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1. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.
Encircled by a 2-mile border with Italy, Vatican City is an independent city-state that covers just over 100 acres, making it one-eighth the size of New York’s Central Park. Vatican City is governed as an absolute monarchy with the pope at its head. The Vatican mints its own euros, prints its own stamps, issues passports and license plates, operates media outlets and has its own flag and anthem. One government function it lacks: taxation. Museum admission fees, stamp and souvenir sales, and contributions generate the Vatican’s revenue.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica sits atop a city of the dead, including its namesake’s tomb.
A Roman necropolis stood on Vatican Hill in pagan times. When a great fire leveled much of Rome in A.D. 64, Emperor Nero, seeking to shift blame from himself, accused the Christians of starting the blaze. He executed them by burning them at the stake, tearing them apart with wild beasts and crucifying them. Among those crucified was St. Peter—disciple of Jesus Christ, leader of the Apostles and the first bishop of Rome—who was supposedly buried in a shallow grave on Vatican Hill. By the fourth century and official recognition of the Christian religion in Rome, Emperor Constantine began construction of the original basilica atop the ancient burial ground with what was believed to be the tomb of St. Peter at its center. The present basilica, built starting in the 1500s, sits over a maze of catacombs and St. Peter’s suspected grave.
3. Caligula captured the obelisk that stands in St. Peter’s Square.
Roman Emperor Caligula built a small circus in his mother’s gardens at the base of Vatican Hill where charioteers trained and where Nero is thought to have martyred the Christians. To crown the center of the amphitheater, Caligula had his forces transport from Egypt a pylon that had originally stood in Heliopolis. The obelisk, made of a single piece of red granite weighing more than 350 tons, was erected for an Egyptian pharaoh more than 3,000 years ago. In 1586 it was moved to its present location in St. Peter’s Square, where it does double duty as a giant sundial.
4. For nearly 60 years in the 1800s and 1900s, popes refused to leave the Vatican.
Popes ruled over a collection of sovereign Papal States throughout central Italy until the country was unified in 1870. The new secular government had seized all the land of the Papal States with the exception of the small patch of the Vatican, and a cold war of sorts then broke out between the church and the Italian government. Popes refused to recognize the authority of the Kingdom of Italy, and the Vatican remained beyond Italian national control. Pope Pius IX proclaimed himself a “prisoner of the Vatican,” and for almost 60 years popes refused to leave the Vatican and submit to the authority of the Italian government. When Italian troops were present in St. Peter’s Square, popes even refused to give blessings or appear from the balcony overlooking the public space.
5. Benito Mussolini signed Vatican City into existence.
The dispute between the Italian government and the Catholic Church ended in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Pacts, which allowed the Vatican to exist as its own sovereign state and compensated the church $92 million (more than $1 billion in today’s money) for the Papal States. The Vatican used the payment as seed money to re-grow its coffers. Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, signed the treaty on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III.
6. Popes did not live at the Vatican until the 14th century.
Even after the construction of the original St. Peter’s Basilica, popes lived principally at the Lateran Palace across Rome. They even left the city altogether in 1309 when the papal court moved to Avignon, France, after King Philip IV arranged for a French cardinal to be elected pope. Seven popes, all French, ruled from Avignon, and the papacy did not return to Rome until 1377, by which time the Lateran Palace had burned and the Vatican started to be used as a papal residence. Much repair work needed to be done, however, because the Vatican had fallen into such disrepair that wolves dug for bodies in the cemetery and cows even wandered the basilica.
7. The Swiss Guard was hired as a mercenary force.
The Swiss Guard, recognizable by its armor and colorful Renaissance-era uniforms, has been protecting the pontiff since 1506. That’s when Pope Julius II, following in the footsteps of many European courts of the time, hired one of the Swiss mercenary forces for his personal protection. The Swiss Guard’s role in Vatican City is strictly to protect the safety of the pope. Although the world’s smallest standing army appears to be strictly ceremonial, its soldiers are extensively trained and highly skilled marksmen. And, yes, the force is entirely comprised of Swiss citizens.
8. At several times during the Vatican’s history, popes escaped through a secret passageway.
In 1277, a half-mile-long elevated covered passageway, the Passetto di Borgo, was constructed to link the Vatican with the fortified Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the Tiber River. It served as an escape route for popes, most notably in 1527 when it likely saved the life of Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome. As the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V rampaged through the city and murdered priests and nuns, the Swiss Guard held back the enemy long enough to allow Clement to safely reach the Castel Sant’Angelo, although 147 of the pope’s forces lost their lives in the battle.
