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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About The Romans

In the past we gave you a list of ten myths about the Romans. Today, to complement that list we are giving you ten facts. Roman society existed in one of the most fascinating periods of history. Many of the aspects of Roman life continue on to the present day and we certainly have a lot to thank them for in terms of culture and law and, of course, our calendar. This list looks at ten aspects of Roman life that are particularly interesting and (hopefully) not especially well known.


Church and State

800Px-Stele Sol Invictus Terme

While it is well known that the Romans worshipped many gods, there was, in fact, an official state god. This god was named Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun) and was created by the emperor Aurelian in 274 AD and continued, overshadowing other cults in importance, until the abolition of paganism under Theodosius I (on February 27, 390). The Romans held a festival on December 25 of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered sun.” December 25 was the date after the winter solstice, with the first detectable lengthening of daylight hours. There was also a festival on December 19. Though many Oriental cults were practiced informally among the Roman legions from the mid-second century, only that of Sol Invictus was officially accepted and prescribed for the army. Emperors up to Constantine I portrayed Sol Invictus on their official coinage and Constantine decreed (March 7, 321) dies Solis — day of the sun, “Sunday” — as the Roman day of rest.




Just like today, Romans lived in a variety of different dwellings depending on class. The rich had villas (our rich have McMansions), and the poor lived in small apartments over shops – just as many city-dwellers do today. Roofs were not allowed to be higher than 17 meters (during the reign of Hadrian) due to the danger of collapse, and most apartments had windows. Water would be brought in from outside and residents would have to go out to public latrines to use the toilet. Because of the danger of fire, the Romans living in these apartments were not allowed to cook – so they would eat out or buy food in from takeaway shops (called thermopolium). It is amazing to see how these aspects of life have barely changed – our homes may look different, but in many ways we are the same as the Romans.



800Px-Casale Bikini Modified

The closest thing Romans had to underwear was a subligaculumIt could come either in the form of a pair of shorts, or in the form of a simple loincloth wrapped around the lower body. It could be worn both by men and women. In particular, it was part of the dress of gladiators, athletes, and of actors on the stage. The subligaculum could be worn under a tunic but men who were standing for public office would sometimes just wear the subligaculum and nothing else. Roman Women also sometimes wore a band of cloth or leather around their upper body. (strophium or mamillare) as can be seen in the picture above.



Roman 10

Education was very important to the Ancient Romans. The rich people in Ancient Rome put a great deal of faith in education. While the poor in Ancient Rome did not receive a formal education, many still learned to read and write. Children from rich families, however, were well schooled and were taught by a private tutor at home or went to what we would recognise as schools. In general, schools as we would recognise them, were for boys only. Also, Roman schools were rarely an individual building but an extension of a shop – separated from the crowd by a mere curtain! Learning in Roman schools was based on fear. Boys were beaten for the slightest offence as a belief existed that a boy would learn correctly and accurately if he feared being caned if he got something wrong. For boys who continued to get things wrong, some schools had a policy of having pupils held down by two slaves while his tutor beat him with a leather whip. [Source]


Historic Irony


At the time of the first Christians, St Peter, the first Bishop of Rome (and thus first Pope) was put to death by being crucified upside-down in the Circus of Nero – a large open-air venue used for public events. His body was buried there. A mere 200 years later, the Roman Emperor Constantine I legalized Christianity and donated the Circus of Nero to the Church for what is now known as Old St Peter’s Basilica. It took only 30 years to build and survived until 1506 when it was demolished by Pope Julius II in order to make way for the Basilica which stands in its place today and remains the seat of the Papacy. The irony of the fact that the seat of the oldest and largest Christian population in the world stands on the spot where the first attempts were made to destroy the new religion is obvious. Given the temporal power the Church wielded (and still does to a certain degree, though more through influence now), one could say that the Roman Empire is still at the heart of Western society.


Average Diet

Foar Dormice608

A different lifestyle also meant that the eating habits of the Ancient Romans were different to ours today. Breakfast (the Romans called this jentaculum) was taken in the master’s bedroom and usually consisted of a slice of bread or a wheat pancake eaten with dates and honey. Wine was also drunk. Lunch (the Romans called this prandium) was eaten at about 11.00 a.m. and consisted of a light meal of bread, cheese and possibly some meat. In many senses, everything was geared up towards the main meal of the day – cena. This was eaten in the late afternoon or early evening. If the master of the house had no guests, cena might take about one hour. If he did have guests, then this meal might take as long as four hours. A light supper was usually eaten just before the Romans went to bed, consisting of bread and fruit. The Romans were usually not big meat eaters and a lot of their normal meals involved vegetables, herbs and spices together with a wheat meal that looked like porridge. Petronius described a luxurious dinner thus:

“We were invited to take our seats. Immediately, Egyptian slaves came in and poured ice water over our hands. The starters were served. On a large tray stood a donkey made of bronze. On its back were two baskets, one holding green olives, and the other black. On either side were dormice, dipped in honey and rolled in poppy seed. nearby, on a silver grill, piping hot, lay small sausages. As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it.”

For those keen to try some home-cooked Roman food, here is a recipe for dormice: Stuff the dormice with minced pork or the meat of other dormice chopped up with herbs, pepper and pine nuts. Sew up the dormice and cook in a small oven. [Source] Before you jump up and down about the idea of eating mouse-like rodents, you should know that they are still a popular food in Slovenia. Pictured above is an edible dormouse and a Slovenian stew made from them.


Guard Dogs


Not only did the Romans use guard dogs to guard their houses, they also used “beware of the dog” signs. Petronius in his Satyricon mentions them: “There on the left as one entered…was a huge dog with a chain round its neck. It was painted on the wall and over it, in big capitals, was written: Beware of the Dog.” One wonders whether we will one day discover a sign for chariots which says “infantia in carrus” (my appalling translation of “baby on board”.) Pictured above is an authentic “beware of dog” (cave canem) mosaic from Pompeii.




The Romans were a very clean people, taking regular communal baths. They had two main supplies of water – high quality water for drinking and lower quality water for bathing. In 600 BC, the King of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, decided to have a sewer system built under the city. It was created mainly by semi-forced laborers. The system, which outflowed into the Tiber river, was so effective that it remains in use today (though it is now connected to the modern sewerage system). It continues to be the main sewer for the famous amphitheater. It was so successful in fact, that it was imitated throughout the Roman Empire.


Pecunia non Olet

Pecunia Non Olet Boite

Pecunia non olet means “money does not smell”. This phrase was coined as a result of the urine tax levied by the Roman emperors Nero and Vespasian in the 1st century upon the collection of urine. The lower classes of Roman society urinated into pots which were emptied into cesspools. The liquid was then collected from public latrines, where it served as the valuable raw material for a number of chemical processes: it was used in tanning, and also by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woollen togas. There are even isolated reports of it being used as a teeth whitener (supposedly originating in what is now Spain). When Vespasian’s son, Titus, complained about the disgusting nature of the tax, his father showed him a gold coin and uttered the famous quote. This phrase is still used today to show that the value of money is not tainted by its origins. Vespasian’s name still attaches to public urinals in France (vespasiennes), Italy (vespasiani), and Romania (vespasiene).


Catullus XVI


Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC) was a Roman poet of the 1st century BC. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art. Now the Romans were extremely fond of poetry, humor, and obscenity. In fact, so obsessed were they with obscenity that the Latin language contains many very specific sexual terms. For example, cinaede is the term used to describe a person who is being anally penetrated and pedacabo is the the term for the person doing the penetrating. The verb irrumare means “to insert one’s penis into another person’s mouth for suckling”. So how does this relate to Catullus? It turns out that he wrote one of the most obscene pieces of poetry ever. It was considered so bad that a full English translation did not exist until the 20th century. Here is the translation:

I’m gonna fuck you guys up the ass and shove my cock down your throats,
yes, you, Aurelius–you fucking cocksucker–and you too, Furius, you faggot!
Just because my verses are tender doesn’t mean
that I’ve gone all soft. Sure, a poet should focus
on writing poetry and not on sex; but does that
mean they can’t write about sex? If a poem is
in good taste, well-written and erotic,
it can give massive boners to hairy old men,
not just to horny teenagers. You think I’m a sissy
just because I write about thousands of kisses?
I’m gonna fuck you guys up the ass and shove my cock down your throats!

It definitely sounds nicer in the Latin!

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Some or all text is derived from Wikipedia.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • calm incense

    Everything sounds nicer in Latin.

    • your BOSS


      • the calm incense beater-upper

        I AGREEE



  • Randall

    People, lay off n3ph. He's a funny SOB and he just got indignant over what he perceived as a slight against his culture. The Balkan folk are like that. Can't blame 'em—they've been the butt of jokes from snooty Western Europeans for centuries—and the Greeks (as much as I love 'em) haven't been very nice to these people either.

    Cut him some slack. Maybe they eat mice in Slovenia, maybe they don't. We here in the US eat Filet O'Fish and TV dinners. Is that REALLY such an improvement?

