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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Unknown facts)

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.

Nicknames of Roman emperors

Many of the nicknames of Roman emperors in use today were not used in official documents. Caracalla even got his nickname because of his fondness for a long Gallic cloak with a hood (the prototype of the monastic habit), which in Rome was called caracalla.

Bust of Caracalla from 215-217 CE

Syncretism of Christianity

One of the tendencies existing in early Christianity, which was difficult to resist, was syncretism. It manifested itself in the desire to inscribe the new faith into the general cultural context of the epoch. Thanks to this, Christianity had a chance for dissemination, because people absorbed new ideas much easier when they were shown the connection with those they had been professing so far.

Early Christian fresco depicting the Christogram

Caesar disregarded Senate

When members of the Roman Senate came to Julius Caesar to inform him of the award of special distinctions, he did not get up at the sight of them, as was customary, and did not show respect to the esteemed body. This behaviour of Caesar was one of the main reasons for the decision to assassinate the dictator.

Portrait of Julius Caesar, Mark James Miller

History of duel of Marcus Valerius Corvus

Titus Livius mentions an interesting clash. In 349 BCE Roman Republic was still conducting numerous wars with its neighbours, aimed at gaining dominance in Italy. There were also fights with the Gauls – from the beginning of the 4th century, the deadly enemies of Roma. When the Romans were encamped near the Pontic marshes, columns of Gauls were about to approach them.


What did gladius mean in colloquial speech?

As we know, the ancients were extremely promiscuous in their paintings and other works of art. There are many examples of Roman frescoes with visible phallus or inscriptions referring to sexual matters. As it turns out, the Romans also liked to use sexual comparisons in colloquial speech.


Haruspices – divination from insides

Haruspices were priests who were active long ago. Originally, they appeared in the state of Mari (northern Mesopotamia) and the Hittites. Then the haruspices appeared in Etruria. Etruscans were taken over by the ancient Romans. Haruspices began to appear in Rome during the Punic Wars (mid-3rd century BCE). Haruspices gave advice to both the state and individuals.

Etruscan inscriptions on a bronze liver of a sheep from Piacenza

Civil wars erased from memory

Roman civil wars in the 1st century BCE, they harmed the good name of the nation and the state to such an extent that the first emperor – Octavian Augustus ordered the destruction of all documents related to this fratricidal fight.

Augustus as a priest

Horse mounting platform

Plutarch recognizes Gaius Gracchus as the person who, for the first time in the Roman Republic, ordered small stones to be placed by the road so that the horseman could, without any help, mount his horse.

Horse on a Roman mosaic in Ostia

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