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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Roman Empire

The imperialistic Roman Empire was a social and political power house that brought concrete to the world. The list of accomplishments is vast and eye-opening. The same can be said about the putrid practices and unusual events that took place during its time in the sun. These are the 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Roman Empire.

10: Elagabalus


If there was one Roman Emperor who’s despised by his subjects, then it would have to be Elagabalus. Even though he was a mere teenager he was a sadistic hideous with a very cruel sense of humor. Rich folk dines on some pretty exotic food at the time like flamingo brains. Elagabalus served pheasants heads, parrots, fish guts, and even rocks covered with wax to closely resemble fruit. It is said that in 221 AD, he unleashed a pack of lions and leopards in the dining room full of guests.

His pranks were considered horrible and dangerous. Not only did he drop copious amounts of coins into crowds, he even unleashed a pack of poisonous snakes during numerous gladiator games. Many were crushed or poisoned. Elagabalus was assassinated at age 18 after only 4 years in power, as he cowered with his mother. They were both decapitated and dragged around in public. Elagabalus was dumped in the river. Unsurprisingly few mourned his premature death.

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9: Sausages Were Banned in the Roman Empire

Ancient Rome never saw civilians carrying weapons into towns and cities as a threat or danger and thus this practice was not banned. Weirdly though sausages were outlawed. Before the Roman Empire subjugated them, the Greeks loved sausages that would chomp away from the meaty treats during gladiatorial contests. In 320 AD emperor Constantine first banned sausages. The reason? It was associated with pagan festivals. The Romans loved them very much and would buy and sell them in secret until the ban was finally lifted.

8: Doctors of Roman Empire

Marco Terenzio Varro - Doctors of Roman Empire

Well, Roman doctors have hobble antiseptics for open wounds that have no anesthetics. Surgery was very painful and sometimes fatal. Those stricken with serious diseases were sent to the Aesculapian, where the Gods were expected to cure them. Otherwise, lucky a folk with less serious conditions might have gone to the luxurious bath houses. Some theories on the origins of sickness and disease were based on common sense.

Columella blamed open sewers and swarms. Varro thought microscopic creatures naked to the human eye with a cause. We know them today as bacteria and viruses. Others thought it was their Gods or the stars punishing them. While the Romans relied on clinical observation and experimented with herbal remedies. Not all of their attempts and curing patients were based on common sense. Some cures involved crushing poisonous spiders and feces into venomous bites. Recommended cure for epilepsy was to drink the blood of fallen gladiators which was used for almost half a millennium.

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7: Galen


A philosopher and physician hailing from Greece, Galen moved to Rome and continued his medical work there. His work was the stuff of legends of the time and long after his death. Galen was lucky enough to work with injured gladiators and had a few opportunities to dissect the corpses of a few humans. As a result, he found that quite a lot regarding major internal organs. Otherwise, most of his findings on human anatomy were based on cutting open dogs, pigs, and apes.

Thus, he believed humans have the same anatomy as all these animals. On top of that, since he believed in the fore humor, a Greek hypothesis was an imbalance of blood, phlegm, black and yellow bile would have resulted in illness, no one dares to look any further into it. In fact, until the 18th-century doctors blindly follow the sometimes-inaccurate teachings of Galen and dare not question such a cult of personality in the field of medicine.

6: Gods and Goddesses of the Roman Empire

Gods and Goddesses of the Roman Empire

While we named our planets in the solar system after many of Roman’s major gods and goddesses, there was a fair share of minor ones who were associated with some mundane and gruesome stuff. There were deities associated with each direction where the wind blew. Cardea and Mena were goddesses of door hinges on menstruation respectively. Robigo was associated with corn and Potina was children’s drinks. The list is pretty extensive and is awfully specific.

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5: Fashion of the Roman Empire

The wealthy loved to dye their clothes. A color that was most sought after was Tyrian purple. A dark shade of purple that looked bright and beautiful with white robes. It was incredibly expensive to make because it was made of crushed sea snails. They contained the special glam that produces this color. Hundreds upon thousands of these unlucky snails were splattered in order to die as a single robe. Who said the Romans never had a passion for fashion?

4: Love for Food

Romans were gluttonous, they love to eat even if they were full. They were so lazy that they even went to the toilet in the chamber pot in front of everyone. So that they do not miss out on any conversations. Medic cups help the elites empty their stomachs, so they could eat more. These goblets were often made of poisonous substances like mercury and had a wine pour inside them so that it would absorb the nasty stuff. After a sip from one of these goblets would rush off to a special room to throw up and then shortly afterward resume where they left off.

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3: Historians of the Roman Empire

Pliny - Historians of the Roman Empire

Not all historians of ancient Rome have the clearest of memories and some never bothered writing things down. Often, they were recited by memory. Roman historian Pliny wrote that around the 5th century BC, 500 years before he was even born, Roman legionaries were paid with little more than salt. This is not entirely true. Members of the Roman army were also given money, rations, a place to live, insane training regimens to keep them as fit as possible, and were allowed to keep anything they looted after a battle. The gear had to be purchased separately, however. Otherwise, they were rewarded salt. We take salt for granted these days but back then it was highly sought after because it was the only way of preserving meat for a long time.

2: Children were Sold or Killed

If you were a Paul denizen of the Roman Empire you lived in a small flammable house and dine on vegetables almost every day. The father of each household called the shots. When it came to children they would leave any unwanted babies on the sidewalks to let them die. Or hope that someone would adopt them as a slave. Older children were sometimes sold to wealthier families to become slaves. Otherwise, if they would no longer want, their father would personally kill them. Thankfully this was outlawed after the turn of the first century. Next time you complain about your dad being strict, be thankful that he’s not a Roman.

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1: Using Urine in Roman Empire

You’re in for a gross fact. The Romans dyed their clothes with human urine which help dissolve grease stains and even brush their teeth with it to give their choppers a glossy white color, too bad about the smell. That’s not all, they gave urine to sick pets and grew crops with it. While it was said to make fruits like pomegranates juicier. Apparently, urine from the elderly was most effective, it was mixed with feces and made into plant fertilizer which helped spread nasty diseases. Still, plants absorb the organic minerals lost in bodily waste and thrived.

Those then are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Roman Empire. Do you know anything about the Roman Empire? Let us know in the comments. Thanks.

Written by Jack Sparrow

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