Book 2; Thought 11

Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of Providence?Providence But in truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they have put all the means in man’s power to enable him not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, if there was anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that it should be altogether in a man’s power not to fall into it. Now that which does not make a man worse, how can it make a man’s life worse? But neither through ignorance, nor having the knowledge, but not the power to guard against or correct these things, is it possible that the nature of the universe has overlooked them; nor is it possible that it has made so great a mistake, either through want of power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But death certainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil.

Spartacus: Vengeance

Rome Across Europe and our love of television and movies about ancient Rome blazes forth with Spartacus: Vengeance. We have already reviewed Spartacus: Blood and Sand as well as Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.Spartacus-Vengeance

Spartacus: Vengeance is the title of the 2nd season of Spartacus, a New Zealand produced, Starz television series which premiered 27 January 2012. It follows Spartacus: Blood and Sand, where Spartacus: Gods of the Arena was a prequel.

Its story follows Spartacus (played by Liam McIntyre, who replaces the late Andy Whitfield), after he and his fellow gladiators kill their master Batiatus and escape from his ludus, or gladiatorial training school.New Spartacus

Cast members and characters who return from the 1st season include Lucy Lawless as Lucretia, Peter Mensah as OenomausManu Bennett as CrixusDan Feuerriegel as Agron, Nick E. Tarabay as Ashur, Viva Bianca as Ilithyia, and Craig Parker as Gaius Claudius GlaberDustin Clare also reprises his role as Gannicus from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

On 6 June 2012, Starz and Anchor Bay Entertainment announced the season would be released in DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats on 11 September 2012 in a 3-disc set.Saison_2

Series creator Steven S. DeKnight said in an interview, “It’s unheard of to recast your titular character in a television show, and we did a lot of soul searching about whether we even wanted to try.” Andy Whitfield said the show should go forward without him and gave his blessing, claiming “I want this story told.”

Following their escape from the ludus, Spartacus and Crixus command and train their small troop of domestic slaves and gladiators, while making temporary accommodation in the sewers. With thoughts only on vengeance Spartacus wants to kill the now-Praetor Glaber, while Crixus is motivated with finding his lost love Naevia.Leaders

A pregnant Ilithyia wants to stay in Rome, but Glaber demands she accompany him to Capua to put down the Rebels. Glaber, Ilithyia and his soldiers return take up residence in the ludus of Batiatus and are shocked to find Lucretia alive but seemingly insane.

Elsewhere, Oenomaus (Doctore) feels extremely guilty for helping destroy the House of Batiatus, but still warns the Rebels of the strength of Glaber and his Romans. Spartacus agrees with Crixus that they should march south to look for Naevia, as well as seek to free all slaves who come into their path.

Spartacus and his band of gladiators move south, and take an isolated villa owned by a wealthy Roman, who had Naevia for a short time before sending her further south. One of the slaves, a young male named Nasir, attempts to kill Spartacus in the night as he has lost his position due to Spartacus’ actions. Spartacus chooses not to have Nasir killed, but decides to train him.Chosen-Path

Back in Capua, Lucretia is viewed as an oracle due to her surviving Spartacus’ massacre. Meanwhile, Oenomaus thinks back about his purchase from the Pits in his youth, and again starts fighting there hoping to be killed.

Spartacus and crew free another band of slaves being sent for the dreaded mines. A slaver with his dying breath tells Agron and Nasir that Naevia lives but is working the mines. Agron, who believes an attempt to free Naevia would result in the death of all the Rebels, lies and tells Crixus that Naevia is dead.Rebels vs Romans

In Capua, Ashur tortures Oenomaus to get information on Spartacus and his men unsuccessfully. It is here that Ashur reveals to Oenomaus his wife Melitta’s affair with his closest friend Gannicus.

Oenomaus in his disbelief inadvertently reveals the Rebels’ purpose of going south in search of Naevia. Agron takes his own group to make camp at Mons Vesuvius while Spartacus, Crixus, and the others go to the mines.

Disguising themselves as slaves and guards, the Rebels infiltrate the mines in search of Naevia. However, Ashur, and Glaber’s soldiers, arrive shortly afterward and enter the mines in pursuit.Finding Truth

Crixus is briefly reunited with Naevia, but as they attempt to make their way out, the soldiers catch up with them. Crixus courageously battles the soldiers so Naevia and the Rebels can escape, but is ultimately overwhelmed.

