34 Messed up Things About Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was very messed up. I know this because I’ve personally been there. Yes, I can time travel but we’re getting off topic. The point is, you wouldn’t believe all the messed up stuff the Ancient Romans did okay? They did some pretty weird and gross things. I mean, c’mon guys. I bet If I were Ancient Roman I would have been a lot smarter and would have done less gross things.
Here’s 35 messed up stuff they did:
Flamingo tongues were considered a delicacy in Ancient Rome because, of course, they were. How was this discovery even made? Who sees a pink bird and then goes, “I wonder what their tongue tastes like?”. What’s the thought process there?
You’re Doin’ it Wrong!
We’ve been getting this poor dude’s name wrong forever – Julius Caesar should be pronounced “YOU-LEE-US KEY-I-SIR. The only problem is that this sounds very stupid and I won’t do it.
Listen, if you thought your parents were strict or you wanted to whine and moan about your dad getting you a purity ring, let me tell you, the “vestal virgins” of Ancient Rome had it WAY WORSE. They were required, by law, to not make hump and preserve their hymens as proof of virginity until they were 30 years old. If any of these virgins were even suspected to have engaged in sexual acts, they were buried alive.
Ancient Romans celebrated a holiday called Saturnalia which, in addition to having an amazing name, was also a day where masters and slaves swapped spots. And you thought Secretary Appreciation Day was something special!
Live Fast, Die Young
Life expectancy in Ancient Rome was NOT GOOD. Between death during childbirth, terrible infant mortality rates, and the lack of medicine to treat what are now nothing illnesses, the average life expectancy was 20 to 30 years. That means that by the 3rd grade you may be having a midlife crisis!
Bloodsports Ain’t Got Nothin’ on Racing
When people picture Ancient Rome, they think violence and blood and gladiators and Russell Crowe, but even more popular than the gladiators was chariot racing, which would often end in just as much chaos and bloodshed. For perspective, the Colosseum could house 50,000 Romans while the Circus Maximus (BEST NAME, EVER), home of the chariot races, could house 250,000!
Here’s a great way to not make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex: wash your clothes in urine or EVEN BETTER/WORSE, brush your teeth with it.
But for whatever reason, this was something the Romans thought was a splendid idea. I guess they didn’t care about scoring a second date…
Ancient Greeks and Romans loved salt so much that it was often used as currency. What’s even crazier is that it was used to buy slaves. I would hate to be cleaning a horse stall with my fellow slaves and find out that I cost a pinch and a half but most of these other fools cost at least a shaker or two!
If you ever wondered how far-reaching the power of the Roman Empire was, wonder no more. In the 1st century AD, Romans flooded some of their amphitheaters to have an appropriate venue for their polar bears to fight their seals. Now just think how far from Rome both those types of animals are normally…
In 2012, a 2,000 year old Roman shipwreck was discovered by divers. This aquatic wreck was so well preserved that even the preserves were intact. No word on if they had any delicious flamingo tongue on board.
War, What is it Good For?
I don’t care what kind of blood feud your family has going on with the family that runs the local sawmill. I don’t care that your grandfather’s grandfather and their grandfather’s grandfather were best friends and went into business together and go along great until one of them cheated the other, cutting them out of their share of the profits, ruining their lives in the process. You wanna see a legit, DEEP, blood feud? Then scope out the Romans and the Persians – they were at war for 721 years! That’s generations upon generations upon generations of hatred.
Cracks in the Foundation
The Roman Empire was so advanced that for 1,000 years after The Fall, no one knew how to make concrete. It took a thousand years for anyone to come up with a way to make concrete and even at that, it was nowhere near as powerful as what was used in ancient Rome.
I’ll See your Trump and Raise you a Caligula
CaligulWhere to begin… Penthouse co-financed a movie based on the debauchery of his life that somehow scored both Helen Mirren and Peter O’Toole. He made his horse a senator. He performed/committed/took part in incest with his sisters. He also fed prisoners (often wrongly imprisoned) to wild beasts. This dude is in the Hall of Fame for Worst Leaders of All Time.
Because the early Christians didn’t worship the pagan gods that were popular in Rome at the time (i.e. the myriad poop gods they had), they were considered “atheistis”. They were also considered cannibals because they spoke of eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ. They had to actually invite the authorities to their services to prove that it was symbolic and not some soccer-team-crashed-in-the-mountains situation.
Charioteers in Ancient Rome were out there getting paid. Take the Derek Jeter of chariot-racing, Gaius Appuleius Diocles – dude amassed the equivalent of $15 BILLION (WITH A “B”!!!!) DOLLARS USD in today’s cash moneys!
Cincinnati is named after former Roman dictator Cincinnatus. He basically came in, saved Rome from a huge crisis and then said “eff this noise, I’m out.” He packed up his royal gear and retired to his farm.
