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10 facts about ancient Rome that are not taught at school
10 facts about ancient Rome that are not taught at school

The ancient Romans left behind an abundance of written accounts of their society. Sometimes it seems that people today know more about the Romans than about themselves. The textbooks of world history and the history of Western civilization tell rather well about the history of the Romans, and a lot in modern society and politics is based on their achievements. However, some of the facts are never told in school, and many of them are quite entertaining.

1. The Romans carefully guarded the books of fortune

Fortune-telling books are Roman everything

The Romans always kept books written in Greek out of prying eyes that spoke of the future of Rome and its citizens, including the imminent collapse of the empire. These manuscripts were kept in the Temple of Jupiter and were only admitted to by the most qualified translators who tried to determine what was about to happen and how best to prevent it. Legend has it that once an old woman approached King Tarquinius the Proud (at a time when the Etruscan kings still ruled Rome). She offered him nine books at an absurdly high price, so the king refused. The old woman burned three books and then offered to buy the remaining six at the same price. Tarquinius again refused, but this time he began to doubt what he was rejecting. The old woman left and burned 3 more books. When she returned with the last three, the king bought them. After studying the ancient manuscripts, it became apparent that these were books of prophecy, as they told of the imminent rise and fall of Rome. From that day on, the Books of the Sibyls were kept secret and carefully guarded, and they were only taken out when Rome was in danger and needed answers.

2. Crassus's fire brigade was the most corrupt fire brigade

Corruption is a timeless problem

The first triumvirate of Rome consisted of three very influential people: Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Crassus, who in fact was in the shadow of Caesar and Pompey, is usually not told in most history textbooks. He was a true misanthrope whose stinginess and lack of humanity were legendary. One of the little-known stories about Crassus concerns his fire brigade. It would seem that it is bad here - to create a unit that would be engaged in extinguishing fires that pose a huge threat to Rome, where there were many wooden buildings. There is one small "but". The fire brigade arrived at the scene and … did nothing, until the owner of the burning house sold his property to Crassus for a penny. Only after that the house began to be extinguished.

3. The publishers were the "mafia" of Ancient Rome

Publicans - "mafia" of Ancient Rome

Tax collector has always been a thankless profession. But today tax collectors are far more benevolent and loyal than their ancient counterparts today. In the second century BC, Roman businessmen who took property from the state at the mercy were called publicans. Arriving in the newly conquered provinces, they dealt with taxes levied on local residents. As you might guess, they usually "squeezed" from the poor people as much money as they could. The wealth accumulated by the publicans led them to control trade, banking, and shipping. The publicans collected a decum tax (10 percent of the harvest), most of which went to the Roman government.Since some of this wealth fell into the pockets of Roman politicians, almost any action by the public was silently condemned, but tolerated.

4. The man who infiltrated a festival exclusively for women

Stay Alive!

In December, the feast of the Good Goddess was celebrated in Ancient Rome. Women gathered together to conduct rituals dedicated to the goddess, and men were strictly forbidden to participate in this festival (even the statues of men had to be covered with veils). However, this did not prevent Publius Claudius Pulcher from dressing up as a girl-flutist (or a harpist, according to some sources), and infiltrating the sacred holiday. When he was exposed, the case almost ended in execution for "insulting the goddess of chastity." The "intruder" survived only thanks to his patrons, who bribed the judges and the Senate.

5. King Mithridates grew up in the wild and was immune to poison

A man who cannot be poisoned

Although he was not actually a Roman, King Mithridates VI of Pontic played a huge role in the history of Rome. He was one of the greatest threats to the Roman state, comparable to Hannibal of Carthage. As a child, Mithridates was persecuted by his mother. Forced to take refuge in the forest, he lived there for seven years, where he constantly fought with wild animals and ate venison. At this time, the future king constantly took sublethal doses of poisons until he developed immunity to them. Unfortunately, this led to an unpleasant incident when the rebels tried to seize the king. Mithridates, to avoid captivity, drank poison, but it did not work. Fortunately, there was a bodyguard nearby, whom he asked to kill him with a sword.

6. Sergiy Orata invented "thermal baths"

Sergiy Orata is the inventor of thermal baths

Like today, many of the wealthy townspeople in the ancient world rested in resorts, one of the most popular of which was Pozzuoli. They quickly bought housing in this city so that "their vacation would not be overshadowed by poor people." The resourceful entrepreneur Sergiy Orata was known for selling the most delicious oysters on this side of the Rubicon. However, he is also known for the popular invention called "balneae pensiles" (bath with shower). Some argue that it was a hot shower, while others believe it was an underfloor heating system.

7. Emperor Caligula appointed his horse a member of the Senate

Emperor Caligula

According to the historian Guy Suetonius Tranquillus, Emperor Caligula adored his stallion Incinatus so much that he appointed him a member of the Senate. Some people think this was a sign of insanity. Other scholars argue that this was done to insult and humiliate senators and the elite. Caligula's relatively short-term reign was characterized by enmity between him and the Roman Senate and the emperor's efforts to consolidate his power in the empire. Having “entrusted” a high state position to his horse, Caligula made it clear to his subordinates that their work is so meaningless that even an animal can do it.

8. Romans worshiped the gods of excrement

What are the times, such are the gods!

Sterculius was the Roman god of manure and fertilizer. But this is not the strangest representative of the local pantheon. The Romans also prayed to Cloaquin, the goddess of the sewers, and Krepitus, the god of toilets. Cloaquina was the patron goddess of the main drain of the city of Rome, which was known as the Cloaca Maxima. Subsequently, the Romans began to revere Cloaquina in various ways: the goddess of purity, the goddess of dirt and the protector of sexual intercourse in marriage. For centuries, she was associated with Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, and gradually Cloakina became known to many as the Venetian Cloaquina.

9. A group of women accused of mass murder by poisoning

Women are killers

The topic of poisons and poisoning is often touched upon in Roman literature. Apparently, in antiquity they were poisoned much more often than in our time. The first known ancient Roman record for this type of crime claims a large number of deaths.While this was probably caused by an epidemic, it was linked precisely to the poisoning. After many of the citizens had died from the same ailment, the slave girl informed the kurul-edils (official magistrates) that the sudden spike in deaths was caused by poisons made by Roman matrons. Twenty matrons, including even patrician women, were accused of injecting a poison into their beer that they believed was beneficial. The authorities proved their guilt very simply - the women were forced to drink their own brew. In the end, they all died from their own beer. Who these women were, and what their motive was, no one will ever know.

1. Rome was ruled by a transsexual emperor

Emperor Elagabal

Although Emperor Elagabal is known to historians, most people have never heard of him. Unsurprisingly, most history textbooks shy away from this topic as it features an emperor who was transgender. The theme of Elagabal's genitals is often found in many of his stories. Sources claim that Elagabal was circumcised, as required by the priestly profession. There are claims that his penis was infibulated. According to the Roman historian and statesman Dion Cassius, Elagabalus wanted to be castrated, but not for the sake of religion. In fact, according to Cassius, it was done for the sake of "femininity." Many historians today interpret this to mean that the young emperor was a transsexual. Although initially supported by the Roman army, Elagabal was despised by influential senators. In the end, Elagabal was killed, and his mutilated corpse was dragged through the streets, and then thrown into the Tiber.

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