AUGUST A LUCKY MONTH?
by Wendy Hughes
August, originally named sextilis was the sixth month in the Roman year, which begins with March. It was given its present name in 8BC in honour of the first emperor of Rome, Augustus (63BC-AD14) because of several most fortunate events in his life occurred during this month. He began his first consulship during this month, celebrated three triumphs, received allegiance to the legions of Janiculum, reduced Egypt and ended the civil wars. Little wonder he named it his lucky month.
You may recall that Augustus, the grand nephew of Julius Caesar, is arguably the single most important figure in Roman history. He was a patron of the arts and his love for architectural splendour was summed up in his boast that he ‘had found Rome brick and left it marble.’ He was also a supporter of Roman strict values at a time of growing permissiveness, and established a new basis for Roman Government that was to stand for 3 centuries. He attempted to introduce moral legislation that included regulating expenditure in the interest of the State as well as introducing marriage laws. Among Roman rulers, it is only Julius and Augustus who have months named after them—though this wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of later emperors. For a time, May was changed to Claudius and the infamous Nero instituted Neronius for April. But these changes were short-lived, and only Julius and Augustus have the worth of staying power.
However, it would appear that Augustus with his strong values, love of arts, and a ‘good head for figures’ were to influence some of those people who were to take their name from his. Here are just a few of many:
August Bournonville (1805-79) became a major choreographer in the history of ballet. He was born in Copenhagen, studied under the influential Italian choreographer Vincenzo
Galeotti (1733-1816) at the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, and in Paris under the brilliant French dancer Auguste Vestris. He danced in 1820-28 with the Paris Opera Ballet with the noted dancer Marie Taglioni, and from 1830 to 1877 he was choreographer for the Royal Danish Ballet, for which he created more than 50 ballets.
Auguste Escoffier, (1846-1935), French Chef, and master of the haute cuisine style of French cookery originated by Marie Antonine Careme (1784-1833). He started his career as a kitchen boy at the age of 12, in Nice, and then spent six years in Paris, where he served as a cook in the Franco-Prussian War, and master chef at the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo. From 1890 to 1898 he presided over the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel in London, and in 1898 he began his 13-year tenure at the Carlton House, was well as for brief periods at other great hotels in Europe and New York City. He trained hundreds of chefs in the grand tradition and is credited with the invention of 10,000 recipes.
Augustus John, (1878-1961), English portrait painter. John was Influenced by the French post-impressionist painters, and developed a vigorous and original style, marked by fluent brush techniques and striking colours. His free technique established him as one of the leading portrait painters of his time. His sitters varied widely from gypsies to royalty.
August Strindberg (1849-1912), was a Swedish dramatist, often considered the greatest figure in Swedish Literature. He was born in Stockholm, the son of an impoverished gentleman and servant. His literary output is usually separated into two categories, the naturalistic and the expressionistic, just as his life was divided by an unproductive so – called inferno period (1894-96) during which the author lived in Paris, suffered mental illness, and experienced the end of two of his three unhappy marriages. Strindberg wrote the autobiographical Inferno in 1897, describing the period of his mental incapacity. He died in Stockholm in 1912, but his influence on modern drama must rank with that of Ibsen and Chekhov.
Auguste Rene Rodin, (1840-1917) French sculptor had a profound influence on 20th century sculpture. Rodin was born in Paris 1840, the son of a police official. At the age of 14 he entered the Petite Ecole, a school of decorative arts in Paris, and despite applying to study at the renowned Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he was rejected three times. In 1858 he began to do decorative stonework in order to make a living, but on the death of his sister four years later, he was so traumatised that he entered a sacred order. The father superior recognised his talents and encouraged him to pursue his art. In 1875 he travelled to Italy, where he was influenced by the treatment of movement and muscular action in the works of the Renaissance sculptors, especially Michelangelo. This trip inspired his sculpture The Age of Bronze, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1877, and caused a scandal because the critics could not believe that he had used a casting of a live model to create such a realistic work. This criticism brought him more fame than praise that resulted, in 1880, of a commission to create a bronze door for the future Museum of Decorative Arts. Although unfinished at the time of his death, this work provided the basis for some of Rodin’s most influential and powerful work. For Rodin, beauty and art consisted in the truthful representation of inner states, and to this end he often subtly distorted anatomy. His sculpture, in bronze and marble, falls generally into two styles. The more characteristic style reveals a deliberate roughness of form and a painstaking surface modelling; the other is marked by a polished surface and delicacy of form. A number of his works can be found in the Musee Rodin, Paris and that the Rodin museum in Philadelphia.
Augustus De Morgan, (1806-1871) lost the sight in is right eye shortly after birth, and did not excel at school because of his disability. However he entered Trinity College Cambridge in 1823 at the age of 16, where he received his BA, but because a theological test was required for the MA, something he strongly objected too, he could not further his education. He returned to his home in London and entered Lincoln’s Inn to study for the Bar. A year later, at the age of 21,he applied for the chair in mathematics in the newly
founded University College London, and despite having no mathematical publications, he was appointed. In 1828 he became the first Professor of Mathematics at the College and gave his inaugural lecture on the study of the subject. As a teacher, he was highly praised for making mathematics lively and interesting to his students, and wrote textbooks on numerous subjects in mathematics and logic. He was the first person to define and name ‘mathematical induction’ and developed De Morgan’s rule to determine the convergence of a mathematical series. He also devised a decimal coinage system, an almanac of all full moons from 2000BC to 2000AD and a theory on the probability of life events that is used by Insurance companies. However his biggest contribution was in the field of logic, and his most important work, Formal Logic included the concept of the quantification of the predicate, an idea that solved problems that were impossible under the classic Aristotelian logic.
I am sure you will agree that the any named derived from August must be a lucky name.