The Poison is the Dose
Most emperors poisoned themselves in an effort to make themselves immune. The problems here are that 1) THERE ARE TONS OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF POISONS and 2) LETHAL ACCUMULATION WILL KILL YOU.
This was a terrible terrible terrible plan.
Maybe just AVOID EATING POISON AS A GENERAL RULE.
In roughly 117 A.D, Hadrian, the Roman Emperor at the time, made the attempted suicide of a Roman soldier illegal, declaring it a form of desertion. Desertion was a capital offence, meaning if you wanted to kill yourself and didn’t succeed, you were killed anyway. This is a totally depressing, totally morbid WIN-WIN.
Nero, emperor, married a dude name Sporus, a freed slave who became his bride. But this isn’t some feel-good, do-the-right-thing, forward-thinking inspiration. Nero was a lunatic who literally thought he could make Sporus a bride by castrating him.
P.S. Homeboy also murdered his own mom, Agrippina the Younger, his first wife, and his second wife.
Women in Ancient Rome would often drink turpentine so that their pee pee smelled like roses. If you’re going to gargle with it anyway…
Stuck in a Crowd
People often complain about the insane population of major cities and how it feels like everyone is on top of everyone else all the time. Well Ancient Rome was worse than anything you could imagine – it was at least six times more heavily populated than NYC is today.
No Monkeying Around
Patricide was no joke in Ancient Rome. If you were found guilty of killing your dead ol’ dad, you were sentenced to death. Fair enough until you find out the HOW of it all.
The punishment, called Poena Cullei, (loosely interpreted as OH MY GOD, NO), varies slightly depending on the emperor but more often than not involved being stitched up in a large sack with a monkey, a viper, a dog, and a rooster. Maybe you’re thinking that you could take these animals (you’d be a real ding dong but maybe you think that), except that you were in no way given a fair fight – before being sewn up in the murder bag, you were first beaten to a pulp with long rods and then your head was covered in wolf’s hide).
Maybe next time just send your dad a passive aggressive note and call it a day.
The Power of Fluids
People really dug those Roman gladiators. Women would slap on a little gladiator sweat to help with their complexion and Roman dudes used to drink gladiator blood thinking that it would make them strong, fierce, and savage. Instead, it would just give ‘em salmonella.
There’s a bigger age gap between the Pyramids of Giza and the Ancient Romans than there is between the Ancient Romans and us. MIND BLOWN.
More Like Mall of Shamerica…
Ancient Rome had a 4-story mall with over 150 shops and offices called Trajan’s Market. Also, try to keep in mind that this monument to commerce was built without the use of sophisticated machinery.
Give Me Liberty
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty, yes, THAT Statue of Liberty, was modeled after the Roman goddess Libertas?
I Won’t Complain About Single-Ply Again
Before the advent of good ol’ TP, folks had all kinds of gross ways of wiping up after a messy number 2.
Ancient Romans used a “spongia”, basically a sponge on a stick. This was a shared device, widely available at public restrooms. You’d do yo’ business (out in the open, no less), grab your spongia, scrub between the cheeks, give the sponge a quick rinse in a basin, and put it back for the next dude to use. We literally treat the windshield squeegees at a car wash better.
One Ruthless Dude
Infamous, savage, barbarian leader Attila, accepted a butt load of gold and jewels in exchange for not slaughtering Romans or attacking Roman territory. He received enough riches that he could retire in luxury. Then he attacked them anyway.
Mean, Not Inhuman
Most Romans would avoid out and out cruelty when it came to their slaves. Sure, they couldn’t leave and were branded with hot iron and were bought with salt, but they also got bonuses. This is more similar to a modern job than I’d care to admit…
The Boxer King
Having a crooked nose was considered a sign of leadership.
“Wow!” said Owen Wilson when told this fact.
Sure it’s easy to laugh at Scientologists for believing in some weirdo, sci-fi space god but the Ancient Romans had all kind of turd gods. They had a god of the toilet, a goddess of the sewer, and a god of feces. The gods were said to hang out in the latrines where they would chow down on your dookie.
Here’s something that will probably make you feel terrible about life: Ancient Rome had less income inequality than the US does today. They’d feed you to a friggin’ lion but they still believed in equal pay for equal work.
Sure, Romans had 24 hours in a day, but their hours were not equal. Romans always ensured that they had 12 “hours” of daylight and 12 “hours” of darkness, which means that hours in the middle of summer were tons longer than they were in the dead of winter. Think about that next time you wanna complain about Daylight saving time being complicated.
If the coliseum were built today, it would cost just a bit more than most modern baseball stadiums at around $380 million. Comerica Park cost roughly $300 million but has no tigers or seals or polar bears, so I feel like that extra 80 may be worth it.