    • kristian

      i agree

  • cm

    Great poem in 1 :P. Also great translation.

  • patrick

    number 1 that just unbeliavable

  • ag

    lol no.1

  • frabjousflamingo

    I love Catullus. :)

    This is a fantastic list- Roman life is so fascinating.

  • undaunted warrior

    Great list JF I have always been interested in Roman history.

    No. 2 is a new one to me Thanks.

  • necro_penguin

    no mention of their central heating systems?

  • knight_forked

    nice list jamie! seems like you were on a long break :)

  • SparkyBox

    Awesome List!



  • Stizzy

    Western Civilization has suuuure come far since these times ;)

  • Rufus

    Who’s Aurelius and Furius?

  • missmozell

    *blinks at number one* And I thought that 2 Live Crew invented obscene poetry. I understand that many supposedly repressed societies produced some of the hairiest porn. Like the Victorians. They were heavily into caning and *ahem* unusual uses for bodily emisions. Yes, I had interesting reading material in my youth.

  • Nameless

    Catullus is by far my favourite Roman poet. Pretty much all of his poetry revolved around love and sex, but his metaphors were so subtle and delicate, that all his poems sound sweet and romantic. In fact, he’s the first Latin poet Italian kids study at school. Of course the poem shown in this article is rarely included in high school programmes.

  • sad muso

    Haha WTF, that Catullus poem is immense!

  • Pankhudi

    Nice List once again JFrater.
    Roman History is awesome :)

  • ronsantohof

    All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

  • archangel

    Would love to recite that poem in latin! (of course, on one would realise what it means… unless, there was someone who knows latin around)

  • Iain

    JF – I’m sure you meant to say 274 AD for Emperor Aurelian.

  • totalstranger

    ah my ancestors!

  • @n3ph (11): Perhaps you missed the photographic evidence…

  • @Iain (20): I did – and this is now corrected – thanks :)

  • MarkH

    “The irony of the fact that the seat of the oldest and largest Christian population in the world stands on the spot where the first attempts were made to destroy the new religion is obvious.”

    I’m not sure you know what irony is, but that’s definitely not it. Irony would be if the location had been chosen as an insult, or simply randomly; it was meant as an honor, which isn’t ironic at all.

  • Davy

    I sure hope number 1 sounds better in Latin.
    Really cool list, thanks Jamie.

  • Tim

    Love the poem! It’s hilarious. Great list, as well.

  • Derek

    I can now safely write my own poems without fear by citing this perfect example of artistic license :D

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Finally a good list

  • Moloch1123

    @n3ph (26): I fail to understand why you’re so upset at the idea of eating rats, children, OR feces. Hmmm, perhaps this is a case of guilty conscience.

    Whatever, I’m sure you’ll continue to have knee-jerk reactions to everything you don’t like, understand, or know about; especially since, I am certain, those things are usually one and the same for you.

    But please, try not to take your anger out on your dinner, and have a GOOD day!

  • beerjustice

    @n3ph: Wow, I guess someone woke up on the wrong side of the cave this morning.

  • General-Jake

    This list was one of the best ive read. That rat soup actually looks edible.
    n3Ph: Im American and yes probably ignorant but at least we dont eat rat soup in a no-name backwater country.

    • sam thomas

      well im sure a lot of yanks eat there own road kill and if i remember correctly there is in fact a diner there with the slogan from your grill to ours..yanks!

  • ajshrestha

    I have to agree with moloch…theres no reason to get angry or insulted. Theres nothing wrong with eating rats. Google the cuisine of Japan, Thiland or China and you will see what I am.

  • kristi

    i watched a doco and it said that the romans invented double pained windows and that they would make they end of their spears weak so that when they threw them the enemy couldnt throw them back because the arrow head had snapped off

  • flamehorse

    Ahh! I knew number 1 should be on here! Great stuff!

  • Jls22

    Referring to Americans as being ignorant to other cultures is just as much of an ignorant stereotype.

    • pp2

      you are ignorant the whole world can not be wrong

  • L’economa domestica

    Tarquinius Priscus was the first etruscan king of Rome (the other two were Servius Tullius from Vulci and Tarquinius the Last). Etruscan were the geniuses in builiding sewers. Etruscans rule!!!
    About roman food: there is a particular kind of roman pottery called “gliarium”, and it was like a dormouse cage.
    Catullus is my beloved! I like the rude poems written for Clodia/Lesbia.

  • Liam2

    Nothing personal towards the list writers but the last 4 lists have been pretty poor :( (for me)

  • Jls22

    @nsph is that suppose to insult me or just prove your own ignorance? I know who I am and how hard I work at both paying for my education and getting it. I have nothing to prove to some random person on the internet. I was simply stating that making general statements about the people of a country as if they are fact is ignorance. The truth is every country has people in it that are dumbasses and a shame to their country. Ours just happen to be put on TV for the whole world to laugh at (Jessica Simpson, Ms. SC, Paris Hilton etc.)

  • amanda

    number 1 sounded like a rap song! lol great list!!

  • Yawyack

    34 kristi,
    I think it was the Carthaginians who invented coloured glass. But yeah the Romans did use stained glass windows. The late Republic legionaries’ pilum (a heavy javelin) was made with a wooden pin that would break on impact. Later on the design developed in a way that would allow the iron to bend on impact rendering it not only useless, but also making it more difficult to remove from one’s self or shield.

    I’m sure Randall or L’economa domestica will know if this is correct or not. Rome isn’t really my strong point.

    26 n3ph,
    Glue is for sticking, not sniffing.

  • Nauplius

    I don’t think I’ll be having dormice anytime soon.
    Nice list Jamie. The guard dog one was new to me.

  • L’economa domestica

    @ 43 Yawak

    You’re right about pilum! Roman’s armours are totally awesome, and their military shoes (caligae) are fantastic. By the way, etruscans invented also teeth’s upper implants.

    Transparent, non coloured, glass was very rare in antiquity, because sand was polluted with minerals, and minerals made coloured glasses. Windows in villas were made of alabastrum, in poor’s houses of waxed paper.
    The better roman invention? Modular building system and malta (a kind of concrete).

  • L’economa domestica

    Ah, and in Pompeii you can see also pedestrian crossing stones!

  • most boring list ever

    everything on this list i remember from middle and high school

  • L’economa domestica

    Why don’t you write a list about Etruscans? They are the most important culture before romans in Italy, but sadly they are almost unknown outside archaeological world.

  • Randall

    @n3ph (26):

    That was actually pretty damn funny. :-)

  • cindyrulz

    What’s wrong with eating rodents? In Louisianna and Texas the cajuns are known to eat nutria.
    Oh, and they make great fur coats too.

  • Nitroglycerin

    I think Catullus is the one vandalizing the subway walls, the benches, and the lavatory with his erotic poetry.haha

  • Randall

    L’economa domestica:

    Sounds like you and I should have a chat, we appear to have the same passion for ancient Mediterranean culture. :-)

    Though, as it happens, I am no big fan of the Romans. For all their inventiveness and administrative and military genius, they were brutal bastards with too wide a streak of superstition and gullibility for me. I prefer the Greeks, naturally… who are MY ancestors. ;-)

    (actually I’m a mix of English, German, southern Italian and Greek).

    As for the Etruscans—well, you sound like you know as much as anybody, including me. Write a list!

    But you should know why this is not the easiest task to take on–namely because we know so little ABOUT the Etruscans. Which is a sadness, as you probably know, that we can also blame the Romans for—seeing as they made it their cause celebre to wipe out the Etruscans at every turn.

    Anyway, as long as the Etruscan language remains undeciphered (which will, unfortunately, probably be forever) we’ll only know so much about them. We know they were apparently friendly with the Greeks, who clearly influenced Etruscan art (but the Etruscans put their own splendid turn on it—-in fact, I prefer Etruscan art over the Greek art of the same Archaic period) as well as, evidently, much of Etruscan “technology.” They (the Etruscans) are fascinating for what little we do know about them (much of it conjecture), such as their interesting mix of dark humor (evident in their art) and lightheartedness (also evident in their art), and from what we know about them from Roman reports—most of which, while surely slanted, do reveal some interesting bits of the Etruscan character, if you filter it through the Roman BS.

  • Ike

    @n3ph (26):

    Good job at making your country look as if it’s full of retards.

  • Randall

    @n3ph (52):

    Do you still display the skins of freshly killed puppies in your huts, in Slovenia? And I love the Slovenian chairs made from the skulls and bones of orphans… my attorney has one in his office. Comfy.

  • jonnyrotann


  • Yawyack

    L’economa domestica and Randall,
    I bow to your superior knowledge *Averts gaze, bows and kisses their feet*

  • Carole

    Good list although I am fed up with the misuse of the word “ironic” #6 is not ironic. Look it up in you dictionary !!!