Glaber must ease the insult he gave to Varinius, a fellow Praetor, so Ilithyia suggests a party in his honor. Young Seppia seeks advice from Lucretia on seeking her future husband and sets her sights on Varinius, much to Ilithyia’s envy for she also wants to marry Varinius.Varinus and Seppia

Spartacus’ numbers dwindle in the forest as they are killed 1-by-1 by the pursuing Romans. By the final fight only Spartacus, Mira, Naevia and the wounded Nasir are left alive.

Back in Capua, Ilithyia outshines Seppia and brokers a deal withVarinius for marriage if Senator Albinius (Ilithyia’s father) dissolves her marriage. Ilithyia seeks out her father among the party only to find him in bed with Lucretia.Spartacus Vengeance

While searching a temple with a view to spend the night, Spartacus encounters Lucius, a Roman disillusioned with Rome because of the Social War Sulla waged years before. Lucius gives shelter and information to the Rebels.

Lucius informs Spartacus that 3 of the Rebels will be executed in the arena, 1 of them being Crixus. Spartacus, unwilling to forsake Crixus and wanting to send a message to the Romans, hatches a daring plan of rescue, where they will move in and take the arena in Capua.

Meanwhile, Gannicus returns to Capua to give Oenomaus a honorable death in the arena, unaware though that Oenomaus knows of his affair with Melitta. Elsewhere, Lucretia dissuades Ilithyia from aborting her child, though Ilithyia must be rid of the pregnancy if she will marry Varinius.Gannicus and Oenomaus

Ilithyia admits to Glaber upon confrontation that their love and marriage is over and reveals her plan to marry Varinius. When the primus starts, Mira sets the arena on fire at its foundations.

As the arena collapses and the spectators flee, Spartacus and Agron attack the remaining gladiators and guards. They escape with Gannicus, Crixus and Oenomaus, but not before Spartacus throws a spear directly at Glaber and nicks his cheek.

Glaber, the last to leave the pulvinus, chances upon Senator Albinius trapped beneath a fallen beam, but he does not save his father-in-law, instead killing him. Glaber finds Ilithyia and tells her of her father being killed by Spartacus, and that they will remain married.Glaber and wife

Glaber, still angry and feeling the sting of betrayal, treats Ilithyia cruelly, in where she seeks casual comfort with Lucretia and schemes to win back Glaber’s love. Glaber attempts to join forces with Seppius and his group of mercenaries, but is again rebuffed, resulting in the young Seppia being invited to the villa instead.

Naevia, being haunted by her ordeal, is unable to show her love to Crixus while he is unable to forgive Agron for lying about Naevia’s death. Spartacus attempts to enlist Gannicus to his cause but Gannicus remains unconvinced.

Lucius, the disillusioned Roman, seeks to aid in training the Rebels who were once house slaves. Oenomaus awakens and tells Gannicus that they were once brothers and the betrayal with Melitta is not easily forgotten or forgiven.

In the port city of Neapolis, Spartacus, Agron, and Lucius pose as rich Romans interested in buying a new shipment of slaves, all of whom hail from the Germanic tribes of the north. Complications arise when Agron speaks to the slaves in their mother tongue and is overheard by a Roman guard, who also shares their tongue and raises the alarm.

The operation succeeds and the Rebel’s army swells with Agron’s distant kin. This alarms Crixus and Lucius, given the possibility that these new recruits may not follow Spartacus’ orders in favor of Agron.

A great feast in the Rebel camp turns into a bloody battle after Seddulus, the biggest of all the new recruits, tries to rape Naevia. Agron decides this has gone too far and helps Crixus and Spartacus control the German.Argon and kin

Spartacus, asserting his authority as leader, fights Seddulus and brutally kills him. After witnessing the gruesome scene, Agron’s tribesmen swear allegiance to Spartacus.

Ilithyia is packed off to Rome, and kisses Glaber goodbye. No more than a few hours in her absence Glaber has sex with Seppia, when unfortunate news reaches him that Ilithyia’s wagon was viciously attacked on the road to Rome.

Gannicus leads the captive Ilithyia to the Rebel camp where she pleads for her life and the life of her unborn child. Ilithyia reveals to Spartacus that the child she carries is his, conceived the night that Lucretia tricked her into lying with Spartacus.Gannicus_&_Ilithyia

Glaber and Ashur scour the town for clues about where Gannicus has taken Ilithyia, laying waste to every brothel, with Ashur collecting goods from every corpse. Lucius brings Glaber a message from Spartacus that in exchange for a wagon filled with arms and armor, the Rebels will release Ilithyia.

