42 Awe-Inspiring Facts about Ancient Romans That Are Hard To Believe

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26Constantine XI Palaiologos

We have no idea where the body of the last Roman Emperor (Constantine XI Palaiologos) is buried. When Constantinople fell to the Turks, he tore off his Imperial regalia before leading a last stand, making him difficult to identify. He was most likely buried in a mass grave with his men.


27. The whoopee cushion was invented by a 14-year old Roman Emperor named Elagabalus, who used it frequently on guests. He was assassinated by the time he was 18.


28. Unlike most bronze sculptures of Roman emperors, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was not melted down during the Middle Ages because Europeans of that time thought it was a statue of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome.


29. According to moderate estimates, the Romans possibly lost over 40,000 men in a single day at the Battle of Cannae (216 B.C.), which may have accounted for somewhere between 5-10% of the total Roman male population during the late 3rd century B.C.


30. There is a fish named Salema porgy that causes hallucinations when eaten and it was used as a recreational drug by the Roman Empire.


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31Camelopards

When Julius Caesar discovered giraffes, he named them "Camelopards" since they reminded him both of camels and leopards.


32. A Roman envoy stopped the Seleucid invasion of Egypt by drawing a circle around Antiochus IV Epiphanes and daring him to literally cross the line.


33. The Roman senator Cato the Elder took the threat of Carthage so seriously that he would end all of his speeches, no matter the subject, with the phrase, “And, further, I think that Carthage should be destroyed.”


34. Caligula was not the real name of 3rd Emperor of the Roman Empire. Germanicus’ troops called Gaius Caesar “Caligula” as a boy, meaning “Little Boots” or “Booties.” The nickname stuck and he hated it.


35. In 458 B.C., Roman farmer Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was named the absolute dictator of Rome during a crisis. After achieving victory, he resigned and returned power to the Senate. His resignation of absolute authority is often cited as an example of outstanding leadership, serving the greater good and civic virtue.


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36Valentinian I death

The Roman Emperor Valentinian got so mad at Quadi envoys who blamed the Romans for a recent war between the two that he burst a blood vessel in his skull and died while yelling at them.


37. The Romans had a celebratory day (Saturnalia) where the roles of master and slave were reversed.


38. The Roman Empire typically avoided using slave rowers, instead preferring freemen, because they were more motivated.


39. Romans kept track of the years by naming them after the two consuls that year (e.g. the consulship of Vinicius and Haterius) When Julius Caesar essentially ruled alone during his "co-consulship" with Bibulus, Romans joked by referring to that year as the consulship of Julius and Caesar.


40. A Roman general named Marcus Licinius Crassus, also one of the richest men in history used to purchase buildings on fire for a very low price and then put the fires out with his trained army of 500 slaves and rebuild them. If the owners refused to sell their property, he would not engage in firefighting.


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41Salt

During Roman times, salt was worth its weight in gold and soldiers were sometimes paid in salt, hence the word "salary".


42. Tic Tac Toe is a dumbed down version of a game called "Nine Men's Morris" from the Roman Empire.

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