The Fullers of Rome

The Fullers of Rome


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The Romans were all about appearances, which was obvious by the array of clothing that they wore. Their garments were billboards that advertised their status and wealth to all other Romans and anyone they came into contact with. As such, the clothing industry was a highly important part of Roman commerce. Not only was the sale of clothing a profitable business in Rome, but the care and maintenance of garments also became a very important service.

Roman Clothing

Though the typical Roman wife was traditionally expected to spin and weave fabric for handmade family clothing, it didn't take long (around the beginning of the Empire) for the homespun wool tunics and togas to give way to more cheaply produced garments sold by street merchants. More garments for sale meant more garments bought that needed to be then properly washed and maintained. And because many of the togas worn by Romans were white, they required frequent laundering due to stains and quickly absorbed odors. In Roman cities, facilities and shops existed specifically to produce, maintain, and clean Roman clothing.

The fullers' shops serviced an entire town, where they dyed, washed, & dried garments of all types.

Fullers' Shops

Arguably the most important job in the Roman clothing industry was that of the cleaners, or the fullers (Latin fullones). The fullers' shops serviced an entire town, where they dyed, washed, and dried garments of all types. The fullers' shops (fullonicae), as seen at the ruins of Pompeii, were often larger than other types of businesses, in order to accommodate the large equipment needed, as well as to oblige the large number of daily customers. This also required a rather large workforce, and was probably one of the biggest employers in a city.

The typical fullonica needed tanks for washing, dyeing, and rinsing the garments, as well as space to dry and finish them. Garments were usually washed in human urine, which would have been collected from the public restrooms around the town, and also possibly imported from outlying areas.

To dye garments, the fullers used pigments that were made from different plants and some types of shellfish. After washing and dyeing, the garments were rinsed in large tubs of water, and then moved to the drying stage. Clothing was either hung on lines to dry, or placed on racks on the roof of the fullonica to dry in the sun. In more crowded Roman towns, the fullers has permission to dry some clothing on the street sides.

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Prosperous Fullers

The fullers' shops had large overheads, having to employ a large staff, take up a large space, and keep and maintain large equipment. However, many fullonicae seemed to have been very profitable, and were able to use their funds to fulfill civic duties. As laborers, they were respectable, and were often known to support high-ranking Romans in politics through financial donations and patronage. In Pompeii it was the fullers who supported Eumachia in her career, even dedicating a statue to her in honor of her support of them.


The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire

Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome’s power—a story of nature’s triumph over human ambition.

Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. He takes readers from Rome’s pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a “little ice age” and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague.

A poignant reflection on humanity’s intimate relationship with the environment, The Fate of Rome provides a sweeping account of how one of history’s greatest civilizations encountered and endured, yet ultimately succumbed to the cumulative burden of nature’s violence. The example of Rome is a timely reminder that climate change and germ evolution have shaped the world we inhabit—in ways that are surprising and profound.

Awards and Recognition

  • One of Medium.com’s Books of the Year 2017
  • One of The Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2017
  • One of the Forbes.com “Great Anthropology and History Books of 2017” (chosen by Kristina Killgrove)
  • One of The Federalist’s Notable Books for 2017
  • Honorable Mention for the 2018 PROSE Award in Classics, Association of American Publishers
  • One of Strategy + Business's Best Business Books in Economics for 2018
  • One of Choice Reviews' Outstanding Academic Titles of 2018

"I read a lot of history in my spare time, and as best I can tell modern scholarship is telling us that Rome really was something special. What I learned from Peter Temin, and at greater length from Kyle Harper, was that Rome wasn’t your ordinary pre-industrial economy. . . . Harper notes that Rome was held back in some ways by a heavy burden of disease, an unintentional byproduct of urbanization and trade that a society lacking the germ theory had no way to alleviate. But still, the Romans really did achieve remarkable things on the economic front."—Paul Krugman, New York Times

"A work of remarkable erudition and synthesis, Harper’s timely study offers a chilling warning from history of 'the awesome, uncanny power of nature'."—P. D. Smith, The Guardian

"Original and ambitious. . . . [Harper] provide[s] a panoramic sweep of the late Roman Empire as interpreted by one historian's incisive, intriguing, inquiring mind."—James Romm, Wall Street Journal

"Ingenious, persuasive. . . . Lucidly argued."Publishers Weekly

"A view of the fall of Rome from a different angle, looking beyond military and social collapse to man's relationship to the environment. There is much to absorb in this significant scholarly achievement, which effectively integrates natural, social, and humanistic sciences."Kirkus

"An excellent new book. . . . [Harper] has managed a prodigious scholarly output that uses date-driven, twenty-first-century methods to solve enduring problems of ancient history."—Noel Lenski, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] sweeping retelling of the rise and fall of an empire, [that] was brought down as much by ‘germs as by Germans.'"—Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy

"Harper argues his case brilliantly, with deep scientific research into weather, geology and disease."—Harry Mount, The Spectator

"An ambitious and convincing reappraisal of one of the most studied episodes of decline and fall in human history."—Ellie Robins, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Beautifully and often wittily written, this is history that has some of the impact of a great work of dystopian science fiction."—Tom Holland, BBC History Magazine

"This beautifully written book is ground-breaking stuff, both for its method and content, and one of the most important of the year."—Adrian Spooner, Classics for All

"Harper’s focus is resolutely historical, dealing only glancingly with modern climate concerns. But the book’s theme is essentially a timeless one: how big, complex societies handle strain and shocks from factors outside of their control. That gives it some relevance to the challenges we face today. . . . If the Fate of Rome proves anything, it’s that nature always has the last laugh."—Asher Elbein, Earther.com

"Harper offers a striking reinterpretation with worrisome implications for the present day. . . . Today, we inhabit a global system with a very similar combination of climatologic disturbances, urbanization, less diverse diets, and globalization. Ancient history reveals the risks we run."—Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs

"The Fate of Rome is one of the most immediately readable histories of the year, always investing even the most well-known subjects with the vigor of fresh perspective."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

"A recent book makes a convincing case that we need to be more cognizant of the natural world’s role in all this. The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease and the End of An Empire, by the University of Oklahoma’s Kyle Harper, makes a strong argument for the role of plague and a shifting climate in the confluence of political, economic, and social processes that we label the fall of the Roman Empire."—Patrick Wyman, Deadspin

"Drawing on cutting-edge research into ice cores, cave stones, lake deposits, and other sediments, Harper explores the influence of the changing climate on Rome’s history. With a storyteller’s flair, he describes how the climate’s impact was by turns subtle and overwhelming, alternately constructive and destructive, but that the changing climate was ultimately a ‘wild card’ that transcended all the other rules of the game. . . . Harper reveals how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians, but also by climate instability and pernicious disease."—Lucia Marchini, World Archaeology

"[Harper's] aim in The Fate of Rome, however, is to foreground one class of explanations that has hitherto been relatively neglected by historians: the influence of climate and disease. Such explanations are not new, but Harper brings to the table a large body of recent scientific research into the evolution of ancient diseases, disease ecology and historical climate variations. . . . The wealth of new detail Harper offers to support his general theses is the true strength of his book."—Jeffrey Mazo, Survival

"Harper . . . has assembled compelling evidence that Rome died mainly from natural causes: pandemic diseases and a temperamental climate. . . . We know far more about both the causes of climate change and the ecology of germs than our ancient ancestors did. Perhaps we have a fighting chance of avoiding Rome’s fate, if we heed the true lessons of its fall."—Madeline Ostrander, Undark Magazine

"The Fate of Rome should probably sit on shelves next to Gibbon’s masterwork. In time, one feels, it will be seen every bit as much an essential text."—Andrew Masterson, Cosmos Magazine

