Asylum in Ancient and Medieval Rome

Ancient Rome and its empire had the concept of asylum at its heart. Its legacy provided inspiration for centers of power around the world. Introduction The legacy of Ancient Rome has exerted a powerful influence on town halls and parliamentary buildings around the world, and especially Washington DC’s urban form and identity. With its classically[…]

Cicero’s 2,000-Year-Old Dream in Ancient Rome Realized by Apollo 8 in 1968

Apollo 8 was the moment that humanity realized a dream conceived in our cultural imagination over two millennia ago. Introduction Half a century of Christmases ago, the NASA space mission Apollo 8 became the first manned craft to leave low Earth orbit, atop the unprecedentedly powerful Saturn V rocket, and head out to circumnavigate another[…]

The Cinaedus: Transgender Soldiers in the Ancient Roman Army

An ancient Roman fable imagines a cinaedus, well-known for his brazen effeminacy, fighting heroically. Introduction On August 25, 2017, Donald Trump signed a directive banning transgender people from joining the U.S. military. This officially reverses the inclusive policies introduced during the Obama regime. Trump’s decision was, he claimed in earlier tweets, based on the burdensome medical costs and disruption that[…]

Acquarossa: Archaeological Study of an Ancient Etruscan Settlement

Abandoned when the larger Etruscan towns struggled to meet the demands of their growing urban population and so annexed the lands of their smaller neighbours. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Acquarossa, located in the north of Italy’s Lazio region, is the site of an Etruscan settlement of unknown name. Although much smaller than other, more famous[…]

Roman and Byzantine Cilicia Campestris

Cilicia Campestris was the most valuable Roman district because of its fertile plains which produced abundant crops. Introduction Cilicia Campestris was one of the six districts of the Roman province of  Cilicia organized by Pompey the Great (l. c. 106-48 BCE) in 64 BCE. The name translates roughly into “Cilicia of the Plains” and corresponds to the earlier name for the[…]

The Kingly Pursuits of Herod during the Augustan Period

Herod built on a Roman scale. King Herod had a substantial architectural heritage to his name in the Levant by the time of his death in 4 BCE. As one of Rome’s most loyal client kings, he incorporated much Roman-style architecture throughout the lands he ruled. He visited Rome in 40 BCE and returned two[…]

Baalbek: Temple of Jupiter in Ancient Rome

Baalbek is a town in the northern Bekaa valley, the site of the largest sanctuary in the Roman world. The greatest temple of Baalbek was dedicated to a god who was, at various periods in history, called Ba’al, Hadad, Helios, Zeus, or Jupiter Optimus Maximus Heliopolitanus. According to Macrobius, the cult statue had been taken from Egypt, was[…]

Caesar as Dictator: His Impact on the City of Rome

By Steven Fife During his reign as dictator from 49-44 BC, Julius Caesar had a number of notable impacts on the city of Rome. One of the initial crises with which Caesar had to deal was widespread debt in Rome, especially after the outbreak of civil war when lenders demanded repayment of loans and real estate values collapsed. The result was a serious shortage[…]

Ancient Cilicia in Anatolia, from the Hittites to Armenia

Because of its geography and location, Cilicia was among the most important regions of the classical world. Introduction Cilicia is the ancient Roman name for the southeastern region of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It is referenced in the biblical books of Acts and Galatians, was the birthplace of Saint Paul, and the site of his early evangelical missions. The territory was first[…]

The Battle of Carhae: A Roman Catastrophe, 53 BCE

Carrhae proved to be a complete disaster from its beginning. Introduction The Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE was one of the greatest military catastrophes in all of Roman history when a hero of the  Spartacus  campaign, Marcus Licinius Crassus (115-53 BCE), initiated an unprovoked invasion of Parthian territory (modern Iran). Most of the information concerning the battle and its aftermath[…]

Agriculture in Ancient Rome

The great majority of the people ruled by Rome were engaged in agriculture. Introduction Roman Agriculture describes the farming practices of ancient Rome, an era that lasted 1000 years. From humble beginnings, the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 27 BCE) and empire (27 BCE to 476 CE) expanded to rule much of  Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East and thus comprised a large[…]

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[…]

Remembering the Allied Liberation of Rome in 1944

Amid the anniversary of the D-Day invasion, it is important to note, too, the anniversary of an event that unfolded just two days earlier: the Allied liberation of Rome. By Gregory Sumner Amid the justifiable hoopla this week surrounding the launch of the D-Day invasion, it is important to note, too, the anniversary of an event[…]

From Ancient Rome to Hollywood: Witches as Figures of Fun

How Romans overcame their fear of witches by finding them funny. Introduction For centuries, when people thought of witches, they were evil or possessed by evil demons: think of the Salem witch trials or the 16th and 17th-century woodcuts depicting sinister women conjuring demons or flying on broomsticks. These were the sort of women who morphed in[…]

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[…]