  • robbo1234

    Sylvester was the first Pope, not Peter

  • GTT

    @n3ph (26): No one said RAT, they said rodent. Actually a big difference if you care to think about what you are reading before shooting your mouth. There are many types of rodents that are used for food all over the world (I can name the chiguire in Venezuela and the cuy in Peru). Not my particular cup of tea but nothing to get all excited about.

    And yes, we also have electricity and even the internet.

  • Beasjt

    That poem deserves a special episode of Frasier.

  • Petie

    @Randall (57): Is eating squirrel that far from eating mice and rats? Because squirrels make the best damned buffolo wings ever! Tastes like chicken with a hint of nutty finish.

  • Big Deal

    I love how the author is from NZ, and the asshole in #26 still has to take a jab at Americans.

    In short, fuck you ya Slovenian cocksucker.

  • Randall

    @robbo1234 (61):

    WRONG, robbo…

    There were 32 popes who preceded Sylvester. Peter WAS the first pope, and is considered such by all Catholic authorities. Look it up anywhere.

    Your mistake is based on a hoax – the “Donation of Constantine,” which in essence claimed that Constantine gave the Vatican and temporal power over to Sylvester. Hence, people make the silly claim that Sylvester was the first “real” pope, because he supposedly held the power that all later popes held, but, again, this is all based on the phony story of the Donation.

    In the view of the Church, the “pope” has simply been the nominal head of the church, regardless of whatever trappings of state and power this later was associated with. Hence Peter has always been considered the *first* pope.

  • L

    Terrific race, the Romans! Terrific

    @ronsantohof (18):

    Brought peace?

  • Winston

    Easy boys, nothing wrong with Slovenia

    • BalkanGirl

      I'm guessing he's from Croatia. They are like that:/
      Of course, rodents does not = rats.

      Can we please stop this useless debate now before it turns to insults?

  • Danny

    wow that poem in number 1 is hilarious.

  • undaunted warrior

    @GTT(62) In my country you have the cane rat it grows to between 1.2 and 2.5 ft. long with a weight of appx. 6 kg.

    The Family name is Thryonomyidae, that will feed a family of 4 easly.

    Please excuse typo errors, Ive been busy rubbing my stills pot bellie for a while and sampling the goods before bottling.


    MORE Catholic “history” from JFrater. I really like you and all, but COME ON.

    The oldest Christian population is in Rome? Really? It’s not in the Middle East, where… who was that guy??? OH YEAH, JESUS lived???


  • renegade01

    @n3ph (26):

    Oh my…that entire bit about the Adobe products made me chuckle a bit. I do quite agree, as an American, that we are generally very ignorant of other cultures. However we can’t much help it, we’ve got all these different cultures that mix in with other ones here it all gets so distorted. Unfortunately instead of looking into the cultures we seem to be under the impression that the distorted culture is the actual culture. That’s where our ignorance lies. Sorry guys, get butt hurt if you want, but it’s the truth.

  • General-Jake

    Blast. Randalls right. I ate a Baconator for dinner and am eating a hungry-man tv dinner for lunch. Not exactly evolved cuisine in comparison.

  • renegade01

    @FATSEXY (71):

    Okay dumbass, before you start shooting off your mouth read into what you are saying. Yes Jesus and Christianity had its BASIS with Jesus in the middle east, however organized Catholicism BEGAN in Rome. Did you never learn of the persecution of the early Christians in Rome growing up? >_>

  • Happypants78

    JFrater, You are the list master! I love these lists, thanks for the effort.

  • ringtailroxy

    regarding #4:
    i remember reading somewhere that the term “Cave Canem” has been misinterpreted throughout the years…that it does indeed mean “Beware of Dog”, but not to warm people of a protection or guard dog, but rather, a smaller dog kept in the house.

    the reasoning, as i recall, was that it made little sense to warn a potential thief that their was a guard dog on the property, since the element of surprise would be lost. it is more likely the signs meant to be “aware” of the lady of the house’s small, beloved pet and to not step on it or let it run away from the premises.

    i know that in my town, if your dog bites someone, even if they are trespassing on your property or breaking into your home, and you do not have a beware of dog sign placed at least in 2 conspicuous places around your home, then you are liable for any injuries the criminal receives. i know of a person who had to pay for a crook’s medical bills because her akita mauled a burglar. the scumbag broke in thru the back patio, where there was no “Beware of Dog” signs…even though she had 2 signs, one in the front window of the house, and another on the front gate!!! judge said since she had a known “aggressive breed” she should have a warning sign at each entrance & exit of her home…

  • Davy

    Romans are awesome.

  • undaunted warrior

    @quicki(77)You just the he man ?

    What upset you today.

    Read the instructions on your pill bottle before commenting.

  • jelliot

    about number 6

    it’s said he was crucified upside down out of reverence for jesus, but there is very little to confirm this, and considering he was executed during the persecution of the christians, it is unlikely that his executioners would have granted him any requests.

  • David

    That Beware of the Dog mosaic. I`ve seen everything now! But the Romans were Evil. They persecuted Christians, and went all around the known world, murdering and looting. Mosaics exist, of Christians tied to posts, and lions biting their faces off, and being savaged by leopards, they treated us like dirt, for 400 years. Any wonder that dictators and tyrants have admired Rome? Ivan the Terrible, (Tsar, means Caesar) Kaiser Bill, (Kaiser means Caesar) Benito Mussolini wanted to create “A Third Rome,” Hitler, got “Heil Hitler,” from “Hail Caesar,” The Romans great? Yeah right.

  • flgh

    @David (81): LOL the romans are nothing compared to the Mongolians


    renegade01 wrote:


    Okay dumbass, before you start shooting off your mouth read into what you are saying. Yes Jesus and Christianity had its BASIS with Jesus in the middle east, however organized Catholicism BEGAN in Rome. Did you never learn of the persecution of the early Christians in Rome growing up? >_>

    First of all, very mature.

    Second, maybe you should learn a little about history before you correct others. Christianity started off in the Jewish temple, orthodox Jews rejected it, Christianity spread throughout the Middle East and to the Mediterranean part of Europe. It was called the catholic church, but that was because the word “catholic” means “universal”. The church in Rome claimed primacy and had the fact that they were in Rome as the leverage they needed to impose their importance on other churches. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church was born.

  • archiealt

    @David (81):

    Christians weren’t fed to lions. And the Swastica was used by the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Europeans and quite a few other people before Hitler got a hold of it….does that make them all bad. Flawed logic i’m afraid mate.

  • Randall

    @archiealt (84):

    I love proving you wrong, asshole.

    In fact, while there’s no DIRECT evidence that any Christians were fed to LIONS, it’s almost certain that it DID happen—and certainly Christians WERE executed, on occasion, by animal attack.

    I quote my favorite, handy authority, Cecil Adams:

    The story has its suspicious aspects, I guess. According to the historian Tacitus, Christians during Nero’s time (at least) were mainly torn apart by dogs, crucified, or burned alive — no mention of lions. The Romans did throw people to lions on occasion, and Tertullian, writing later, remarks that the Romans were always ready to exclaim “Away with the Christians to the lion!” whenever times got tough. However, Tertullian doesn’t claim he witnessed any martyrdoms-by-lion personally, and anyway he was a Christian himself. Fact is, while the Romans evidently fed Christians to animals, and people to lions, we have no source stating directly that they specifically fed Christians to lions. So theoretically it’s possible the whole Christians-lions thing was a Christian ploy for sympathy.

    But probably not. The Romans did a big business in mass slaughter by and of animals, showing great enterprise in arranging dramatic forms of killing, so if they didn’t throw any Christians to the lions, it was likely an oversight. While record keeping at the time wasn’t the best, and many early Christian texts have their implausible moments, here’s what we can say with reasonable certainty:

    1. During the early Christian era, the Romans executed some prisoners using animals, sentencing them ad bestias, “to the beasts.” The beasts in question included dogs, bears, boars, and lions.

    2. Christians were executed by the boatload during that time, often in cruel and unusual ways, with animals regularly playing a role. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, wrote letters en route to execution in Rome predicting he’d be thrown to the beasts. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was threatened with being thrown to the beasts but as it turned out was finished off by the sword. Possibly no one saw more animal action than the Christian priest Saturus — reportedly he was first tied to a boar (which turned on its handler instead), then exposed to a bear (it proved too cowardly to attack him), and finally killed by a leopard. Speaking of Nero’s persecutions, Tacitus adds the detail that the emperor had Christians dressed in the skins of animals before throwing them to the dogs, possibly to help overcome any performance anxiety on the dogs’ part.

    3. Animals weren’t used just for execution in ancient Rome; animal combat, usually ending in the animals’ demise, was unfailingly popular. Sometimes armed men fought beasts; sometimes the beasts were made to fight one another. Such games, originally held for religious purposes, became ever more lavish and were staged in amphitheaters across the empire. One well-loved event was the venatio, or hunt, often conducted amid elaborately constructed scenery, including real trees, rocky hills, artificial lakes, and the like.