"Gibbon’s is just one of myriad theories as to why Rome fell after a millennium of unprecedented (and never repeated) strength. [Harper] adds a fascinating theory to the corpus—one that could only be ventured at this particular point in history . . . because his thesis rests entirely on modern science. Harper, an able and often eloquent writer argues, Rome was brought down by two environmental components: pestilence and climate. And when these two worked in concert, things really got bad."—Tony Jones, Christian Century

"This is an exciting book that provides a fresh look at a perennial topic, the fall of the Roman Empire, in sparkling prose accessible to all economic historians. . . . Others interested in plagues will find time lines and stories to ground the biology in its Roman context. And anyone who is attempting to use the fall of the Roman Empire as an example in contemporary life should read this book before expounding one or another outmoded theory of the fall of the Roman Empire."—Peter Temin, EH.net

"Harper has produced a wonderful case study that demands a general rethinking of how we view the decline and fall of the Roman Empire."—Williamson Murray, The Strategy Bridge

"[T]he author takes pains not to descend into the kind of reductive or utterly contingent account of the Roman experience that eliminates human agency from the story. Instead Harper furnishes a richly detailed account of the environment in which—and with which—Romans and their enemies contended."—W. Jeffrey Tatum, Quarterly Review of Biology

"I recommend The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire by Kyle Harper. Given all of the other threats we face we thankfully don’t have to deal with the added dual challenges of climate change or new pandemics—right?"—William F. Wechsler, Atlantic Council

"The Fate of Rome is the book every scholar wants to write once during his or her career. . . . In the end, The Fate of Rome is nothing short of monumental. . . . An important work need not be an excellent one—this is both."—Carson Bay, H-Net Reviews

"This is an important book . . . . [Harper] should be congratulated on his attempt to create closer connections between traditional visions of Roman imperial history and the emerging scientific evidence regarding past populations and their environments."—Adam Izdebski, Environment and History

"The Fate of Rome is engaging and accessible for readers of all stripes. Historians will appreciate the fuller picture gained from incorporating nonhuman forces into our understanding of the past . . . . Its story will also resonate with those interested in climate change, empire, and science."—John Bowlus, Energy Reporters

"This is the story of a great civilization's long struggle with invisible enemies. In the empire's heyday, in 160 CE, splendid cities, linked by famous roads and bustling harbors, stand waiting for the lethal pathogens of Central Africa and the highlands of Tibet. Yet, under the flickering light of a variable sun, beneath skies alternately veiled in volcanic dust or cruelly rainless, this remarkable agglomeration of human beings held firm. Harper's account of how the inhabitants of the empire and their neighbors adjusted to these disasters is as humane as his account of the risks they faced is chilling. Brilliantly written, at once majestic and compassionate, this is truly great history."—Peter Brown, author of Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD

"In this riveting history, Kyle Harper shows that disease and environmental conditions were not just instrumental in the final collapse of the Roman Empire but were serious problems for centuries before the fall. Harper's compelling and cautionary tale documents the deadly plagues, fevers, and other pestilences that ravaged the population time and again, resulting in far more deaths than ever caused by enemy forces. One wonders how the empire managed to last as long as it did."—Eric H. Cline, author of 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

"This brilliant, original, and stimulating book puts nature at the center of a topic of major importance—the fall of the Roman Empire—for the first time. Harper's argument is compelling and thoroughly documented, his presentation lively and robust."—Peter Garnsey, coauthor of The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture

"Kyle Harper's extraordinary new account of the fall of Rome is a gripping and terrifying story of the interaction between human behavior and systems, pathogens and climate change. The Roman Empire was a remarkable connector of people and things—in towns and cities, through voluntary and enforced migration, and through networks of trade across oceans and continents—but this very connectedness fostered infectious diseases that debilitated its population. Though the protagonists of Harper’s book are nonhuman, their effects on human lives and societies are nonetheless devastating."—Emma Dench, author of Romulus’ Asylum: Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian

"Kyle Harper is a Gibbon for the twenty-first century. In this very important book, he reveals the great lesson that the decline and fall of the Roman Empire can teach our own age: that humanity can manipulate nature, but never defeat it. Sic transit gloria mundi."—Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules—for Now

"The Fate of Rome is a breakthrough in the study of the Roman world—intrepid, innovative, even revolutionary."—Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century

"Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome illuminates with a strong new light the entirety of Roman history, by focusing relentlessly on the ups and downs of the Roman coexistence with the microorganisms that influenced every aspect of their lives in powerful ways, while themselves being conditioned by what the Romans did, and failed to do. Others, including myself, have devoted pages to the impact of the greatest epidemics in our books. We missed what happened in between. Harper does not, and the result is a book that is fascinating as well as instructive."—Edward N. Luttwak, author of The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

"Learned, lively, and up-to-date, this is far and away the best account of the ecological and environmental dimensions of the history of the Roman Empire."—J. R. McNeill, author of Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World


How People Used to Wash: The Fascinating History of Laundry

Washing is as easy as throwing your dirty clothes on the floor, gathering them up a few days later, tossing them into the machine, and pressing a few buttons, right? While that may be the standard of washing in many locations today, I’m sure you’re aware that this hasn’t always been – and still isn’t in many places – the reality. Indeed, early civilisations often found themselves laboriously washing clothes down by the local river, a tiring yet effective method still practised in many areas today, where one can observe extensive washing taking place at popular locations including the banks of the Ganges and Lake Victoria. Yet while this ancient laundry method is still widely practised and unlikely to fall out of favour anytime soon, there’s no doubt that many other washing methods, nourished by varying degrees of popularity and effectiveness, have emerged throughout the ages – our very own Scrubba wash bag being a prime example!

We’ve decided to wring out all the facts on this surprisingly interesting topic, so to learn how people used to wash and how your very own ancestors may have once scrubbed away at their favourite outfits, check out the timeline below.

Washing in the ancient world. Water is the source of life:

It’s no secret why most Ancient Civilisations developed around at least one source of water. Vital for a number of aspects of everyday life, including hydration, food supply, transportation, and crop irrigation, water systems were of course also used extensively for cleaning both people and the clothes they wore. Garments were typically beaten over rocks, scrubbed with abrasive sand or stone, and pounded underfoot or with wooden implements. Poorer members of the community likely had little variety when it came to clothing choice, and many garments may have remained largely unwashed as they were passed down through the generations.

As with many other pursuits, the Romans took this basic concept of washing and catapulted it into a commercial industry of unprecedented scale. Following the shift from homespun fabrics to more cheaply produced garments that allowed for larger wardrobes and more frequent toga changes, efficient laundry became a necessity. The demand was even further bolstered by the importance the Romans placed upon hygiene and physical appearance, and eventually the Roman fullers (cleaners who dyed, washed and dried clothes of all varieties) became indispensable to Roman life.

Before you celebrate the Roman’s ingenuity and liken their fuller shops to modern day laundromats, however, you should probably know that they washed the clothes they received in human urine collected from public restrooms. Although revolting by modern hygiene standards, urine, containing ammonia, was an important cleaning agent not only in Roman times, but also in Medieval Europe, when it was referred to as chamber-lye and commonly used as a stain-remover to dissolve grease, loosen dirt, and bleach yellowing fabrics. If you’re still convinced there must have been something preferable to human urine, you may be surprised to learn that soap, itself boasting an interesting and tumultuous history, wouldn’t become widely available until the 19 th -century, leaving little option for the maids and cleaners of the day.