9. The majority of Vatican City’s 600 citizens live abroad.
As of 2011, the number of people with Vatican citizenship totaled 594. That number included 71 cardinals, 109 members of the Swiss Guard, 51 members of the clergy and one nun inside the Vatican walls. The largest group of citizens, however, was the 307 members of the clergy in diplomatic positions around the world. With Benedict XVI residing as a pope emeritus in the Vatican, the population will increase by one when a new pope is named.
10. The Vatican Observatory owns a telescope in Arizona.
As Rome expanded, light pollution from the city made it increasingly difficult for astronomers at the Vatican Observatory—located 15 miles from the city at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo—to view the night skies, so in 1981 the observatory opened a second research center in Tucson, Arizona. The Vatican conducts astronomical research with a state-of-the-art telescope that sits atop Mount Graham in southeast Arizona.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About 'The Passion of the Christ'
One of the best movies that we have watched about the life of Jesus was the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s profound attempt to revisit the crucifixion.
“The Passion of the Christ” was released in 2004, and made a great impact on the Christian community, and the world, for those who went to see it. Even though this depiction was graphic (parental discretion advised), it still failed to capture the full reality of what Jesus endured during his final hours on earth, but it came as remarkable close as we would expect a movie to.
What we want to challenge you with is some of the facts and secrets behind filming this historical, and epic movie. We have always been fascinated by what happens behind the scenes of a movie, and this one was no exception.
9 The Curious Case Of Constanza
In 2012, a documentary called The Exorcist in the 21st Century followed self-described demon-possessed individuals seeking exorcisms from Spain&rsquos Father Jose Antonio Fortea. One of the subjects in particular, a 40-year-old Colombian named Constanza, is a particularly unsettling case.
Constanza appears normal on the surface, but she claims to have been possessed continually over the course of 15 years. During one early interview, she suddenly stops talking, and her face adopts a vacant expression. Suddenly, she begins to wretch and growl, her limbs contorting like a crooked tree.
Constanza, like many others of the supposedly possessed, has been diagnosed with epilepsy by medical professionals, but she claims none of her treatments work. As the films goes on, she goes to &ldquosalvation masses,&rdquo which are mass exorcisms in stadiums and large auditoriums. Finally, she undergoes a trial exorcism by Father Fortea.
From behind a door, we hear her wild screams, as women guarding the door look visibly shaken and disturbed. The film ends without any firm resolution as to Constanza&rsquos fate.
10 Things You May Not Know About the Vatican - HISTORY
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For ten centuries, between the 10th and the 1st century BCE, the Etruscans occupied a vast area corresponding to modern-day Tuscany, western Umbria and central to southern Lazio while also pushing into northern and southern Italy. Traces of Etruscan civilisation have, in fact, been found in various areas of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto and Campania. This article presents you with 10 things that you may not know about the Etruscans, a people who everyone has heard of before but who few of us have taken the time to truly discover.
Where did the Etruscans come from? After years of speculation-during which it was hypothesized that the Etruscans came from the North, the East or potentially from across the Aegean Sea-today we finally have a reliable answer. Archaeological excavations have shown that the Etruscans descended from the Villanovan civilization, a people that were present in Italy during the Iron Age and that changed its habits following contact with the Greeks who settled in the Italian peninsula in 750 BCE. The interaction between these two cultures most probably gave rise to the Etruscan civilization.
The Etruscans possessed the biggest iron reserves in the whole of the western Mediterranean, including the island of Elba, and they had the necessary tools to exploit this precious resource. Archaeologists have, in fact, found huge clay ovens fed with coal and large bellows used to constantly maintain the flames. The discovery of the skeleton of an Etruscan miner in Populonia revealed, however, that the working conditions of the time were terrible: his bones were badly arthritic, deformed by physical trauma and showed signs of a tumour caused by the smoke and fine dust.
