Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy: Making the Roman Republic

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Throughout history there is one thing that is common across almost every populated continent, there are those that have an abundance of wealth and there are those who significantly lack it. Having recently explored the rise of the common people against the nobility (Conflict of the Orders: Plebeians versus Patricians) and celebrated the flight of a king (Regifugium: Celebrating the Flight of a King), we thought it only right to finish off the monarchy of Rome.

That is why today we are going to take a final look at the Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy!

A 16th Century painting by Sandro Botticelli, depicting the rape of Lucretia and the subsequent uprising.

The Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy was a political revolution in Ancient Rome in around 509 BC. It resulted in the expulsion of the last King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic).

The History of Rome held that 7 Kings of Rome reigned from the establishment of the city in 753 BC by Romulus up to the reign, and expulsion, of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus aka Tarquin.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, aka Tarquin, the last Roman King.

The accuracy, however, of this account has been doubted by modern historians. What does appear to be accepted is that: 1) there was a monarchy and 2) the last King, Tarquin, was expelled upon the founding of the Republic in the late 6th Century BC.

Tarquin was the son of Rome’s 5th King, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. In around 535 BC Tarquin, together with his wife Tullia Minor (a daughter of the then King Servius Tullius) arranged the murder of Servius, and for Tarquin to become ruler in his stead.

Despite various military victories, Tarquin became an unpopular sovereign. He refused to bury his predecessor, then he put to death a number of the leading Senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius (one of whom was the brother of Lucius Junius Brutus).

Roman Senate in an uproar.

By not replacing the slain Senators, and not consulting the Senate on all matters of government, Tarquin diminished both its size and authority. In another break with tradition, Tarquin judged capital criminal cases without advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear among those who might think to oppose him.

Having supposedly engaged in treachery with the Foedus Latinum (Latin League), around 510 BC, Tarquin went to war with the Rutuli. At that time according to Livy, the Rutuli were a very wealthy nation and Tarquin was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory over the Rutuli in order, in part, to soften the anger of his subjects.

Tarquin unsuccessfully sought to take the Rutulian capital Ardea by storm, and later began an extensive siege of the city. The Roman histories tell that while King Tarquin was away on campaign, his son Sextus Tarquinius was sent on a military errand to Collatia.

Sextus was received with great hospitality at the Governor’s mansion, home of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, son of the king’s nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, former Governor of Collatia and originator of the Tarquinii Collatini. Lucius’ wife, Lucretia, daughter of Praefectus (Prefect) Spurius Lucretius, made sure that Tarquin’s son was treated as the son of a king should, even though her husband was away at the siege.

Titian’s “Tarquin and Lucretia” (1571).

At night Sextus entered Lucretia’s bedroom by stealth, quietly going around the slaves who were sleeping at her door. When she awakened, Sextus identified himself and offered her 2 choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen; or he would kill her and a slave and place the bodies together, then claim he had caught her having adulterous sex with said slave.

The next day Lucretia dressed in black and weeping went to her father’s house in Rome and cast herself down in the suppliant’s position (embracing the knees). Asked to explain herself, Lucretia insisted on first summoning witnesses to verify her story.

After disclosing the rape, Lucretia called on various Roman noblemen for vengeance. While the men debated on how to proceed, Lucretia drew a concealed dagger and stabbed herself in the heart.

Statue of Brutus holding Lucretia while swearing the oath and holding the knife.

According to legend, Tribunus Celerum Lucius Junius Brutus grabbed the dagger from Lucretia’s breast after her death and immediately shouted for the overthrow of the Tarquins. The people of Rome were summoned to the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) and spurred by Brutus to rise up against the monarch.

Brutus revealed that his pose as fool was a sham designed to protect him against an evil king. He leveled a number of charges against the king and his family: the outrage against Lucretia (whom everyone could see on the dais), the king’s tyranny, the forced labor of the Plēbēs in the ditches and sewers of Rome.

He pointed out that Tarquin had come to rule by the murder of Servius Tullius, his wife’s father, next-to-the-last King of Rome. He “solemnly invoked the gods as the avengers of murdered parents.”

The king’s wife, Tullia, was in fact in Rome and probably was a witness to the proceedings from her palace near the Forum. Seeing herself the target of so much animosity she fled from the palace in fear of her life and proceeded to the camp at Ardea.

Brutus opened a debate on the form of government Rome ought to have; there were many speakers (all Patricians). In summation he proposed the banishment of the Tarquins from all the territories of Rome and appointment of an interrex to nominate new magistrates and conduct an election of ratification.

They had decided on a republican form of government with 2 Cōnsulēs in place of a king executing the will of a Patrician Senate. This was a temporary measure until they could consider the details more carefully.

Brutus renounced all right to the throne. In subsequent years the powers of the king were divided among various elected magistracies.

A final vote of the curiae carried the interim constitution. Lucretius was swiftly elected interrex (he was Prefect of the city anyway).

Lucretius proposed Brutus and Collatinus as the initial 2 Cōnsulēs and that choice was ratified by the Curiae. Needing to acquire the assent of the population as a whole they paraded Lucretia’s body through the streets, summoning the Plebeians to legal assembly in the Forum Romanum.

Once there they heard a further speech by Brutus. It began:

Inasmuch as Tarquin neither obtained the sovereignty in accordance with our ancestral customs and laws, nor, since he obtained it — in whatever manner he got it — has he been exercising it in an honorable or kingly manner, but has surpassed in insolence and lawlessness all the tyrants the world ever saw, we patricians met together and resolved to deprive him of his power, a thing we ought to have done long ago, but are doing now when a favorable opportunity has offered. And we have called you together, plebeians, in order to declare our own decision and then ask for your assistance in achieving liberty for our country….

A general election was held, and the final vote was in favor of a Roman Republic. The monarchy was at an end, even while Lucretia was still displayed in the Forum.

The Roman noblemen, led by Brutus, obtained the support of both the Pātriciī (Roman Aristocracy) and the Plēbēs (Common People) to expel the King and his family and to institute a republic. Leaving Lucretius in command of the city, Brutus proceeded with a group of militia to the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) then camped at Ardea.

The King, who had been with the Army, heard of developments at Rome, and left the camp for the city before Brutus’ arrival. The soldiers who had been with Tarquin received Brutus as a hero, and the king’s sons were expelled from the camp.

Meanwhile back in Rome, the King was refused entry into the city and was forced to flee with his family into exile. Tarquin and his 2 eldest sons, Titus and Arruns, went into exile at Caere.

That uprising resulted in the exile or Regifugium, after a reign of 25 years of Tarquin and his family. The Roman Republic was then established with Brutus and Collatinus (both related by blood to Rome’s 5th King Lucius Tarquinius Priscus) as the original Cōnsulēs.

According to Livy, Brutus’ first act after the expulsion of Tarquin was to bring the people to swear an oath never to allow any man again to be king in Rome.

Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.

First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings.

This is, fundamentally, a restatement of the “private oath” sworn by the conspirators to overthrow the monarchy:

Per hunc… castissimum ante regiam iniuriam sanguinem iuro, vosque, di, testes facio me L. Tarquinium Superbum cum scelerata coniuge et omni liberorum stirpe ferro igni quacumque dehinc vi possim exsecuturum, nec illos nec alium quemquam regnare Romae passurum.

By this guiltless blood before the kingly injustice I swear – you and the gods as my witnesses – I make myself the one who will prosecute, by what force I am able, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus along with his wicked wife and the whole house of his freeborn children by sword, by fire, by any means hence, so that neither they nor any one else be suffered to rule Rome.

Brutus also replenished the number of Senators to 300 from the principal men of the Equites. The new Consuls also created a new office of Rex Sacrorum to carry out the religious duties that had previously been performed by the kings.

Brutus in the Forum denouncing Collatinus as a traitor who delighted in war and the profits of tyranny.

The Roman people loathed the name and family of the exiled King Tarquin. It was taken to such an extent that the Consul Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was forced to resign from his office and go into exile.

After his exile, Tarquin made a number of attempts to regain the throne. At first, he sent ambassadors to the Senate to request the return of his family’s personal effects, which had been seized in the coup.

In secret, while the Senate debated his request, the ambassadors met with and subverted a number of the leading men of Rome to the royal cause, in the Tarquinian conspiracy. The conspirators included 2 of Brutus’ brothers-in-law, and his 2 sons Titus and Tiberius. The conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators executed.

“The Lictors Bring Home the Sons of Brutus” by Jacques-Louis David (1784).

Although the Senate had initially agreed to Tarquin’s request for a return of his family’s effects, the decision was reconsidered and revoked after the discovery of the conspiracy. The royal property was instead given over to be plundered by the Roman populace.

Tarquin’s next attempted to regain Rome by force of arms. He began by gaining the support of the cities of Veii and Tarquinii, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties.

