Anti-Commerce and Quietism in Ancient Rome

This painting by Roberto Bompiani captures a common 19th-century association of Roman dining and excess. A Roman Feast, late 1800s. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 72.PA.4 While Roman law was laying the foundation for a society of contract and exchange, Roman philosophers were listening to the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who said, “If you wish to make[…]

The Ancient Roman Cult of Mithras

The Tauroctony / Photo by CristianChirita, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Wikimedia Commons The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it in the late 4th century A.D. By Dr. Roger Pearse Ancient Historian Introduction The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it[…]

The Madness of Caligula and a Sister Who Brought Forth Nero

After the death of Tiberius, the problem of the succession presented to the senate was not an easy one. By Dr. Guglielmo Ferrero (1911) Early 20th-Century Historian After the death of Tiberius (37 A.D.), the problem of the succession presented to the senate was not an easy one. In his will, Tiberius had adopted, and thereby designated[…]

Corruption in Ancient Rome

An equestrian statue of a Julio-Claudian prince, originally identified as Caligula / British Museum, Creative Commons Looking, with late Italian historian Guglielmo Ferrero, at the facts cited by the ancients as examples of corruption in the Roman Empire. By Dr. Guglielmo Ferrero (1909) Early 20th-Century Historian Two years ago in Paris, while giving a course of lectures[…]

Christian Persecution in Ancient Rome – On Again Off Again

Was persecution a consistent imperial policy, and what types of punishments were inflicted on Christians? The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883)/Wikimedia Commons The image of cowering Christians being thrown to the lions by Roman emperors is a grisly staple of popular culture. But how accurate is it?    By Dr. Shushma Malik and Dr. Caillan Davenport / 11.21.2016 Malik: Lecturer in[…]

Immigration and Empire in the Ancient Graeco-Roman World

Ancient Athens practically invented Western culture, but xenophobia led to the collapse of the Empire. Flickr/SantiMB The ancients knew that the key to a successful state was extending citizenship to those who need it. By Dr. Alastair Blanshard / 06.15.2011 Senior Lecture in Classics and Ancient History University of Sydney In the short period of its[…]

Render Unto Caesar: The Conquest of Gaul and the Battle of Alesia

Vercingetorix, atop his horse, surrenders to Julius Caesar. Painting by Lionel Royer. | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons Caesar’s conquest of Gaul was a prelude to the start of the Second Roman Civil War, marking the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. By Peter Coons / 10.21.2018 In 58 BCE, Roman proconsul Julius Caesar,[…]

Suppression and Punishment by Sortition: Decimation in the Ancient Roman Military

Decimation in Beaver’s Roman Military Punishments, by William Hogarth, c.1725 / Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons Punishment by lot for soldiers in ancient Rome. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.04.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = “ten”) was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of[…]

Carausius and the Decade of ‘Brexit’ in the Ancient Roman Empire

When Britain went it alone. Shutterstock Centuries ago Britain attempted to sever ties with the continent – and it ended in murder. By Dr. Adam Rogers / 03.23.2017 Teaching Fellow, School of Archaeology and Ancient History University of Leicester From the first to the fifth centuries AD, Britain – though not officially Scotland, which lay beyond the frontier at Hadrian’s Wall – was[…]

Second Temple Judaism, Christianity, and the Emergence of Anti-Semitism

Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I / Photo by Juan R. Cuadra, Wikimedia Commons Exploring Judaism from 515 BCE to the destruction of the Second Temple and the following rise of anti-semitism in early Christianity. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.28.2018 Public Historian[…]

Beyond Frontiers: Ancient Rome and the Eurasian Trade Networks

Examining interactions and the exchanges in the Eurasian networks during the first centuries of the Roman Empire. By Dr. Marco Galli / 12.16.2016 Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology Sapienza University of Rome Abstract This research focuses on four relevant points. From a historiographical perspective, the reconstruction of the trading routes represented a central theme in the[…]

The Conflict of the Orders: Class Struggle in Ancient Rome

The Plebeian struggle to gain equal standing with the aristocratic Patrician ruling class. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.24.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Conflict of the Orders, also referred to as the Struggle of the Orders, was a political struggle between the Plebeians (commoners) and Patricians (aristocrats) of the ancient Roman Republic lasting from 500 BC to 287 BC, in which[…]

Ritual Killing in Ancient Rome: Homicide and Roman Superiority

Decimation (William Hogarth) in Beaver’s Roman Military Punishments / Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons The ancient Romans interpreted the favor of the gods as justification to perform ritual killings. By Dawn F. Carver, Jasmine Watson, and Jason Curtiss, Jr. Colorado State University-Pueblo The ancient Romans outlawed human sacrifice in 97 BCE after increasing discomfort with the[…]

The Polish Nobility’s “Golden Freedom”: On the Ancient Roots of a Political Idea

The Republic at the Zenith of Its Power. Golden Liberty. The Royal Election of 1573, by Jan Matejko / Royal Castle, Wikimedia Commons This essay traces the Greek and Roman roots of Polish sixteenth- to eighteenth-century political thought by discussing the Polish nobility’s concept of the “Golden Freedom” (L. aurea libertas). By focusing on the Roman and the Greek[…]

Violence in Ancient Rome: Behavioral and Ideological Evolution

Inside Rome’s Colosseum visitors can view the chambers that once held animals and contenders below the arena floor. / Photo by Senior Airman Alex Wieman, Wikimedia  Commons The Roman state imposed a behavioral change that would over time alter the mix of genotypes, thus facilitating a subsequent ideological change. By Dr. Peter Frost Professor of Anthropology[…]

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[…]

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[…]