The Social Structure and Culture of Ancient Rome

Wall painting (1st century AD) from Pompeii depicting a multigenerational banquet  / Naples National Archaeological Museum, Wikimedia Commons The Roman Empire, at its height (c. 117 CE), was the most extensive political and social structure in Western civilization. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.18.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The culture of ancient Rome existed throughout[…]

Julius Caesar as Ethnographer

Wikimedia Commons Convention and personal interest compelled Caesar to tum his hand to ethnography. By Dr. B.M. Bell Rhodes University Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul, Germany and Britain occasioned great excitement in Rome. For Catullus “the Gaulish Rhine, the formidable Britons, remotest of men” represented “the memorials of great Caesar” (Cat. 11.10-11). Cicero too considered Caesar’s[…]

Titus Lartius, First Dictator of the Roman Republic

Titus Lartius was one of the leading men of the early Roman Republic, twice consul, and the first Roman dictator. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.12.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Background The Lartii, whose nomen is also spelled Larcius and Largius, were an Etruscan family at Rome during the early years of the Republic. Their nomen is derived from the Etruscan praenomen Lars. Titus’ brother, Spurius Lartius, was one[…]

The Julio-Claudian Imperial Cult at the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias

The Sebasteion, excavated in 1979-81, was a grandiose temple complex dedicated to Aphrodite and the Julio-Claudian emperors and was decorated with a lavish sculptural program of which much survives. / Photo by wneuheisel, Wikimedia Commons Augustus and the Julio-Claudian emperors’ successful reign over the vast Roman Empire were due primarily to provincial loyalty and acquiescence.[…]

The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire

There were alternate systems of belief for those dissatisfied with the chaotic traditional religious forms. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction Christianity first arose historically as a reform movement within Judaism. The apostle Paul forced it open to non-Jews and gave it the Greek flavor that[…]

Rome at Its Height: Unity of the Mediterranean

Trajan / Creative Commons The Roman Empire reached its greatest geographical extent under Emperor Trajan. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction In many ways, the Roman empire remains the ideal upon which Western civilization has shaped itself. One need only look at the Capitol in Washington[…]

Damnatio Memoriae: Roman Sanctions against Memory

Detail of Geta (face removed) and Caracalla from the Severan Tondo, c. 200 C.E., tempera on wood, 30.5 cm diameter (Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Carole Raddato, Creative Commons We know that Roman emperors were often raised to the status of gods after their deaths. However, just as many were given the opposite treatment—officially erased from[…]

An Overview of the History and Archaeology of the Antonine Wall

A section of the Antonine Wall at Rough Castle near Falkirk / Photo by Kim Traynor, Wikimedia Commons The Antonine Wall is an ancient and historical  monument originating as imperial Rome’s one-­‐‑time northwest frontier in modern Scotland. By Dr. Darrell Jesse Rohl Assistant Professor of History and Archaeology Calvin College Introduction The Antonine Wall is first,[…]

Hadrian’s Wall: From Coast to Foggy Coast

Chesters Roman Fort – View of the Barrack Blocks Securing the borders of the Roman Empire had become more important than expansion. By Heather Wake Location    [LEFT]: Chesters Roman Fort – Commanders House [RIGHT]: Chesters Roman Fort – Remains of the HQ Building Hadrian’s Wall stretched across the North of England from one coast to the[…]

The Reforms of Augustus, Rome’s First Emperor

The mausoleum of Augustus in Rome / Photo by ryarwood, Wikimedia Commons “I found a city built of sun-dried brick. I leave her clothed in marble.” By Donald L. Wasson / 05.25.2016 Professor of Ancient/Medieval History Lincoln College Introduction Emperor Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE) accomplished much during his time on the Roman throne, far more than many of[…]

The History of Medicine in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome

Dated to the New Kingdom (c. 1570 – c. 1069 BCE), and specifically to c. 1200 BCE, the text is written in demotic script and is the oldest treatise on anorectal disease (affecting the anus and rectum) in history. / Photo by Ibolya Horvath, British Museum, Creative Commons The history of medicine is a long and distinguished one, as[…]

The Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine in the Later Roman Empire

The peristyle (courtyard) of Diocletian’s palace The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine “preserved” the empire, but changed it radically. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas The Reforms of Diocletian, 284-305 CE Laureate bust of Diocletian / Photo by G.dallorto, Museo Archaeologico, Wikimedia Commons Political Diocletian divided the[…]

