It’s that time of the year, when heat and humidity gets to crazy levels.

Even though extreme meteorological events make international headlines on a regular basis, some types of weather have been around, and predictably so, for millennia.

One such is the hot, stifling weather that is synonymous with August, something that’s been getting bad press at least since Roman times.

Writers at the time devoted pages to describing the madness and misery it could bring and the internet has continued this tradition.

 T’was ever thus

The sky in August
The night sky in August

The high temperatures and humidity effecting Mediterranean climes very much bothered our Latin speaking forebears and they used to call this weather dies caniculares, not because of the canines they saw on the sweltering streets or lurking in the shade, waiting for evening, but because of what they believed to be a link with the Dog Star, or Sirius.

They thought Sirius as the Dog Star because it was [and still is] the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky.

The Ancient Greeks also used the term Dog Days, as did countries across more northern parts of Europe, including France and Germany.

Crazy times

The Dog Days were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun.

This is no longer the case, owing to the precession of the equinoxes but just to be on the safe side, the Romans who were rather keen on sacrifice, gruesomely dispatched a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that is was the appearance of this star that triggered the unbearably hot weather.

Those days when doing anything much is too much
Those days when doing anything much is too much

One commentator of the time thought these humid days in August to be an evil time when

the sea boiled, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and frenzies.

Stay cool, healthy and reasonably sane

Fortunately, the dangerous diseases that once plagued this part of the world during the summer months are a thing of the past and technology has brought us ‘fridges, air conditioning and clean water. Our wine might not turn sour any more either but the general discomfort, weariness, and lethargy that can all too often result in angry outbursts and forgetfulness, verging on insipient craziness, is still something anyone living in the Mediterranean climate can readily understand and recognise.

Dog Days of summer
Staying cool in the Dog Days of summer

Water, water everywhere

So, as a human, make sure you drink plenty of water, stay in the shade whenever possible, especially during the hottest part of the day and offer your cat or canine companions the same option.

If you see a street animal try to ensure that it has plenty of water, at least until the Dog Days of Summer have passed, which according to our historic weather forecasters could be any time from August 24th to September 5th. ıt’s worth noting that this week there have already been so fleeting rain showers in the mountains around Fethiye. 

We’ll see how accurate these erstwhile predictions are during the coming weeks.