All Americans think they know the story of July IV. They’re wrong…. (More)

The primary evidence for the original July IV celebration is, of course, the July IV Stone, shown above. It was discovered by cyberarcheologists in the Render Library at the BPI Main Campus, where it had been hidden by the Knights Templar in the 14th century. Because the mortar that binds concrete absorbs CO2 while drying, the July IV Stone could be carbon-dated to 41 BCE. Thus, the original July IV celebration commemorated the 4th anniversary of the Julian Calendar.

According to a contemporary account by Aeschylus, the most famous squirrel historian of the Late Roman Republic, the citizens of Rome were so happy with their new calendar that, despite Julius Caesar’s assassination three years before, they held a city-wide celebration on July 1st, the first day of the month named in his honor.

The choice of decorations was politically fraught. While Caesar had worn the imperial purple, Marc Antony refused to let the citizens honor him with that color. The event organizers – a public relations firm named Rubicon Consulting – hit on the clever idea of dividing purple into its component colors. They added white to symbolize Julius looking down from the clouds, and thus Rome was decked out in red, white, and blue streamers.

The menu was equally challenging. Rubicon Consulting proposed ground beef patties grilled and served on Caesar rolls, potato salad, baked beans, and corn on the cob. But neither corn nor the potato had yet made their way to Europe, so the caterers took some liberties. The potato salad became egg salad with celery and onions in a mayonnaise and mustard sauce, and Aeschylus notes that many Romans said “Est aliquid deesse” (“There’s something missing”). The corn on the cob became empty toilet paper rolls, and Aeschylus reports that most Romans found that very puzzling. Even so, the fact that the caterers took liberties gave rise to the day’s theme: Libertatem, sed sicut pro nobis solum (“Freedom, but only for people like us”).

According to Aeschylus, the Romans then burst into song:

    O dice, bombs refringique aere tu vidis? (“Oh say, can you see the bombs bursting in air?”)
    Tum quia non est verisimile have Sinica non coquorum Pyrii adhuc. (“Well probably not, because the Chinese haven’t invented gunpowder yet.”)
     

As there was no gunpowder or fireworks, Aeschylus reports that Rubicon Consulting also took some liberties with the evening festivities, writing: “Tetendit arcum implevi caelo noctis” (“Archers filled the night sky with flaming arrows”). He adds that “Hic magno metu subegerat sciuri, et felium et canum et autem parakeet in Via Quartum” (“This greatly frightened the squirrels, and also cats and dogs and a parakeet on Fourth Street”).

And that’s the story of the original July IV. Indeed, our modern 4th of July would have been the 23rd of June had the British Empire waited another 25 years to adopt the Gregorian Calendar. “Happy Twenty-third of June!” doesn’t have the same ring.

So Happy Fourth of July! … and don’t eat too many empty toilet paper rolls.

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Image Credit: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)

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Good day and good nuts