Model version of the Battle of Silva Arsia.

The armies of the 2 cities were led by Tarquin against Rome in the Battle of Silva Arsia, with the king commanding the Etruscan infantry. Although the result initially appeared uncertain, the Romans were victorious.

The Roman victory wasn’t without its own perils for both Brutus (the Consul) and Arruns (the King’s son) were killed in the battle.

Another attempt by Tarquin relied on military support from Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium. The war led to the siege of Rome, and finally a peace treaty leaving Tarquin unable to regain the Roman throne.

Castor and Pollux fighting at the Battle of Lake Regillus, 1880 illustration by John Reinhard Weguelin.

Tarquin and his family left Clusium, and instead sought refuge in Tusculum with his son-in-law Octavius Mamilius. In about 496 BC, Tarquin and his son Titus fought with Mamilius and the Latin League against Rome, but lost, at the Battle of Lake Regillus where Mamilius perished.

Once more Tarquin was forced to flee, and he took refuge with the tyrant of Cumae, Aristodemus. It was there, in Cumae, in 495 BC that Rome’s last King finally expired.

Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy summarized as a storyboard.

With the rise of the Roman Republic, and the death of its last King, Rome would carry on from 509 – 27 BC (or 482 years for those that are particular). During that stretch Rome would see a lot of growth and troubles, that would all culminate with a General named Julius Caesar.

Gaius Julius Caesar

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again soon. Make sure to check us out daily for you never know who we’ll be checking out or where we’ll be traveling.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Cornell, TimThe Beginnings of Rome. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Gale, Robert L. A Herman Melville encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. ISBN 978-0-313-29011-4.

Livy. Ab urbe condita.

Making It Happen: The Military of Ancient Rome – Part II

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If this is your initial visit with us, thanks for stopping by. If you are back for further adventures with us, then you’re in for a treat.

For those not aware, the growth of Ancient Rome was put onto the backs of its soldiers. Last week we pulled on our caligae (military boots) and grabbed our gladiī (swords) as we joined the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) in Making It Happen: The Military of Ancient Rome – Part I.

Today we are journeying back to when, and where, it all went down as we continue with how the Military of Ancient Rome made it all happen!

Reenacters portraying the Roman Legionaries of Legio XV Apollinaris.

The Roman Military was keen on the doctrine of power projection. It frequently removed foreign rulers by force or intimidation and replaced them with puppets.

This was facilitated by the maintenance, for at least part of its history, of a series of client states and other subjugate and buffer entities beyond its official borders, although over which Rome extended massive political and military control. On the other hand, this also could mean the payment of immense subsidies to foreign powers and opened the possibility of extortion in case military means were insufficient.

Showing the vast amount of land held by the Roman Empire (c. 125 AD).

The Empire’s system of building an extensive and well-maintained network of Viae (Roman Roads), as well as its absolute command of the Mediterranean for much of its history, enabled a primitive form of rapid reaction, also stressed in modern military doctrine. Since there was no real strategic reserve, this often entailed the raising of fresh troops or the withdrawing of troops from other parts of the border.

The Roman Military had an extensive logistical supply chain. There was no specialized branch devoted to logistics and transportation, although this was to a great extent carried out by the Roman Navy due to the ease and low costs of transporting goods via sea and river compared to over land. There is archaeological evidence that Roman Armies campaigning in Germania were supplied by a logistical supply chain beginning in Italy and Gaul, then transported by sea to the northern coast of Germania, and finally penetrating into Germania via barges on inland waterways.

Forces were routinely supplied via fixed supply chains, and although Roman Armies in enemy territory would often supplement or replace this by foraging for food or purchasing food locally, this was often insufficient for their needs. For instance, a single Legio (Legion) would have required 13.5 tons of food per month, which would have proved impossible to source locally.

For the most part, Roman cities had a Civil Guard used for maintaining the peace. Due to fear of rebellions and other uprisings, the guards were forbidden to be armed at militia levels.

Roman Cavalry from a mosaic of the Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily (4th Century AD).

Policing was split between the Civil Guard for low-level affairs and the Roman Legions and Auxilia for quelling higher-level rioting and rebellion. This Civil Guard created a limited strategic reserve, but fared poorly in actual warfare.

Literacy was highly valued in the Roman Military, thus literacy rates in the military far exceeded that of the Roman society as a whole. Being able to read, led to creativity, which made the military engineering of Ancient Rome‘s armed forces was of a scale and frequency far beyond that of any of its contemporaries.

Indeed, military engineering was in many ways institutionally widespread in Roman military culture, as demonstrated by the fact that each Legionarius (Legionary) had as part of his equipment a shovel, alongside his gladius and pila (spears).

This engineering prowess was, however, only evident during the peak of Roman military prowess from the mid-Republic to the mid-Empire. Prior to the mid-Republic period there is little evidence of protracted or exceptional military engineering, and in the late Empire likewise there is little sign of the kind of engineering feats that were regularly carried out in the earlier Empire.

Roman military engineering took both routine and extraordinary forms, the former a proactive part of standard military procedure, and the latter of an extraordinary or reactionary nature. To make this happen, soldiers learned to build, and build quickly, as a standard element of training.

The massive earthen ramp at Masada, designed by the Roman army to breach the fortress’ walls.

Proactive military engineering took the form of the regular construction of Castra (Fortified Camps), in road-building, and in the construction of siege engines. The knowledge and experience learned through such routine engineering lent itself readily to any extraordinary engineering projects required by the Army, such as the circumvallations constructed at Alesia and the earthen ramp constructed at Masada.

This engineering expertise practiced in daily routines also served in the construction of siege equipment such as ballistaeonagers and siege towers, as well as allowing the troops to construct roads, bridges and fortified camps. All of these led to strategic capabilities, allowing Roman troops to, respectively, assault besieged settlements, move more rapidly to wherever they were needed, cross rivers to reduce march times and surprise enemies, and to camp in relative security even in enemy territory.

Rome was established as a nation by making aggressive use of its high military potential. From very early on in its history, Rome would raise 2 forces annually to campaign abroad.

The Roman Military was far from being solely a defense force. For much of its history, it was a tool of aggressive expansion.

The evolution of the Roman Legionary.

The Roman Army had derived from a militia of mainly farmers, and the gain of new farm lands for the growing population or later retiring soldiers was often a chief objective for a campaign. Only in the late Empire did the preservation of control over Rome’s territories become the Roman Military’s primary role.

The remaining major powers confronting Rome were the Kingdom of AksumParthia and the Hunnic Empire. Knowledge of China, the Han Dynasty at the times of Mani, existed and it is believed that Rome and China swapped embassies about 170 AD.

In its purest form, the concept of strategy deals solely with military issues. Up to half of the funds raised by the Roman State were spent on its Military, and the Romans displayed a strategy that was clearly more complicated than simple knee-jerk strategic or tactical responses to individual threats.

Roman soldiers battling barbarian troops on the Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus (250-260).

Rome’s strategy changed over time, implementing different systems to meet different challenges that reflected changing internal priorities. Elements of Rome’s strategy included the use of client states, the deterrent of armed response in parallel with manipulative diplomacy, and a fixed system of troop deployments and road networks.

When in doubt, Rome would rely on brute force and sheer numbers. Soldiers were trained to memorize every step in battle, so discipline and order could not break down into chaos, thus leading to lots of successful Roman outcomes.

Although Roman iron-working was enhanced by a process known as carburization, the Romans were not thought to have developed true steel production. From the earliest history of the Roman State to its downfall, Roman arms were uniformly produced from either bronze or iron.

As a result, the 1300 years of Roman military technology saw little radical change in technological level. Within the bounds of classical military technology, however, Roman arms & armor was developed, discarded, and adopted from other peoples based on changing methods of engagement.

Typical weapons carried by the Legions of Rome.

It included at various times stabbing daggers and swords, stabbing or thrusting swords, long thrusting spears or pikes, lances, light throwing javelins and darts, slings, and bow and arrows. Roman military personal equipment was produced in large numbers to established patterns and used in an established way, so it varied little in design and quality within each historical period.

Roman arms & armor gave them an advantage over their barbarian enemies who were often, as Germanic tribesmen, completely unarmored. However, whilst the uniform possession of armor gave Rome an advantage, the actual standard of each item of Roman equipment was of no better quality than that used by the majority of its enemies.

The relatively low quality of Roman weaponry was primarily a function of its large-scale production. Later factors, such as governmental price fixing for certain items, gave no allowance for quality and incentivized cheap, poor-quality goods.

The Roman Military readily adopted types of arms and armor that were effectively used against them by their enemies. Initially Roman troops were armed after Greek and Etruscan models, using large oval shields and long pikes.

