A History of the Roman-Parthian Wars, 54 BCE – 217 CE

These battles were part of long-lasting conflict between the Roman Empire and the Persians. Introduction The Roman–Parthian Wars (54 BC – 217 AD) were a series of conflicts between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. It was the first series of conflicts in what would be 682 years of Roman–Persian Wars. Battles between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 54 BC.[1] This first[…]

Julius Caesar versus Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia in 52 BCE

Victory at Alesia had come for Caesar but at a terrible cost. Introduction The Battle of Alesia was a decisive Roman victory in Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars in September 52 BCE. Roman commander Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) and his legions faced a united Gallic army under the command of Vercingetorix (82-46 BCE), chief of the Arverni, at the hilltop fort or oppidum of Alesia, in modern-day eastern[…]

Demography of the Ancient Roman Empire

“Census” is a Latin word. The modern notion of a state counting the population is a direct legacy from the Roman Empire. Introduction Demographically, the Roman Empire was a typical premodern state. It had high infant mortality, a low marriage age, and high fertility within marriage. Perhaps half of Roman subjects died by the age of 5. Of those[…]

The Lamecus: Famous Ancient Roman Charioteer

He was one of the most celebrated athletes in ancient history. Early Life Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in approximately 104 A.D in Lamecum, in the Roman province of Lusitania (now Lamego, Portugal). His father owned a small transport business, and the family was comparatively well off. Diocles is believed to have started racing at the age of 18 in Ilerda[…]

Circus Maximus: Chariot-Racing in Ancient Rome

The Circus was Rome’s largest venue for ludi, public games connected to Roman religious festivals. Introduction The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest or largest circus; Italian: Circo Massimo) is an ancient Romanchariot-racingstadium and mass entertainment venue in Rome, Italy. In the gap between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft)[…]

Cicero and the Roman Civic Spirit in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

There has perhaps been no other philosophic writer whose thinking was as closely connected with the patterns of civic life as that of Cicero. Whoever studies the influence of Cicero on later generations, will be surprised by the variety of effects which were produced in history by this one figure. Although modem scholars have frequently[…]

The Year of the Four Emperors and the Demise of Four Roman Legions

The empire’s expansion brought them into contact with a population of different customs, languages, and religions. Introduction During the Year of the Four Emperors (69 CE), the fight between Vitellius and Vespasian would ultimately bring about the demise of four legions, the XV Primigenia, I Germanica, IIII Macedonica, and XVI Gallia. All four of these legions had previously served the Roman[…]

Boxing in the Ancient Roman Empire

The earliest depictions of boxing as a formal sport can be traced back to Mesopotamia as early as the 3rd millennium BCE. By Michael Vivonia Introduction Boxing is one of the oldest sports in the world that is still practiced today. Included in the original athletic contests of the Olympic Games, pugilism orboxing was well known and[…]

Armor and Weapons in Ancient Rome

Major tactical changes came during the final days of the Late Republic. Introduction From the days of the hoplites through the creation of the legionary until the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the Roman army remained a feared opponent, and the Roman legionary’s weapons and armor, albeit with minor modifications, remained the[…]

A History of the Ancient Roman Legionary

Discipline was severe, and the living conditions were often very harsh. Introduction The Roman legionary was a well-trained and disciplined foot soldier, fighting as part of a professional well-organized unit, the legion (Latin: legio), established by the Marian Reforms. While major tactical changes appeared during the final days of the Roman Republic and the early days of the Roman Empire, Roman armor and[…]

Officers of the Ancient Roman Army

There was a direct link between citizenship, property and the military. Introduction With the appearance of the legionary, the Roman army was able to maintain a vast empire that totally embraced the Mediterranean Sea. Although the success of the army rested on the backs of the foot-soldiers and cavalry, there were others on the field and in camp who enabled them[…]

Christianity as the State Church of the Late Roman Empire

The legacy of the idea of a universal church carries on, directly or indirectly, in today’s Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as in others. Introduction The state church of the Roman Empire refers to the Nicene church associated with Roman emperors after the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 by Theodosius I which recognized Nicene Christianity as the Roman Empire’s state religion.[1][2] Most historians refer to[…]

Theodosius I: Founder of Christianity as the Official State Religion in Ancient Rome

Theodosius is best known for making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. Introduction Theodosius I (11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor from 379 to 395. He is best known for making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire and great architecture projects in Constantinople. After a military career and[…]

A Comparison of Ancient Roman and Greek Norms in Sexuality and Gender

The expectations and even the very way they defined terms such as ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ differed greatly from modern understanding. By Cody GoettingBowling Green State University Sex,sexuality, and gender norms continue to be a pressing matter in the modern political and social scene, with debates revolving around several important topics such as means of expression,[…]

