The Manresa Bystander - This abandoned little house sits next door to a Jesuit retreat along the Mississippi River in Convent, Louisiana.
“I had no other motive than the desire to distinguish myself and my joy in making an impression and in the impression itself.”
A quick look at: the genius. What was the genius, and how can we view this aspect of Roman domestic religion in ancient art?
A genius (pl. genii) was the divine spirit which the Romans believed every human male was born with; the corresponding guardian spirit in women was called Juno. The genius of the male watched over him throughout his life, and enabled him to beget children. The significance of the genius took on particular importance due to the structure of Roman families.
The Roman family was centered around the paterfamilias, who was the oldest male member of the family. Everyone within this family was under his control. No major decisions of the family were made without the consent of the paterfamilias, he had control over the property of the family, and for much of Roman history, he had the power of life and death over members of his household. Thus, understandably, the wellbeing of the genius of the paterfamilias was crucial for his entire family, particularly as it was thought to guide the decisions he made. Members of the family would give offerings, and make appeals to the genius of the paterfamilias. Offerings were made on domestic altars (larariums), which nearly every Roman household possessed.
These larariums were usually built in the atrium or kitchen of the home (for an example of a lararium, see this photo from the House of Golden Cupids), and would contain a statuette of the genius (photos 2 & 3). Larariums could also be painted, such as shown in the House of the Vettii at Pompeii (photo 1). Here, we can see the genius figure in the middle, with two lares (household guardian spirits) on either side, to whom offerings were also made. The house snake was also a symbol of the genius, and is often present iconographically in Roman domestic art. These genius figures, be it statuette or painting, are typically depicted as a young, veiled man wearing a toga, who usually holds a patera and/ or a cornucopia.
The first image is taken by Patricio Lorente via the Wiki Commons, and the shown statuette is courtesy of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA (54.2329). This figure is made of bronze with silver inlay, and dates to the 1st century.
On June 10, Wroclaw Zoo welcomed a female South African Fur Seal. This is the first offspring for the zoo’s Seal group and keepers are pleased to report that the pups mother is taking great care of her newborn. Mother and child have been behind the scenes to allow the pair space and time to bond. After two weeks, keepers checked the sex of the pup and administered a medical examination. The female pup is healthy and curious about her surroundings, including her keepers.
Learn more at Zooborns.
Meet the yeti crab, a creature so unusual that a whole new biological family had to be created to classify it.
It was found along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, 1,500 kilometres south of Easter Island at a depth of 2,200 metres living on hydrothermal vents. As a result of analysis based on morphology and molecular data, the organism was deemed to form a new biological family (Kiwaidae). But, a lot else remains an enigma and much more is to be discovered. We do know that yeti crabs lack pigmentation in the eye and are hence thought to be blind. Also of interest, their fluffy pincers have been discovered to contain filamentous bacteria which may be involved in a chemosynthetic relationship with the organism. It is suggested that these bacteria may detoxify some of the poisonous minerals emanating from the hydrothermal vents.
Photograph by Ifremer A. Fifis