Washing in the Middle Ages. Washing away from the river:

As culture developed, population grew, and cities became booming urban centres, a river bed and a pile of rocks were no longer sufficient for many people. Several items designed to aid with the washing process therefore become commonplace, including large wooden washtubs and dolly-tubs or possing-tubs – tall tubs in which clothes were beaten and stirred with a plunger. Washing in this period could be incredibly physically demanding and was often undertaken by poor servants and washerwomen on an irregular basis in a gruelling process known as the “great wash”. Indeed, the length and intensity of the washing process (the entire thing often took a few days involving a pre-wash, a 24 hour soaking period, a wash that took about 15 hours on account of the need to continually reheat the lye, a further wash of the lye-soaked linen, and finally a rinsing and drying process), coupled with the fact that people took pride in owning enough linen to avoid the need for frequent washes, made it preferable for households to wash everything at the same time every few weeks. It certainly can’t have been an event that the washers of the time looked forward to!

Washing during the Industrial Revolution. The Rise of the Washboard:

The advent of the Industrial Revolution is when washing finally starts to accrue some more recognisable characteristics. Indeed, the popular washboard, typically attributed to the Scandinavians, was greatly refined in 19 th -century America following technological advances that saw the primitive rigid wooden frame improved with materials including fluted metal sheets and rubber. The washboard was small, portable, and effective, quickly propelling it to the status of household necessity. Its ease of use, coupled with the increasing accessibility and affordability of soap - fuelled by society's growing awareness of health and hygiene - also helped to cement the notion of regular washing cycles. This is evidenced by the popularity of the Monday wash day throughout the Victorian period, the logic being that clothes washed on Monday had plenty of time to be dried, pressed, aired and folded before Sunday.

The popularity of the humble washboard speaks for itself, but did you know that its staggering reputation was a colossal influence on our own Scrubba wash bag? Indeed, managing director, Ash Newland, was eager to bring the tool's effectiveness into the 21 st -century to help travellers and outdoor enthusiasts wash around the globe, and it is along the principles of the old-fashioned washboard that he designed the Scrubba wash bag's internal, flexible washing mechanism.

Doing Laundry in the Present Day. More Advanced Technology:

As technological, scientific, and chemical advances continued to dominate the Victorian era, old methods of washing, at least throughout the English-speaking world and parts of Europe, were almost completely supplanted by revolutionary implements, soaps, and washing powders. This led to the first electric-powered washing machine in 1908 and the first automatic washing machines in 1951. Today, the washing machine remains a mainstay of many modern homes, along with countless other laundry tools designed to simplify and improve the quality of washing, including electronic driers, irons, and various clotheslines and other hanging devices.

As technology continues to improve within the home, it also begins to evolve with the rapid globalisation of today's fast-paced world. This has lead to multiple methods for effectively doing laundry while travelling, including our very own Scrubba wash bag. Equipped with a flexible, internal washboard designed to deliver a machine-quality wash in only three minutes, it promises to bring the laundry right into your home away from home - wherever that may be!

From riverside washing and humble washboards to advanced washing machine technology and our very own Scrubba wash bag, little has remained constant throughout the turbulent history of laundry besides the certainty that washing methods will continue to change and improve in accordance with global needs, as will our very own Scrubba product range.


About this page

APA citation. Kirsch, J.P. (1910). St. Lawrence. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09089a.htm

MLA citation. Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Lawrence." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09089a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Paul T. Crowley. Dedicated to Mr. Larry Cope.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.


The Fullers of Rome - History

This is just one part of an entire series on various streams of Pentecostalism. Here is the rest of the series:

I've been blogging through some history of my brothers and sisters in Christ in the continualist movement, particularly focusing on Pentecostal, charismatic, and Third Wave expressions, over the last week.

It's been encouraging to see many speak about continualist believers in winsome ways in the last few days. It appears that the end result of recent conversations is that evangelicals appear to want to understand the continualist movement, not caricature it, and that's encouraging. I hope my series can be a small help in that.

As I near the end of my series on continualism, I want to highlight classical Pentecostalism's doctrine of subsequence and briefly identify the three waves of the continualist movement. Then, I'll deal with a few key elements of the Third Wave Movement.

The Doctrine of Subsequence

The doctrine of subsequence is a belief in a baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to and distinct from the moment of conversion. Classic Pentecostalism and most of the charismatic movement would hold to a doctrine of subsequence, whereas most other evangelicals do not.

Historically, the vast majority of Christians throughout history have assumed that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is simultaneous to conversion. (Full disclosure: that is my view.) I use the term assumed, because it was not a major issue until the doctrine of subsequence became more prominent after the Azuza Street revival.

J.I. Packer probably is a good representation of the historic view: "Reference to a second blessing has to be read into the [biblical] text it cannot be read out of it." [J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), 203.]

On the other hand, continualist theologian Sam Storms explains, "According to most Pentecostals and charismatics, baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event subsequent to and therefore separate from the reception of the Spirit at conversion." [Grudem, W. (2011) Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? 4 Views. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan).]

Those who hold a doctrine of subsequence often (though not always) maintain that the experience of "speaking in tongues" represents the initial physical evidence of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." Article 8 of the "Statement of Fundamental Truths" of the General Council of the Assemblies of God states, "The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4)."

The doctrine of subsequent baptism in the Spirit, as evidenced by speaking in tongues, is the classic Pentecostal belief.

In my last two posts, I looked at the first wave (Pentecostalism) and the second wave (the charismatic movement). To understand the Third Wave, you have to see it as a continualist movement without the doctrine of subsequence.

To most evangelicals, Spirit-baptism describes what occurs at salvation. Perhaps the most recognizable name identified with the Third Wave is John Wimber (though I'd certainly include less sensational continualists like the recently-deceased Chuck Smith). John Wimber, one of the founding leaders of the Vineyard Movement and a strong catalyst for the Third Wave Movement said, "Conversion and Holy Spirit baptism are simultaneous experiences."

The Vineyard churches looked like charismatics and Pentecostals, but they believed (at least in regard to subsequence) like most other evangelicals.

Reviewing The Three Waves

Classic Pentecostalism is the first of three waves that observers classify as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter days. The Azusa Street Revival, led by William Seymour from 1906 to 1915, propelled this movement and included speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy.

Charismatic churches generally don't belong to traditional Pentecostal denominations, although they espouse similar theology and practices. This is considered the second wave of the work of the Holy Spirit. Mainline Protestant denominations, independent charismatic churches, and parts of the Roman Catholic Church comprise this Charismatic movement that emerged in the 1960's.

The Third Wave, sometimes referred to as the signs and wonders movement, is a movement that gained ground in the 1980's. The third wave constituents are "Evangelicals from reformed and dispensational backgrounds who have experienced paradigm shift and now believe that the miraculous or sign gifts portrayed in the Gospels and Book of Acts continue to the present." [Sarles, K. L. (1988). An appraisal of the signs and wonders movement. Bibliotheca Sacra, 145(577), 57-82.]

They are distinguished from other evangelicals by their belief in the continuation of the spiritual gifts, including healing, tongues, miracles, prophecy, and word of knowledge.

Third Wave

Any Third Wave history has to include two key individuals: C. Peter Wagner, Professor of Church Growth at the Fuller Theological Seminary's School of World Missions for 30 years until his retirement in 2001 and Wimber. To my knowledge, it was Wagner who first used the term 'Third Wave' in the title of his 1988 book, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit.

Wagner explained the Third Wave as "a gradual opening of straightline evangelical churches to the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit without the participants becoming either Pentecostals or Charismatics."

Wagner also tied the Third Wave emphasis to the Church Growth Movement (CGM). He believed that the tools of CGM were not enough and lacked the power of the Holy Spirit and said pithily, "The rocket itself, with all of its state of the art technology, will go nowhere without the fuel." [Wagner, C. P. and Pennoyer, F. D. (1990). Wrestling with Dark Angels. (Ventura, CA: Regal Books), 9.]

