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Acta Diurna – Roman newspaper

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman letters
Roman letters

A first and only newspaper of the ancient world was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BCE. It was called Acta Diurna – “Events of the Day” and, unfortunately, no copy has been preserved so far, and we do not know the amount of its circulation.

The information was wildly similar to those we can read in contemporary newspapers. They concerned information about the Senate’s debates, people’s assemblies, court trials, executions, marine and military news, and even weddings, births and obituaries. In the “sport” part, the Romans could learn about the results of gladiator or chariot races in Circus Maximus. The newspaper was available until 330 CE (transfer of the capital to Constantinople), so for nearly 400 years. It is worth to say that the Romans called their Acta Diurna politely Diurnalis do “Daily Newspaper”. From this word comes the Italian and French name of the newspaper: “giournale” and “journal” and hence our journalist.

From 330 CE until the 16th century, nothing appeared that could resemble a newspaper. This is yet another example of the unusually high culture of ancient Rome, a culture that beats our medieval times.

  • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London 1875

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