At the agreed time and place, Glaber meets Spartacus with the wagon. After a heated exchange it is revealed that the wagon is filled with Ashur and his mercenary band.

An all-out battle occurs with Lucius being killed. Spartacus and most of his men escape, and Glaber returns to Capua without Ilithyia.

Lucretia finally reveals the depth of Glaber’s vengeance and murderous deeds to Seppia. At the end, Spartacus releases Ilithyia in the woods after revealing to her that Glaber had no intention of saving her.Seppia-Lucretia

Spartacus finds resentment and mistrust in his ranks and must see old wounds healed if the Rebels are to stand against the might of Rome. From Ilithyia’s information on the Rebels’ location, Ashur pinpoints the site of their temple base, and as reward he is promised his freedom after the defeat of Spartacus.

Varinius is rebuffed by Glaber, and also angered at Seppia’s lack of strong evidence of Glaber’s wrongdoings and murderous deeds. At the final moment before Seppia’s dagger is thrust into Glaber, Ilithyia grabs Seppia’s dagger from behind and stabs Seppia in her heart and proceeds to violently slit her throat.

Glaber and Ilithyia come to a mutual understanding about their marriage, as Ilithyia fuels passion with ambitious talk of power that they both must seek to acquire. The Roman attack on the Rebel temple goes forward, Varinius’ and Glaber’s forces in attendance.

Spartacus and Gannicus capture Varinius in the first assault, catching him unaware in the forest. Glaber and his men storm the temple overrunning Spartacus and the Rebels.

Cutting Glaber off from pursuit, the Rebels exit the tunnels only to have their retreat cut off by the rest of Glaber’s forces. With no other path that does not lead to certain death, the Rebels take to the steep mountain paths of Mt. Vesuvius.Rebels Vesuvius

Glaber halts further pursuit and decides to besiege the mountain, hoping to force the Rebels to come out in the open, driven by hunger and thirst. Glaber states that Spartacus and his followers will die.

Spartacus and most of his followers stand on the mountain paths of the lower slopes of Mt. Vesuvius pondering their next move. Some of his followers attempt to ambush several Roman soldiers guarding the mountain, including Ashur and the Egyptian mercenary.

A pregnant Ilithyia and Lucretia travel to Mt. Vesuvius where Ilithyia has a conversation with Glaber that convinces him that Ashur was working with Seppia to kill him, and suggest that he get rid of Ashur. Glaber agrees with her and in return asks Ilithyia to murder Lucretia because her role as oracle serves no purpose anymore.

Glaber bribes Ashur’s soldiers to betray the troublesome Ashur and then forces him to go on a suicide mission to prove himself, confronting Spartacus and his followers alone and bargaining for their surrender. Ashur’s offer is declined and Naevia convinces Crixus to allow her to fight him, with Naevia ultimately decapitating Ashur.

Spartacus comes up with a plan to ambush the Roman encampment with himself, Agron, Crixus, and Gannicus rappelling down vines behind the Roman guards.

At the bottom of their descent, the Rebels take control of the siege weapons to set fire to the camp and leave the legion in disarray. The rest of the Rebels join in the battle, attacking from the side.spartacus-starz-tv-show

As Ilithyia attempts to push Lucretia from the balcony of the ludus her water breaks. Lucretia pretends to help Ilithyia deliver her baby, but cuts Ilithyia’s newborn son from her womb and commits suicide by jumping off the cliff with the baby in her arms.

The battle between Glaber’s forces and the Rebels rages on and Oenomaus and Gannicus battle the Egyptian gladiator. Gannicus manages to kill the Egyptian mercenary but Oenomaus is fatally wounded and dies in Gannicus’s arms.

Spartacus has a 1-on-1 sword fight with Glaber, and bests his rival. Glaber defiantly boasts that his death and the destruction of his legion will bring many more legions of Roman soldiers after them.

Glaber continues that the Rebels will never win in the long run. In a defiant response, Spartacus shoves his sword down Glaber’s throat, killing him. Spartacus and the surviving rebels proceed to celebrate their victory.Vengeance

Although the roll of Spartacus is not as well done in Vengeance as it is in Blood and Sand, the story line keeps going with authority. All of us at Rome Across Europe cannot wait for more.

We hope you enjoyed yourselves and will stop by again for more. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



“‘Spartacus’ Creator Talks About Recasting the Title Role and What’s to Come for the Gladiators”. Retrieved 2011-04-29.

