Government in the Roman Republic

The Roman Republic emerged out of what one historian called “the ashes of the monarchy.” Introduction Western Civilization is forever indebted to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. Among the numerous contributions these societies made are in the fields of art, literature and philosophy; however, perhaps their greatest gift to future generations was the[…]

A Pressing Matter: Ancient Roman Food Technology

Researchers show that an Ancient Roman text has long been misinterpreted, shedding new light on how innovation in olive oil and wine presses developed. Introduction No self-respecting Melbourne hipster café would be caught dead without its Gaggia coffee machine and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These quintessentially Mediterranean food habits have crossed the seas[…]

Food in the Roman World

What the Romans ate and how. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The ancient Mediterranean diet revolved around four staples, which, even today, continue to dominate restaurant menus and kitchen tables: cereals, vegetables, olive oil and wine. Seafood, cheese, eggs, meat and many types of fruit were also available to those who could afford it. The Romans[…]

Castrum: Ancient Roman Forts

Although given basic defensive features, forts were never designed to withstand a sustained enemy attack. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Roman army constructed both temporary and permanent forts and fortified military camps (castrum) across the frontiers of the empire’s borders and within territories which required a permanent military presence to prevent indigenous uprisings. Although given[…]

The Battle of Zama – The Beginning of Roman Conquest

The Battle of Zama not only ended the Second Punic War, it also established the Roman army as the greatest fighting force since the armies of Alexander the Great. Introduction The Second Punic War (218-202 BCE) began when the Carthaginian general Hannibal attacked the city of Saguntum, a Roman ally, reached its height with the[…]

Consulting Cicero on Steadfast Moral Fortitude

Cicero’s life was marked by a tension between the life of a politician and that of a philosopher. I’m often impressed by the fortitude displayed by some of the philosophers and statesmen of the Classical world. Socrates,Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Cato, and many others faced incredible challenges. The magnitude of the events they experienced – war, imprisonment,[…]

The Ancient Roman Dead: Revealing the Diversity of Roman Britain

New research has rubbished perceptions of Roman Britain as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Our knowledge about the people who lived in Roman Britain has undergone a sea change over the past decade. New research has rubbished our perception of it as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Roman Britain was actually[…]

Caligula: The Immoral Legacy of ‘Little Boots’

The Roman historian Suetonius referred to Caligula as a “monster,” and the surviving sources are universal in their condemnation. Introduction Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (August 31, 12 – January 24, 41 C.E.), most commonly known as Caligula, was the third Roman Emperor and a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, ruling from 37 C.E. to 41 C.E. Known for his extreme extravagance,[…]

Augustus: An Unmatched Grip on Power in the History of Rome

Forty-five years of unopposed rule seems an unlikely feat for any ruler in Roman history. By Edelia Corona After a civil war that lasted thirteen years, treachery, and chaos, Rome finally had an emperor it could count on. Rome’s first emperor was born as Gaius Octavius in 63 B.C.E. His family was unlike any other[…]

Libya in the Roman Era

The area of North Africa which has been known as Libya since 1911 was under Roman domination between 146 BCE and 672 CE. Introduction The area of North Africa which has been known as Libya since 1911 was under Roman domination between 146 BC and 672 AD. The Latin name Libya at the time referred to the continent of Africa in general.[1] What is[…]

The Bacchanalia: A Greek Dionysian Mystery Cult in Ancient Rome

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. Introduction The Bacchanalia seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like[…]

Mystery Cults in the Greek and Roman World

Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. A pendant to the official cults of the Greeks and Romans, mystery cults served more personal, individualistic attitudes toward death and the afterlife. Most were based on sacred stories (hieroi logoi) that often[…]

The Birth of the Book: On Christians, Romans, and the Codex

The codex didn’t catch on until surprisingly late in the ancient world. By Benjamin HarnettClassics Scholar A codex is just the Roman name for a book, made of pages, and usually bound on the left. Its predecessor was the scroll or book roll, which was unrolled as you read. The codex is manifestly superior: one[…]

Ancient Etruscan Warfare and Their Conquest by Rome

The Etruscan armies of part-time soldiers proved to be no match for the more professional and tactically dynamic Roman army. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Etruscan civilization, which flourished in central Italy from the 8th to 3rd century BCE, gained a reputation in antiquity for being party-loving pushovers when it came to warfare, but the[…]

The Early Medieval Papacy and Spread of Christianity Beyond the Roman Empire

As the political boundaries of the Roman Empire diminished and collapsed in the West, Christianity spread beyond the old borders of the Empire and into lands that had never been under Rome. Introduction Christianity in the Middle Ages covers the history of Christianity from the Fall of the Western Roman Empire (c. 476) until the Fall[…]

The Continuation of Ancient Roman Patricianship in Post-Roman Europe

With the establishment of the medieval towns, Italian city-states and maritime republics, the patriciate was a formally defined class of governing wealthy families. Introduction Patricianship, the quality of belonging to a patriciate, began in the ancient world, where cities such as Ancient Rome had a class of patrician families whose members were the only people allowed to exercise many political[…]

Patricians in Ancient Rome

According to Livy, the first 100 men appointed as senators by Romulus were referred to as “fathers” (“patres”). Introduction The patricians (from Latin: patricius) were originally a group of ruling class families in ancient Rome. The distinction was highly significant in the early Republic, but its relevance waned after the Conflict of the Orders (494 BC to 287 BC), and by the time of the[…]

‘Virtus’ in Ancient Rome

It was a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors, and was personified as a deity—Virtus. Virtus was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, “man”). It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors, and was personified[…]

The Zealot Temple Siege against Rome, 68 CE

After freeing the Zealots from the Temple, the Edomites and Zealots massacred the common people. Introduction The Zealot Temple Siege (68 AD) was a short siege of the Temple in Jerusalem fought between Jewish factions during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire (66–70 AD). According to the historian Josephus, the forces of Ananus ben Ananus, one[…]

The Fall of Rome and European Migration, c.375-538 CE

The Migration Period is typically regarded as beginning with the invasion of Europe by the Huns from Asia in 375 and ending either with the conquest of Italy by the Lombards in 568. Introduction The Migration Period was a period that lasted from 375 AD (possibly as early as 300 AD) to 538 AD, during[…]

Collegia, Stability, and the Vox Populi in the Roman Empire

Examining the associations known as ‘collegia’ mentioned in the letters (10.33-34) from the Roman pro-consul Pliny to the emperor Trajan. The Request Overview This short analysis will investigate the associations known as ‘collegia’ (also known as clubs, associations, companies) mentioned in the letters (10.33-34) from the Roman pro-consul Pliny to the emperor Trajan. We will[…]

Class and Social Order in the Roman Republic

Traditionally, Roman society was extremely rigid. Introduction The social structure of ancient Rome was based on heredity, property, wealth, citizenship and freedom. It was also based around men: women were defined by the social status of their fathers or husbands. Women were expected to look after the houses and very few had any real independence.[…]

The Achaean League: The Best Effort at a NATO in Ancient Greece

The League represents the most successful attempt by the Greek city states to develop a collective government and security apparatus. Introduction The Achaean League (Greek: Κοινὸν τῶν Ἀχαιῶν, Koinon ton Akhaion ‘League of Achaeans’) was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The league was named after the region of Achaea in the[…]

The Psychotherapy of Marcus Aurelius

Did one of Rome’s wisest and most revered emperors benefit from an ancient precursor of cognitive psychotherapy? The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius mentions undertaking Stoic “therapy” (therapeia) at the start of The Meditations, his famous journal of personal reflections on philosophy.  He writes, “From Rusticus, I gained the idea that I was in need of correction and[…]