On encountering the Celts they adopted much Celtic equipment and again later adopted items such as the gladius from Iberian peoples. Later in Rome’s history, it adopted practices such as arming its Cavalry with bows in the Parthian style, and even experimented briefly with niche weaponry such as elephants and camel-troops.

Bas relief of a Roman Ballista Roman on Trajan’s Column.

Besides personal weaponry, the Roman Military adopted team weaponry. Items such as the Ballista and the naval corvus, a spiked plank used for affixing and boarding enemy ships, used multiple troops to achieve a singular goal.

The expansion of the Roman Empire was achieved through military force in nearly every case. Roman culture as a whole revolved around its Military for both expansion and protection.

Geographic areas on the outskirts of the Empire were prone to attack and required heavy military presence. The constant barrage of attacks and the increase of expansion caused several casualties.

Augustus Caesar

Due to attack there was a need for specialized medical care for these soldiers, in order to keep them in operational status. The specialized form of care, however, was not created until the time of Augustus (31BC-14AD).

Prior to this there is little information about the care of soldiers. It is assumed soldiers were self-reliant, treating their own wounds and caring for other ailments encountered.

They would also turn to civilians for help throughout the villages they would come across. This was considered a custom of the time, and was quite common for households to take in wounded soldiers and tend to them.

As time progressed, there was an increase in care for the wounded as hospitals appeared. The idea was held by the Romans that a healed soldier was better than a dead one and a healed veteran was better than a new recruit.

With the need for soldier health a growing concern, places for the sick to go in the Army were starting to show up. Dates ranged from AD 9 to AD 50, but this is when initial evidence of hospitals was seen in archaeological remains.

General set up of Ancient Roman Military Hospital at Novaesium (near Dusseldorft, Germany).

These hospitals were specific places for only military members to go to if they were injured or fell ill, a similar situation was used for slaves. Military hospitals were permanent structures set up in forts, with clear patient rooms designed to accommodate a large numbers of soldiers.

The size of these hospitals varied based on their location. Some of the large facilities, such as the hospital in Hod Hill England, could accommodate roughly 12% of the force within the hospital.

In more stable areas such as Inchtuthil in Scotland, there was room for as little as 2% of the force within the hospital. Areas with more conflict obviously had larger medical facilities as they saw more casualties.

These hospitals were solely designed for the use of the military. If a civilian fell ill or needed surgery they would likely go to the physician’s home and stay, not a hospital.

Establishing field hospitals during battle.

Prior to these permanent structures there were tents set up as mobile field hospitals. Soldiers suffering from severe wounds were brought to a field hospital for treatment, as the structures were assembled and disassembled as the Army moved.

Doctors serving in the Army were considered to be a member of the Roman Military. Just like everyone else, Army Physicians would take the military oath and be bound by the military law.

They would also start among the lower fighting ranks. Even though they took the military oath and were among the lower ranks, it did not mean they would be fighting among the masses.

These doctors were not always professionals or career physicians. Oftentimes they were slaves who were forced into that career.

The Medici was also a group that treated wounded soldiers on the battlefield. These men were not trained physicians even though they played the role of one.

Roman surgical instruments found at Pompeii (Museo di_Napoli).

Typically they were soldiers who demonstrated they had knowledge in wound treatment and even simple surgical techniques. These men were used before the actual trained doctors were largely implemented.

Physicians got their knowledge from experience and information being passed down from person to person. Likely Physicians never used medical texts, as it was not common place even in the civilian field to do so.

Generals and Emperors were exceptions, as they would typically have their own personal physician with them. This was a common occurrence as Emperors such as Julian employed famous physicians such as Galen.

By the time of Trajan (53AD-117AD), the Medical Corps was well on the way to being an organized machine. At this time, Physicians were attached to nearly every Army and Navy Unit in all the Roman Military.

Mural of a Roman soldier removing an arrow from a fellow soldier’s leg with a pair of pinchers.

By this time the Army was massive, consisting of 25 to 30 Legions, each of which contained nearly 6,000 men. Each Legio included both soldiers and physicians.

At this point all physicians were either self-taught or learned their trade through an apprenticeship. Despite this, there was an attempt at organization, as the Army did have a medical manual that was passed out to its Physicians.

The Medici were used on both the front line as emergency care providers and in the rear as the main physicians. The Capsarii were mainly used as the front line care providers and bandagers, but also assisted the Medici behind the lines.

Romans received their medical knowledge largely from the Greeks that came before them. As Rome started to expand, it slowly embraced the Greek culture, causing an influx of medicinal information in Roman society.

This influx of medicinal information allowed knowledge to become the foundation of all western medical tradition. The Greek theories were kept alive and their practices continued well into the future.

Showing where various Roman Legions were stationed (212 AD).

This knowledge was also the foundation used in the military medicine since it contained the overarching ideas of their medical knowledge. As time progressed these medical texts would be translated into Arabic and then back into Latin as the flow of information changed.

We can presume that some of the information in these texts has been lost in translation. Despite this, we are still able to illustrate a clear picture of what military medicine was like during the reign of the Roman Empire.

As is the case with any large number of people being in close quarters, there was a constant threat of disease. When one individual in a large group gets sick with a communicable disease, it spreads to others very quickly.

This premise remains true even today in the modern military. The Romans recognized the difference between disease and wounds, each requiring separate treatment.

Drainage of excess water and waste were common practices in camps as well as the later, permanent medical structures. As the medical corps grew in size there was also specialization evolving.

Physicians surfaced that specialized in disease, surgery, wound dressing and even veterinary medicine. Veterinary physicians were there to tend to livestock for agricultural purposes as well as combat purposes.

Parade of Ancient Roman Cavalry on the column of Antoninus Pius (Rome, Italy).

The Cavalry was known for their use of horses in combat and scouting purposes. Because of the type of injuries that would have been commonly seen, surgery was a somewhat common occurrence.

Tools such as scissors, knives and arrow extractors have been found in remains of both human and animal alike. In fact, Roman surgery was quite intuitive, in contrast to common thought of ancient surgery.

The Roman Military Surgeons used a cocktail of plants, which created a sedative similar to modern anesthesia. Written documentation also showed Surgeons would use oxidation from metal such as copper and scrape it into wounds, which provided an antibacterial.

Doctors had the knowledge to clean their surgical instruments with hot water after each use. Wounds were dressed, and dead tissue was removed when bandages were changed.

Honey and cobwebs were items used to cover wounds, and have even been shown today to increase healing. Most major advancements in knowledge and technique came from military medicine rather than civil practice.

Roman Soldier marching pack

Diet was an issue that is often discussed as an aspect of medical care. Since our idea of modern technology did not exist, diet was a simple way for Romans to attain a healthy life.

This was true in the Roman Military as the soldiers required appropriate nutrition in order to function at high activity levels. There were often unique circumstances in attempting the acquisition of food for everyone.

During a campaign the soldiers would often forage food from their enemies land. In fact as part of the standard kit, Roman soldiers would carry a sickle, which would be used to forage food.

They would carry a 3-day ration of food in case they were in a situation where foraging was not available. A typical Roman Army diet consisted of items such as wheat, barley, bacon, cheese, vegetables, and sour wine to drink.

The soldier was given a ration, which was taken from his pay, and were well fed in times of peace. If the soldiers were well fed, they were healthier and able to maintain a high level of physical activity, as well as stave off disease.

Roman Soldiers on the offensive end of a siege.

Disease is still something that is easier to prevent rather than treat. This idea holds true in the event a fort was under siege, where certain food items were rationed.

Poultry was a rationed item since it was very inexpensive to maintain and, in the event of a siege, it did not require a lot of resources to maintain. It was also noted that poultry had benefits for those who were sick.

This demonstrates the idea was present that the Army needed to maintain the health of its members regardless of happenings. These discoveries were made while looking at the remains of Roman Military sites.

From the excavation of Trimontium Fort.

By excavating these sites and looking at fecal matter found, scientists were able to determine what was eaten. The variety of food found shows the Romans were not focused on just caloric intake, as they knew a variety of food was important to health and their combat readiness.

We appreciate you stopping by today. Hopefully you enjoyed today’s adventure and will come back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Connolly, PeterGreece and Rome at War. Greenhill Books, 1998. ISBN 978-1-85367-303-0.

Fox, Robin LaneThe Classical WorldPenguin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-14-102141-1.

Gibbon, EdwardThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Penguin Books, 1985. ISBN 0-14-043189-6.

Goldsworthy, AdrianIn the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire. Weidenfield and Nicholson, 2003. ISBN 0-297-84666-3.

Grant, MichaelThe History of RomeFaber and Faber, 1993. ISBN 0-571-11461-X.

Heather, PeterThe Fall of the Roman Empire: A New HistoryMacmillan Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-330-49136-9.

