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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Historical sources)

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.

“The Twelve Caesars” of Suetonius

Suetonius (c. 69 – after 122 CE), a Roman historian is known in history as the author of the biography of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Domitian, including Julius Caesar – the first of the “Caesars”. This work is the “The Twelve Caesars” (De vita Caesarum).

Suetonius, De vita Caesarum

“Augustan History” – literary forgery?

The “Augustan History” (Historia Augusta) is a late Roman collection of biographies, written in Latin, of the Roman Emperors from begining of rule of Hadrian (117 CE) to death of Numerian (284 CE). This is one of the historical sources around which, however, still are many doubts.

Photo of the Colosseum in 1904

De Officiis – work of Cicero’s life

De Officiis is Cicero’s essay divided into three books, in which Cicero explains his concept of the best way of life; how should the true Romans behave; and emphasizes the need to respect moral obligations. In addition, Cicero criticized Caesar and his dictatorship.

De Officiis

Fate of a Satyricon-based slave

The position of a slave in the Roman world is well illustrated in a fragment of the work – Satyricon, whose authorship is attributed to Gaius Petronius – the first-century expert in good taste and artistic values. The author describes how one of the characters in the work, a certain Trimalchion – a liberator who achieved freedom and wealth with hard work and perseverance – clicks on his slave with his fingers. The slave brings a potty, which master can use for defecation. Then he brings a bowl of water to wash his hands.

Roman mosaic showing slaves

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