Within most medieval books of hours, there were ecclesiastical calendars that had important holy days printed in red. This was a type of textual highlighting used to call attention to important festivals; a visual language that had long indicated significant textual features, paragraph organization, and wordplay (e.g. acrostics). The Latin word for red ochre and red coloring in general was rubrīca. As such, making a text red is called "rubrication" and influenced the original use for the word "rubric." The practice of coloring significant dates in red is perhaps best known through the English idiom of a "red letter day."
This post was originally published at the SCS Classics blog on March 30, 2018. In the 6th century CE, a Scythian monk named Dionysius Exiguus was sent to Rome. Dionysius may have taken the monastic nickname of "the small" (exiguus), but his humility sheathed both his incredible abilities as a translator of Greek and Latin and... Continue Reading →
I don't tend to get overly personal on this blog very often. Although I adore social media (clearly), the first person singular is an uncomfortable voice when I address the public as a historian. I have always used banter about ancient or medieval history as a kind of protective tortoise shell that makes me seem extroverted. However, I... Continue Reading →