Jones, Arnold Hugh MartinThe Later Roman EmpireJohns Hopkins University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8018-3285-3.

Livy. The Rise of Rome. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-282296-9.

Luttwak, EdwardThe Grand Strategy of the Roman EmpireJohns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-2158-4.

Matyszak, PhilipThe Enemies of RomeThames and Hudson, 2004. ISBN 0-500-25124-X.

PolybiusThe Rise of the Roman Empire (Translation by W. R. Paton). Harvard University Press, 1927.

Santosuosso, AntonioStorming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors and Civilians in the Roman Empire. Westview Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8133-3523-X.

TacitusThe Annals.

Old Town of Cáceres

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Turkey as we visited the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia.

Today we’re headed to Hispania as we check out the Old Town of Cáceres!

The city’s history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture, which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. Of the 30 or so towers from the Muslim period, the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.

Cáceres has been a trade route city and a political center of the local nobles for many centuries. Since prehistoric times, people from different cultures have gathered in Cáceres and have shaped its strong historical roots.

The influence and remains of these cultures can be observed and studied in the walled ensemble of Cáceres, with a wide typological and constructive variety ranging from popular architecture to palace-houses, with their characteristic sobriety and towers of the nobility of Gothic and Renaissance times. This property also includes noteworthy religious buildings such as churches, hermitages and convents.

Cáceres is an outstanding example of a city that was ruled from the 14th to 16th Centuries by powerful rival factions, reflected in its dominant spatial configuration of fortified houses, palaces and towers. This city in Extremadura bears the traces of highly diverse and contradictory influences.

Multidisciplinary research of the last decades has allowed to gain a better understanding of the evolution and substantial transformations of Cáceres, documented construction techniques in the walled city and identified a rare structural unity in the west of the historic ensemble.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s journey, and look forward to having you back again. Be sure to check us out again soon for we never know where or when we’ll end up.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Verona Arena (#8)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #9 – Pula Arena.

Today we’re headed back to Italia as we explore #8 – Verona Arena!

The Verona Arena (ItalianArena di Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in VeronaItaly built in the 1st Century AD. The Verona Arena is the world’s 3rd largest amphitheatre to survive from Ancient Rome.

It is among the best preserved ancient structures of its kind, which is why it is still in use today. Once holding nearly 30,000 people, nowadays, for security reasons, the maximum attendance is 15,000 people.

The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The most solemn monument in Roman Verona, with various orders of tiers of seats and, in the center, an area or arena for gladiator shows, struggles with wild beasts or other events of a popular nature.

It was built with well-squared blocks of marble in the 1st Century AD, between the end of the reign of Emperor Augustus and the start of Emperor Claudius’s reign. The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella.

It is one of the best-conserved monuments of its kind. The perimeter of the current seating stalls is 1283 ft, and including the wing it is 1427 ft.

Inside the Arena di Verona

The amphitheatre is built from 3 concentric circles, of which only 1 side of the external ring remains. It is commonly referred to as the “Wing”. The ludi (shows and games) staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places, often far away, to witness them.

The tiers of the amphitheatre are all made of Veronese marble. Underneath the tiers there are galleries, cells and passageways (which cannot be visited today) which once served and still serve, in part, for the complex operation of the amphitheatre.

After a major earthquake in 1117 almost completely destroyed the structure’s outer ring, except for the so-called Ala (Wing), the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings. Nevertheless, it impressed medieval visitors to the city, one of whom considered it to have been a labyrinth, without ingress or egress.

The Roman amphitheater has been used continuously throughout the centuries to host shows and games: gladiator fights during Roman times, tournaments in the Middle Ages and from the 18th Century until the present day the arena is the setting for Verona’s spectacular opera performances. The Arena is the most renowned Veronese monument.

Piazza Bra as seen from the Arena.

Today the Arena is set in the Historical Center and acts as a backdrop for Piazza Bra. But once upon a time, when the Romans built it, the monument was located at the margins of the urban area, outside the circle of the walls.

The Arena summarizes in itself almost 20 centuries of local history. Through time, it has become the very symbol of the city.

The fame that the amphitheatre has enjoyed in the civic consciousness of the Veronese has gradually led the monument to increasingly assume the character of the very symbol of ancient nobility. It is from here that the measures for its conservation, and many deep restorations, originate.

Ciriaco d’Ancona was filled with admiration for the way it had been built and Giovanni Antonio Panteo’s civic panegyric De laudibus veronae, 1483, remarked that it struck the viewer as a construction that was more than human. In 1913, the Arena was finally discovered for what it has become known for today, as the first true and most important open-air opera theatre in the world.

The first interventions to recover the arena’s function as a theatre began during the Renaissance. Some operatic performances were later mounted in the building during the 1850s, owing to its outstanding acoustics.

Performance of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.

And in 1913, operatic performances in the arena commenced in earnest due to the zeal and initiative of the Italian opera tenor Giovanni Zenatello and the impresario Ottone Rovato. The initial 20th Century operatic production at the arena, a staging of Giuseppe Verdi‘s Aida, took place on 10 August of that year, to mark the birth of Verdi 100 years before in 1813.

Musical luminaries such as Puccini and Mascagni were in attendance of that original performance. Since then, summer seasons of opera have been mounted continually at the arena, except in 1915–18 (for WWI) and 1940–45 (for WWII).

In modern times, at least 4 productions (sometimes up to 6) are mounted each year between June and August. During the winter months, the local opera and ballet companies perform at the L’Accademia Filarmonica.

Setting up the inside of the Verona Arena.

Modern-day travelers are advised that admission tickets to sit on the arena’s stone steps are much cheaper to buy than tickets giving access to the padded chairs available on lower levels. Candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena.

Every year over 500,000 people see productions of the popular operas in this arena. The arena has featured many of world’s most notable opera singers including: Giuseppe Di StefanoMaria CallasTito Gobbi and Renata Tebaldi among others.

A number of conductors have appeared there too. The official arena shop has historical recordings made by some of them available for sale.

In recent times, the arena has also hosted several concerts of international rock and pop bands, among which AdeleElisaLaura PausiniPink FloydAlicia KeysOne DirectionSimple MindsDuran DuranDeep PurpleThe WhoDire StraitsMike OldfieldRod StewartStingPearl JamRadioheadPeter Gabriel, Björk, Muse, Leonard CohenPaul McCartneyJamiroquaiWhitney Houston, Mumford & SonsKissSpandau Ballet and 5 Seconds Of Summer.

In 1981, 1984 and 2010 it hosted the podium and presentation of the Giro d’Italia with thousands packing the arena to watch the prizes being handed out. The opera productions in the Verona Arena had not used any microphones or loudspeakers until an electronic sound reinforcement system was installed in 2011.

On 24 September 2012 Leonard Cohen performed here as part of the First European Leg of his “Old Ideas” World Tour.

On 25 June 2013, Paul McCartney performed at the venue as part of his 2013 Tour.

Architecture of the Verona Arena.

Spandau Ballet played a concert at Verona Arena on 6 July 2015, as part of their Soul Boys Of The Western World Tour.

On 21 September 2015 the operatic pop group Il Volo performed in Verona for their final date of the Grande Amore Tour. The evening was recorded and broadcast by Rai1 and gained a share of 23%.

On May 28th and 29th 2016, the English singer Adele performed in Verona as part of her Adele Live 2016 Tour.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey to Verona, and look forward to having you join us again soon. Who knows where we’ll wind up next?

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Weiss, Roberto. The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity, 1969.

Festivals in Italy 2009

“Verona Opera Festival Outfitted with New Audio”. AVTechnology. 7 February 2011.

Verona Arena website (in English)

Arena di Verona”. Verona.com.

Regifugium: Celebrating the Flight of a King

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As we carry on in this month of Februarius (February), we shall continue to celebrate. We’ve already experienced Feriae Sementivae: The Roman Festival of Sowing (2/2); Parentalia: Celebrating the Ancestors of Rome (2/12); Quirinalia: Celebrating Quirinus and Rome’s Civil Society (2/17); Ferālia: Celebrating Roman Spirits of the Dead (2/21); Caristia: Celebrating the Love of Family (2/22); and Terminalia: Celebrating Terminus and Boundaries (2/23).

Since Februarius was all about partying for the Romans, today we are going to be like the Romans and celebrate Regifugium!

Regifugium – A sort of Independence Day for Rome.

In Ancient Roman religionRegifugium was an annual observance that took place every 24 February. The Romans themselves offer varying views on the meaning of the day.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, 16th-Century depiction published by Guillaume Rouillé.

According to Varro and Ovid, the festival commemorated the flight of the last King of RomeTarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. In 509 BC, having angered the Roman populace through the pace and burden of constant building, Tarquin embarked on a siege campaign against the Rutuli.

