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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Ancient stories)

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Capitol – last point of defense

The Capitoline Hill was the only part of the city of Rome that resisted the invasion of the Gauls from the Po valley in 390 BCE. The Gauls decided to conquer the hill at night.

Capitoline geese alert defenders

Clodius, iustitium and earthquake

In 58 BCE Publius Clodius, using his powers of the people’s tribune, ordered the stalls to be closed and trade within Rome to be stopped. It was the first step towards the introduction in Rome of the iustitium – ie the state of emergency.

Francesco Bertolini, The body of Publius Clodius Pulcher found on the Appian Way

Marcus Porcius Cato Licinianus – son-soldier of Cato the Elder

Marcus Porcius Cato Licinianus was one of the sons of the famous Cato the Elder known as the Censor, who became famous for his ruthless attitude towards Carthage and an extremely strict approach to life. Licinianus was born in 192 BCE and he an example of a young Roman who came from the upper classes of society. As his father was a distinguished soldier for the Republic, a Roman tradition called for his son to follow in his footsteps.

Battle of Pydna

Nero – organist

When Ctesibius, a 3rd century BCE Alexandrian mathematician, was constructing his hydraulis, the first water organ in history, certainly no one predicted him great successes. The instrument, intended as a syringa with a mechanical blast, initially functioned only as a technical curiosity. However, it took only two centuries for the music flowing from metal pipes to make a Mediterranean career – organ music is already mentioned with approval by Cicero himself (Tusc. III. 43).

Hydraulis on the Roman mosaic

Strong words of Appius Claudius Caecus

Appius Claudius Caecus (“the blind” – he received the nickname for having lost his eyesight at the end of his life) was a Roman politician and statesman, living between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. He belonged to a wealthy and influential family. He has had many functions in his life; he was: a curule edile, quaestor, military tribune, consul, censor, praetor, dictator and interrex (in the absence of consuls). Due to his achievements for the Republic, he was highly respected in his homeland.

Appius Claudius Caecus in the Roman Curia

Feast of Pollio and Augustus’ intercession

Publius Vedius Pollio was a Roman equestrian and friend of the first emperor, Octavian Augustus. His father was a freedman; Pollio made a huge fortune by managing the province of Asia on behalf of emperor; i.e. he owned a huge villa on the Bay of Naples, where he was breeding predatory moray eels, which he would devour disobedient or making mistakes to slaves. His brutal habits were known throughout Rome and extremely outraged the public.

Octavian Augustus

Expedition of merchant Alexander

From the beginning of the 1st century CE, Roman society, and especially aristocratic families demanded more and more luxury goods imported from India. Among the Romans, pepper, ginger, all kinds of spices and exotic animals in the form of elephants or monkeys were in demand. This resulted in a huge increase in Roman trade expeditions to India, but they focused mainly on the west coast of the peninsula.

Roman relief showing a cart drawn by four horses

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