    4. Roman executions typically were considered a form of public spectacle. When coinciding with a game day, they usually took place during the midday break between the morning animal hunts and the afternoon gladiator matches. A favored method was exposing an unarmed criminal to lions or bears. Since it’s pretty clear that Christians were at times sentenced to death by beast (see 1 and 2 above), one may surmise that some of them met their end via lion in front of a Colosseum crowd, but we have no sure knowledge of this. The entertainment value of executions was apparently low due to their sheer number — many people found them boring, either leaving for lunch or sticking around and writing letters to friends about the tedium.

    5. You have to think the killing of animals might have eventually gotten dull as well — it’s estimated that 9,000 beasts were slain during the inaugural games of the Colosseum alone (possibly an exaggeration; another source says 3,500 during 26 events). Over time more exotic animals were introduced to hold the crowd’s interest: lions and panthers turned up in 186 BC, bears and elephants in 169 BC, hippos and crocodiles in 58 BC. Pompey brought rhinos to Rome; Caesar wowed ’em with giraffes. The ever-growing number and variety of animals required put a considerable burden on the supply chain. In his Natural History Pliny the Elder tells us lions were originally hard to catch (the idea was to chase them into covered pits), but later it was discovered they could be subdued by throwing a cloak over their heads. Elephants were captured and tamed by beatings and starvation. A major source of animals was the Roman army, which had a special rank (venator immunis) for those in charge of animal procurement.

    A sorry business for sure, but Roman animal sports did at least provide an answer to one perennial question: Which is tougher, a bull or a rhino? Answer: Never bet against a rhino, which according to the writer Martial had no problem getting its horn under a bull and flipping it like a flapjack.

    — Cecil Adams

  • Randall

    @archiealt (84):

    Oh, and while we’re at it… I see no mention in David’s rant about Swastikas.

  • renegade01

    @FATSEXY (83):

    I would like to point out that I said ORGANIZED Christianity. Christianity itself before then was just a name and it, for the most part, was all individual worship. Even under the first version of Catholicism. Mass, the papacy, and all those other goodies, that are the true staples of Catholicism, didn’t come about until it started in Rome.

    As for “very mature”, this is the internet. Who needs maturity? I like to compensate for my small penis in big life by pretending I have a big one online. What’s so wrong with that?

  • D train

    I live in Canada and I’ve eaten beaver (insert pun here), they’re rodents. I didn’t much care for it, you can tell it’s a wild animal. Oh, I also ate part of a mouse on a dare when I was five. You want a good way to get sick? Eat a field mouse.

  • Randall

    @jelliot (80):

    To be precise, the story is that when condemned to die by crucifixion, Peter stated that he wasn’t worthy to die in the same manner as the savior and master. So, in *mockery* of Peter (and by extension, Christ) the Romans accommodated him by crucifying him upside down. *That* is believable.

    However, you’re correct—to my knowledge there’s no PROOF that this is exactly how Peter died.

  • renegade01

    *real life

    Man I hate typos…x_x;

  • L’economa domestica

    @ Randall

    I’m italian (so, sorry for my horrible english), I’ve got my “Laurea” in Etruscology and, for sure, there’s enough for a couple of great lists!!!
    But I like romans too! Maybe your ancestors are from “Magna Grecia”, the southern part of Italy colonized by Greeks?

  • Davy

    Wow, Randall attacks with force at anyone who dares to oppose him.

  • Davy

    But he has some very good points.

  • D train

    @Randall (85): Randall, you’re my hero. When I grow up, I want to be just like you. In fact, I’ve been practicing. Yesterday I yelled at a little girl for getting her ABC’s wrong. Then I told her her pigtails were ugly.

    Randall trolls idiots and doesn’t afraid of anything.

  • plow22

    and they’re off!

  • Randall

    L’economa domestica:

    “I’m italian (so, sorry for my horrible english),”

    Your English is excellent. Better than many native English speakers on this site, trust me.

    “I’ve got my “Laurea” in Etruscology”

    :-D One of mine was in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean.

    “and, for sure, there’s enough for a couple of great lists!!!”

    They’re fascinating people. It’s a shame we don’t know more about them.

    “But I like romans too! Maybe your ancestors are from “Magna Grecia”, the southern part of Italy colonized by Greeks?”

    Well in fact, partly, yes. One of my great-great grandfathers (or is it great-great-great–I can’t recall just now) was from Calabria.

  • Cubone

    You’re fat and sexy.
    But Peter did not travel to Rome to be persecuted and executed for the power of a Roman church. He already had primacy as “first among equals”.
    . . . And you’re right, Christ started the Church in the Middle East.

  • Davy

    By the way, where is the place that the picture with number 9 came from?

  • kir

    I read ‘wheat meal’ as a ‘meat wheel’ it sounds far more interesting…

  • Randall

    @archiealt (96):

    Thanks for the well-wishes, you pathetic prick.

    “Hows the kids? Still upset that their daddy is a tool”

    Again, that’s all you got. You’re repetitive, stupid, unimaginative and a waste of space. I may be a loudmouth, but when I talk loud, I’m accurate and spouting correct information. You, on the other hand, are a loudmouth who’s wrong more than half the time. If I were you, I’d be ashamed.

    Moreover, the only thing you can come up with is to continually refer to me as a “tool.” It’s therefore painfully obvious that you haven’t the wit or imagination to come up with anything else.

    The thing is loser, you’re only making *yourself* look like a gigantic douche, here, by constantly bringing up my kids. It’s in disgustingly bad taste, unfunny, and makes you look desperate. Don’t believe me? Ask around. I guarantee you that you don’t have a whole heap of fans here.

    “Although I am thankful for your little lesson, it may surprise you to know that I tend not to base my knowledge of history on what random lonely men on the internet tell me.”

    And what DO you base your “knowledge” on then? It’d be interesting to know, as evidence suggests that you possess very little of it, whatever its source.

    Naturally, given our animosity, I don’t expect you to take my word on your errors here. Now as it happens, I was trained in this shit. I have a degree in it. (Ancient History). I taught it. Again, I don’t expect that to impress you; I merely offer it up as a bit of information. But at any rate, you’ve missed the point, which isn’t surprising in itself. It would take you only a moment’s cruise of authoritative sources on the ‘net, or, if you like, in a handy and appropriate section of your local library, to verify that you were wrong. Don’t believe me? Go have a look.

    Nevertheless, as is typical of you, you shot your mouth off anyway. Your claim that no Christians were “thrown to the lions” was, at best, an iffy supposition and at worst just dead wrong. One wonders on what you based your apparent belief, so confident were you that you could make any definitive statements. I think, as I say, that you were just shooting your fucking mouth off. And as usual with people who do that, you were in error.

    Which brings us to the cause of the animosity between us—because as much as people may not like my style, I am rarely, if ever, in error on this site because I do not open my mouth unless I have FACTS and KNOWLEDGE to back me up. Moreover, I take on little fuckers like you who really ARE just here to show off and act big on the internet—because it’s likely you aren’t capable of garnering any attention in real life.

    See, the thing is, asshole, that you’re projecting on to ME what YOU actually are—a little self-important bastard who probably can’t get any recognition in real life, so he comes on the internet to try and act big. Proof of this being that you readily show up here and spout off with little or no factual or intellectual support for half the stuff you talk about. You clearly just want to be heard, and noticed, and feel like you have it over some people.

    I’ve been a regular contributor to this site for years now. I don’t claim to have a “following,” but you can bet your ass that for every one person like you who dislikes me here, there are ten who at least appreciate the knowledge I toss around here, because it’s always on the mark, truthful, and supported by evidence. In short, I know what I’m talking about, and on the occasions when I don’t–rare as they may be—I keep my mouth shut.

    You, on the other hand, are just some piss-ant who wants to have his say regardless of whether he has a leg to stand on or not. And like many such people, you figure, probably, that if you just SAY something, most people will buy it. And voila, you feel affirmed.

    And what has galled you, I’m sure, from the beginning, is that I don’t let you get away with it. I don’t let others get away with it either, and that too pisses you off. Good.

    “Don’t get me wrong, our friend Cecil may well be correct, but I think i’ll wait for a more reliable source before making a decision on this one.”

    Try looking them up, instead of waiting for authority to come along.

  • superbloop

    Ilike it, but so long…

  • PooDiddlyD

    Oh brother…

    Randall, chill, man!

    Risking an aneurysm, a heart attack, or a scarred psyche isn’t worth it. It’s just a casual list site. All your negative energy reverberates around the board, all for nothing productive. Nobody remembers yesterday’s spat. Nobody’s really persuaded one way or the other over anything important anyway. Tomorrow’s pattern will be the same as today’s. And tomorrow’s tomorrow’s pattern. In the end you only damage yourself. And nobody remembers why. Or cares.

    Just don’t want your soul to shrivel up and dry out. Like a mummified ram testicle left out in the desert sun. The longer they dry out, the harder it is to reconstitute them, if they can even be reconstituted.