With little prospect of battle, the King’s son, Sextus Tarquinius, was sent on a military errand to Collatia. Sextus was received with great hospitality at the Governor’s mansion, home of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, son of the king’s nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, former Governor of Collatia and originator of the Tarquinii Collatini.

Titian’s Tarquin and Lucretia (1571)

Sextus was said to have entered the room of the wife of Lucius (Lucretia), identified himself and offered her 2 choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen, or he would kill her and one of her slaves and place the bodies together, then claim he had caught her having adulterous sex.

The next day Lucretia dressed in black and went to her father’s house in Rome, cast herself down in the suppliant’s position (embracing the knees), weeping before she took her own life out of shame. Lucius Junius Brutus (a leading citizen, and the grandson of Rome’s 5th King Tarquinius Priscus) had been there to witness this event and had had enough.

Brutus holding Lucretia with the knife as he swears the oath.

Brutus summoned the Comitia Curiata and began to scold and criticize them in one of the more noted and effective speeches of Ancient Rome. Because of his orator skills, Brutus persuaded the Comitia to revoke the King’s Imperium and send him into exile.

When word of the uprising reached Tarquin, he abandoned Ardea and sought support from his allies in Etruria. Tarquin’s final attempt to regain the Roman Kingdom came in 498 or 496 BC at the Battle of Lake Regillus.

Upon losing the battle, Rome retained her independence. Tarquin was driven into exile at the court of Aristodemus at Cumae, where he died in 495 BC.

In his Fasti, Ovid refers to Regifugium as nefastus (days on which official transactions were forbidden on religious grounds). Fasti also offers the longest surviving account of the observance:

Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.

Emperor Augustus dressed as the Rex Sacrorum.

Plutarch holds that the Rex Sacrorum was a substitute for the former King of Rome here as in various religious rituals. The Rex held no civic or military role, but nevertheless was bound to offer a public sacrifice in the Comitia on this date.

The Flight of the King was the swift exit the proxy king was required to make from that place of public business. It may be that the differing versions are to be reconciled by taking the flight of the Rex Sacrorum as a reenactment of the expulsion of Tarquinius.

Also known as Fugalia (King’s Flight), in some ancient Roman calendar the 24 May is likewise called Regifugium. In others it is described as Q. Rex. C. F. (Quando Rex comitiavit, fas or Quando Rex comitio fugit).

Down with the King!

Several ancient, as well as modern, writers have denied that either of these days had anything to do with the flight of King Tarquin. Plutarch, for example, explains it as the symbolic departure of the priest with the title Rex Sacrorum from the Comitia.

Even William Shakespeare had an opinion on Regifugium and Tarquin’s Flight. In his  narrative poemThe Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare pens the following:

‘Courageous Roman, do not steep thy heart In such relenting dew of lamentations; But kneel with me and help to bear thy part, To rouse our Roman gods with invocations, That they will suffer these abominations, Since Rome herself in them doth stand disgraced, By our strong arms from forth her fair streets chased. Now, by the Capitol that we adore, And by this chaste blood so unjustly stain’d, By heaven’s fair sun that breeds the fat earth’s store, By all our country rights in Rome maintain’d, And by chaste Lucrece’ soul that late complain’d Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife, We will revenge the death of this true wife.’

“The suicide of Lucretia” by Jörg Breu the Elder.

This said, he struck his hand upon his breast, And kiss’d the fatal knife, to end his vow; And to his protestation urged the rest, Who, wondering at him, did his words allow: Then jointly to the ground their knees they bow; And that deep vow, which Brutus made before, He doth again repeat, and that they swore. When they had sworn to this advised doom, They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence; To show her bleeding body thorough Rome, And so to publish Tarquin’s foul offence: Which being done with speedy diligence, The Romans plausibly did give consent To Tarquin’s everlasting banishment.

We don’t know about you, but that’s a vivid depiction.

Hopefully you enjoyed today’s Regifugium and look forward to having you back again. Come check us out again soon for who knows what celebrations or adventures we’ll be partaking.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Merrill, Elmer Truesdell. “The Roman Calendar and the Regifugium“. Classical Philology. The University of Chicago Press, 1924.

Smith, William. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London, 1875.

Regifugium. NovaRoma.org

Terminalia: Celebrating Terminus and Boundaries

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As we carry on in this month of Februarius (February), we shall continue to celebrate. We’ve already experienced Feriae Sementivae: The Roman Festival of Sowing (2/2); Parentalia: Celebrating the Ancestors of Rome (2/12); Quirinalia: Celebrating Quirinus and Rome’s Civil Society (2/17); Ferālia: Celebrating Roman Spirits of the Dead (2/21); and Caristia: Celebrating the Love of Family (2/22).

Since Februarius was all about partying for the Romans, today we are going to be like the Romans and celebrate Terminalia!

“The Feast Before the Altar of Terminus” (c. 1642) by by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum).

Terminalia was an Ancient Roman festival in honor of the god Terminus, who presided over boundaries. His statue was merely a stone or post stuck in the ground to distinguish between properties.

His worship is said to have been instituted by Numa who ordered that everyone should mark the boundaries of his landed property by stones to be consecrated to Jupiter Terminalis. At which every year, sacrifices were to be offered at the festival of the Terminalia.

Terminus is often pictured as a bust on a boundary stone, here the concedo nvlli or concedo nulli means “yield no ground”.

On the festival the 2 owners of adjacent property crowned the statue with garlands and raised a crude altar, on which they offered up some corn, honeycombs, and wine, and sacrificed a lamb or a suckling pig. They concluded with singing the praises of the god.

The public festival in honor of this god was celebrated at the 6th milestone on the road towards Laurentum. It can be concluded that the celebration was held like this because it was originally the extent of the Roman territory in that direction.

The rites of the Terminalia included ceremonial renewal and mutual recognition of the boundary stone, the marker between properties. A garland would be laid on this marker by all parties to the land so divided.

“A Spring Festival” by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema.

After kindling a fire, honey-cakes, fruits and wine would be offered and shared, and songs of praise to Terminus would be sung. Terminus was considered to have the appearance of stone and was often honored with the placement of a large stone at the boundaries, much as farmers do today in various countries.

The Roman poet Ovid wrote in his 6-book Latin poem Fasti (Book of Days):

When night has passed, let the god be celebrated With customary honour, who separates the fields with his sign. Terminus, whether a stone or a stump buried in the earth, You have been a god since ancient times. You are crowned from either side by two landowners, Who bring two garlands and two cakes in offering. An altar’s made: here the farmer’s wife herself Brings coals from the warm hearth on a broken pot. The old man cuts wood and piles the logs with skill, And works at setting branches in the solid earth. Then he nurses the first flames with dry bark, While a boy stands by and holds the wide basket. When he’s thrown grain three times into the fire The little daughter offers the sliced honeycombs. Others carry wine: part of each is offered to the flames: The crowd, dressed in white, watch silently. Terminus, at the boundary, is sprinkled with lamb’s blood, And doesn’t grumble when a sucking pig is granted him. Neighbours gather sincerely, and hold a feast, And sing your praises, sacred Terminus.

The festival of the Terminalia was celebrated 23 February on the day before the Regifugium. The Terminalia was celebrated on the last day of the old Roman year, whence some derive its name.

Roman boundary marker near Lisbon, Portugal.

Februarius was the last month of the Roman year. When the intercalary month Mercedonius was added, the last 5 days of Februarius were added to the intercalary month, thus making the 23 February the last day of the year.

When Cicero in a letter to Atticus says, Accepi tuas litteras a. d. V. Terminalia (i.e. Feb. 19), he uses this strange mode of defining a date. Since Cicero was then in Cilicia, he did not know whether any intercalation had been inserted that year.

In Plutarch‘s collections of essays and speeches known as Moralia, he states:

Is it that Romulus placed no boundary-stones for his country, so that Romans might go forth, seize land, and regard all as theirs, as the Spartan said, which their spears could reach; whereas Numa Pompilius, a just man and a statesman, who had become versed in philosophy, marked out the boundaries between Rome and her neighbours, and, when on the boundary-stones he had formally installed Terminus as overseer and guardian of friendship and peace, he thought that Terminus should be kept pure and undefiled from blood and gore?

Fanciful 19th Century depiction of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus above the Tiber River during the Roman Republic.

The central Terminus of Rome (to which all roads led) was the god’s ancient shrine on the Capitoline Hill. The Temple of Jupiter, king of the gods, had to be built around it by the city’s last king, Tarquinius Superbus.

A hole in the ceiling was left in Jupiter’s temple as Terminus demanded open-air sacrifices, and Tarquin had closed down other shrines on the site to make room for this prestigious project. However, the Augurs had read into the flight patterns of birds that the god Terminus refused to be moved, which was taken as a sign of stability for the city.