“‘Spartacus’ creator talks ‘Gods of the Arena’ finale, epic season 2 plans”. Entertainment Weekly. 2011-02-26. Retrieved 2011-03-27.

“Spartacus: Vengeance – Trailer – YouTube”. Starz. 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2011-08-01.

When the Gods Were Angry – A Day in Pompeii

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe. Today we are venturing back in time due to the help of Zero One Animation. Our journey is to the city of Pompeii.

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city in the Italian region of Campania. Founded between the 7th or 6th Century BC by the Osci or Oscans, it came under the domination of Rome in the 4th century BC.

In 80 BC it was conquered by Rome and became a Roman colony, after it joined an unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman Republic. Fast forward 160 years and Pompeii was a thriving port city on the Sarno River with a population of around 11,000 people.

Then on 24 August 79 AD, just one day after Vulcanalia, the festival of the Roman god of fire, including that from volcanoes, it happened…

The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. Evidence for the destruction originally came from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw the eruption from a distance and described the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens.

Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 ft of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748.

For the past 250 years Pompeii has been a tourist destination, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year. Not bad for a city that was once forgotten.

We hope you enjoyed our journey to ancient Pompeii. Until next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!


Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Today we are taking a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The location for today…the ancient town of Buthrōtum in modern Butrint, Albania.

And just for fun here’s another short video…

Roman History:

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric. Following a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area.

The settlement became an important stop along the merchant trade routes and reached the height of its glory in the 4th Century BC as one of the major maritime and commercial centers of the ancient world.

The sight of the fortifications alone, which date from the 6th Century BC, evokes the military and economic potential of the city at the time. The hill on which the acropolis stands is encircled by a wall built from huge stone blocks.

The amphitheatre, dating from the 3rd century BC, bears witness to the cultural riches of the city: the stone banks of seating, of which 23 rows have been preserved, would have held an audience of 1,500.

The theatre is situated at the foot of the acropolis, close by 2 temples, 1 of which is dedicated to Asclepios, the Greek god of medicine, who was worshipped by the city’s inhabitants.

Under the rule of the Romans the city was to fall slowly into decay. In spite of this, 3 monumental fountains, 3 public baths, a gymnasium decorated with mosaics, and the aqueduct constructed during the reign of Augustus, prove that the site was not completely abandoned.

In the palaeo-Christian period, 2 basilicas and a baptistry were built. The town’s medieval history was turbulent as it was involved in the power struggles between Byzantium and successive Norman, Angevin and Venetian states.

Then yet another conflict arose between Venice and the Ottoman Turks. Subterranean infiltration of water forced the inhabitants to flee, and the abandoned city was covered by mud and vegetation.

We hope you enjoyed the videos and learning about a wonderful historical site. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Top 15 Roman Commanders – #10: Lucius Cornelius Sulla


Today Rome Across Europe hits #10 on our list of Top 15 Roman Commanders in ancient Rome. As we march along, you can find the entire list here. Or you can check out the individual biographies of #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 and #9. We now present to you…

10: Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138 – 78 BC)10a

Lucius Sulla was a Statesman of Rome and part of a great list of powerful Roman Generals, so he fits perfectly on RAE’s list. Sulla was twice Consul and during the Social War he was awarded the rarest and most prestigious military honor, the Grass Crown.

His dictatorship came at the peak of the struggle between Populares and Optimates. General Sulla was skillful and gifted, winning many victories against Italians, barbarians, and fellow Romans.

One of his many rivals even described him as having a lion’s courage and a fox’s cunning ways. In Greece, Sulla developed his innovative battle tactics thus making the 1st known use of field works in an open-field battle in Roman history.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, known commonly as Sulla, was born into a branch of the patricius gens Cornelia. His family had fallen to an impoverished condition though at the time of his birth.

Lacking ready money, Sulla spent his youth amongst Rome’s comics, actors, lute-players, and dancers. For the rest of his life Sulla retained an attachment to the wicked nature of his youth. Plutarch mentions that during his last marriage, to Valeria, Sulla still kept company with “actresses, musicians, and dancers, drinking with them on couches night and day”.

Apparently Sulla received a good education for his was known to be well-read, intelligent, and fluent in Greek, which was a sign of education in Rome. The means by which Sulla attained the fortune that would later enable him to ascend the ladder of Roman politics, the Cursus honorum, are not clear.

