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Monday, January 4, 2016

Rose Anderson~ Pondering Life's Big Questions

With the holidays over I have to say I've had enough merriment for a while. For me it's time to settle into the deep stillness of winter and write. I'll come out of my mind cave when the seed catalogs arrive... in March.

Were we to peel back the wrappers on the holidays, we'd likely find even older observances by the people who came before. Take the holiday of Saturnalia. The Christmas season owes much to that early Roman celebration. According to Catullus, Roman poet and consummate scribbler of stray thoughts, Saturnalia was the absolute best time of year. It was a time of gift giving and banquets and of fun and merriment. For some, it was also a precious taste of the good life, for every Saturnalia saw the roles of slaves and masters temporarily reversed. For the duration of the holiday, slaves, as temporary masters, got to do things the free people took for granted. Served and attended by their own masters, these temporarily free
peoples took extra long baths, gambled and sought entertainment, and otherwise partook in all the leisure activities not allowed the rest of the year.  

Since everything was topsy turvy, a Lord of Misrule was appointed to oversee festivities and make sure everyone participated. (The Lord of Misrule eventually came to preside over the twelve days of Christmas when young lords went leaping and true loves everywhere gave turtle doves and French hens.) Wine and laughter flowed during Saturnalia. Feasting was had and gods and goddesses were very happy with their mortals. A popular activity for slave and master alike was to ponder life's big questions and really great points were made by all.  

I've discovered a few Saturnalia quotes from this time. 

"Nescis quid vesper vehat."

"Thou knowest not what evening may bring."

"Tempus ante mundum esse non potuit."

"Time could not exist before the world."

"Non potest amor cum timore misceri."
"Love cannot exist where there is fear."

"Opinionis ortus est memoriae defectus."
"The origin of speculation is a defective memory."

"Sibi quisque dat mores; conditionem casus adsignat."
"Each one forms his own character; his station is assigned to him by fortune.' 

"Sic loquendum esse cum hominibus, tanquam dii audiant; sic loquendum cum hominibus, tanquam homines audiant."
"We should so speak with men as though the Gods were listening, and so speak with the Gods as though men were listening." 

"(Consuluisti) utrum prius gallina ex ovo an ovum ex gallina coeperit."
"You have been considering whether the fowl came first from the egg or the egg from the fowl." 

Some of these ponderings are recognizable today, especially that last one-- Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I find it funny that question was pondered for 2000 years and maybe more. It just goes to show the human experience and the desire to know remain the same no matter where we sit on the timeline. Here's another fun bit of trivia-- Twelfth Night ends tomorrow. So put some time into pondering life's big questions today and tomorrow. You just might have an incredible flash of insight. If you're a writer, that insight may bring a flash of creative brilliance. Either way, may the coming year bring you all good things.


Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes across genres under the pen name Madeline Archer. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.

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Tina Donahue said...

Love this quote: "Love cannot exist where there is fear." So true.

Happy New Year, Rose, and to all the great people at RB4U :) said...

"The origin of speculation is a defective memory." I love that quote, Rose. Especially since my memory is getting more and more lost these days. But this doesn't keep me from speculating or giving my opinion! ;-)

Happy New Year to All.

Cara Marsi said...

I really enjoyed your post, Rose. Love the quotes and love learning more about Saturnalia. Happy New Year!

darlene deluca said...

Thanks, Rose! I, too, am heading into that cave to concentrate on writing during these cold months. I'll be ready for that flash of insight! :-)

Paris said...

Great post, Rose! I think my favorite quote is "Love cannot exist where there is fear." When I first started writing and was trying to figure out the motivation for each of my characters, I realized that fear did turn out to be the biggest stumbling block when it came to love. Happy New Year!

Melissa Keir said...

Your posts are always informative! I love it! I wish you all the best this coming year.

jean hart stewart said...

Great post. Thanks for all the stuff I didn't know. Can't quite wrap my head around the idea of masters being slaves. If I were a slave, I think I'd worry about repercussions. But then I'm a worrywart.

Unknown said...

Wonderful post, as always, Rose. Happy New Year!

That's more information about Saturnalia than I've found anywhere else. At least in the old days the holidays were long enough to be enjoyed. Maybe too long. Now it's the other extreme, Christmas one day and back to work the next... unless it's a weekend holiday.

Like many of you, I'll be in my writing cave soon, too.
Happy Writing One & All!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

You always write the most informative blogs! Much appreciated.

J.D. Faver said...

Love it. I was just thinking this morning that I'm a slave to my dog and cats. I wonder if I can convince them to feed and clean up after me???
Thanks for another thought provoking blog, Rose. Good one.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone. Yes, let's have a notable 2016!

Judy Baker said...

Thanks for sharing such interesting information on extending the holidays - something new to me. Have a wonderful New Year.

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