In Roman Antiquities, the great work by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, it was claimed:

It is fitting to relate also the incidents that preceded the building of it as they have been handed down by all the compilers of Roman history. When Tarquinius was preparing to build the temple [of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus] he called the augurs together and ordered them first to consult the auspices concerning the site itself, in order to learn what place in the city was the most suitable to be consecrated and the most acceptable to the gods themselves; and upon their indicating the hill that commands the Forum, which was then called the Tarpeian, but now the Capitoline Hill, he ordered them to consult the auspices once more and declare in what part of the hill the foundations must be laid. But this was not at all easy; for there were upon the hill many altars both of the gods and of the lesser divinities not far apart from one another, which would have to be moved to some other place and the whole area given up to the sanctuary that was to be built to the gods. The augurs thought proper to consult the auspices concerning each one of the altars that were erected there, and if the gods were willing to withdraw, then to move them elsewhere. The rest of the gods and lesser divinities, then, gave them leave to move their altars elsewhere, but Terminus and Juventas, although the augurs besought them with great earnestness and importunity, could not be prevailed on and refused to leave their places. Accordingly, their altars were included within the circuit of the temples, and one of them now stands in the vestibule of Minerva’s shrine and the other in the shrine itself near the statue of the goddess. From this circumstance the augurs concluded that no occasion would ever cause the removal of the boundaries of the Romans’ city or impair its vigour; and both have proved true down to my day, which is already the twenty-fourth generation.

Image statue of Terminus

We hope you enjoyed today’s Terminalia and look forward to having you back again. Come check us out again soon for who knows what celebrations or adventures we’ll be partaking.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

References:

Smith, William. “Terminalia“. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (3rd ed.). John Murray, 1890.

Terminalia. NovaRoma.org

Caristia: Celebrating the Love of Family

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As we carry on in this month of Februarius (February), we shall continue to celebrate. We’ve already experienced Feriae Sementivae: The Roman Festival of Sowing (2/2); Parentalia: Celebrating the Ancestors of Rome (2/12); Quirinalia: Celebrating Quirinus and Rome’s Civil Society (2/17); and Ferālia: Celebrating Roman Spirits of the Dead (2/21).

Since Februarius was all about partying for the Romans, today we are going to be like the Romans and celebrate Caristia!

“Family Banquet”. Painting from Pompeii (National Archeological Museum, Naples).

In Ancient Rome the Caristia, also known as the Cara Cognatio (The Festival of the Caring Kin), was an official but privately observed holiday on 22 February. This 1-day holiday celebrated love of family with banqueting and gifts.

In the Roman religion, the entire month of February was themed around purification. Caristia was a little like Lent in the final month of our religious year.

The Caristia was one of several days in February that honored family or ancestors. It followed the Parentalia, 9 days of remembrance, and concluded with the Feralia or the Caristia on the next day.

Fresco depicting ancestral sacrifices in the lararium of the house of Iulius Polybius in Pompeii.

Families gathered to dine together and offer food and incense to the Lares as their household gods. It was a day of reconciliation when disagreements were to be set aside, but the poet Ovid observes dryly that this could be achieved only by excluding family members who caused trouble.

For the Parentalia, families visited the tombs of their ancestors and shared cake and wine both in the form of offerings and as a meal among themselves. The Feralia was a more somber occasion, a public festival of sacrifices and offerings to the Manes, the spirits of the dead who required propitiation.

The Romans placed a high importance on the family unit. It was the foundation of the religion, and the household was considered a microcosm for the larger family of Rome, united by Vesta.

So Caristia was the time when you got together with your living family and celebrated a meal together in love. Like the binding power of Vesta as the spirit of Rome, love kept families together.

Fragment of a tablet showcasing a Roman family together for Caristia.

The Caristia was a recognition of the family line as it continued into the present and among the living. This is the meal where you attempt to move beyond your problems with your family, and lay any differences aside.

Small tokens of affection were exchanged in an attempt to mend one’s own hurt feelings. If one couldn’t do that then he or she would pretend all was well.

And if one couldn’t pretend? Then he or she would simply not invite the person whom was offensive.

There were distributions of bread, wine, bread soaked in wine, salt, wheat, flower garlands, violet petals, and sportulae (bonuses, tips, tokens of appreciation). The poet Martial has a poem on gift-giving for the holiday where he offers a sort of “non-apology apology” to his relatives Stella and Flaccus, explaining that he’s sent them nothing because he didn’t want to offend others who ought to receive a gift from him and wouldn’t.

Diners on a triclinium in a fresco from Pompeii (c. 79 AD).

Unlike public festivals, the Caristia and other privately observed holidays were allowed to fall on even-numbered days of the Roman calendar. The Cara Cognatio remained on the calendar long after the Roman Empire had come under Christian rule.

It appeared in the Chronography of 354, and the calendar of Polemius Silvius (449 AD) juxtaposed the old holiday with a feast day commemorating the burial of St. Peter and St. Paul. As a “love feast” the Caristia was not incompatible with Christian attitudes.

Some scholars have detected an influence of the Parentalia and Caristia on the Christian agape feast, with the consumption of bread and wine at the ancestral tomb replaced by the Eucharist. In the 5th Century, some Christian priests even encouraged participation in funerary meals.

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

In the first half of the 6th Century, some Gallo-Romans still observed a form of the holiday with food offerings to the dead and a ritual meal. By then, however, the practice had come under suspicion as a pagan ritual, and the Council of Tours in 567 explicitly censured those who defiled the feast day of St. Peter.

The observances were condemned by Caesarius of Arles as an excuse for drunkenness, dancing, singing, and other demonic behaviors. The suppression of traditional commemorations of the dead were part of increasing efforts by the Church to control and monopolize religious behaviors in Merovingian Gaul.

“Suicide of Dido”. A representation of Dido being rescued by her sister Anna, later identified with the Roman divinity Anna Perenna. Oil on canvas by Guercino, 1625 (Rome, Galleria).

In the archaic Roman calendar, Februarius was the last month of the year. With the beginning of March came the New Year. The goddess of the year, Anna Perenna, was celebrated on the Ides of March (15 March) with heavily drinking outside in tents or right on the river bank. It was believed that one should drink as many drinks as many years he would like to live.

The Death of Caesar (1798) by Vincenzo Camuccini (aka The Ides of March).

After having arranged their relationship with the dead the previous day, Caristia was how the Romans turned to life and tried to arrange their relationship with the living. Celebrating life was at the center of that occasion and Cara Cognatio was a kind of a “feast of family love” which people commemorated with banqueting, gift exchanging, and reconciliation.

We hope you enjoyed today’s Caristia and look forward to having you back again. Come check us out again soon for who knows what celebrations or adventures we’ll be partaking.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Donahue, John F. “Towards a Typology of Roman Public Feasting”. Roman Dining: A Special Issue of American Journal of Philology. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

Effros, Bonnie. Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Filotas, Bernadotte. Pagan Survivals, Superstitions and Popular Cultures in Early Medieval Pastoral Literature. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2005.

Fowler, William Warde. The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (1908).

Laurentine, Camilla. February Rites: Parentalia, Feralia, and Caristia. 7 February 2014.

Lipka, Michael. Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach. Brill, 2009.

Nenova, Stella. 5 Merry Winter Festivals in Ancient Rome. 18 December 2015.

Ovid. Fasti.

Salzman, Michele Renee. “Religious Koine and Religious Dissent in the Fourth Century”. A Companion to Roman Religion. Blackwell, 2007.

Turcan, Robert. The Gods of Ancient Rome. Routledge, 1998, 2001.

Ferālia: Celebrating Roman Spirits of the Dead

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As we carry on in this month of Februarius (February), we shall continue to celebrate. We’ve already experienced Feriae Sementivae: The Roman Festival of Sowing (2/2); Parentalia: Celebrating the Ancestors of Rome (2/12); and Quirinalia: Celebrating Quirinus and Rome’s Civil Society (2/17).

Since Februarius was all about partying for the Romans, today we are going to be like the Romans and celebrate Ferālia!

Tiepolo’s Triumph of Flora (ca. 1743), a scene based on the Fasti, Book 4.

Ferālia was an Ancient Roman public festival celebrating the Manes (Roman spirits of the dead, particularly the souls of deceased individuals) which fell on 21 February as recorded by Ovid in Book II of his Fasti. This day marked the end of Parentalia, a 9-day festival (13–21 February) honoring Rome’s dead ancestors.

Roman citizens were instructed to bring offerings to the tombs of their dead ancestors. This consisted of at least an arrangement of wreaths, a sprinkling of grain with a bit of salt, bread soaked in wine, and violets scattered about.

