The History of Halloween

Historical inspirations came before, but the word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745. Introduction Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ evening”), also known as Allhalloween,] All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’[…]

Samhain: The Celtic Inspiration for Modern Halloween

Ancient Celts divided the year into two halve – the lighter half and the darker half, and held four celebrations to mark the changing seasons. By Hillary SmithArt Historian Introduction Samhain (pronounced “SOW-in” or “SAH-win”), was a festival celebrated by the ancient Celts halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It began at[…]

The Ancient Egyptian Afterlife and the ‘Feather of Truth’

After death, one was guided through the Hall of Two Truths where the heart was weighed against a feather. Introduction Is it possible to have a heart that is lighter than a feather? To the ancient Egyptians it was not only possible but highly desirable. The after-life of the ancient Egyptians was known as the[…]

A History of Guns and Politics in the United States from the 18th to 20th Centuries

Gun legislation and debates about the second amendment are nothing new. Introduction Gun politics is an area of American politics defined by two primary opposing ideologies about civilian gun ownership. People who advocate for gun control support increasing regulations related to gun ownership; people who advocate for gun rights support decreasing regulations related to gun[…]

Here’s How to Make Your Childhood Dream of Becoming a Pilot Come True

We all had a childhood dream. It is, unfortunately, by virtue of it being a childhood dream, unlikely we will ever be able to pursue it. This is because most childhood dreams are absolutely fantastic, or as we grow older, we find ourselves more cynical and less enthusiastic about becoming, shall we say… a wizard?[…]

Picturing Equality: How Imogen Cunningham Lived and Worked

A new book explores the photographer’s dedication to feminism and civil rights in the early 20th century. By Zoe Goldman and Estefana Valencia Introduction Photographer Imogen Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1883, when the fight for equal rights for women—legally, politically, economically, and socially—was gaining ground in the U.S. Cunningham’s career and life[…]

“I Am My Own Heroine”: A Woman’s Ambition and Fame in the 19th Century

Exploring one of the earliest bids by a woman to secure celebrity through curation of “personal brand”. This article, “I Am My Own Heroine”: How Marie Bashkirtseff Rewrote the Route to Fame, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ The diary[…]

Family Structure in Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, fathers were endowed with nearly limitless power (patria potestas) over their family. Introduction The Ancient Roman family was a complex social structure based mainly on the nuclear family, but could also include various combinations of other members, such as extended family members, household slaves, and freed slaves. Ancient Romans had different names[…]

Loyalists During and After the War of Independence

Loyalist individuals were inspired to action or inaction by a variety of motives, only some of which had to do with ideological concerns. The Revolutionary War was also in many ways a civil war. Approximately one-fifth of Americans supported Britain during the Revolution, although their exact numbers are uncertain due to the inherent difficulty in[…]

Loyalists: Colonists Faithful to the Crown during the American Revolution

When their cause was defeated, about 15 percent of the Loyalists (65,000–70,000 people) fled to other parts of the British Empire. Introduction Loyalists were American colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War, often referred to as Tories, Royalists, or King’s Men at the time. They were opposed by the[…]

Drawing a Blank: An Attempt to Save the Life of Charles I?

Was this an effort by Prince Charles (the future King Charles II) a last-ditch effort in exchange for his father’s life? Leafing through Harley MS 6988, it would be easy to flick past an unobtrusive empty page towards the end of the manuscript. Upon closer inspection, however, this ‘blank’ may be one of the central[…]

Pride’s Purge, 1648-1649: English History’s Only Coup d’état

The Purge cleared the way for the execution of Charles in January 1649 and the establishment of the Protectorate. Introduction Pride’s Purge is the name commonly used for an event that took place on 6 December 1648, when soldiers prevented MPs considered hostile to the New Model Army from entering the House of Commons. Despite[…]

Patriots and Loyalists: Differing Opinions and Sides in the American Revolution

Loyalists comprised 15-20% of the colonial population during the Revolutionary War. The Patriots “Patriots,” as they came to be known, were members of the 13 British colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution, supporting instead the U.S. Continental Congress. These Patriots rejected the lack of representation of colonists in the British Parliament[…]

Measuring Public Opinion from the 17th to 19th Centuries

The prerequisites for the emergence of a public sphere were increasing levels of literacy which was spurred on by the Reformation. Introduction The term public opinion was derived from the French opinion publique which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne in the second edition of his Essays (ch. XXII).[1] The French term[…]