Excavated sites and tombs have revealed lots of objects from the daily life of the Etruscans. Among these, there are objects that we still use today. Archaeologists found a small oven that was supported among the embers of a fire and upon which was placed an earthenware pot, a forefather to gas cooking a ceremonial umbrella to protect against the sun, from which we take the modern-day design dozens of coins, among the earliest to be minted and used in Italy and gold false teeth used in Etruscan dentistry, dentistry that was truly ahead of its time. The National Etruscan Museum in Chiusi allows an authentic immersion into the habits and customs of the time. Strolling through its rooms, rich in sculptures, vases, plates, mirrors, jewellery, funeral urns and various utensils, is a good way to understand what the way of life (and death) was like in this rich society.
In Etruscan society, male clothing was based on two fundamental items: the tunic and the cloak, supplemented with chequered and diamond patterns, with gold and brightly coloured decorations. The Romans took inspiration from Etruscan clothing the toga seems to be a direct descendant of the “tebenna,” one of the most popular Etruscan cloaks.
Differently to in the Roman and Greek world, Etruscan women spent a great deal of their time outside the domestic environment. Inscriptions that have been discovered tell us some of their names: Velelia, Anthaia, Thania, Larthia,Tita, Nunzinai, Ramutha, Velthura, Thesathei. Free and independent, Etruscan women took part in public life they could read and they could own commercial operations and property. On a buccaro (a small vessel for food) kept at the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, in the Vatican Museums, we can read for example: “Mi ramuthas kansinaia”, that is “I am Ramutha Kasinai”. The owner of the vase, a woman, is identified here with a first name and a surname. Let us imagine this woman walking elegantly in the streets of ancient Roselle, which nowadays is an important archaeological area in the Municipality of Grosseto. We can imagine her talking to people as they walk from the fountain along the road that leads into the town up to the forum, the centre of the community.
The vases and ampoules found in various tombs-like the Leone, Pellegrina, Scimmia or Colle tomb, all scattered along the road that leads to Lake Chiusi-allow us to understand how the Etruscan nobles wore makeup. We know that their beauty cabinets were well stocked with creams, oils, perfumes, lipstick and eyeshadow. Wealthy Etruscan women made hydrating beauty masks with barley flour, lentils and daffodil bulbs. To make their skin shine, moreover, they used olive oil spread over the body and then removed with a scraper. The lipstick of the time was extracted from marine algae or mulberries and, for the eyes, eyeshadow made from crocus flowers was available. Hair, gathered into long braids and fastened with a ring, could be made more blonde with dye, the use of which has been documented from the era. From the 6th century BCE onwards, the invention of mirrors made of polished bronze meant the Etruscans could see the results of their makeovers.
From the bones found in the numerous ancient Etruscan tombs, we know that the Etruscans were a short people: women measured roughly 155cm and men 160cm.
In the world of the Etruscans, banquets allowed people to reinforce royal clan links and to show others one’s personal wealth. After a plentiful meal of meat, grain soups and seasonal and dried fruit, the preparation and serving of wine signified the second phase of the banquet. The Etruscan wine recipe would have been, however, a surprise to our palates. This wine was dense like honey, to be mixed with water and flavoured with spices, flowers, vegetable extracts and even…grated cheese! A room in the Rocca di Frassinello cellar in Gavorrano (Grosseto) vaunts some of the necessary objects for the preparation and conservation of Etruscan wine. Among these is a magnificent stamnos that was made and painted in Athens around 480 BCE. It comes from the Etruscan burial ground in San Germano, part of the archaeological area of Rocca di Frassinello.
Although Etruscan art is exhibited in museums all over the world, the makers of these masterpieces remain shrouded in mystery. Consider this, there is only one Etruscan artist who we know the name of: Vulca, a sculptor in the 6th century BCE. According to Pliny the Elder, Vulca worked for the king of Rome Tarquinio Prisco, who commissioned him to make a statue of Jupiter and to make the Sanctuary of Potonaccio in Veii, an ancient Etruscan city, where he made the wonderful Apollo that is kept to this day at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome.
Different from the Greeks and Romans, the Etruscans have not left us poems, annuls, historical accounts or stories. To learn about their language, as many have tried to do, we only have fragments at our disposal. The majority of the 10,000 documents in the Etruscan language that we have, however, are inscriptions that record simply the names of people, objects or the dead. What do we now know about the Etruscan language? Thanks to precious documents like the gold tablet fixed to the temple of Pyrgi, the sentence inscribed on the Cippus Perusinus in Perugia, the famous inscriptions on the Tabula Capuana in Berlin and the Tabula Cortonensis in Cortona, we know that the Etruscans wrote from right to left taking characters from the Greek alphabet. For centuries, Etruscan was the equivalent to English in many regions of Italy because it superimposed the many local languages.
