From my diary

The run up to Christmas is always busy, even if you are at home, and mine is no exception.

A few months ago Dr Michael Fuller kindly sent me some excellent photographs from the Mithraeum of S. Maria Capua Vetere, and some Mithraea in Ostia.  I have finally got around to uploading them to my Mithras site, and adding them to the catalogue of images.  It took much more time than I thought, even though I omitted some.

I’ve always hesitated to add the Ostia Mithraea to the site.  The reason for this is that the excellent Ostia Antica site has a page on each Mithraeum, which is simply splendid and better than anything that I’d be able to do.  There has never seemed any point in duplicating this; so my own photographs from Ostia have remained unused as well.

Today is the shortest day, the winter solstice.  I saw on Twitter a link to a good article by Richard Flower, on the Bruma and Brumalia, here.  This reminded me of my own soundings, I don’t know how long back.  He in turn made use of an article on Choricius of Gaza by Roberta Mazza, which, delightfully, was online at here.[1]  This not merely discusses the Bruma and Brumalia, but also refers to a study (which Dr. F. mentioned also) in Latin: Crawford’s “De Bruma et Brumalibus festis” in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 23.

Googling for this, I don’t find the volume online.  Yet somehow I have it on my local storage, downloaded from somewhere.  How odd.  But it does make the point that we do need local copies of things.

The Latin seems fairly easy.  It makes the point that the festival of Bruma is unknown to Martial, in Domitian’s time, who simply uses it as a synonym for Saturnalia; its first appearance as a distinct feast is two references in Tertullian.

I suppose I ought to read this.  ‘Tis the season to be paying attention, after all.  But … it’s really dark out there, and I find it very hard to wake up.  Maybe I’ll just lie on the sofa and read social media on my smartphone!

  1. [1]Roberta Mazza, “Choricius of Gaza Oration XIII: Religion and State in the Age of Justinian”, in: E. Digeser, R.M. Frakes, J. Stephens (eds.), The Rhetoric of Power in Late Antiquity: Religion and Politics in Byzantium, Europe and the early Islamic World, Tauris Academic Studies: London-New York 2010, 172-93. At

5 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. Not that I’m aware of. But it was originally published in 1935 – perhaps you could scan it and upload it to It might well be out of copyright.

  2. You may have noticed this before but Richard Flower suggests that Bruma was originally November 24th.

    Ovid, in his Fasti, notes that dawn on Jan 10th is the middle of winter –
    “The following dawn marks the mid-point of winter. And what remains will equal what has gone.”
    This rather neatly is very close (within a day) to the mid point of a 3-month winter starting on November 24th in the Julian calendar.

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