    Positive. Be positive!

  • GTT

    @undaunted warrior (70): I´m confused, was that for real or an attempt at sarcasm?

  • deeeziner

    @GTT (105): Google image “cane rat”….They look like an excellent source of protein for a family of four.

  • goreegal

    I always loved reading about ancient history and also reading ppl like randal expand the topics wider… also its kinda hot seeing a guy write well and with ease put an ass in its place :D cheers :)

  • 14gotmyMANTRA

    I’m reading this in my school library and I almost suffocated trying to to laugh at the poem in #1. *snort*

  • GTT

    @deeeziner (106): I´m not arguing about the cane rat (you really should look up CHIGUIRE though), I was referring to this:

    Please excuse typo errors, Ive been busy rubbing my stills pot bellie for a while and sampling the goods before bottling.

    Still dont understand what that´s supposed to mean…

  • HA. #1 = first ever diss

  • astraya

    The composer Carl Orff, best known – to some only known – for the choral extravaganza Carmina Burana, also wrote a work called Carmina Catulli – “The songs of Catullus”. That is as much as I know about it. The wikipedia article doesn’t give a lot of information.

    The perfectly respectable Renaissance composer da Palestrina wrote a set of motets on some of the racier texts of the Song of Songs from the bible. Without a translation, no-one would have any idea of what the meaning was. The English translation we were given was rather coy. My Latin was (just) good enough to figure out the real meaning.

    A shred of evidence that Peter ever actually went to Rome would help the Roman Catholics’ case enormously. Even then, there’s the clear account in Acts 15 of all the apostles (Peter included) deferring to James of Jerusalem, who wasn’t even an apostle.

    And check Acts 11:26 – the first group known as Christians was at Antioch. The Syriac Orthodox Church still exists.

  • kennypo65

    So many christians, so few lions.

  • archiealt

    @Randall (103):

    But…you are a tool Randall. It’s such an apt word to describe you. You’re not an idiot, you’re clearly well schooled in some things. You’re not a wanker, wankers tend to be guys who start fights for no reason on nights out. You’re just a tool, a bit of a loser. A weapon. The type of guy who gets of on being the ‘coolguy’ on an internet site. Just a bit of a…I dunno…a tool.

    And again Randall, in not trying to be funny when I say this, i’m being deadly serious. I honestly wouldn’t care if you were some spotty teenager who got bullied in real life so had to come to the safe haven of the internet to be ‘cool’. But you’re not. YOUR A FUCKING ADULT. You shouldn’t be coming on the internet to act like johnny big bollocks and get your kicks from having a go at random internet strangers who are some twenty years younger than yourself.

    I know Randall, you’ve heard it all before and i’m just repeating what countless other ‘piss-ants’ have said and you don’t care in the slightest. I know it’s completely ridiculous of me to think that anything I say to you will change the opinion you have of yourself in any way whatsoever. Or for that matter, make any difference to anything that ever has been or ever will be. But right now my friend, my leg couldn’t be more broken if it wanted to be. I’ve had to spend the majority of my time recently, living my life through my Sony Vaio. And honestly mate, there have been times when taking out my frustration on you, the classic internet twat, or arguing about religion, has been the highlight of my day. Sad but true.

    On to other things Randall,

    ‘You, on the other hand, are just some piss-ant who wants to have his say regardless of whether he has a leg to stand on or not. And like many such people, you figure, probably, that if you just SAY something, most people will buy it. And voila, you feel affirmed.

    And what has galled you, I’m sure, from the beginning, is that I don’t let you get away with it. I don’t let others get away with it either, and that too pisses you off. Good.’

    Don’t let me get away with it? what? I think this is the first time you’ve ever corrected anything i’ve ever said. Despite what you like to believe I don’t spend my time shouting out every thought that comes in to my head.
    I only ever usually have these arguments with you because you’ve gone off on one of your little rants and i’ve said something like….’Be quiet Randall, you’re a prick and despite what you think your opinion doesn’t mean anything, it’s the fucking internet’ …, obviously, respond and then comes the classic slagging match which you seem to have with at least one person on every single fucking list.

    Again, maybe you should be in a place where, as an adult, you don’t feel the need to have these ridiculous arguments with nameless people on the internet.

  • Spiff17

    Archiealt: Zing! Thats one of the better “vs Randall” replies I’ve seen! Except that you were right, there was no humor in it. Just straight up, cold-hearted, mean. I’m pretty sure Randall can take it. Although, wouldn’t it be kind of sad if you actually made him go away? Like wouldn’t it be just a little disappointing to not see three pages of combined expletives and intellectualism in reply? Haha, thankfully for those of us who enjoy his hateful novellas there’s no way he’ll back down.

  • Spiff17

    All I know is I’m gonna go do something happy. Its getting heavy in here!

  • BooRadley

    @archiealt (110): But…you are a tool Randall. It’s such an apt word to describe you.

    archiealt, as a regular reader of this site, I have one plea for you – STFU.

    I, for one, am tired of reading your juvenile and meaningless insults to Randall. There are many off us who have the utmost respect for him because of his wealth of knowledge that he is willing to share with us and because he never posts about a subject unless/until he is sure of the facts. He also has a sharp wit that is devilishly funny. You will never win an argument with Randall, so just give it up and spare us your infantile ranting.

  • deeeziner

    @GTT (107): Oh. :)

  • General-Jake

    You know im not being sarcastic wheni say ive ALWAYS wanted to know what the British definition of wanker was. Ive heard it on movies alot but not sure if its really offensive or not so bad.

  • Randall

    @archiealt (111):

    Okay folks, we’re going to finish this, because I’m sick to death of this asshole, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And I’m about to join friends at a sort of cocktail party in a half hour, so since I’ve time to kill, I’ll take advantage of it to wrap this up. But also, this list is about a topic dear to me (not the Romans, but the history of classical civilization in general) and I don’t want it getting diverted into this nonsense.

    We’ll ignore your first paragraph, archie. You just keep repeating yourself. You’re of the opinion that I am a “tool.” Okay, whoop dee do. I couldn’t care less what your opinion of me is, and I’ve said that already, so no need to repeat MYself. It’s amusing that you maintain that I am a “loser” and “lonely” and all this other bullshit… amusing because I’ve got a happy life with great, intelligent, snarky kids I’m very proud of, great friends, a pretty happy professional life, etc. etc.—all that shit. That you don’t believe me is not my problem. I know the truth, and you don’t. You don’t know me at all. All you “know” is the “person” you keep talking to here, which ain’t really “me.”

    But see, most people here “get” that. Most people here take me on this site for what I am—part of the background, part of the entertainment. And I provide that because it’s an “info-tainment” site, and it’s a fun diversion for some people to be one of the contributors to such sites and in some small measure educate people along the way. But, then, again–you don’t see things this way. To that all I can say is, “whatever.”

    “And again Randall, in not trying to be funny when I say this, i’m being deadly serious.”

    Well then you’ve just made yourself all the more absurd. And actually, NOT to be funny… that in itself has made it obvious that if there’s a “tool,” here, it’s YOU. Because only a tool would take this shit SO seriously that they would think they can actually lecture someone on the internet the way you do, in some attempt to… well, that’s what I can’t figure out. What IS your intent? Trying to “shame” me into changing or going away? Neither’s going to happen. Stop wasting your time and energy. Embarrass me? Ha. Good luck with that. I mean, what is it? Do you HONESTLY think you have something to “teach” ME? How old are you? WHO are you? I guarantee I’ve lived ten times the life you have, and I don’t even have to know the answers to those questions to be sure of that fact. It’s evident in your attitude and the way you talk; you’re clueless and humorless.

    “YOUR A FUCKING ADULT. You shouldn’t be coming on the internet to act like johnny big bollocks and get your kicks from having a go at random internet strangers who are some twenty years younger than yourself.”

    Why do you care? Why does it bother you so? Why do you feel it’s incumbent upon YOU to correct me—or whatever the hell it is? Don’t YOU have better things to do?

    That’s the bottom line here. Oh no, wait… there’s really TWO bottom lines. Let’s talk about the other one first. The first one is, I’ve seen you lurking around this site on various threads, and on nearly every occasion I’ve happened to notice you, you’ve been shooting off your fucking mouth in one way or another, either making direct factual errors or just filling the air with your ill-informed opinions. Much of the time I’ve let it go because someone else was dealing with you, or because even though you were talking like a prick, I was NOT on the opposing side of the argument you were involved in, so I didn’t see the point in muddying up the waters. Nevertheless, you’ve struck me as a self-important little asshole who is more interested in his own opinions than in being *right,* or accurate.

    But of course, the other thing you’ve done here is attack me, unbidden and unprovoked—as I recall, more than once. And one has to ask—why? Because anyone who knows the circumstances of those attacks knows that you went immediately for the personal—you didn’t take on my statements, or the information I presented, or even my opinions. You took on ME personally. You went right to attacking not my arguments or thoughts, but attacking me for just being here. And you’re still doing it. You honestly seem to feel you have some right to attack the *personality* of a human being you don’t even know.