Why, at a certain point, did the Etruscans disappear forever? Etruscan civilisation ended due to military, economic and social reasons that were in effect throughout its long history. After expelling Tarquinio the Superb, the last king of Etruscan origin in 509 BCE, Rome became an independent republic and, in time, occupied Etruscan lands. In 396 BCE, Veii was destroyed by the Romans, and by around 100 BCE, Etruscan language and writing had disappeared. The Etruscans had not, however, disappeared entirely, neither had anyone wiped them out. Their civilisation progressively changed its language and culture, basing itself in Roman culture. It’s for this reason that today, many of us still have Etruscan blood in our veins.
8 Secular Historical Proof of Jesus&rsquos Existence/Non-Existence
Allegedly, somewhere deep within the Vatican&rsquos Secret Archive, there is evidence of either Jesus&rsquo existence, or lack thereof. Supposedly, inside the Vatican&rsquos Secret Archive, there is a recorded conversation between Emperor Nero of Rome and Saint Paul the disciple transcribed in some form. If this is true, then, potentially, depending on the conversation&rsquos contents, it could theoretically either undeniably confirm the existence of Jesus as a historical person, or, disprove his entire existence and establish him as being entirely fictional. Either of which could rewrite history as we know it. If there is proof that Jesus didn&rsquot exist, it&rsquos no wonder the Vatican would keep it hidden. However, if they do have proof of Jesus&rsquo existence, then who knows why they would keep such information under-wraps. Whatever the case may be, it is theorized that such history-altering proof is locked away within the Vatican&rsquos Secret Archive. And, for as long as it remains this way, we won&rsquot know for sure. 
10 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Smoking
Few things in life truly become universal human experiences, but smoking earned that title without much trouble at all.
The story comes up again and again: A trader, usually an English trader, sets foot in a new land. He lights up with the locals, and he just can't stop. He gets a bag of the stuff and he takes it with him. In the spirit of friendship, he shares it with everyone he meets. Economies are created, and societies are changed. And it's all for the sake of a little smoke.
That's the history of smoking in a nutshell, and that history is, in many respects, driven by adventure, greed and friendship. But more than anything, it's driven by addiction.
And oh, how we love it. It's a medicine! It's a hobby! It's a gift from God! Or maybe it's a god in itself.
Whatever it is, one thing is certain: Once we got started, it took rigid social strictures to get us to stop. In fact, it's taken us nearly 500 years to start to regain our self-control when it comes to smoking.
Here, we'll delve into 10 things you may not know about the history of smoking.
10: Smoking Was Used to Cure Ailments and Make Magic
From the time the Europeans were introduced to tobacco, they understood that its smoke had served as a critical tool for the shamans and curanderos (folk healers) of South America. It had not only played a role in curing ailments like snakebites and toothaches it was sacred as well. It was so sacred that the Aztecs thought the body of a goddess of childbirth and fertility was made of tobacco.
The shamans of one Central American tribe would rub a paste of tobacco on pregnant women to protect them from witchcraft. Tobacco was the central ingredient in elaborate brews. One treatment for gout involved making a foot bath of tobacco tea that included these preparations: Start by using leaves that had been left in a ditch so that ants could walk on them, then mix in some special rocks and the ground flesh and excrement of a fox. Then steep the stuff and soak your feet.
Tobacco smoke was the food that fed the spirits that inhabited the shamans, and in some South American tribes, surviving tobacco intoxication was part of the rite of initiation.
9: The "Ale-in-the-Face" Story Probably Isn't True
Any telling of the history of smoking is not complete without the "ale-in-the-face" story from Elizabethan times. The story is usually told about Sir Walter Raleigh, the figure widely credited with introducing smoking to England. In the story, he has settled down in front of a fire with a pipe, and his servant was so alarmed at the sight that he threw a tankard of ale at his master because he thought the knight's face was on fire.
It's a charming story, but it's probably not true.
Historians report a vast diversity of "ale-in-the-face" stories set in different historical sites and attributed to different historical figures. The story was much repeated in literature and theater in the late 1500s. With so many retellings, it has the feel of urban legend.
