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45 Little-Known Facts About the Ancient Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was among the largest empires in Ancient Times, but our knowledge about it is still scarce.

The Ancient Rome was arguably one of the most interesting civilizations. Its heyday started on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. As its empire expanded, its significance immediately became one of the largest in the archaic times. During its early existence, the Roman Empire was all about the monarchy. But as time passed by, it evolved into a classical republic.

While most of us know a thing or two about Ancient Rome, our knowledge about it is still vague. And if we picture this great empire in our minds, most of us think it’s all about gladiatorial fighting. Although this is true, there’s still a lot of interesting facts around it – and below are some of them.

#1. Gladiatorial fighting wasn’t the most popular sports.

Believe it or not, the Romans were not just fond of the gladiatorial stuff. This type of fighting wasn’t even considered the most popular entertainment. They were in fact in love with chariot racing – their version of formula racing. Archeologists estimate that the Colosseum could hold at least 50,000 people. And as this form of racing grew bigger, the estimate went to 250,000.

#2. Their life expectancy.

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The Ancient Rome believed that a person’s life could only last 20 to 30 years. This was due to the number of women dying while giving birth. For them, reaching maturity (age 35 to 40) was already considered immortality.

#3. Size really mattered to them.

Contrary to popular belief, the Roman Empire wasn’t the largest empire in history. At its peak, it only compromised 12 percent of the world’s total population – making it the 28th largest empire. In reality, it was the British Empire that obtained the rank. They were followed by the infamous Mongol Empire.

#4. They just love war.

Calling the Romans war freak would be an understatement. These guys just love waging war. For them, seeing blood was like Christmas. In fact, the wars involving the Romans and the Persians (their greatest adversaries) lasted around 721 years. Again, that’s 721 stronghold years. This easily became the longest conflict in all of human history.

#5. Introducing Saturnalia.

The Romans had a very interesting notion when it comes to the master-slave relationship, and they called this “Saturnalia.” It was a festival in which the masters and the slaves would switch places. The latter would be treated to a banquet of food and luxury, just the way their masters enjoyed it.

#6. A proof of virginity.

Virginity during the heyday of Ancient Rome was as significant as one’s life. It was during the 7th century BC when the empire introduced the so-called “vestal virgins.” Virgins were basically required to keep their hymen intact, which was proof to their virginity until age 30. Vestal virgins who, in one way or another, engaged themselves in sexual conduct would be buried alive.

#7. Just too crowded.

As mentioned above, the Roman Empire wasn’t the largest empires in the ancient world. But despite this, their population peaked to the nth level. They were at least six times more densely populated than any present-day city like New York City.

#8. They prayed for a good poop.

Yes, you definitely read that right. The Romans had this bizarre belief over a sewer goddess, a toilet god, and a god of excrement. For them, the gods frequent the latrine in very large numbers. They even believed about poop being a food for the dead. Hence they always prayed for the gods to make their poop “eatable.”

#9. Dental hygiene was so important.

The Romans were quite like the Victorians. When it comes to clothing or fashion, they always made sure they looked their best. Apparently, though, they had a very strange way of washing clothes. They basically used urine. But this wasn’t just their weirdest techniques. They also used it to – wait for it – whiten their teeth.

#10. Atheists, atheists, and atheists.

For the Romans, the early Christians were nothing but a bunch of “atheists.” This was simply due to the fact that they didn’t pay tribute or respect to the pagan gods. The Empire would also consider them cannibals, as they would eat the body of Christ and drink His blood. Of course, the Christians never meant it in a literal way. It even got to a point where the believers of the faith would invite Roman authorities just to showcase the communion.

#11. Their income gap…

It holds true that the Roman Empire achieved a lot of success in the ancient times. But in terms of economy, they weren’t an epitome. Ancient Rome in 150 CE has less, less income inequality. It was so unfortunate that America’s income generation today could be deemed a huge success.

#12. A horse became a senator.

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The Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula wasn’t just known for his principle and views. He was also known for the first person to make a horse a senator. And this wasn’t just his “accolades” actually. He also committed incest (considered as the greatest controversy in Ancient Rome) with his sisters. He also fed his prisoners to wild beasts. But perhaps the lowest of all was his number of conversations with the moon.

#13. Salt and blood were a “thing.”

Salt became a currency for the Romans. They used it to buy slaves, though they weren’t the first ones to apply it. The Ancient Greeks also did the same thing. Apparently, though, salt was also deemed an important ingredient in making a good antiseptic.

#14. The sweat of the gladiators.

Ancient Roman women had this very peculiar way of improving beauty. They used the sweat of the fiercest gladiators, believing it would give them a fair and satisfying complexion. Romans also believed that by drinking the blood of these warriors, they could become strong and fierce. They even got to the point where said blood became a medicine for curing epilepsy – of course, we all know it’s not true.

#15. The titular “spongia.”

Toilet paper wasn’t a thing in the past and, thus, the Romans had to improvise. They came up with a tool called “spongia,” which was basically a sponge on a stick. They used it to clean themselves after pooping. Public facilities during that time had a long marble bench with holes on top and at the front. The latter was where the “spongia” would enter. The restrooms didn’t even have dividing walls or something. They poop right next to each other.

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