Many high status Roman tombs were designed to include seating-even dining couches and cooking facilities for visiting relatives.

Additional offerings were permitted, however the dead were appeased with just the previously aforesaid items. These simple offerings to the dead were perhaps introduced into the Latium by Aeneas, who poured wine and scattered violet flowers on Anchises‘ tomb.

Ovid tells of a time when Romans, in the midst of war, neglected Ferālia. This caused the spirits of the departed to rise from their graves in anger, and carry on into the streets howling and roaming.

After this event, tribute to the tombs were then made and the ghastly hauntings ceased. To indicate public mourning, marriages of any kind were prohibited on the Ferālia.

Ovid urged mothers, brides, and widows to refrain from lighting their wedding torches, and for Magistrates to stop wearing their insignia. Any worship of the gods was prohibited as it should be hidden behind closed temple doors (aka no incense on altars nor fire on hearths).

Nothing survives as far as public rites are concerned, however on this day as described by Ovid, an old drunken woman (anus ebria) sits in a circle with other girls performing rites in the name of the mute goddess Tacita who is identified with the nymph Lara or Larunda. The ritual consists of the old woman placing three bits of incense, with three of her fingers, beneath a threshold where a mouse is unknowingly buried.

The Parentalia was the time Romans visited the necropolis to revere and appease their ancestors.

She then rolls 7 black beans in her mouth, and smears the head of a fish with pitch, impaling it with a bronze needle, and roasting it in a fire. After she formally declaims the purpose of her actions, as customary in Greco-Roman magic ritual, saying, “I have gagged spiteful tongues and muzzled unfriendly mouths” (Hostiles linguas inimicaque uinximus ora), she departs intoxicated.

The use of the black beans in the old woman’s ritual may be related to rites that lend themselves to another festival of the dead in the month of May, called Lemuria. During Lemuria the dead ancestor spirits, particularly the unburied (lemures), emerge from their graves and visit the homes in which they had lived.

It was then necessary to confront the unwelcome spirits and lure them out of one’s house using specific actions and chants. According to Ovid, this includes the involvement of black beans to lure a spirit out of the home.

And after washing his hands clean in spring water, he turns, and first he receives black beans and throws them away with face averted; but while he throws them, he says: ‘These I cast; with these beans I redeem me and mine.’ This he says nine times, without looking back: the shade is thought to gather the beans, and to follow unseen behind. Again he touches water, and clashes Temesan bronze, and asks the shade to go out of his house. When he has said 9 times, ‘Ghosts of my fathers, go forth!’ he looks back, and thinks that he has duly performed the sacred rites.

Black Beans

Perhaps the black beans carried with them undertones of warding away or ousting bad things in general, whether it be unwelcome spirits haunting a household as seen during Lemuria, or preventing undesired gossip towards an individual as in the old hag’s ritual during Ferālia. Also, in the context of sacrifices, the black beans are similar to the black animals used in sacrifice to the ‘chthonic deities’.

It is implied through Ovid’s choice of words, hostiles linguas and inimicaque ora, that the ritual was intended to curb gossip about a girl’s reputation. Gossip of such a nature and its consequences were the subject for the cause, which Ovid offers, of the Dea Tacita festival, which was held on the same day as the Ferālia.

A marble statue of Jupiter (c. 100 AD).

Ovid then tells a story to explain the origins of Dea Tacitia, starting with Jupiter‘s untamed lust for the nymph Juturna. Juturna, aware of Jupiter’s lust for her, hid within the Hazelwood forest and dove into her sisters’ waters.

Jupiter then gathered all the nymphs in Latium seeking their help in capturing Juturna, saying,

Your sister is spiting herself by shunning her own advantage, an entanglement with the highest god. Look out for us both. What will be a great pleasure for me will be in your sister’s great interest. Block her as she flees at the bank of the river to keep her from jumping into its waters.

One of the informed nymphs, Lara, could not hold her tongue and warned Juturna to flee. In addition, she approached Jupiter’s wife Juno, saying, “Your husband loves the Naiad Juturna.”

Gallo-Roman Lar from the Muri collection, Imperial period (Historical Museum of Bern).

As a result, Jupiter rips out Lara’s tongue in anger and summons Mercury to escort her to be a nymph in the Underworld. During this mission Mercury becomes lustful of Lara and rapes her, begetting twins who in turn become the Lares, the guardians of intersections who watch over the city of Rome.

We hope you enjoyed today’s Ferālia and look forward to having you back again. Come check us out again soon for who knows what celebrations or adventures we’ll be partaking.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Antoni, Silke (Kiel). “Tacita.” Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. University of California UC Santa Barbara CDL. Brill’s New Pauly “Tacita” article.

Baudy, Gerhard (Konstanz). “Parentalia.” Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. University of California UC Santa Barbara CDL. Brill’s New Pauly “Parentalia” article.

Cokayne, Karen. Experiencing Old Age in Ancient Rome. Routledge, 2003.

Dumézil, Georges. Archaic Roman Religion. Vol 1. The University of Chicago Press, 1966. 2 vols.

Littlewood, J. R. “Ovid among the Family Dead: the Roman Founder Legend and Augustan Iconography in Void’s Feralia and Lemuria.” Latomus (2003).

Ovid. Fasti. Trans. Betty Rose Nagle. Indiana University Press, 1995.

Prescendi, Francesca (Genf). “Manes, Di.” Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. University of California UC Santa Barbara CDL. Brill’s New Pauly “Di Manes” article.

S.LU.; von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin); Prayon, Friedhelm (Tübingen); Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton); Doubordieu, Annie (Paris); Jastrzebowska, Elisabeth. “Dead, cult of the.” Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. University of California UC Santa Barbara CDL. Brill’s New Pauly “The cult of the dead” article.

Making It Happen: The Military of Ancient Rome – Part I

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If this is your initial visit with us, thanks for stopping by. If you are back for further adventures with us, then you’re in for a treat.

It’s time to put on your caligae (military boots) and grab your glădĭus (sword) for we are joining the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army). For those not aware, the growth of Ancient Rome was put onto the backs of its soldiers.

Today we are journeying back to when, and where, it all began as we see how the Military of Ancient Rome made it all happen!

The Backbone of the Roman Empire

According to Caesar Medina, an illustrious historian of Rome over the centuries, the Military of Ancient Rome was a key element in the rise of Rome over 700 years. Growing from a small settlement in Latium on the Mediterranean, Rome became the capital of an Empire governing a wide region around the shores of what the Romans called mare nostrum (our sea).

Livy asserts:

… if any people ought to be allowed to consecrate their origins and refer them to a divine source, so great is the military glory of the Roman People that when they profess that their Father and the Father of their Founder was none other than Mars, the nations of the earth may well submit to this also with as good a grace as they submit to Rome’s dominion.

1st Century Roman portrait bust said to be of Josephus (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – Copenhagen, Denmark).

Titus Flavius Josephus, a contemporary historian, sometime high-ranking officer in the Roman Army, and commander of the rebels in the Jewish revolt, describes the Roman people as if they were born already armed. At the time of these historians, Roman society had already evolved an effective military and had used it to defend itself against the Etruscans, the Italics, the Greeks, the Gauls, the maritime empire of Carthage, and the Macedonian kingdoms.

In each war, Rome kept on acquiring more territory. When the Final War of the Roman Republic ended the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic), nothing was left for the original Emperor, Augustus, to do except declare it an Empire and defend it.

The role and structure of Rome’s Military was then altered during the Empire. It became less Roman, with the duties of border protection and territorial administration being more and more taken by foreign mercenaries with Roman Officers.

SPQR insignia

During the Roman Republic the function of the Military was defined as service to the Senatus Populusque Romanus, an agency designated by SPQR on public inscriptions. Its main body was the Senatus Romanus (Roman Senate), which met in a building still extant in the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum).

Its decrees were handed off to the pair of Chief Officers of the State, the Consules (Consuls). They could levy from the citizens whatever military force they judged was necessary to execute the decree, and often did this by a draft of male citizens assembled by age class.

A modern look at Ancient Roman Officers.

The Officers of the Legion were tasked with selecting men for the ranks. The will of the SPQR was binding on the Consuls and the men, with the death penalty (typically by crucifixion) often assigned for disobedience or failure.

The consular duties were of any type whatever: military defense, police work, public hygiene, assistance in civil disaster, health work, agriculture, and especially construction of public roads, bridges, aqueducts, buildings, and the maintenance of such. The soldiers were kept busy doing whatever service needed to be done: soldiering, manning vessels, carpentry, blacksmithing, clerking, etc.

The men were trained as required but any previous skills, such as a trade, were exploited. They were brought to the task and were protected by the authority of the state.

Location of Roman Legions camps (AD 80).