But it's worth considering why the Elizabethans got such a kick out of the story. To them, the sight of a smoking man had to be pretty strange, considering that they had never seen anyone set a fire quite so close to his face before.
8: Smoking Changed Quickly From Miracle Cure to Common Affliction
Historians seem to agree that the first tobacco was smoked in England sometime around 1560. It was a miracle cure! Then it was a pastime for the rich. By Sir Walter Raleigh's death in 1618, smoking had become pervasive at all levels of society.
The practice crept in under the protection and prescription of the shamans of the New World. It was a cure for just about anything. The problem was, once cured, you just couldn't stop smoking.
That fact didn't show up in the first report to Raleigh on the natural crops of the Virginia colony. Thomas Hariot, author of the report, says of smokers that "their bodies are noticeably preserved in health, and know not many grievous diseases wherewithall we in England sometimes are afflicted."
Interestingly, these claims were greeted with euphoria and skepticism from the outset. But no one could take away from the idea that the practice was exotic and very fashionable. The social appeal only added to the addiction.
Historians torment themselves over defining the point at which smoking shifted from medical practice to daily habit in Europe. Of course, doctors will tell you it happens at the point at which you first try it, for whatever reason.
7: In Some Tribes, Pipes Were the Only Nonessential Objects Carried
You might think of the tribes of the North American plains as fast and efficient. They only made room in their lives and their traveling packs for things they absolutely needed. The archeological record shows that the tobacco pipe was one of those things -- and that it was the only object carried that had no direct role in day-to-day survival.
In fact, tribes that never grew vegetables took time out from hunting to cultivate tobacco.
The presence of the pipe among all the tribes played no small part in diplomacy and trade indeed, some historians argue that negotiations among tribes would have been impossible without the ceremony of smoking.
6: European Traders Spread Smoking Throughout the World
Although the presence and practices involved in smoking are entrenched on every continent, the practice didn't crop up spontaneously throughout the world. Once the Europeans were hooked, they took it with them everywhere.
The spread of smoking went along with the spread of European seafaring trade in the early 18th century. French and Portuguese traders took it to Africa. An English captain introduced it to Japan. The Chinese got it from Spanish and Portuguese traders.
Time and again, not long after it reached a new place, smoking would become a hallmark of the culture.
The water pipe, known as the hookah, came into fashion under the Moguls of India. It cooled the smoke and made it pleasant in a hot climate. In Africa, smoking was incorporated into weddings and religious rites. In Japan, it became associated in art with the floating world of the courtesans.
Once introduced, it became a universal human habit, crossing all geographic, cultural and social lines.
5: The First Efforts to Ban Smoking Started in the Early 1600s
Rulers worldwide became uncomfortable with smoking once it became part of life for the common people. The idea that the masses could devote part of life to enjoyment instead of work was too threatening in those times.
According to historians, it was not just a threat to the social order. The initial idea that tobacco increased the capacity for work was eroded by the idea that it made people lazy.
The Ottoman sultan Murad IV banned it in the 17th century because he considered it a threat to morals and health, and he tried to close the coffee houses where people gathered to smoke. Several Chinese emperors, dating from the mid-1600s, banned the practice among the common people. The Patriarch of Moscow, in 1634, not only banned smoking but also ordered whipping for men and women who violated the order. King James I condemned smoking in 1604 because it caused laziness and moral laxness. To send the message home, he imposed a 4,000 percent tax hike on tobacco.
Then as now, these bans and restrictions were largely unsuccessful, and rulers of many countries resolved their conundrum by starting state-controlled monopolies and profiting mightily from the vice of their subjects.
4: Smoking and Empire: How You Smoke Is Who You Are
You don't have to look any further than Sherlock Holmes to see the significance of the pipe in Victorian England. The rich smoked cigars, and the poor smoked clay pipes. But for the people in between, the way they smoked became a metaphor for their rise in English society.
Holmes, as you may recall, smoked a meerschaum pipe. Meerschaum, made from a type of stone mined in Turkey, was a hallmark of the nascent middle class because it required so much care.
The tobacco smoked cooler and tasted better in the meerschaum than in a clay pipe, and the owner of the pipe worked to help cultivate its color with use. The selection of a pipe was a rite of passage for young men. They kept silk handkerchiefs for the ceremony of wiping and conditioning the pipe after each use.
