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Articles

The Roman state existed in practice for XIII centuries, being the power which was impacting the history. Therefore, I decided that I would tell the history of ancient Rome in the articles below, which will not necessarily cover only the Eternal City.

I encourage you to send articles and point out any corrections or inaccuracies.

About Caligula, who had madness written on his face

Caligula is a particularly important ruler for the study of the descriptions of the appearance of emperors in the works of Suetonius because his body was supposed to clearly reflect the nature of the emperor. The features of the ruler’s disposition (e.g. lust and madness) were not only to be shown through specific events in his life but also manifested in his appearance (Suet. Cal. 50.1 -3).

Caligula

Phalanx in Caracalla’s army?

In the history of the Roman army, the phalanx was nothing new. This system was adopted by the Etruscans in the early period of Rome’s existence. During the second war with the Samnites, the greatest disadvantages of this formation were revealed, namely the lack of manoeuvrability. The Romans decided to move away from the phalanx after the infamous battle in the Caudine Forks, in favour of a manipulative order.

Alexander the Great’s influence on the emperor

Silhouette of a Roman soldier fighting Parthians as phalangaria

If we were to indicate the greatest authority of Caracalla, it would certainly be Alexander the Great. The emperor was so fascinated by the figure of the Macedonian king that he wanted to connect Rome with Parthia by marrying the daughter of Artaban IV, but he was refused, which resulted in new wars. So it was only a matter of time before the crazy emperor created his own phalanx.
Cassius Dio says that in 217, Caracalla, preparing for the war, formed a phalanx consisting of about 16,000 people from Macedonia and armed in the ancient way (pikes and linen armour). Herodian confirms Dion’s account and adds that a similar unit of Spartan phalanxes was formed.

Real image of the imperial phalangaria

The tombstones of the Spartan phalangites have survived to this day, such as the one above belonging to Aurelius Alexianus. The soldier depicted is armed with: lorica segmentata, a mid-length sword commonly used in the 3rd century CE, an oval shield that will begin to replace the cylindrical scutum, the traditional Spartan, pilos and club – a symbol of Heracles or fustis – in the 3rd century CE.
Alexianus’ armament is therefore typical of a legionary of the first half of the 3rd century, and there is no indication that the legions or auxiliary troops changed their tactics.

Therefore, one can guess that Caracalla, going to war with the Parthians, wanted to match Alexander, who conquered the east thanks to the phalanx.
The “Macedonians” of the emperor were most likely praetorians and II Parthica legionnaires from Macedonia and Thrace. Numbers close to 15/16 thousand soldiers would be true. Reference to pikes may refer to spears or pila, and cloth cuirass to thoracomachus or subarmilis, quilted caftans worn under armour. Alexander Severus, who was at war with the Parthians in 231-233, also had his own phalanx, but this too was not armed in the ancient Macedonian manner:

Finally, he provided himself with soldiers armed with silver shields and with golden, and also a phalanx of thirty thousand men, whom he ordered to be called phalangarii, and with these he won many victories in Persia. This phalanx, as a matter of fact, was formed from six legions, and was armed like the other troops, but after the Persian wars received higher pay.

Historia Augusta, Alexander Severus

Real image of imperial phalangaria

Most likely, the II Parthica legion was the only composed of the phalanx, since it was the only legion that made up the entire field army. The Historia Augusta and the image of Alexianus on the tombstone prove that the phalanx was just an honorary title given to a unit fighting in the East, imitating the deeds of Alexander the Great.

Coin with the image of Caracalla

Baths – place of relaxation and rest for ancient Romans

The ancient Romans created a very developed culture. They conquered huge areas and where they settled, they introduced their customs. To this day, we can admire their technological achievements preserved in the form of monuments. Their greatest achievements certainly include thermal baths, also known as baths. They were a place of meetings and numerous entertainments. However, their most important function was to take care of hygiene.

Tunisia - Carthage

Inflation in world of ancient Romans

Inflation is not a problem today. The falling value of money is one of the factors adversely affecting the progressive increase in prices, which in turn leads to destabilization of the economy and social unrest. As it turns out, ancient Romans had to face similar problems.

Coin of Clodius Albinus

Reconstruction of Roman legionary in movies on biblical themes

One of the most famous events in human history is undoubtedly the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the early 30s of the 1st century CE. For this reason, along with the development of cinematography, many works were created to show the life of Christ: his birth, teaching, death and resurrection. Most of these works show Roman soldiers, specifically – legionarys, who most of the time appear only as a background.

Testudo

History of Julio-Claudian dynasty

Thanks to the transformations in Roman administration made by Octavian Augustus during his reign, the Roman empire could enjoy two centuries of relative peace and prosperity, commonly known as Pax Romana – “Roman peace.” Many historians describe the 2nd century CE as the golden age of the empire, but it was not quite a time that would favour everyone, especially when it comes to power.

Julio-Claudian emperors

Callicrates – Achaean supporter of Rome

Callicrates, a politician of the Achaean League, postulated faithful cooperation with the Romans after the defeat of Carthage in the Second Punic War. He is described by historians with unrefined epithets: “collaborator” or “ancient Quisling”, and sources say that the Achaeans avoided him and did not even want to bathe with him.

Achaean League on the map in 200 BCE

Egyptian cults in Rome

With the development of the Imperium, a huge number of different religions with a shorter or longer traditions found themselves within the borders of the Roman state. As a result, a process of intense religious change began. Romans became more and more interested in attractive Eastern cults over time. These include, among others, Egyptian cults, primarily the goddess of Isis and Serapis.

Romanized sculpture of goddess Isis

Propaganda on Roman coins

With the growth of the Roman state and the emergence of real money, the Romans began to see the importance of coins aside from the payment function. The possibility of placing initials and images/symbols on the obverse or reverse allowed politicians and emperors to influence the social masses. After all, every inhabitant of the Roman state wanted money, which was also indirectly a carrier of information and a means of propaganda.

Reverse of a Roman coin showing a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus

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