Wagner teamed up with Wimber and launched a seminary course at Fuller Seminary called MC510: Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth. Wagner and Wimber co-taught the course that was described by the President of Fuller for 30 years, the late David Hubbard, as the most popular and also the most disruptive course on Fuller's campus. [Hubbard, D. A. (1987). Foreword to Ministry and the Miraculous, ed Lewis &Beta Smedes (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Seminary Press), 15].

Thus, Third Wave continualists did not doctrinally (in regard to subsequence) line up with Pentecostals and charismatics, though they often looked similar (such as in many Vineyard Churches). But, the view of the movement&mdashbelieving in all the spiritual gifts (including the sign/miraculous gifts) was able to "fit" into evangelical denominations that did not hold to the doctrines of subsequence.

So, Third Wave continualists are the hardest to define. The category would still include the Vineyard and many other churches that would call themselves Spirit-filled. Some would call themselves Empowered Evangelicals. But, they would also include many Christians who would believe in such gifts, but would not be identifiable in the same way as the more expressive continualists. For example, theologian Wayne Grudem (once with the Vineyard, but now more associated with Calvinists) would write a very popular systematic theology (and other books) that hold continualist views, without the doctrine of subsequence.

However, the key to the Third Wave is to understand the belief in the working of all the gifts without nececcarialy a second experience called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In the final installment, I'll explore a bit more on the subject of Power Evangelism and aspirational charismatics.


Compendium of Roman History. Res Gestae Divi Augusti

The digital Loeb Classical Library extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. Read more about the site&rsquos features »

Velleius Paterculus, who lived in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius (30 BCE&ndash37 CE), served as a military tribune in Thrace, Macedonia, Greece and Asia Minor, and later, from 4 CE to 12 or 13, as a cavalry officer and legatus in Germany and Pannonia. He was quaestor in 7 CE, praetor in 15. His Compendium of Roman History (in two books) is a summary of Roman history from the fall of Troy to 29 CE. As he approached his own times he becomes much fuller in his treatment, especially between the death of Caesar in 44 BCE and that of Augustus in 14 CE. His work has useful concise essays on Roman colonies and provinces and some effective compressed portrayals of characters.

In his 76 th year (13&ndash14 CE), the emperor Augustus wrote a dignified account of his public life and work, the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, of which the best preserved copy (with a Greek translation) was engraved by the Galatians on the walls of the temple of Augustus at Ancyra (Ankara). It is a unique document giving short details of his public offices and honours his benefactions to the empire, to the people, and to the soldiers and his services as a soldier and as an administrator.

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Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the first monument to commemorate the over 4,000 African Americans who were lynched in the United States between 1877 and 1950. The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) envisioned and realized the memorial as “a sacred space for truth-telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy.”

Meta Warrick Fuller, In Memory of Mary Turner: As a Silent Protest Against Mob Violence, 1919, painted plaster (Museum of African American History, Boston & Nantucket)

While writing my dissertation on the sculpture of Meta Warrick Fuller , I investigated the history of lynching in the United States. My research was motivated by the fact that Fuller had created a small painted plaster to honor the memory of Mary Turner, a pregnant woman who was lynched in Brooks County, Georgia, in 1918. I was interested to see if Turner was identified in the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which I discovered she was. I also was deeply curious as to how EJI would handle the visual representation of trauma and violence. At the end of April 2018, I flew to Atlanta, rented a car, and drove through the Georgia and Alabama countryside to Montgomery to participate in the opening ceremonies and the two-day social justice conference.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opened 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Soniakapadia, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sited on six acres of land, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is an arresting and emotionally powerful memorial to lynching victims. EJI with MASS Design Group conceived the memorial as a sober and sacred site where people can gather and reflect on America’s history of slavery, lynching, and racial inequality. EJI believes that such a monument will allow for national reconciliation and redemption.

Peace and Justice Memorial Garden, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Dr. Renée Ater)

Peace and Justice Memorial Garden

The memorial includes multiple components: a garden, four sculpture groupings, explanatory texts and quotations, and a temple-like structure with hanging rectangular boxes made of corten steel . Visitors first encounter the Peace and Justice Memorial Garden before entering the long hallway of the main entrance. Within the garden are native plantings of flowers and shrubs and the so-called “Memory Wall: Strength,” a brick arched wall from the Montgomery Theater, built in 1860, which enslaved masons constructed. The garden is intended as a contemplative space as well as a place to acknowledge past and present African American laborers in Montgomery. From the garden, a serpentine pathway leads to the entrance of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Entrance, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Dr. Renée Ater)

Telling the story of slavery and lynching

A quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. greets you as you enter the memorial. Placed along a wooden slat wall, it reads: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” This quotation frames the meaning of the memorial and the overall social activist and reparative justice mission of EJI. EJI is “committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.” The memorial space flows in one direction, with visitors passing King’s remarks to begin a slow climb up the gently sloped landscape to the main building of the memorial.

Informational plaque in the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Four large grey plaques with white lettering are attached to the concrete wall along the pathway. Evenly spaced, these texts outline a history of the transatlantic slave trade and the rise of violence in the post-Civil War period Reconstruction and the rise of convict leasing in the South racial terror lynching in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the justifications that white Americans gave for lynching African American men and women. The texts use direct, concise language to describe the difficult historical facts of slavery and racial terror lynching.

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, Nkyinkyim Installation, 2018, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Michael Delli Carpini, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Monument to the transatlantic slave trade

In front of the first plaque, the artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo created a cast concrete, multi-figure, stand-alone monument to the transatlantic slave trade. Entitled Nkyinkyim Installation , this work presents seven semi-nude Africans who are enchained for the harrowing journey from the interior to the coast for transportation across the Atlantic. Based on the slavery memorial in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Akoto-Bamfo’s memorial evokes the horror of slavery through the figures anguished expressions chained necks and manacled hands and feet and simulated slashed backs. The most sorrowful of these depictions is of a chained young mother holding a screaming baby as she reaches across to an older standing male figure.

Memorial Square, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Michael Delli Carpini, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Sacred space dedicated to lynching victims

The memorial structure suggests the form of a temple with a large peristyle . At the center of the temple-like memorial is an open space, “Memorial Square,” reached by a series of aggregate concrete steps. The grassy knoll represents spaces such as town squares and courthouse lawns used for the public spectacle of lynching. Inside the memorial, over 800 rectangular corten steel boxes, six feet in height, hang by steel poles from the ceiling at even intervals. Each of these hanging forms represents a county in the United States where a lynching took place. Names of lynching victims and the dates of their murders are laser cut into the surfaces of the boxes.

National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Dr. Renée Ater)

On the interior of the memorial structure, you begin on even ground, your body parallel to the coffin-like forms. If you choose, you can lean into the monument and even trace a finger across the cutout letters or feel the uneven surface quality. As you descend into the memorial, the corten steel boxes rise high above, suspended in the air and no longer within your bodily space. These rusted stele evoke the image of black bodies hanging from trees.

Memorial Corridor, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Soniakapadia, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Along the third section of the memorial, bands of text panels in grey with white lettering identify the awful justifications for racial terror lynching including accusations of inappropriate conduct with white women, speaking out against lynching, and not showing deference to whites. After reading these difficult texts, you encounter a message of reconciliation.

For the hanged and beaten.
For the shot, drowned, and burned.
For the tortured, tormented, and terrorized.
For those abandoned by the Rule of Law.

We will remember.

With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice.
With courage because peace requires bravery.
With persistence because justice is a constant struggle.
With faith because we shall overcome.

This text asserts unequivocally the power of this memorial to act as a remembrance device and as a space where the horror and trauma of lynching is framed in the context of peace.