Usurper: Stolen Valor in Ancient Rome’s Third Century Crisis

The usurpation mania of the third century had profound effects in the empire’s bureaucratic and military organization. Introduction Roman usurpers were individuals or groups of individuals who obtained or tried to obtain power by force and without legitimate legal authority. Usurpation was endemic during the Roman imperial era, especially from the crisis of the third[…]

Four Emperors: A Year of Struggles for Power in the Ancient Roman Empire

Nero’s death marked a definitive end to the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, and a series of civil wars began as others went for the laurel wreath. Introduction The Year of the Four Emperors, 69 AD, was a period in the history of the Roman Empire in which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.[1][…]

The Three Major Forms of Modern-Day Astrology

Thanks to the trend of publishing daily horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, every person in America knows about astrology. The general idea is that astrology calculates the position of the sun, moon, stars, and other celestial objects to determine the impact that can have on our everyday lives. However, most people are not aware of[…]

Electing Fascism: The German Referendum of 1934

Hitler used the referendum to legitimize his move to take the title Führer und Reichskanzler (Führer and Chancellor). Introduction and Background A referendum on merging the posts of Chancellor and President was held in Germany on 19 August 1934,[1] seventeen days after the death of President Paul von Hindenburg. The leadership of Nazi Germany sought[…]

Fin De Siècle and the Rise of Fascism

The fin-de-siècle generation condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society. Defining Fascism and Its Early History Overview Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, then spread[…]

Law and Politics in the Ancient Athenian Agora

The Agora was the central gathering place for all of Athens, where social and commercial dealings took place. Arguably, it’s most important purpose was as the home base for all of the city-state’s administrative, legal and political functions. Some of the most important, yet least acclaimed, buildings of ancient history and Classical Athens were located[…]

Balance and the Law in Ancient Egypt

What made a judgment legal and binding was how closely a legal decision aligned with ma’at. Introduction Egyptian law was based on the central cultural value of ma’at (harmony and balance) which was the foundation for the entire civilization. Ma’at was established at the beginning of time by the gods when the earth and universe[…]

Darkness Visible: Dante’s Clarification of Hell in the ‘Divine Comedy’

Dante primarily intended to explain biblical justice through his contrapasso. By Joseph KameenArtist and Educator Contrapasso is one of the few rules in Dante’s Inferno. It is the one “law of nature” that applies to hell, stating that for every sinner’s crime there must be an equal and fitting punishment. These punishments, however, are rarely[…]

The Life and Legacy of Medieval Italian Poet Dante Alighieri

Dante’s written works are a heady mix of philosophy, politics, and literature. Introduction Dante Alighieri (1265-1321 CE) was an Italian poet and politician who is most famous for his Divine Comedy (c. 1319 CE) where Dante himself descends through Hell, climbs Purgatory, and arrives at the illumination of Paradise, meeting all sorts of historical characters along the[…]

Azazel: The Evil Fallen Angel of Ancient and Medieval Hebrew Apocalypticism

The Book of Enoch brings Azazel as a fallen angel onto Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of demons of old, as a rebellious “Watcher”. Overview Azazel is, according to the Book of Enoch, a fallen Angel. In the Bible, the name Azazel appears in association with the scapegoat rite; the name represents a desolate place where[…]

Ahriman: The ‘Devil’ of Ancient and Medieval Zoroastrianism

Ahriman was the “Evil spirit, … whose religion is evil [and] who ever ridiculed and mocked the wicked in hell.” Overview Angra Mainyuis the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism’s hypostasis of the “destructive spirit/mentality” and the main adversary in Zoroastrianism either of the Spenta Mainyu, the “holy/creative spirits/mentality”, or directly of Ahura Mazda, the highest deity[…]

Growing Old in Ancient Rome

The old were often portrayed as avaricious, cowardly, quarrelsome and irritable, and they always complained about the younger generation. By Dr. Karen CokayneUniversity of Reading Old age is a topical subject in today’s society. At present, the aged (those over 60 for women and 65 for men) comprise approximately 20% of the total population and[…]

The ‘Four Temperaments’ in Ancient and Medieval Medicine

The Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BCE) who developed it into a medical theory. Introduction The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.[2][3] Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures among the types where an individual’s personality types overlap and they share[…]

The Boetian War: Ancient Thebes Revolts against Sparta, 378 BCE

The Spartan Eurypontid king Agesilaus led two expeditions against Thebes but achieved little. Introduction and Background The Boeotian or Theban War broke out in 378 BCE as the result of a revolt in Thebes against Sparta. The war saw Thebes become dominant in the Greek World at the expense of Sparta. However by the end[…]