    As you say, it’s the internet. Let it go. My purpose here isn’t to attack PEOPLE, it’s to attack the stupid shit they SAY/WRITE. And, not just to attack, of course, but to offer information and to entertain. I just happen not to like it when people go around, be it on the internet or in real life, acting like they know things which they clearly do NOT know, and trying to thus intimidate others. I have a strong sense that YOU are one of those kinds of people, from the things I’ve witnessed.

    But notice the difference–I don’t waste my time with that part of this shit. In real life, for all I know, you might be a pretty nice person. But you take shit too fucking seriously. And you don’t even see it. You honestly think you can call a grown man on the internet a “loser” and a “tool” because you think have some corner on the notion of proper behavior that he doesn’t have. Ludicrous. To each his own, but I suggest you knock it off, because all you’re doing here is making an embarrassing spectacle of yourself with that shit. When this computer goes off, I don’t think of you or anyone else here, except a couple people that I actually know in real life, albeit still distantly. When I’m “here,” I’m just interested in correcting errors, offering info, and trying to have some fun and add to Jamie’s site. If Jamie ever decides I’m a detriment, he can tell me and I’ll move on. But over the years I’ve heard from piles of people here who love the stuff I write and are anxious to hear what I have to add to a discussion. I have to confess I take a little pride in that–it’s the teacher in me. And the ham in me likes to know that I’ve amused and entertained people too.

    But people like you—well at least on this site, you act like a humorless dick. You’re either saying shit you shouldn’t, trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about—or you’re running your mouth off with this kind of BS about me. Well, I’m to blame too—I’ve gone after you for it, and wasted my own time. But as I say, I can’t stand people who act the way you sometimes have here.

    But for me it always comes down to the truth, facts, and knowledge. I COULD have corrected you nicely today–you WERE wrong. But again, it’s that you have the gall to just stick out these opinions of yours as “fact” when they are actually unsupported and, at bottom, wrong. I freely admit–people who do that shit annoy me.

    But back to the other point. As we know, you took it upon yourself to attack me elsewhere. Personal attacks. And you continue with it. And I think a lot of people here would agree with me I say that that’s kind of over the deep end. Now I don’t give a shit… or, well… obviously I do a tiny bit, or I wouldn’t bother to answer you—but then, see, I think not answering just gives people like you license to keep it up. Some people, you know if you just walk away and don’t dignify them with a response… eh, they might pop up from time to time to take a shot at you, but for the most part they’ll go away and they’re not worth it. But you clearly weren’t going to go away or drop it. Other people here have noticed that you seemed to relish getting almost brutal about it. Now, again, I don’t care. You’re not affecting me, changing me, shaming me, or making me go away. But then too, there’s no reason why I should have to take that shit.

    AND no reason why anyone here should let you get away with passing off your statements as factual when they’re not.

    “Again, maybe you should be in a place where, as an adult, you don’t feel the need to have these ridiculous arguments with nameless people on the internet.”

    None of your business, and it’s not your lot in life to instruct other people on what to do with their time or how to live their lives. You don’t like it? Ignore me and shut the fuck up.

  • gabi319

    the eating habits of the Ancient Romans were different to ours today.

    Breakfast (the Romans called this jentaculum) was taken in the master’s bedroom…Wine was also drunk….
    Petronius described a luxurious dinner thus:…As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it…

    …so…how are they different from us today?
    oh! maybe they didn’t have alcohol for lunch? ;-)

  • Big Deal

    Hey Randall…

    TL, DR

  • @astraya (109): The Syriac Orthodox Church was part of the Catholic Church before they split away after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. They returned again in more modern history (as the Syriac Catholic Church in 1781) but there are still members of the break-away Orthodox group. The syriacs accepted the primacy of Peter – they went to the council of Chalcedon when summoned by Pope Leo.

    As for evidence of Peter being in Rome, Irenaeus, in Against Heresies (A.D. 190), said that Matthew wrote his Gospel “while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church.” The idea that Peter was not in Rome did not even exist until modern times – prior to that the words of the Church fathers were considered sufficient evidence – there is no reason to presume that they were all mistaken. Letters to and from the early Popes also show that all the early Christian Bishops accepted the authority of the Bishop of Rome – even in Antioch.

  • Maggot

    @Big Deal (119): Not sure why you felt the need to announce to the world that you have the attention span of a gnat.

  • sleaterkinney1bt

    jesus, you guys both seem like assholes for taking up all the space and having us filter through all this high school debate team shit.
    get a room.

  • GiantFlyingRobo

    I blame Archiealt for making Randall go on another rant. I mean, Randall’s all getting along with everyone untill, bam!, here you are calling him a tool just because he corrected you for a mistake. I mean, he could’ve been nicer about it, but you’ve already fought with him before, and once you’re on Randall’s bad side you’re stuck untill you prove yourself worthy. Which is nearly impossible. And it will go on for…at least 1 day. Maybe.

  • saber25

    I think the Romans invented the underwear for women in olympics but great list and more facts on races

  • saber25

    And more facts on thing-e-mabobs please.

  • flamehorse

    Catullus, one of my faves, wrote a poem about Lesbia having cheated on him, in which he describes this affair with the verb “glubit.” You can’t find that word in most Latin dictionaries, because the only known instance of it is in this poem. It means the motion that a woodwright makes when he straddles a log and shaves wood off with a wood plane.

    Now imagine Lesbia doing that sexually to another man. Catullus really nailed that description with one word!

  • deeeziner

    About item 2–“Vespasian’s name still attaches to public urinals in France (vespasiennes), Italy (vespasiani), and Romania (vespasiene).”

    Money may not smell—but I’m keeping my nose away from the seat of a Vespa.

  • bosoxfanzz

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.

  • Rowena

    Twould be surely possible to correct mistakes without getting so much annoyed at each other and up-tight and annoying to the rest of us? I found the original point of Randall’s interesting, but it did rather degenerate into an insult contest. Can you please try to act more mature? Even if this is merely an internet site? Normally I love the comments on these lists, but these ones were annoying.

  • GiantFlyingRobo

    @GiantFlyingRobo (123): Excuse me, insert this comment in between #115 and #116. I thought I hit submit, but I didn’t and got caught up in other things.

  • Titanis

    Looking at #1… the Romans invented rap?

  • Really interesting :) Keep up the good work !

  • hello-o-o-o

    romans had gods for everything. they had a god for doors, for windows, for floor, for mugs, for pots, for pretty much everything that was invented. every city had a god, every house had a god, every person had a god. the best thing is that they knew every god’s name. they were obsessed with gods.

  • archiealt

    @Randall (117):

    We’re going around in circles now aren’t we. I think you’re right, lets drop a lid on it.

  • David

    The Romans persecuted on a horrific scale. And not only were they fed to Lions, they were used as street lights. They were covered in Leopard skins, crucified, and then their bodies set alight. Consider this quote, from an unknown source. “The Christians punishments were laughable. They were covered in the skins of Beasts, and bodies set alight until Dawn came.”

  • Shagrat

    JF – I don’t often say this as you usually manage to get something (or a few things) horribly wrong in each ‘history’ list; but VERY GOOD LIST!

    However, your ‘cave canem – beware of the dog’ mosaic is NOT from Pompeii. It’s a replica made by combining the term cave canem and another ‘dog’ mosaic from Pompeii which was an advertising mosaic which indicated the residence of a writer. It was called a ‘barking dog’ mosaic as the barking dog was the emblem of writers of the day.

    The genuine ‘Cave Canem’ (there is only one) is in the floor of the tablinum -(home office of a businessman where he could work surrounded by frescoes of family and daily life and often busts): a room between the atrium and the inner peristylium (courtyard or ‘cloister’) – of the building known as “The House of the Tragic Poet”.

    It can be found following this link:

    The one you show is actually a modern rendition as the original writers ‘barking dog’ had much smaller, oblong tiles.

    I recognised the mistake since I have photo’s of the genuine Cave Canem guard dog from our trip there a couple of years ago.

    The real one is a lot more dramatic.



    Organized Christianity does not begin with Rome. Churches were spread all throughout the ME and along the Mediterranean at the same time.

    Eh, I’m bailing out, it doesn’t matter what I say, JFrater is going to randomly post lists with some “Catholics ftw!” stuff in it no matter what I say.

  • Shagrat

    Randall you mentioned in comment #84 “Since it’s pretty clear that Christians were at times sentenced to death by beast (see 1 and 2 above), one may surmise that some of them met their end via lion in front of a Colosseum crowd, but we have no sure knowledge of this”

    Can I say – your statement is 110% accurate! NO Christians were sacrificed in the Colosseum (or more correctly: The Flavian Amphitheatre) by way of being “thrown to lions” – or any other way – the Colosseum was for gladitatorial bouts, state sanctioned executions of criminals (who were allowed to “defend” themselves against more heavily armed and better armoured gladiators or soldiers); mock battles, animal “hunts” or animal on animal bouts etc.