Wall with flowing water, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nearby, water flows down the final long wall of the memorial. Metal lettering asserts that all victims of lynching now will be remembered. “Thousands of African Americans are unknown victims of racial terror lynchings whose deaths cannot be documented, many whose names will never be known. They are all honored here.” The slow sound of water cascading down the wall allows space for contemplation, as you are able to sit along rough-hewn seating across from the water feature.

National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Michael Delli Carpini, CC BY-NC 2.0)

When you exit the memorial to the surrounding park, you encounter a final quotation from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved that stresses the power of love.

And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.

Duplicate monuments, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Dr. Renée Ater)

Duplicate monuments

In the park, MASS and EJI included a field of duplicate monuments. Rather than hang from a roof, the corten steel boxes now serve as cenotaphs lying flat on the ground in long rows. They are waiting to be claimed and installed in the counties they represent. For EJI, the duplicate monuments serve as “a report” as to which counties have confronted the difficult history of lynching and which have chosen to not deal with such a painful legacy. EJI believes this process of claiming the duplicate monuments will “change the built environment of the Deep South and beyond to more honestly reflect our history.”

Left: Ida B. Wells Memorial Grove right: Dana King, Guided by Justice, 2018. National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photos: Dr. Renée Ater)

Sculpture in the park

Three additional groups of sculpture are integrated into the park. The Ida B. Wells Memorial Grove honors the early twentieth-century anti-lynching activist and writer. It contains over forty black granite cylinders of various heights that visitors can sit on and reflect. In Guided by Justice, Dana King created three life-size bronze statues of black women dressed in coats as they “walk” on the pathway. These three statues of women at various stages of life symbolize the women arrested in 1955 for challenging racial segregation on Montgomery’s public buses.

Hank Willis Thomas, Raise Up, 2016, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, 2018, Montgomery, Alabama (photo: Dr. Renée Ater)

The final sculpture is by Hank Willis Thomas and represents systemized police violence directed towards African American men. Raise Up is a long horizontal, free-standing concrete wall with ten bronze portraits of black men shown from the neck up with their hands raised above their bald heads. These monuments with Akoto-Bamfo’s multi-figure statue of enslaved persons underscore the main themes of the memorial and of EJI’s work: slavery, lynching, segregation/resistance, and mass incarceration.

Elizabeth Alexander’s “Invocation”

As visitors exit the National Memorial to Peace and Justice, they encounter the haunting lines of the poet Elizabeth Alexander’s “Invocation.” In the lines of her poem, Alexander asserts that the African American victims of racial terror lynching will not be forgotten, nor lost in the telling of U.S. history. Each name—“a holy word”— is forever etched on this memorial and into the nation’s collective memory.

The wind brings your names.
We will never dissever you names
nor your shadows beneath each branch and tree.

The truth comes in on the wind, is carried by water.
There is such a thing as the truth. Tell us
how you got over. Say, Soul look back in wonder .

Your names were never lost,
each name a holy word.
The rocks cry out—

call out each name to sanctify this place.
Sounds in human voices, silver and soil,
a moan, a sorrow song,

a keen, a cackle, harmony,
a hymnal, handbook, chart,
a sacred text, a stomp, an exhortation.

Ancestors, you will find us still in cages,
despised and disciplined.
You will find us still mis-named.

Here you will find us despite.
You will not find us extinct.
You will find us here memoried and storied.

You will find us here mighty.
You will find us here divine.
You will find us where you left us, but not as you left us.

Here you endure and are luminous.
You are not lost to us.
The wind carries sorrows, sighs, and shouts.

The wind brings everything. Nothing is not lost.

Julie Buckner Armstrong, Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011).

Fritzhugh Brundage, Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South (Durham, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.)


The Wailing Woman

The legend of La Llorona has supposedly haunted Mexico since before the Conquest. Her story is one of violence, much like the country whose suffering she is often taken to represent. Beware the woman in white .

A candlelit cemetery on the Day of the Dead, Tzintzuntzan, Mexico, 2010.

A Mexican woman, Juana Léija, attempted to kill her seven children by throwing them into the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas in 1986. A victim of domestic violence, she was apparently trying to end her suffering and that of her children, two of whom died. During an interview Léija declared that she was La Llorona.

La Llorona is a legendary figure with various incarnations. Usually translated into English as ‘the wailing woman’, she is often presented as a banshee-type: an apparition of a woman dressed in white, often found by lakes or rivers, sometimes at crossroads, who cries into the night for her lost children, whom she has killed. The infanticide is sometimes carried out with a knife or dagger, but very often the children have been drowned. Her crime is usually committed in a fit of madness after having found out about an unfaithful lover or husband who leaves her to marry a woman of higher status. After realising what she has done, she usually kills herself. She is often described as a lost soul, doomed to wander the earth forever. To some she is a bogeywoman, used by parents to scare children into good behaviour.

This folk story has been represented artistically in various guises: in film, animation, art, poetry, theatre and in literature aimed at both adults and children alike. The legend is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture and among the Chicano Mexican population of the United States.

The origins of the legend are uncertain, but it has been presented as having pre-Hispanic roots. La Llorona is thought to be one of ten omens foretelling the Conquest of Mexico and has also been linked to Aztec goddesses. In the Florentine Codex, an encyclopedic work on the Nahua peoples of Mexico completed during the 16th century by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, we find two Aztec goddesses who could be linked to La Llorona. The first is Ciuacoatl (Snake-woman), described as ‘a savage beast and an evil omen’ who ‘appeared in white’ and who would walk at night ‘weeping and wailing’. She is also described as an ‘omen of war’. This goddess could also be linked to the sixth of ten omens that are recorded in the codex as having foretold the Conquest: the voice of a woman heard wailing at night, crying about the fate of her children.

A later codex by a Dominican friar, Diego Durán, details the origin myths of the Aztec gods and discusses a goddess, Coatlicue, who is often linked to or thought to be the same as Ciuacoatl. Coatlicue (she of the snaky skirt) was the mother of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war. Durán describes her as ‘the ugliest and dirtiest that one could possibly imagine. Her face was so black and covered with filth that she looked like something straight out of Hell’. She waits for her son to return to her from war and weeps and mourns for him while he is gone. Durán also provides detail of some strange occurrences ahead of the Conquest that were purported to have troubled Moctezuma. Among these is a ‘woman who roams the streets weeping and moaning’.

Though these accounts fulfil some elements of the La Llorona legend, we need to look to another goddess in order to find the links to water and infanticide. According to the Florentine Codex, Chalchiuhtlicue (the Jade-skirted one) was goddess of the waters and the elder sister of the rain god, Tlaloc. Sahagún describes her as one who was ‘feared’ and ‘caused terror’. She was said to drown people and overturn boats. Ceremonies in honour of the rain gods, including Chalchiuhtlicue, involved the sacrifice of children. These sacrificial victims were bought from their mothers and the more the children cried, the more successful the sacrifice was thought to have been.

La Llorona has also been conflated with La Malinche, Cortés’ translator and concubine. As such she is often portrayed as an indigenous woman jilted by a Spanish lover. However, there are many similar European and Old World motifs that she could also be linked to: the ‘White Woman’ of the Germanic and Slavic tradition, the Lorelei and, of course, the banshee. The trope of the barbarian girl who kills her children after being betrayed by her lover and discarded for a woman of higher status or more ‘appropriate’ race also has roots in the Greek tradition, in the legend of Medea and Jason.