The Jugurthine War had started in 112 BC when Jugurtha claimed the entire kingdom of Numidia in defiance of Roman decrees and divided it between several members of the royal family. After 5 unsuccessful years of fighting, Gaius Marius was then elected Consul and took over the campaign, while Sulla was nominated Quaestor to him.Jugurthine_war_Numidia

Sulla persuaded King Bocchus I of Mauretania to betray Jugurtha who had fled to Mauretania for refuge. The publicity attracted by this feat boosted Sulla’s political career. A gilded equestrian statue of Sulla donated by King Bocchus was erected in the Forum to commemorate his accomplishment.

In 104 BC, the migrating GermanicCeltic alliance headed by the Cimbri and the Teutones seemed to be heading for Italy. The Senate had Marius lead the campaign against them, with Sulla serving on Marius’ staff as Tribunus Militum during the 1st half of this campaign. By the Battle of Vercellae in 101 BC, Sulla had become Legatus to Catulus and is credited as being the prime mover in the defeat of the tribes.Battle of Vercellae

In the Social War (91–88 BC) Sulla captured Aeclanum, the chief town of the Hirpini, by setting the wooden breastwork on fire. As a result of his success in bringing the Social War to a successful conclusion, he was elected Consul for the 1st time in 88 BC.

At Nola, Sulla was awarded Rome’s highest military honor the Corona Obsidionalis (Obsidional or Blockade Crown), also known as a Corona Graminea (Grass Crown). The Grass Crown was awarded for personal bravery to a commander who saves a Roman legion or army in the field, and General Sulla served in this manner during the Social War.Grass Crown

As Consul, Sulla prepared to depart once more for the East, to fight the First Mithridatic War, by the appointment of the Senate. Marius was now an old man, but he still wanted to lead the Roman armies against King Mithridates VI of Pontus.

Former allies of Sulla then attempted to take control of Rome for themselves, even staging a riot with gladiators and murdering some supporters of Sulla in the Senate. Marius desperately wanted to be in power once again.

Sulla received news of this at the camp of his victorious Social War veterans, waiting in the south of Italy to cross to Greece. He announced the measures that had been taken against him, and his soldiers stoned the envoys of the assemblies who came to announce that the command of the Mithridatic War had been transferred to Marius.

Sulla then took 6 of his most loyal legions and marched on Rome. This was an unprecedented event for no Roman General had ever before crossed the city limits, the Pomoerium, with his army.Siege of Rome

Marius’ armed gladiators were unable to resist Sulla’s organized Roman soldiers. Although Marius offered freedom to any slave that would fight with him against Sulla, Marius and his followers were forced to flee the city.

Sulla consolidated his position, declared Marius and his allies hostes (enemies of the state), and addressed the Senate presumably to justify his violent entrance into the city. After restructuring the city’s politics and strengthening the Senate’s power, Sulla returned to his camp and proceeded with the original plan of fighting Mithridates in Pontus.

With Sulla out of Rome, Marius returned with the support of Lucius Cornelius Cinna and took control of the city by the end of 87 BC. Marius and Cinna were elected Consuls for the year 86 BC. Marius died a fortnight after, and Cinna was left in sole control of Rome.

In the spring of 87 BC Sulla landed at Dyrrachium, in Illyria. Asia was occupied by the forces of Mithridates under the command of Archelaus. Sulla’s 1st target was Athens and the Mithridatic puppet, the tyrant Aristion.Asia Minor before First Mithridatic War

Sulla moved southeast, picking up supplies and reinforcements as he went. Sulla’s Chief of Staff went ahead of him to scout the way and negotiate with the existing Roman commander in Greece. All Roman soldiers in Greece then fell under the command of Sulla.

At Chaeronea, ambassadors from all the major cities of Greece (except Athens) met with Sulla, who impressed on them Rome’s determination to drive Mithridates from Greece and Asia Province. Sulla then advanced on Athens.Sulla3

On arrival, Sulla threw up siege works encompassing not only Athens but also the Port of Piraeus. At the time Archelaus had command of the sea, so Sulla sent Chief of Staff Lucullus to raise a fleet from the remaining Roman allies in the eastern Mediterranean.

By controlling Piraeus, Athens could not be re-supplied. Huge earthworks were raised, isolating Athens and its port from the land side.

Despite the complete encirclement of Athens and its port, and several attempts by Archelaus to raise the siege, a stalemate seemed to have developed. Sulla patiently bided his time, and soon his camp was full of refugees from Rome, fleeing the massacres of Marius and Cinna.

