50 Historically Impressive Facts about Romans

26Roman Gladiators

Roman Gladiators rarely fought to the death or against animals and were considered celebrities of their time.


27. The Roman civilization technically lasted for 2,200 years. It was founded as a monarchy in 753 B.C., became a republic in 509 B.C., turned into an empire in 27 B.C., shifted capital to Constantinople in 330 A.D., and finally fell only in 1453 A.D.


28. There is a legend that flexible glass was invented around 20 A.D. when a craftsman presented Tiberius Caesar a bowl of this glass, whereupon he threw it to the ground and it did not shatter. Fearing the implications of such a material, the Caesar had the man beheaded, with the formula now lost forever.


29. Gaius Gracchus, the ancient Roman politician, had a bounty put on his head to the price of the head's weight in gold. Although the head was delivered, the prize was never paid, as it was discovered that Gaius' captor had emptied out his brain and replaced it with molten lead.


30. The Roman Empire was not the largest empire in history. It is in fact only the 28th largest empire in history.


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31Emperor Nero

The Roman Emperor Nero married two men, once as the bride (Pythagoras (freedman)) and once as the groom.


32. 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.


33. 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.


34. 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.


35. 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.


36Salema porgy

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


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


38. 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.


39. 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.”


40. 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.


41Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

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.


42. 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.


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


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


45. 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.


46Marcus Licinius Crassus

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.


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


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


49. Roman Emperor Commodus was known to fight exotic animals in the arena, often to the horror of the Roman people. He is said to have once killed 100 lions in a single day. For each appearance in the arena, he charged a million sesterces (ancient Roman coin), straining the Roman economy.


50. Emperor Nero competed in the Olympic Games. Nero did terribly and was nearly killed in a chariot race, but was nonetheless declared the winner in every event he competed in.

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