    Christians were executed by beast, burning, crucifixion, etc at the Circus Maximus: about half a kilometer south-west of the Colosseum on the opposite side of the Palatine Hill and Fora Romanum (Forum).

    The whole “throw them to the lions” in the Colosseum is a Hollywoodism NOT history.

    I am ashamed to admit it – but I believed Christians were martyred in the Colosseum until I was there a couple of years ago – one tour “The Christian Rome Tour” and a non-aaffiliated “Colosseum Tour” which detailed the Flavian Amphiteatre only BOTH said the same thing: NO Christians were martyred (executed) in the Colosseum.

  • Shagrat

    Actually – Fatsexy, JF and all the other “Christianity” definers: the term Christianity didn’t even appear as a genuine piece of terminology until about the second or third centuries AD – until then “Christians” were known as “Followers of The Way”

  • Alisha

    hi were do you get the 10 facts about romams

  • 1 – Catullus XVI – Masterpiece I got to find some more of his work haha

  • Latin sounds a lot better lol

  • lrigD

    It’s amazing how people can get angry over a list about the Romans.

    Personally I don’t see the problem with eating rodents. In times of hunger, it often happens. In poverty, it happens. Why not in ‘normal’ life, too?

    @98 Davy: I think it’s Ostia Antica. I went there last year and it looks familiar. Ostia Antica was the old harbour city of Rome, but it … how do you call it… fell out of luck, I guess, when the course of the river Tiber changed due to a storm/earthquake. Not sure, my attention wasn’t fully with my teacher at the time xD
    Ostia Antica is really cool though, some of the walls are still standing and it’s actually a rather peaceful place…

  • David

    If Christians weren`t sacrificed in the Colosseum, and fed to Lions, then how come their`s Renaissance and 19th Century paintings, of Nero studying dead bodies, with Lions in the background, them being crucified, and set alight, tied to posts and Lions and Lionesses looking at them, as if there thinking, “hmm dinner,” paintings with “CHRISTIANS MARTYRED,” and lions walking around dead Christians. Can`t we just agree that the Roman`s fed Christians to the Lions? And not just Lions-Tigers and Leopards ate them as well. And Martin Luther-one of Hitler`s idols, said-“What happened to Christians, should happen to Jews.”

  • Big Deal

    At Maggot 121-

    don’t me me confused with the gnats that are flying around your neckbeard, douchbag.

    Fuck you and the sanctimonious asshole that writes mini-novels.

  • Ninja_Wallaby

    what a terrible poem

  • Randall

    @Shagrat (138):

    OH.. NOW you respond to me, Shagrat… after at least three or four times in the past when I’ve pointed out this or that error you’ve made… when you think you’ve got something over me (I assume) you finally have something to say. And then you go and stick your foot in your mouth anyway.

    Let’s begin by the misprint in your own comment–I think you meant to crow at me that I was “110% INaccurate,” rather than “accurate.”

    But as it happens I *wasn’t* inaccurate. *I* didn’t make that comment about the Colosseum–it was a QUOTE from Cecil Adams (who is the writer of the “Straight Dope” column, nationally syndicated since the early 70s, centered in the Chicago Free Times). I quoted Adams out of convenience, rather than bothering to take the time to dig up any number of academic sources to say essentially the same things that Adams reported more succinctly and more entertainingly. I made it clear that I was quoting Adams, and cited him by name.

    Now, I can’t speak as to why Adams made mention of the Colosseum, but perhaps because YOU were speaking inaccurately when you made the *definitive* statement that NO Christians were executed there. IN FACT we do NOT know for certain that none were. I seem to recall that you have, in the past, made some claim to knowing a thing or two about ancient history and archeology, etc. (These are my professional specialties and what I used to be employed in, as it happens) were that true, you ought to have known better than to make any *definitive* statement of this nature. Now, it’s true that for a long time the Church did not really recognize the Colosseum as a martyr site, and it’s true that there’s little direct evidence that any Christians *were* executed there.

    But this is not the same as having evidence to the contrary–namely that NO Christians met their deaths in the Colosseum. While the tradition is that few, if any, did, and that executions in fact occurred at the Circus Maximus, this is NOT the same as definitive proof that no Christians died in the Colosseum.

    The simple fact is that we can’t really know what executions were carried out there, (or were not) because it isn’t like the Romans kept detailed records of these things.

    Adams may have misspoke (miswrote) there, but it’s hardly an earth-shattering slip-up—and for all we know, may not even be a slip-up at all.

  • iknownothing

    Just a little aside from the list.How about all those saddo’s who dont enjoy Randall’s rants “oops” comments, complile a list of ten things he knows nothing about.That way at least for one night the guy gets a break from educating the morons that sometimes frequent this mostly happy place, and maybe just maybe things will stay on topic.
    The internet is for eveybody both the highly educated and those of a brain the size of an garden pea, you all have your opinions be they right or wrong and thankfully the right to express them. You must be able to take critisism as well as give it without the need for personal attacks, it serves no purpose other than to annoy not just the victim of such abuse but the entire listverse community.

    So if think a comment or statement is wrong say so but back it up with factual information not a personal slight please.

    Btw keep up the good work Randall I love a novel before bedtime :)
    p.s. excuse any gramatical errors its 3:15 a.m where I am and i’m knackered (thats english speak for very tired) and not very well educated lol
    love & peace people

  • saber25

    I think Romans did have a good time until Math and Algebra came. “gulp”

  • Maggot

    @Big Deal (145): don’t me me confused

    lol, so besides the fact that you can’t read anything longer than a sentence or two, apparently you can’t write very well either.

    Fuck you and the sanctimonious asshole that writes mini-novels.

    And what do you bring to the party? I mean, besides slack-jawed incompetence.

  • Some Guy in NEPA

    Catullus invented rap! (I wonder if his toga hung off his ass and displayed his subligaculum?)

  • Shagrat

    Randall #147 – I have, of late, attempted to see the good side of you (difficult, but still an attainable objective).
    However, may I now take the time to respond to your response to my post: (and I am breaking one of my own rules) You are a FUCKING IDIOT!

    If there is nothing to get upset or aggressive about – you will simply manufacture one: My comment was correct as written – that you were 110% ACCURATE.

    Yet you had to add the ‘IN’ prefix to it in attempt to manufacture a fight: yours must be lonely, frustrated and angry esistence if all you do is attack anyone and everyone whose opinion diuffers from your own – – – and even the one’s whose DO!!!! What are we all here; flypaper for freaks?

    I’m already visualising the duct-tape ofer your mouth and hands. My only further questions to youare “How many times do we have to flush before you go away – or should we just throw sticks instead?

    I don’t know what your problem is; but I’ll bet it’s not medicated and probably a real bastard to try and pronounce!


  • Shagrat

    My apologies that comment ending should have read: “- – and even the one’s whose DON’T!!!

  • Shagrat

    PS further apologies to everyone else for the language

  • Randall

    I like to take it up my ass

  • Randall

    Disregard the last comment. Wrong box. I was writing an ad at the same time :(

  • gabi319

    @Randall (155):
    @Randall (156):
    Real mature, fake Randall. Weren’t smart enough to remember to use his avatar as well, were you?

    @Shagrat (152): How many times do we have to flush before you go away – or should we just throw sticks instead?
    You throw sticks at your poo when it doesn’t flush down?

  • Wendy

    gaby sounds much better for you randall. PS:learn to fake IP addresses when using multiple nicks ;)

  • Randall

    @Shagrat (152):

    Okay, I owe you an apology. So I apologize. But let’s examine this, shall we? You should be able to see why I was confused

    A) Your stance is that there were absolutely no executions of Christians–by lion or otherwise–in the Colosseum.

    B) You stated that I was “110% accurate” about this–but I never said that, nor was that said in the quote that I cited. Nor do I agree with it. In fact, Adams made *mention* of Christians being executed there, and merely said that, however, we have no “sure knowledge of this.”

    Perhaps you can see my confusion then. I THOUGHT you were contradicting me, and had mistyped “accurate” when you meant to say “INaccurate.” My fault. It was late, I was tired, and did not fully grasp your meaning.

    So I’m sincerely sorry that I proceeded to attack you on this point.

    HOWEVER… aside from the fact that I DON’T agree with you that we can DEFINITIVELY say that no Christians died in the Colosseum, I’d like you take note of WHY I jumped the gun on this.

    As I recall, there have been numerous times on this site when you have made the odd statement that I did not agree with and felt you were not justifying in making. On those occasions I have addressed you *directly* on the point or points in question–directly, mind you–and you have completely failed to answer me. It seemed to me, therefore, that you were refusing to acknowledge when you may have made a mistake.