It is strange that such a pervasive myth could have such different features, but still be known by the same name. Indeed, the variations in the folk story seem to be geographical, with different regions having their own slightly different versions of the wailing woman. In addition, the legend has changed over time, seemingly to reflect the
socio-political climate. Just as a source will often tell us more about the author than the subject, we can glean a lot about the story-tellers’ points of view when examining the development of this particular legend. It is not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the folk story can be found in print. However, when we look at them, far from finding an official version, we can clearly see that many elements of the La Llorona story change over time.

La Llorona, a 1917 play by Francisco C. Neve is set during the reign of Philip II (1556-98). The protagonist is Luisa. She has a son with her lover, Ramiro, the son of Cortés, who is of much higher social status. Though they have been together for six years, Ramiro is due to marry the very wealthy daughter of a judge. Luisa is unaware of this and Ramiro believes that he can continue his relationship with her, if he marries in secret. Luisa is told of Ramiro’s impending wedding by a rival suitor and she is driven mad, not only by Ramiro’s infidelity and his decision to marry someone else for honour and status, but by his desire to take their son away from her. When he comes for their child after she breaks up their wedding, Luisa eventually tells him that he can have his son’s life and kills him with a dagger, offering Ramiro his body in a fit of delirium, saying that she killed him after Ramiro had killed her soul. Luisa is hanged for her crime in a public execution during which she is vilified as a witch. Ramiro is presented as very remorseful and dies of sorrow and grief when La Llorona appears to haunt him.

The play satirises the class system to an extent and especially masculine ideas of honour. Ramiro’s mistress and son are an open secret among court society and whispers of gossip surrounding his love life are a prominent theme at his sham wedding. He does not garner respect from his peers and courtly society in New Spain is presented as a place of back-stabbing and chaos.

The story would appear to reflect life in colonial Mexico. Although initially there was a shortage of Spanish women in New Spain, which meant that unions between indigenous women and Spanish men were quite common and not frowned upon, by the end of 16th century the population of European women was on the rise and the status of indigenous or mestiza (mixed race) women fell considerably. Upon their arrival in Tenochtitlan, the imperial rulers of the Aztecs offered women, usually their female relatives, to the Spaniards and marrying an Indian heiress became a familiar path to success. Cohabiting was also common and in some cases Spanish men would take advantage of the indigenous practice of polygamy by having a number of concubines.

The fates of these indigenous and mestiza women were mixed. Some enjoyed stability and enhanced status and, therefore, benefited from these unions, but more often than not they were cast aside after a few years for younger women or, more often, a Spanish wife. More alarmingly, the children resulting from the union were sometimes taken away from their indigenous or mestiza mothers in a practice that derived from a Spanish tradition of relieving so-called ‘wayward’ women of their children. The historian Karen Vieira Powers explains that ‘When this practice found its way to the New World and was applied to indigenous mothers who had borne children with Spanish men, their prescribed racial “inferiority” was combined with the “natural” inferiority of their gender to produce a generalised negative attitude toward their ability to socialise their children properly.’ This was more often the case for daughters as ‘doubts about native women’s capacity to raise their mestizo daughters were especially acute, as the Spanish emphasis on sexual purity was not valued in Mexica society.’ Generations of children were, therefore, raised as ‘Spanish’ despite their mixed heritage and taught to believe that their mothers’ indigenous culture was inferior.

The situation for indigenous and mestiza women grew worse. By the end of the 16th century the availability of Spanish women meant it was no longer necessary to create honorary Spanish wives of the mestizas and, though mixed relationships continued, their legitimation dwindled. By the 17th century even Creole women were losing the status brought from their European descent due to the arrival of so many women born in Spain. The later colonial period also saw an increasing emphasis on racial purity growing unrest and popular rebellions led to the Crown passing legislation limiting the powers of the racially mixed population. These included laws regarding segregation and legislation limiting the inheritance of mestizos from Spanish fathers.

In a 1933 version of the La Llorona story, a novel and screenplay by Antonio Guzman Aguilera, the emphasis is shifted from class difference. The screenplay is set in the 1930s and the focus is on the descendants of Cortés, who are shown to have been cursed by the goddess of death during the Conquest. La Llorona manipulates the main protagonist, Margot, and tempts her into trying to kill her son with a strain of meningitis, when she learns that her lover, the boy’s father, is set to marry an American millionaire. Like the 1917 play, the protagonist is driven mad by the thought that her lover might try to take her son, but it is the words of La Llorona that are pushing Margot to madness. In this case, La Llorona turns out to be the child’s indigenous nanny, who is killed by a doctor who then goes on to save the boy.

There are some parallels between this version and the 1917 play: the doctor who saves her son’s life had always wished to marry Margot but, in contrast to the earlier story, here they do fall in love and marry, legitimising Margot’s son. It appears to be a metaphor for the uniting of the Mexican people: the final image presented is of the ruins of Teotihuacan and an old, tired Indian man juxtaposed with an airplane flying overhead and a fast car, both of which drown out the sound of La Llorona’s cry, symbolising that the curse has now been broken.

Here we find that Cortés becomes a focus, with his son in the role of the scoundrel. This is in keeping with the rise of anti-Spanish sentiment in Mexico during the 1930s, most evident in Diego Rivera’s murals presenting the history of Mexico in Mexico City’s National Palace. The Conquest and colonial period are portrayed as a chaotic orgy of rape, pillage and destruction of the indigenous way of life. Cortés, in particular, is painted as an ugly, balding, diseased caricature with grey skin. Far from limiting the baddies to those of Spanish descent, however, we also find that this version of the story reflects upon the contemporary discord between Mexico and the US, as the post-revolutionary leaders deployed a strongly anti-imperialist and anti-American rhetoric and foreign policy that resisted US influence. Much more surprising is the use of the indigenous nanny as a villain. Nevertheless, this was reflective of policy implemented by the Cardenas government of the 1930s in particular, which sought ‘not to Indianise Mexico, but to Mexicanise the Indian’. Though, on the one hand, the glory of Mexico’s indigenous past had long been an important part of the nation’s identity, there was also a discourse that cast the Indian and Indian culture not as truly Mexican, but rather as impediments to the unification of the Mexican nation, with mestizaje touted as the solution to this problem.

Later versions of the wailing woman story present the villain as Spain and have created heroes in the mestizo and indigenous cultures. Carmen Toscano’s 1959 one-act play, La Llorona, for example, presents a harsh critique of the Conquest and colonial period, with special attention paid to the treatment of the indigenous people by the Spanish conquistadors. The spiritual Conquest is also presented as fairly shambolic and, overall, New Spain is shown to be a place of chaos with great tensions between clergy and secular authorities. The protagonist is Luisa, a mestiza, and her lover, Nuño, is a Spanish conquistador who marries Ana, a wealthy Spanish lady in secret, planning then to return to Spain. He does not appear to care for Luisa and neither are particularly interested in their children. Luisa stabs them to death and throws their bodies into the canal without much remorse. Nuño does not seem at all affected by this. Luisa is tried and hanged in the city’s main plaza, though before she is executed she gives a monologue stating that all blood is the same and that as a mestiza she does not know where she belongs or which traditions to adopt. Purity of blood is a motif throughout the play, with the conquistadors not wishing to dirty the blades of their swords with Indian blood and Luisa exclaiming that Nuño only wishes to marry Ana as they have the same blood. Luisa is glad that her children are dead so they won’t suffer like she has: having to work like a slave despite the glory of both her ancestors. She cries for her children. After her execution, Luisa takes her revenge as Nuño collapses and dies. A poet describes his sad soul and the ruins of Tenochtitlan. It would seem that the abandonment of Luisa represents the abandonment of Mexico by Spain, once its land had been exhausted of resources.