The Military’s campaign history stretched over 1300 years and saw Roman Armies campaigning as far east as Parthia (modern-day Iran), as far south as Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and Aegyptus (modern-day Egypt), and as far north as Britannia (modern-day England, south Scotland, and Wales). The makeup of the Roman Military changed substantially over its history, from its early history as an unsalaried citizen militia to a later professional force, the Imperial Roman Army.

The equipment used by the military altered greatly in type over time, though there were very few technological improvements in weapons manufacture, in common with the rest of the classical world. For much of its history, the vast majority of Rome’s forces were maintained at or beyond the limits of its territory, in order to either expand Rome’s domain, or protect its existing borders.

Expansions were infrequent, as the Emperors, adopting a strategy of fixed lines of defense, had determined to maintain existing borders. For that purpose they constructed extensive walls and created permanent stations that became cities.

Hadrian’s Wall, a Roman boundary still standing today in Britain.

At its territorial height, the Roman Empire may have contained between 45 million and 120 million people. Historians have estimated that the size of the Roman Army was likely a standing force of 375,000 at the Empire’s territorial peak in the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117 – 138 AD).

This estimate probably included only Legionarii (Legionary) and Auxiliaries (Auxiliary) troops of the Exercitus Romanus. In the late Imperial period, when vast numbers of Foederati were employed by the Romans, it’s been estimated the combined number of men in arms from the Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire numbered closer to 700,000 in total (not all members of a standing army), drawing on data from the Notitia Dignitatum.

Relief scene of Roman Legionaries marching, from the Column of Marcus Aurelius (Rome, Italy, 2nd Century AD).

Initially, Rome’s Military consisted of an annual citizen charge of performing military service as part of their duty to the State. During this period, the Roman Army would prosecute seasonal campaigns against largely local adversaries.

As the extent of the territories falling under Roman suzerainty expanded, and the size of the city’s forces increased, the soldiery of Ancient Rome became increasingly professional and salaried. As a consequence, military service at the lower (non-staff) levels became progressively longer-term.

Roman military units of the period were largely homogeneous and highly regulated. The Army consisted of units of Citizen Infantry known as Legions (Legiones) as well as non-legionary allied troops known as Auxilia to provide light infantry or cavalry support.

Roman Soldiers on the cast of Trajan’s Column (Victoria and Albert museum, London).

Military service in the later Empire continued to be salaried yearly and professionally for Rome’s regular troops. However, the trend of employing allied or mercenary troops was expanded such that these troops came to represent a substantial proportion of Rome’s forces.

At the same time, the uniformity of structure found in Rome’s earlier military forces disappeared. Soldiery of the era ranged from lightly armed mounted archers to heavy infantry, in regiments of varying size and quality, with an increasing predominance of cavalry rather than infantry troops in the late Empire.

In the Legions of the Republic, discipline was fierce and training was harsh. All of this was  intended to instill a group cohesion or (esprit de corps) that could bind the men together into effective fighting units.

The testudo formation in a Roman military reenactment.

Unlike opponents such as the Gauls, who were fierce individual warriors, Roman military training concentrated on instilling teamwork and maintaining a level head over individual bravery. Troops were to maintain exact formations in battle and skillfully use the sheltering of one’s shield, thus being able to deliver efficient stabs when an opponent made himself vulnerable (the testudo).

A modern reconstruction of an Aquila.

Loyalty was to the Roman State but pride was based in the Soldier’s Unit, to which was attached a military standard (most likely the Aquila or Eagle). Successful units, such as the 20th Legion which became the XX Valeria Victrix (Valiant and Victorious 20th), were awarded with accolades that became part of their official name.

Of the martial culture of less valued units such as sailors, and light infantry, less is known. It is doubtful that other training was as intense or its esprit de corps as strong as in the Legions.

Although early in its history troops were expected to provide much of their own equipment, eventually the Roman Military was almost entirely funded by the State. Since soldiers of the early Republican Armies were also unpaid citizens, the financial burden of the Army on the State was minimal.

However, since the Roman State did not provide services such as housing, health, education, social security and public transport that are part and parcel of modern states, the Military always represented by far the greatest expenditure of the State.

During the time of expansion in the Republic and early Empire, Roman Armies had acted as a source of revenue for the Roman State, plundering conquered territories, displaying the massive wealth in triumphus (triumphs) upon their return, and fueling the economy to the extent that historians believed the Roman economy was essentially a plunder economy.

Roman coins grew gradually more debased due to the demands placed on the treasury of the Roman State by the Military.

However, after the Empire had stopped expanding in the 2nd Century AD, this source of revenue dried up. By the end of the 3rd Century AD, Rome had ceased to vanquish.

As tax revenue was plagued by corruption and hyperinflation during the Crisis of the Third Century, military expenditures began to like the weight of the world upon the shoulders of Atlas on the finances of the Roman state. It now highlighted weaknesses that earlier expansion had disguised.

Several additional factors bloated the military expenditure of the Roman Empire. First, substantial rewards were paid to barbarian chieftains for their good conduct in the form of negotiated subsidies and for the provision of allied troops.

3rd Century Roman Cavalry

Secondly, the military boosted its numbers, possibly by 1/3 in a single century. Third, the military increasingly relied on a higher ratio of Equites Romani (Cavalry) units in the late Empire, which was much more expensive to maintain than Infantry units.

As military size and costs increased, new taxes were introduced or existing tax laws reformed in the late Empire to finance it. Even though there were more inhabitants available within the borders of the late Empire, reducing the per capita costs for an increased standing army was impractical.

A large number of the population could not be taxed because they were slaves or held Roman citizenship, both of which exempted them from taxation. Of the remaining people within the Empire, a large number were already impoverished by centuries of warfare and weakened by chronic malnutrition.

Still, they had to handle an increasing tax rate and so they often abandoned their lands to survive in a city. By 440 AD, Roman Law conditions that the State had insufficient tax revenue to fund an Army of a size required by the demands placed upon it.

Ancient Rome’s marching camps were a crucial part of every Roman offensive.

The military capability of Rome, its preparedness or readiness, was always primarily based upon the maintenance of an active fighting force acting either at or beyond its military frontiers. Because of these deployments, the Roman Military kept a central strategic reserve after the Social War.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. We look forward to having you join us again as we conclude Rome’s military might with Part II.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Connolly, PeterGreece and Rome at War. Greenhill Books, 1998. ISBN 978-1-85367-303-0.

Fox, Robin LaneThe Classical WorldPenguin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-14-102141-1.

Gibbon, EdwardThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Penguin Books, 1985. ISBN 0-14-043189-6.

Goldsworthy, AdrianIn the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire. Weidenfield and Nicholson, 2003. ISBN 0-297-84666-3.

Grant, MichaelThe History of RomeFaber and Faber, 1993. ISBN 0-571-11461-X.

Heather, PeterThe Fall of the Roman Empire: A New HistoryMacmillan Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-330-49136-9.

Jones, Arnold Hugh MartinThe Later Roman EmpireJohns Hopkins University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8018-3285-3.

Livy. The Rise of Rome. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-282296-9.

Luttwak, EdwardThe Grand Strategy of the Roman EmpireJohns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-2158-4.

Matyszak, PhilipThe Enemies of RomeThames and Hudson, 2004. ISBN 0-500-25124-X.

PolybiusThe Rise of the Roman Empire (Translation by W. R. Paton). Harvard University Press, 1927.

Santosuosso, AntonioStorming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors and Civilians in the Roman Empire. Westview Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8133-3523-X.

TacitusThe Annals.

 

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Romania as we visited the Wooden Churches of Maramureş.

Today we’re headed to Turkey as we check out the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia!

Göreme town panorama

Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu.

The area is bounded on the south and east by ranges of extinct volcanoes with Erciyes Dağ at one end and Hasan Dağ at the other. The density of its rock-hewn cells, churches, troglodyte villages and subterranean cities within the rock formations make it one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes.

Though interesting from a geological and ethnological point of view, the incomparable beauty of the decor of the Christian sanctuaries makes Cappadocia one of the leading examples of the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.

It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th Century at which time small anchorite communities, acting on the teachings of Basileios the Great, Bishop of Kayseri, began inhabiting cells hewn in the rock. In later periods, in order to resist Arab invasions, they began banding together into troglodyte villages or subterranean towns such as Kaymakli or Derinkuyu which served as places of refuge.

Cappadocian monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols (most often sculpted or tempera painted crosses). However, after 842 many rupestral churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly coloured figurative painting.

Those churches in the Göreme Valley include Tokalı Kilise and El Nazar Kilise (10th century), St. Barbara Kilise and Saklı Kilise (11th century) and Elmalı Kilise and Karanlık Kilise (end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th Century).

How This Relates to Rome:

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, which had been founded as Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both Byzantine Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire or Romania, and to themselves as Romans.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!