or inch circles. Spread with peanut butter. Roll in cereal.
© Jacqueline Richards 2005

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