Ancient Rome’s Response to the Spread of Christianity

Examining the growth of the new religion from persecution of early Christians to Constantine’s conversion. Introduction During the 1st century CE, a sect of Jews in Jerusalem claimed that their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, was the ‘messiah’ of Israel. ‘Messiah’ meant ‘anointed one’, or someone chosen by the God of Israel to lead when God[…]

Oribasius: Ancient Physician to Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate

Oribasius was considered as one of the most illustrious representatives of intellectual circles. Introduction Oribasius (c. 320-400/403 CE) was the physician and political advisor of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (r. 361-363 CE). A native of Pergamon, a rich and powerful Greek city in Mysia, he studied medicine and oratory and belonged to the[…]

The Interaction between ‘History’ and ‘Story’ in Roman Historiography

Facts or fiction? Post-truth in the Roman historians. Introduction This essay examines the way in which ancient historiography makes use of rhetorical and even fictional devices (dramatic poetry as well as the novel) to dramatize in writing down events which the historians obviously consider as being important for their judgement, ideologically or otherwise biased, of[…]

Censors in Ancient Rome

The censor’s regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of the words censor and censorship. Introduction The censor (at any time, there were two) was a magistrate in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government’s finances.[1] The power of[…]

The College of Pontiffs: Priests in Ancient Rome

Membership in the various colleges of priests was usually an honor offered to members of politically powerful or wealthy families. Introduction The College of Pontiffs was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus and the other pontifices, the[…]

Keeping Warm in Ancient Rome

Hot drinks and early bedtimes were key to a comfortable winter. Images of Italy and the Mediterranean generally include bright sun shining on sparkling water and dusty groves of olive trees. In fact, according to Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, who wrote a 10-volume treatise on architecture in the first century, “Divine providence has so ordered it that[…]

A Trail in the Moselle Valley, Ancient Roman Wine Country

The Moselle River owes its name to the Romans, who called it Mosella or ‘little Meuse’. Introduction The Moselle Valley is Germany’s oldest winegrowing region. The Romans brought viticulture to this area and planted vines along the Moselle River 2000 years ago. After settling the region c. 50 BCE and establishing the city of Trier (Augusta Treverorum) in[…]

Milo and Cicero’s ‘Pro Milone’: Chaos and Mob Violence in Ancient Rome

Milo organized bands of armed slaves, hired thugs, and gladiators in opposition to Clodius. Introduction Titus Annius Milo Papianus (died 48 BC) was a Roman political agitator. The son of Gaius Papius Celsus, he was adopted by his maternal grandfather, Titus Annius Luscus. In 52 BC, he was prosecuted for the murder of Publius Clodius[…]

‘Passionate Desire’: Cupid in Classical Mythology

Cupid is a minor character who serves mostly to set the plot in motion. Introduction In classical mythology, Cupid, meaning “passionate desire”, is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the god of war Mars. He is also known in[…]

Rome’s Venus Was Not Your Regular Greek Aphrodite

Ancient Rome’s Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite. By Brittany Garcia Introduction In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even[…]

I’m Your Venus: Examining the Ancient Roman Goddess of Love

Venus has been described as perhaps “the most original creation of the Roman pantheon”. Introduction Venus is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to[…]

‘Avenger’: The Temple of Mars Ultor in Ancient Rome

The Temple defined the authority of the new ideology of the rising Augustan empire. The Temple of Mars Ultor was an octastyle sanctuary created with the Corinthian order in Ancient Rome. The construction has been completed in 2 BC but the project of Augustus stems from the victory obtained by the battle of Philippi in[…]

Herakles Victor and the Temple of Portunus in Ancient Rome

This small temple is a rare surviving example from the Roman Republic. It is both innovative and traditional. Introduction The Temple of Portunus is a well preserved late second or early first century B.C.E. rectangular temple in Rome, Italy. Its dedication to the God Portunus—a divinity associated with livestock, keys, and harbors—is fitting given the[…]

Stilicho: The Ancient Roman Military Commander and the Fall of the West

Some historians point to Stilicho’s ambition and blame him in part for the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Introduction Flavius Stilicho (365-408 CE) was a Roman army commander, who rose in the ranks under the reign of Roman emperor Theodosius I (r. 378-395 CE) and eventually became the regent to his son Honorius (r. 395-423 CE).[…]

Quintus Caepio: Disgraced Roman General at the Battle of Arausio, 105 BCE

Roman losses are described as being up to 80,000 troops as well as another 40,000 auxiliary troops (allies) and servants. Quintus Servilius Caepio Overview Quintus Servilius Caepio was a Roman statesman and general, consul in 106 BC, and proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul in 105 BC. He was the father of Quintus Servilius Caepio and the[…]