    Now, on this occasion, I THOUGHT (mistakenly, as I now see) that you had only deigned to answer me because it served your own purposes. Again, okay—I misunderstood and misspoke. But as I say, I was confused as to your actual intent.

    NEVERTHELESS—in the first case, you make a frequent habit on this site of making DEFINITIVE, authoritative statements on certain matters which do NOT warrant it. Not always–usually you have a lot to offer and you’ve often been correct. But sometimes you overstep the bounds.

    And in this case, you did it again—you are not right to say “NO Christians died in the Colosseum”… because we do NOT know this as a certain fact.

  • lrigD

    Going to disregard the argument going on here…

    @151 Some Guy in NEPA: Haha, you made me laugh =)

  • Big Deal

    At Maggot (yes the name suits you)

    Ah, the old anal retentive “OMG MISPELLING” line. Bet you pulled out your dictionary for that one, right dipshit?

    As for being slack jawed, your mother didn’t think I was too slack jawed.

    She only charged me two bucks for all I can eat.

  • Maggot

    @Big Deal (161): Maggot (yes the name suits you)

    I get this a lot. Is it because I am cute and cuddly?

    Ah, the old anal retentive “OMG MISPELLING” line.

    Where did I say anything about spelling? My gawd you’re a moron. Here, perhaps this will help you:

  • nuriko


  • GTT

    @Big Deal (161): :lol:

    You went the “I banged your mother” route as an insult? Really??? What are you, 12?

  • gabi319

    @GTT (164):
    GTT, this is no laughing matter! What we have reflects a serious trend (or illness, if you will) of 12 year old kids who still believe the mama jokes are funny. This is no laughing matter, GTT! Without intervention, Deal of Indeterminant Size’s affliction will evolve from the milder mama banger joke to a full-blown case of the “Yo mamas” (latin term Yomius mamatus) with possible symptoms like the flat top haircuts with the fades or even the MC Hammer balloon pants. Preventative actions must be taken.

  • GTT

    @gabi319 (165): OH DEAR GOD! You´re right! I´ve been blind to this stealthy epidemic! Can you imagine what could happen to LV? It will be a pandemic, the site will have to close down but it will already be too late.

    MC HAMMER BALOON PANTS! Think of the panic!

    On a serious note though, I cannot believe I actually read a version of the “Yo mama” on what is supposed to be an adult website. Does he have any idea how absolutely ridiculous he sounds???

  • Maggot

    @GTT (166): Does he have any idea how absolutely ridiculous he sounds???

    Well so far we have the following:

    1. Too lazy to read anything longer than a few sentences.
    2. Too lazy to even proclaim said laziness in four short words without resorting to abbreviations.
    3. Can’t string together a few words of his own into a coherent sentence.
    4. Has trouble comprehending even short text passages properly.
    5. Fantasizes about performing oral sex on 80 year old women.
    6. Can’t troll to save his life, but will again come back with another ineffectual retort.

    Yes, that sounds pretty ridiculous. Four more and we have a top-10 list.

  • GTT

    @Maggot (167): I´m still waiting for what I´m sure will be a “scathingly witty” response on his part. I am, as you can surely imagine, breathless with anticipation….


    Shagrat, well aware of the terminology (Followers of The Way). I’m not nitpicking it to pieces, but then again I don’t consider trying to pass off Rome as the birthplace of Christianity is a small item that correcting is nitpicking, you know?

  • Maggot

    @GTT (168):

    Why don’t you shut the fuck up?

  • Maggot

    @GTT (168): Now he’s taken to forging me (170). Guess I’m gonna have to go the avatar route…

  • sindel-veg

    Loved this list, JF. Thanks for posting. (By the way, even when the subject of the list is not specially attractive to me – which is rare – I enjoy reading it because you have a style, and it always sounds very good).

  • looks innocent in Latin—the no. 1. lols!

  • Gauldar

    Another great list!

  • dboss

    Randall really is a tool..did anyone actually read whatever he was droning on about? What a self important…um..tool.

  • Lk

    We had our examination on World History a while ago. Yes. . Gaius is such a familiar name. .

    He is one of the three “greatest leaders” (along with Tiberius and Sulla) before the Triumvirates lead the Roman Republic. What I knew about him is that: (1) he is the younger brother of Tiberius, (2) he gave lands to farmers and founded the condition of equities and (3) like Tiberius, he was killed. It is quite queer and funny at the same time that he was a poet! Not just a poet, but a nasty one!

  • kristi

    @43 Yawyack
    sorry havent revisted this list till now but i didnt say stained glass i said double pained… i think they use them in skyscrapers… and i jst remembered that they invented stuff for surgery that are still used today (like same design)…

  • Sofia

    oh my god. that poem was… there aren’t really english words to describe it, are there? maybe in latin?

  • dkk

    I love Randall. Very well spoken and knows his facts. I love reading your comments and learning from you.

  • katerinaelaena

    @archiealt (111): and Randall and anyone else who continues online bickering in teh comments section…TAKE YOUR FIGHT ELSEWHERE. [Please? :)

    Also, Randall, that was a HUGE post. I think we should all reread the rules of listverse where it explicitly says that comments should be SHORT, to the point and ON TOPIC so as not to annoy readers. I have nothing against either of you, but the whole online argument gets annoying. Send eachother emails instead. =D

    That said, what a fantastic post!So informative and entertaining!


  • beautiful poem

  • stephen spiteri

    St Peter 's Basilica is a very important church but is not the seat of the Papacy. This belongs to St John the Lantern in Rome.

  • cp621

    number 1 sounds like something 50 cent came up with.

  • Awesome-O

    I'd wish we had to translate that piece of Catullus in Latin class!

  • RaineShadow

    Hey, I know this is a very late reply, but we’re allowed to post our thoughts, and I haven’t came across this list before.

    It’s great and I love reading about Romans, but I’m from Slovenia and I can’t imagine where the author got the idea that we eat rodents, lol, because it’s definitely not true.

    You just made me doubt the facts listed here on this site are actually facts. :/

  • Gary Miller

    Although this is Catholic tradition. Peter was NOT the Bishop of Rome and he was NOT the first pope.

  • spinert

    The last one was not poetry lmao it seemed like he was just writing sum bullshit to get across sum peoples minds that older people luv that kind of writin also!!! …………………….

  • what the

    what!? your a country!?

  • Me

    Hi. Rome is really cool . I like Rome. Alot :) :) :) :) :) :)

  • Lajith

    Great poem, I can sing it to my enemy.

  • Obet Cortbass

    Therefore these types of rodents hold using them the actual … Tend to be simply the foodstuffs and other solutions which can be retained as food items within the tempt channels the place that the test subjects and …Bell Protecta LP Rodent Stations

  • special

    ewwww better in chicago than north carolina

  • ashley

    eww i like it better in chicago than in north carolina

  • best person ever

    piece of crap

  • Ronk

    St Peter’s basilica does not stand exactly “on the spot” where St Peter was crucified. He was buried in a very modest grave in the small cemetery on the Vatican Hill just OUTSIDE the Circus of Nero (about 150 meteres or so from the spot where he was killed on the spine on the circus.)

    Constantine gave the old cemetery to the Church and arranged for the hill to be flattened to build the basilica which was built with its altar directly above St Peter’s tomb (as it still is in the new basilica built in the 16th century). The circus was not donated to the Church and remained in use (although the public executions and later the pagan blood sports were later banned and it was used only for non-violent activities. )

    The new basilica is so large that one of its side-arms (to the left of the altar as you face it from the entrance) covers much of the site of the old circus, and the Egyptian obelisk which had stood on its spine was painstakingly transferred to St Peter’s Square where it now stands.

    Fascinatingly, this obelisk was not only standing beside St Peter when he died, it had also been standing in Lower Egypt when Moses led the Israelites past it out of slavery.

    And St Peter’s is not “the seat of the papacy”. The pope’s official cathedral church is the Lateran basilica of St John the Apostle/Evangelist and St John the Baptist, on the other side of ancient Rome, built on land which had been an army barracks which was also donated to the church by Constantine.

    St Peter’s is merely a very very large ordinary church. (Though technically no longer the largest church in the world, there are now larger ones in Lourdes and in Ghana.)

  • edzy

    Hey, no. 10. So the birthday of the unconquered sun was set in December 25. December 25 is also the so called Christmas day, the birthday of Christ. The romans were the people who made Christianity prosper. So is there a chance that the todays so called christmas day was derived from the pagan celebration? If my theory was correct, then the people who celebrates christmas was not celebrating the birth of christ, but the birth of a pagan god.

  • grace

    wow this is so grate

  • Ella

    Love the last part

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  • kristian

    can any one tell me what year Julia cease died

  • NicoRain

    I’m from Slovenia and I’ve never seen or heard of a mouse stew. I’m quite sure you are mistaken about its popularity.

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  • liam

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  • Jon K.

    #1 was hilarious.


    Well nice poem guys HAPPY TIMES :D

  • keila

    good but could be better