Here we find a return to many of the ideas expressed in the 1917 play, though the imagery is much more explicit and seems to be representative of the ideas of Nobel prize-winner, Octavio Paz. In his 1950 essay, The Labyrinth of Solitude, Paz describes La Llorona as ‘one of the Mexican representations of Maternity’ and, as such, she is presented as a symbol of Mexican identity. This identity, according to Paz, revolves around Mexicans’ view of themselves as hijos de la Chingada. Paz explains that: ‘The verb [chingar] denotes violence, an emergence from oneself to penetrate another by force … The Chingada is the Mother forcibly opened, violated or deceived. The hijo de la Chingada is the offspring of violation, abduction or deceit.’ This violation is the Conquest, the quintessential symbol of which is La Malinche, or Doña Marina, who despite having been sold into slavery and given to the conquistadors – and therefore having limited agency of her own – has been painted as a traitor to ‘her people’. This anachronistic and highly misogynistic view that lays the blame for the defeat of a civilisation at the feet of one (disenfranchised) woman has remained popular to this day. Indeed, Paz himself states that ‘the Mexican people have not forgiven La Malinche for her betrayal’. This is in the face of indisputable evidence that the Aztecs were defeated by a Spanish force aided by thousands of indigenous allies, a fact often conveniently forgotten in popular culture.

In Mexico’s creation myth, La Malinche has become Eve. In regard to her relationship with Cortés, Paz insists that ‘she gave herself voluntarily to the conquistador, but he forgot her as soon as her usefulness was over’ and so it is easy to see how she could be merged with the legend of the wailing woman. The fact that she bore Cortés a son has also fuelled this conflation: their union symbolises the birth of Mexico as a nation of forcibly mixed-race people.

The annual performance of La Llorona on Mexico City’s Lake Xochimilco most explicitly presents the importance of the legend as an expression of Mexican identity. For example, one advert for the production states that: ‘Our nation was born from the tears of La Llorona.’ This version of the play runs for two weeks at the end of October and beginning of November, overlapping with the Day of the Dead celebrations, and has been performed for over 20 years.

There are similar themes expressed in this play as in the 1959 version by Carmen Toscano. The Spaniards again are the villains and are fairly one-dimensional, whereas the indigenous ceremonies are completely sanitised and totally peaceful. Where it differs, however, is that the character of La Llorona is now an indigenous woman, rather than a mestiza. Similarly however, she is also seduced by a conquistador who then runs off with a Spanish lady. The indigenous girl is driven mad by her lover’s betrayal and drowns herself and her unborn child in the lake.

This current version of the La Llorona story is another rehashing of the Cortés/Malinche story. La Llorona is portrayed as a traitor to her people by passing information to the Spaniards, which leads to their defeat. This has now become a common element of the legend. Along with providing a nod to Doña Marina, the play also contains another element of the folk story, as it opens with an Aztec mother goddess wailing a lament for her children as a forewarning of the Conquest.

This is the fullest version of the La Llorona story. Here we find the jilted woman trope finally united with the imagery of the Aztec goddess along with the act of warning her people about their impending doom and lamenting the birth of the modern Mexican nation through the mixing of blood. It is purported by the production company to be the ‘original’ version of the legend, but the evidence does not stack up the codices in which we find the supposed origins for the folk story remained unpublished until the 19th century. Furthermore, the timing of the performance is telling.

Though in essence Mexico’s Day of the Dead is a version of the Roman Catholic feasts of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days, the festival, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, has contested origins. It is thought by some to be an indigenous tradition appropriated by the colonisers and by others as a colonial practice that has retrospectively claimed an indigenous origin in order to promote a ‘pure’ Mexican identity. According to Paz, this identity revolves around Mexicans’ distintive, jovial attitude towards death, which is bolstered by the Day of the Dead celebrations. However, the family traditions of the Day of the Dead – decorating graves and constructing altars in homes dedicated to deceased family members – are rather different to the exuberant festivities displayed in town centres for tourists to enjoy.

The Day of the Dead is seen by outsiders as the quintessential Mexican festival and has become a lucrative tourist attraction. Town councils receive state funding to put on elaborate displays, processions, exhibitions and theatrical presentations in order to attract visitors. The town of Tzintzuntzan was one of 11 that the state of Michoacán selected in the late 1970s for tourist promotion and today it has become one of the most popular destinations for Day of the Dead celebrations.

The evidence would suggest that La Llorona, as she is now known, is a fairly modern myth that has evolved over time and has been used since the late 19th century to reflect and comment upon the socio-political situation of Mexico. By presenting La Llorona during the Day of the Dead celebrations, both of which have disputed origins but are thought to be ‘quintessentially Mexican’, it can be used to present to the world a new version of Mexico’s history and an official representation of Mexican identity.

Amy Fuller is Lecturer in the History of the Americas at Nottingham Trent University. This piece was orginally published with the title ‘The Evolving Legend of La Llorona’ in the November 2015 issue of History Today.


Loie Fuller

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Loie Fuller, original name Marie Louise Fuller, (born Jan. 15, 1862, Fullersburg [now part of Hinsdale], Ill., U.S.—died Jan. 1, 1928, Paris, France), American dancer who achieved international distinction for her innovations in theatrical lighting, as well as for her invention of the “Serpentine Dance,” a striking variation on the popular “skirt dances” of the day.

Fuller made her stage debut in Chicago at the age of four, and over the next quarter century she toured with stock companies, burlesque shows, vaudeville, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, gave temperance lectures and Shakespearean readings, and appeared in a variety of plays in Chicago and New York City.

A popular if not authenticated explanation of the origin of Fuller’s innovative dances claims that, while rehearsing Quack, M.D. (produced 1891), Fuller was inspired by the billowing folds of transparent China silk. She began experimenting with varying lengths of silk and different coloured lighting and gradually evolved her "Serpentine Dance," which she first presented in New York in February 1892. Later in the year she traveled to Europe and in October opened at the Folies Bergère in her "Fire Dance," in which she danced on glass illuminated from below. She quickly became the toast of avant-garde Paris. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Rodin, and Jules Chéret used her as a subject, several writers dedicated works to her, and daring society women sought her out. She lived and worked mainly in Europe thereafter. Her later experiments in stage lighting, a field in which her influence was deeper and more lasting than in choreography, included the use of phosphorescent materials and silhouette techniques.

In 1908 Fuller published a memoir, Quinze ans de ma vie, to which writer and critic Anatole France contributed an introduction it was published in English translation as Fifteen Years of a Dancer’s Life in 1913. After World War I she danced infrequently, but from her school in Paris she sent out touring dance companies to all parts of Europe. In 1926 she last visited the United States, in company with her friend Queen Marie of Romania. Fuller’s final stage appearance was her "Shadow Ballet" in London in 1927.


Martin Luther King Jr. – The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity

(Source: Stanford University) – King wrote this paper for the course Development of Christian Ideas, taught by Davis. The essay examines how Christianity developed as a distinct religion with a set of central tenets and how it was influenced by those pagan religions it assimilated. King repeats material from an earlier paper, “A Study of Mithraism,” but he extends the discussion here to the influence of other mystery religions. 1

Davis gave the essay an A, stating: “This is very good and I am glad to have your conclusion. It is not so much that Christianity was influenced by the Mystery Cults, or borrowed from them, but that in the long process of history this religion developed. It, Christianity, is the expression of the longing of people for light, truth, salvation, security.

“That is, with this study you have made, we see the philosophy both of Religion and History. Underneath all expression, whether words, creeds, cults, ceremonies is the spiritual order–the [ever] living search of men for higher life–a fuller life, more abundant, satisfying life.

“That is essential. Never stop with the external, which may seem like borrowing, but recognize there is the perennial struggle for truth, fuller life itself. So through experience, knowledge, as through other forms, the outer manifestations of religion change. The inner spiritual, continues ever.”