A much-used and cultivated pipe was a marker of status. The pipe was a hobby for people who had time for hobbies, and the result -- a pipe with a rich brown color -- showed the world the experience and expertise of the smoker.
3: Smoking and Suffrage: The Torch of Freedom
Women weren't supposed to smoke. To put it another way, women who were not poor, not hookers and not actresses weren't supposed to smoke. At least, not in public.
The retreat of the men after dinner to the smoking room became a hallmark of Victorian times. This habit was largely instigated in the United States by the onset of the cigar, which throughout history has remained largely a male preserve in smoking.
Just like in Elizabethan times, smoking became dangerous to the social order. When women infringe upon a traditional male activity, it gets to be a problem.
Well, it appears that women were eager to start this kind of trouble about the same time as the cigarette entered the mass market. This was a product that women were welcome to consume. In fact, it was marketed to women as the "torch of freedom" and a tool by which they could overcome silly prejudices. In 1929, one cigarette manufacturer recruited 10 New York debutantes to walk down Fifth Avenue smoking Lucky Strikes. In the late '20s, when the Lucky Strike became the torch of freedom, sales tripled within three years.
And liberated women simply had to smoke.
2: Doctors Have Warned About Medical Issues Since the 18th Century
Sir Richard Doll started his pivotal work on smoking and lung cancer in 1948. The British physiologist is credited with being the first to prove that smoking causes lung cancer.
The doctor himself gave up smoking two-thirds of the way through his initial study. Though the research met with skepticism at first, it became the foundation for all subsequent research on the subject, as well as the underpinning of the international public health campaign against smoking.
Nonetheless, he wasn't the first doctor to raise the issue. In fact, the medical question was raised within a few decades after smoking became pervasive in England.
During a debate at Oxford on smoking in the early 18th century, opponents produced the blackened brains and charcoal-colored veins of smokers. In 1761, John Hill noted the presence of cancer of the nasal passages in smokers. In the mid-19th century, researchers did serious epidemiological studies.
One researcher noted in the medical journal "The Lancet" in 1857 that perhaps insurers should be asking customers whether they smoked.
1: There Are Now More Former Smokers in the U.S. Than Current Smokers
According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 20 percent of adults in America smoked in 2010. This number is down from nearly 25 percent in 1997. More than 25 percent of men identified themselves as former smokers, and more than 18 percent of women.
In the 1950s, 45 percent of Americans smoked. That rate continued at about 40 percent through the 1970s, according to the Gallup Poll.
How that happened will be the subject of doctoral dissertations for many years to come. There is some agreement, in these discussions, that hard facts about medical dangers don't make people quit. The hard facts were around for several decades, and indeed several centuries, before the percentage of smokers started to drift downward.
So what made people decide to quit? Was it the cost? It's no accident that smoking dropped off during the same era that states started employing punitive cigarette taxes. But any dedicated smoker will tell you that it really doesn't matter how much it costs.
So was it the ban in restaurants? The harsh stares? It's probably all of these things, and every smoker can recall some kind of formative incident that changed his point of view. It may just go back to that thing that got us started in the first place: It's all the rage.
Ten Things That You May Not Know About Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great is regarded as perhaps the greatest military leader of all time. He inherited his father&rsquos small but powerful kingdom of Macedonia at the age of 18. He went on to conquer the Persian Empire, which was then the greatest Empire, outside of China. He then invaded central Asia and stormed many fortresses and crossed many deserts during that campaign. he then turned his attention to India. Having conquered some kingdoms his army mutinied and forced him to retire. Alexander the Great died in Babylon at the age of 33.
Alexander became king after the assassination if his father, King Phillip II of Macedonia. There are many believed that he was involved in the murder of his father to become king. Many point to the fact that Alexander had become worried that his father would disinherit him.
He destroyed the rebellious city fo Thebes in Greece after it rose in rebellion against him. Every house was burned down and its walls torn down. However, he spared the home of the great poet Pindar.
Alexander was a great admirer of the poetry of Homer and studied his works. In particular, he was a great admirer of the great hero Achilles in the Illiad.
Alexander loved his wine! He would often drink into the late hours of the night with his generals and friends. He could become very violent during his drinking bouts and during one he had the Persian capital of Persepolis burned down.
