History for the Rest of Us

Vexillum

Vexillum

Jul 14, 2014

A portion of a Roman Legion on detached duty as a temporary task force, carried a standard called a Vexillum. These detached units became know as vexillatio derived from the name of the standard they bore. Vexillum comes from the Latin word velum, meaning sail, curtain, or awning. The vexilla (plural of vexillum) were ‘little sails’ or flag-like standards. In contrast to modern day flags, the vexilla were attached to a horizontal crossbar suspended from a staff. The flag usually contained the parent legion’s abbreviated title and often a sign of the zodiac. For example LEG. II AUG. along with the symbol for Capricorn for Legio II Augusta. The vexillum was carried by a vexillarius or vexilifer. Closely guarded in combat, the vexillum was the main standard of some unit types – particularly the...

Amulet – Charm for Securing Good Luck

Amulet – Charm for Securing Good Luck

Nov 1, 2012

An amulet was a charm attached to the body of a human being or animal to avert calamities or secure good fortune. The shapes of ancient jewelery and ornaments were in great measure decided by a belief in their magical powers. Directions for the choice and application of amulets form no small part of many ancient documents on medicine, and it is often difficult to draw a distinction (which did not exist in the minds of many ancient physicians) between a medicine and an amulet. Sometimes a connection can be traced between the amulet and its purpose, for example when teeth of animals are used as a charm against dental diseases, but typically the relationship between the charm and its use seems entirely arbitrary. Below are some of the materials used for amulets and their magical purposes: Amethyst – believed to counteract the effects of wine Opal – believed to be beneficial to the eyes The ant, wasp, caterpillar, snail, and spider – used against fevers and mental disorders Amulets assumed the forms of necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings, hairpins, etc. It was a very common practice to avoid bad luck by wearing some ill omened, grotesque, or obscene shape which would instantly catch the ‘evil eye’ and divert its malice. SOURCE: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Volume 1 edited by Sir William Smith, William Wayte, George Eden Marindin Items from the Creating History...