Constantine’s Conversion to Christianity

Although Constantine is acclaimed as the first emperor to embrace Christianity, he was not technically the first to legalize it. Introduction Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was Roman emperor from 306-337 CE and is known to history as Constantine the Great for his conversion to Christianity in 312 CE and his subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire. His conversion was motivated in part[…]

The Eastern Trade Network of Ancient Rome

Silk became so popular that the Roman Senate periodically issued proclamations to prohibit the wearing it on both economic and moral grounds. By Dr. James HancockProfessor Emeritus of HorticultureMichigan State University Introduction The life of wealthy Romans was filled with exotic luxuries such as cinnamon, myrrh, pepper, or silk acquired through long-distance international trade. Goods from the Far East[…]

Historiography of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire

The end of the Western Roman Empire traditionally has been seen by historians to mark the end of the Ancient Era and beginning of the Middle Ages. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction The causes and mechanisms of the fall of the Western Roman Empire are a historical theme that was introduced by historian Edward Gibbon in his[…]

A Guide to the Monuments of Hadrian’s Ancient Roman Villa

Approximately 40 hectares (98 acres) of parklands at Hadrian’s Villa are open for visitors to explore. Introduction Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli, Italy, is an opulent, sprawling garden-villa covering some 120 hectares (296 acres). It was built by Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE) between 125-134 CE for use as his country estate, although the land may have originally[…]

Ancient Roman Legions of the Parthian Wars

In search of glory and riches, seven legions were led in an unprovoked attack on the Parthians. Introduction Parthia had always been a thorn in the side of the Roman Empire. The initial campaigns by Crassus and Mark Antony were total failures, and although Trajan and Syrian governor Cassius made some progress in the 2nd century CE, both failed to eliminate the Parthians[…]

Legions of Ancient Roman Britain

As a result of the various crises that plagued the Western Roman Empire in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, the ability to control the island waned. Introduction After the Roman emperor Claudius (r. 41-54 CE) successfully conquered Britain in 43 CE, four legions were left there to maintain the peace: XIV Gemina, II Augusta, IX Hispana, and XX Valeria[…]

The Legions of Ancient Spain, Roman Africa, and Egypt

These four legions were a vital part of the empire. Introduction The legions of Spain, Roman Africa, and Egypt did not see the intensity of action that prevailed elsewhere in Europe. However, the presence of these four legions – VII Gemina, IX Hispana, XXII Deiotariana, and II Traiana Fortis – was still essential for the stability of the empire. Although often[…]

The Ancient Roman Legions of the Rhine Frontier

Despite Rome’s best efforts, the territory remained unstable and would remain a place of conflict for years to come. Introduction After Julius Caesar’s (100-44 BCE) conquest of Gaul, Roman legions pushed the borders of the Roman Empire’s frontier to the banks of the Rhine River. Augustus (r. 27 BCE – 14 CE) divided the newly acquired region into three provinces: Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Lugdunensis, and Gallica[…]

Medicine in Ancient Rome

Roman medicine was highly influenced by the Greek medical tradition. Introduction Medicine in ancient Rome combined various techniques using different tools, methodology, and ingredients. Ancient Roman medicine was highly influenced by Greek medicine but would ultimately have its own contribution to the history of medicine through past knowledge of the Hippocratic Corpus combined with use of the treatment of diet, regimen, along[…]

Hortum Domus: The House Garden in Ancient Rome

Roman gardens were built to suit a range of needs and activities. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Overview Roman gardens and ornamental horticulture became highly developed under Roman civilization. The Gardens of Lucullus (Horti Lucullani), on the Pincian Hill in Rome, introduced the Persian garden to Europe around 60 BC. It was seen as a place of peace and tranquillity, a refuge from urban life, and[…]

Aurei: Gold Coins in the Economy of Ancient Rome

The purity of the aureus and changing values of other currency significantly affected the empire’s economy. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate The aureus (pl. aurei, ‘golden’, used as a noun) was a gold coin of ancient Rome originally valued at 25 pure silver denarii. The aureus was regularly issued from the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 4th century AD, when it[…]

No Merum: Wine in Ancient Rome

The works of Roman writers have provided insight into the role played by wine in Roman culture. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Ancient Rome played a pivotal role in the history of wine. The earliest influences on the viticulture of the Italian peninsula can be traced to ancient Greeks and the Etruscans. The rise of the Roman Empire saw both technological advances in and burgeoning awareness[…]

Past and Present: A History of London from 47 CE Rome to Today

Londinium was established as a civilian town by the Romans about four years after the invasion of 43 CE. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction The history of London, the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, extends over 2000 years. In that time, it has become one of the world’s most significant financial and cultural capital[…]

Hemp or Cannabis in Ancient Greece and Rome

The image of an intoxicated ancient world goes against the idea that moderation was the key to life. By Dr. Alan SumlerProfessor, Modern Languages DepartmentUniversity of Colorado Denver The ancient Greeks and Romans used hemp fiber for their boat sails, ropes, wicker-work, clothes, and shoes. Although no piece of Classical scholarship has focused on hemp[…]

Drugs and Medicine in the Graeco-Roman World

The best physicians were well schooled in pharmaceutical lore, with an armamentarium of drugs. By Dr. John ScarboroughProfessor of Medical HistoryUniversity of Madison-Wisconsin Introduction The doctor stepped softly out of the sickroom, where Licinius was breathing his last. Rattling, rasping, wheezing, gasping for air, the senator had accepted death and requested that his friend and[…]

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,[…]