Those Romans were quite something, weren’t they?
I was very interested to read in The News about dog skeletons that were excavated from a well in Havant. Apparently there were the remains of eight dogs, flung in there by the Romans for whatever reason.
I can’t think they were an offering to a higher deity, as surely not even the grimmest of the grim gods would want dog carcasses in a well?
And try as hard as I can, I can’t imagine two Romans holding a conversation where one could persuade the other that dog dipping was the way to get into the good books. Even the dullest mind would be slightly suspicious of that ploy.
This archaeological find came to light at a serendipitous time for column-writing as I went to Bath at the weekend and visited the Roman baths while I was there.
It seems the Romans were quite keen on throwing things into water, as well as their bodies. There were several items on display, curses that had been inscribed on to lead and pewter and chucked in for the goddess Sulis Minerva.
The idea was that her wrath would descend on individuals as revenge for criminal activities like stealing a cape.
Modern society is really missing a trick with cursing. It struck me how therapeutic it would be to take the anger I feel towards, for example, the motorist who came too close for comfort when I was cycling, chisel it into something to last for eternity and then cast it into the great unknown for deity consideration.
Curse them with engine failure, or some problem that meant they would have to get out of their bright blue Ford and walk, or cycle, and suffer the indignity of being tooted at by impatient drivers. Divine retribution.
But where would one post curses in this day and age? Using Twitter to beg for a pox to be delivered to the person who nipped in front of you at the supermarket is a wee bit public. Would the owner of the Havant well be persuaded to let people drop curses into the hole?
And while we’re re-inventing curses, what about cussing? I say let go of the F-word and bring back pribbling fustilarian and other similar cusses from the Tudor/Elizabethan periods.