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Sulpicius Gallus crater on the moon (left)

Solar eclipses may have had the greater impact on human history, but eclipses of the moon have also played a part.

Although they don’t have the same dramatic effect of darkness, the red color of an eclipsed moon, caused by the reflection of sunrises and sunsets around half the world, has often been viewed as an omen of bloodshed.

In the 4th century B.C., a Roman army preparing to fight the Macedonians at Pydna, in Greece, were warned not to worry when they saw an eclipse of the moon on the eve of the battle.

According to the historian Livy and other Roman writers, the military tribune Gaius Sulpicius Gallus correctly predicted the lunar eclipse and persuaded the Roman troops that it was nothing to fear.

“He then explained that on the following night the moon would lose her light from the second hour to the fourth, and no one must regard this as a portent, because this happened in the natural order of things at stated intervals, and could be known beforehand and predicted,” Livy wrote.

Source: Christopher Columbus to Thailand’s Kings: 11 Curious Eclipse Stories

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