In Egypt Alexander visited a world-famous oracle and the oracle declared that he was the son of a God. Alexander may have come to believe that he was of divine descent. However, some historians believe that stories about Alexander&rsquos alleged divinity are only propaganda.
Alexander was his won best soldier. He would lead from the front. He could usually be found in the midst of battle and as a result, he was wounded several times. During a siege in India, he was nearly killed by an arrow.
Alexander the Great married Roxanne in Central Asia. She was the daughter of a local king. He seemed to have genuinely loved his new wife. They had a child together and he was designated to be Alexander&rsquos heir.
Coins with images of Alexander
It is widely believed that Alexander never lost a battle. He fought many battles against many different enemies. However, he never lost. It is believed that if he had continued with the invasion of India he would have suffered a defeat from one of the many large India kingdoms.
detail from Alexander&rsquos sarcophagus
There is much speculation about the death of Alexander the Great. He dies in Babylon some claim that he was murdered and that his drink was poisoned. However, most historians believed that he died as a result of a fever after he had been severely weakened by his war-wounds.
After he died one of Alexander&rsquos generals took his body and had it buried in a magnificent tomb in Alexandria. Many people visited the tomb in the ancient world. However, later his body and indeed his tomb was lost.
Where to Eat Near the Vatican
There is no place to eat inside St Peter's Basilica or in St Peter's Square (there is a tiny snack bar on the roof of the basilica, which you can only access if you climb the dome.)
There are some cafe's and fast-food options inside the Vatican Museums. There are also fun dining options you can book, and combine with your visit to the Museums.
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4 Where Did The Green Come From?
St. Patrick spent many years spreading Christianity around Ireland, and soon he erected many churches and performed thousands of baptisms. Strangely enough, St. Patrick was never actually ordained as a saint by the church, but many people regarded him as a holy figure through his work. St. Patrick passed on March 17th, and that is when the holiday is celebrated annually.
Many portraits of St. Patrick depicted him dressed in blue robes. Blue was the original color that people associated with St. Patrick’s Day, but now the color has changed to green. Most of St. Patrick’s Order was traditionally dressed in a sky blue color that became known as “St. Patrick’s Blue.” Green was a more natural choice for the Irish country since it was commonly referred to as The Emerald Isle. The green color also worked well with the Irish flag, which has a broad green stripe that was on the other side of a white and orange section. The flag represented the differences and coexistence of the Christian and Protestant people of Ireland, so the green color made sense for St. Patrick’s Day. The color green has now become a facet of popular culture, and many people associate it with Irish culture and good luck. Even though blue is not associated with the Irish holiday anymore, it still has historical connections to the St. Patrick and the Irish traditions. There are also many other reasons why green became apart of St. Patrick’s Day.
3. The Devil
As the Vatican’s most senior exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth knew how to recognize a demon. Before his death in 2016, he’d conducted literally tens of thousands of exorcisms , and had frequently spoken to the Devil.
“Satan is pure spirit,” he told The Exorcist director William Friedkin, although “he sometimes appears as a raging animal.” Often called upon to expel the demon from possessed individuals, Amorth used Pope Paul V’s 1614 ritual to do the job — stoically commanding the Devil to leave under some of the tensest, most frightening circumstances.
So it made shocking headlines in 2010 when Amorth claimed Satan was hiding in the Vatican . He wasn’t speaking figuratively. In his view, the scandals and corruption that have beset the Church in recent times are all attributable to the Devil. Even Pope Paul VI said something similar in 1972, lamenting that “from somewhere or other, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
1 The Satanic Temple Advocates The Teaching Of Critical Thinking Skills From A Young Age
The temple&rsquos philosophies point to strong applied critical thought as the way to prevent indoctrination and blind obedience to leaders of all types. People who don&rsquot question or weigh evidence are much easier to control, and this goes against the core teachings of the Satanic Temple. These lessons need to start with children while they&rsquore still in primary grades, which is the true premise of the controversial After School Satan clubs hosted by local temple chapters. 
The clubs follow a definite curriculum of rationalism, scientific theory, and a worldview not based on superstitions. While After School Satan has gained the most media attention for the pointed example of upheld religious freedom, temple leaders believe they are strong investments in future generations.
Pen name of Las Vegas writer of Behind Locked Doors, available on Amazon.
Listverse contributor of the strange and unusual.