The Valerio-Horatian Laws of the Roman Republic and Plebeian Recognition

In response to drastic unjust debt and legal principles the Plebeians deserted their positions in society and left the Army refusing to fight in 494 BCE. The laws restored the right of appeal to the people and introduced measures which were favorable to the plebeians. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.05.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief[…]

Roman Law, from the Twelve Tables to the Corpus Iuris Civilis

The historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.05.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years[…]

Octavian Augustus: ‘First Citizen’ of the Roman Empire

The Age of Augustus, the Birth of Christ, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, c.1852 / Getty Images, Creative Commons Augustus was the “first among equals”, though of course equality was in so sense an accurate description of either him or ancient Roman life. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.04.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Augustus was a[…]

Who Was Julius Caesar?

Vincenzo Camuccini’s depiction of the death of Julius Caesar / Getty Images, Creative Commons Caesar made politics and power his life’s ambition.   By Dr. Sarah Midford (left) and Dr. Rhiannon Evans (right) Midford: Lecturer, School of Humanities Evans: Senior Lecturer, Ancient Mediterranean Studies La Trobe University Posterity will be staggered to hear and read[…]

Tribunes in Ancient Rome: The Voice of the People

Gaius Gracchus Weeping Before his Fathers Statue, engraved by B.Barloccini, 1849 Tribunes protected the plebs from any abuses by magistrates and received loyalty in return. By Mark Cartwright / 12.07.2016 Historian Introduction A Roman coin depicting a citizen voting. Silver denarius of L. Cassius Longinus, 63 BCE. (Archaeological Museum, Tarragona, Spain) / Photo by Mark[…]

The Mithraic Mysteries in Ancient Rome

Tauroctony statue / Photo by Carole Raddato, Creative Commons Mithraism was a mystery cult in the Roman world where followers worshipped the Indo-Iranian deity Mithras. By Dr. Pierre A. Thomé / 06.10.2015 Professor of Graphics and Illustration Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Introduction The Mithraic Mysteries, also known as Mithraism, were a mystery[…]

The Rites in the Mysteries of Dionysus: The Birth of the Drama

A wall of the triclinium, traditionally interpreted to represent the stages of initiation to the cult. Silenus holding a lyre (left); demi-god Pan and a nymph sitting on a rock, nursing a goat (centre); woman with coat (right). Fresco of the mystery ritual, right, Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy. / Photo by Yann Forget,[…]

The Roman Senate: An ‘Assembly of Old Men’ Influential to the End

A fresco by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919 CE) depicting Roman senator Cicero (106-43 BCE) denouncing the conspirator Catiline in the Roman senate. (Palazzo Madama, Rome) / Wikimedia Commons The institution outlasted all emperors, and senators remained Rome’s most powerful political movers. By Mark Cartwright / 12.12.2016 Historian Introduction The Roman Senate functioned as an advisory body[…]

Bayesian Analysis and Free Market Trade within the Roman Empire

Mosaic of amphorae being unloaded from a ship, Ostia / Southampton University, Creative Commons The trade networks of the Roman Empire are among the most intensively researched large-scale market systems in antiquity,       By (left-to-right) Dr. Xavier Rubio-Campillo, María Coto-Sarmiento, Jordi Pérez-Gonzalez, and Dr. José Remesal Rodríguez Rubio-Campillo: Lecturer in Archaeology; Computational Archaeology, The[…]

Italian Theater Basement Yields Hundreds of Ancient Roman Gold Coins

Hundreds of ancient gold coins were unearthed in the basement of a demolished theater in northern Italy. Archaeologists are calling it an “exceptional discovery.” / Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities  By Shannon Van Sant / 09.10.2018 Hundreds of ancient gold coins were found last week in the basement of a former theater in northern[…]

Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius: Pompeii Scrolls Being Read for the First Time

The charred papyrus scroll recovered from Herculaneum is preserved in 12 trays mounted under glass. Here is PHerc.118 in tray 8. The scroll was physically unrolled in 1883-84, causing irreparable damage. (Henrik Knudsen) A revolutionary American scientist is using subatomic physics to decipher 2,000-year-old texts from the early days of Western civilization. By Jo Marchant[…]