The Greco-Roman world in which the early church developed was one of diverse religions. The conditions of that era made it possible for these religions to sweep like a tidal wave over the ancient world. The people of that age were eager and zealous in their search for religious experience. The existence of this atmosphere was vitally important in the development and eventual triumph of Christianity.

These many religions, known as Mystery-Religions, were not alike in every respect: to draw this conclusion would lead to a gratuitous and erroneous supposition. They covered an enormous range, and manifested a great diversity in character and outlook, “from Orphism to Gnosticism, from the orgies of the Cabira to the fervours of the Hermetic contemplative.”[Footnote:] Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity, p. vii. 2 However it is to be noticed that these Mysteries possessed many fundamental likenesses (1) All held that the initiate shared in symbolic (sacramental) fashion the experiences of the god. (2) All had secret rites for the initiated. (3) All offered mystical cleansing from sin. (4) All promised a happy future life for the faithful.[Footnote:] Enslin, Christian Beginnings, pp. 187, 188.

It is not at all surprising in view of the wide and growing influence of these religions that when the disciples in Antioch and elsewhere preached a crucified and risen Jesus they should be regarded as the heralds of another mystery religion, and that Jesus himself should be taken for the divine Lord of the cult through whose death and resurrection salvation was to be had. 3 That there were striking similarities between the developing church and these religions cannot be denied. Even Christian apologist had to admit that fact.

Christianity triumphed over these mystery religions after long conflict. This triumph may be attributed in part to the fact that Christianity took from its opponents their own weapons, and used them: the better elements of the mystery religions were transferred to the new religion. “As the religious history of the empire is studied more closely,” writes Cumont, “the triumph of the church will, in our opinion, appear more and more as the culmination of a long evolution of beliefs. We can understand the Christianity of the fifth century with its greatness and weakness, its spiritual exaltation and its puerile superstitions, if we know the moral antecedents of the world in which it developed.”[Footnote:] Cumont, Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, p. xxiv. 4

The victory of Christianity in the Roman empire is another example of that universal historical law, viz., that that culture which conquers is in turn conquered. This universal law is expecially true of religion. It is inevitable when a new religion comes to exist side by side with a group of religions, from which it is continually detaching members, introducing them into its own midst with the practices of their original religions impressed upon their minds, that this new religion should tend to assimilate with the assimilation of their members, some of the elements of these existing religions. “The more crusading a religion is, the more it absorbs.” Certainly Christianity has been a crusading religion from the beginning. It is because of this crusading spirit and its superb power of adaptability that Christianity ahs been able to survive.

It is at this point that we are able to see why knowledge of the Mystery religions is important for any serious study of the history of Christianity. It is well-nigh impossible to grasp Christianity through and through without knowledge of these cults. 5 It must be remembered, as implied above, that Christianity was not a sudden and miraculous transformation, springing, forth full grown as Athene sprang from the head of Zeus, but it is a composite of slow and laborious growth.

Therefore it is necessary to study the historical and social factors that contributed to the growth of Christianity. In speaking of the indispensability of knowledge of these cults as requisite for any serious study of Christianity, Dr. Angus says: “As an important background to early Christianity and as the chief medium of sacramentarianism to the West they cannot be neglected for to fail to recognize the moral and spiritual values of Hellenistic-Oriental paganism is to misunderstand the early Christian centuries and to do injustice to the victory of Christianity. Moreover, much from the Mysteries has persisted in various modern phases of thought and practice.”[Footnote:] Angus, The Mystery Religions and Christianity, p. viii.

This is not to say that the early Christians sat down and copied these views verbatim. But after being in contact with these surrounding religions and hearing certain doctrines expressed, it was only natural for some of these views to become a part of their subconscious minds. When they sat down to write they were expressing consciously that which had dwelled in their subconscious minds. It is also significant to know that Roman tolerance had favoured this great syncretism of religious ideas. Borrowing was not only natural but inevitable. 6

The present study represents an attempt to provide a survey of the influence of the mystery religions on Christianity. In order to give a comprehensive picture of this subject, I will discuss Four of the most popular of these religions separately, rather than to view them en masse as a single great religious system. The latter method is apt to neglect the distinctive contribution of each cult to the religious life of the age and, at the same time, to attribute to a given cult phases of some other system. However, in the conclusion I will attempt to give those fundamental aspects, characteristic of all the cults, that greatly influenced Christianity.

The Influence Of The Cult Of Cybele and Attis

The first Oriental religion to invade the west was the cult of the Great Mother of the Gods. The divine personage in whom this cult centered was the Magna Mater Deum who was conceived as the source of all life as well as the personification of all the powers of nature.[Footnote:] Willoughby, Pagan Regeneration, p. 114. 7 She was the “Great Mother” not only “of all the gods,” but of all men” as well. 8 “The winds, the sea, the earth, and the snowy seat of Olympus are hers, and when from her mountains she ascends into the great heavens, the son of Cronus himself gives way before her, and in like manner do also the other immortal blest honor the dread goddess.”[Footnote:] Quoted in Willoughby’s, Pagan Regeneration, p. 115. 9

At an early date there was associated with Cybele, the Great Mother, a hero-divinity called Attic who personified the life of the vegetable world particularly. Around these two divinities there grew up a “confused tangle of myths” in explanation of their cult rites. Various writers gave different Versions of the Cybele-Attis myth. However these specific differences need not concern us, for the most significant aspects are common in all the various versions. 10 We are concerned at this point with showing how this religion influenced the thought of early Christians.

Attis was the Good Shepard, the son of Cybele, the Great Mother, who gave birth to him without union with mortal man, as in the story of the virgin Mary. 11 According to the myth, Attis died, either slain by another or by his own hand. At the death of Attis, Cybele mourned vehemently until he arose to life again in the springtime. The central theme of the myth was the triumph of Attis over death, and the participant in the rites of the cult undoubtedly believed that his attachment to the victorious deity would insure a similar triumph in his life.

It is evident that in Rome there was a festival celebrating the death and resurrection of Attis. This celebration was held annually from March 22nd to 25th.[Footnote:] Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, p. 166. The influence of this religion on Christianity is shown by the fact that in Phrygia, Gaul, Italy, and other countries where Attis-worship was powerful, the Christians adapted the actual date, March 25th, as the anniversary of our Lord’s passion.[Footnote:] Ibid, p. 199 12

Again we may notice that at this same Attis festival on March 22nd, an effigy of the god was fastened to the trunk of a pine tree, Attis thus being “slain and hanged on a tree.” This effigy was later buried in a tomb. On March 24th, known as the Day of Blood, the High Priest, impersonating Attic, drew blood from him arm and offered it up in place of the blood of a human sacrifice, thus, as it were, sacrificing himself. It is this fact that immediately brings to mind the words in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “But Christ being come an High Priest . . . neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood . . . obtained eternal redemption for us.”[Footnote:] Heb. 9:11, 12. Now to get back to the festival. That night the priests went back to the tomb and found it empty, the god having risen on the third day from the dead and on the 25th the resurrection was celebrated with great rejoicing. During this great celebration a sacramental meal of some kind was taken, and initiates were baptised with blood, whereby their sins were washed away and they were said to be “born again.”[Footnote:] Weigall, The Paganism In Our Christianity, pp. 116, 117. 13

There can hardly be any doubt of the fact that these ceremonies and beliefs strongly coloured the interpretation placed by the first Christians upon the life and death of the historic Jesus. 14 Moreover, “the merging of the worship of Attis into that of Jesus was effected without interruption, for these pagan ceremonies were enacted in a sanctuary on the Vatican Hill, which was afterwards taken over by the Christians, and the mother church of St. Peter now stands upon the very spot.”[Footnote:] Ibid, p. 117.


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