Athens by now was starving, and a delegation from Athens was sent to meet with Sulla. Instead of serious negotiations they expounded on the glory of their city. Sulla sent them away saying: “I was sent to Athens, not to take lessons, but to reduce rebels to obedience.”Athens

With his spies discovering part of the city wall was neglected, Sulla’s men brought down 900 ft of wall between the Sacred and Piraeic gates. A midnight sack of Athens began, and blood was said to have literally flowed in the streets.

Sulla then concentrated his forces on the Port of Piraeus, and Archelaus, seeing his hopeless situation, withdrew to the citadel and then abandoned the port to join up with his forces under the command of Taxiles. Before leaving Athens, Sulla burnt the port to the ground.

Sulla then advanced into Boeotia to take on Archelaus’s armies and remove them from Greece. The army of Archelaus outnumbered Sulla’s forces by at least 3 to 1.

Commanding the fords on the road to Chaeronea, Sulla now occupied the ruined, but impregnable, city of Parapotamii. Sulla then abandoned the fords and moved in behind an entrenched palisade.

This looked to Archelaus like Sulla was retreating, but little did Archelaus know that behind the palisade were the field artillery from the siege of Athens. Archelaus advanced across the fords and tried to outflank Sulla’s men, only to have his right wing hurled back.

Archelaus’s chariots then charged the Roman center, only to be destroyed on the palisades. Next came the phalanxes who also found the palisades impassable from the withering fire from the Roman field artillery.phalanx

Then Archelaus flung his right wing at the Roman left, a deadly maneuver for the exposed Roman flank. Sulla raced over and stabilized the situation, at which point Archelaus flung in more troops from his right flank.

Dashing back to his right wing, Sulla ordered the general advance. The Legios, supported by Equites Romani, rushed forward and Archelaus’ army folded in on itself.

The slaughter was terrible, and some reports estimate that only 10,000 men of Mithridates’ original army survived. Sulla had defeated a vastly superior force in terms of numbers.

Cinna’s government of Rome then sent out Lucius Valerius Flaccus with an army to relieve Sulla of command in the East. The pair of Roman Armies camped next to each other; and Sulla, not for the first time, encouraged his soldiers to spread dissension among Flaccus’ army.

Many deserted to Sulla before Flaccus packed up and moved on north to threaten Mithridates’ northern dominions. In the meantime, Sulla moved to intercept the new Pontic army.

Sulla chose Orchomenus as the site for the battle to come. It was a town in Boeotia that allowed a smaller army to meet a much larger one, due to its natural defenses, and was ideal terrain for Sulla’s innovative use of entrenchment.

This time the Pontic army was in excess of 150,000, and it encamped itself in front of the busy Roman Army, next to a large lake. It soon dawned on Archelaus that Sulla had not only been digging trenches but also dikes, and before long he had the Pontic army in deep trouble. Desperate sallies by the Pontic forces were repulsed by the Romans and the dikes moved onward.

On the second day, Archelaus made a determined effort to escape Sulla’s web of dikes and hurled the entire Pontic army at the Romans. The Roman legionaries were pressed together so tightly that their short swords were like an impenetrable barrier, through which the enemy could not escape. The battle turned into a rout, with slaughter on an immense scale.Orchomenos

The Battle of Orchomenus was another of the world’s decisive battles. It determined that the fate of Asia Minor lay with Rome and her successors for the next millennium.

As the year 84 BC began, Cinna was still Consul in Rome and faced minor disturbances among Illyrian tribes. In either an attempt to gain experience for his own forces or to show Sulla that the Senate also had some strength, Cinna raised an army to deal with the Illyrian problem.

Cinna pushed his men hard to move to position in Illyria, the source of the disturbance between Sulla and Rome. A short time after departing Rome, Cinna was stoned to death by his own men thus leaving a power gap in Rome.

In Rome the newly elected consuls, L. Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus (Asiagenus) and C. Norbanus levied and prepared armies of their own to stop Sulla’s 2nd march on the capital.

Norbanus took on Sulla at Canusium, and after being seriously defeated Norbanus retreated to Capua. Sulla followed his defeated adversary and won another victory in a very short time.In Battle

Meanwhile Asiagenus was also on the march but seemed to have little motivation to fight. At the town of Teanum Sidicinum, Sulla and Asiagenus met face to face to negotiate and Asiagenus surrendered without a fight.

With Sulla’s 3 quick victories the situation began to rapidly turn in his favor. Many of those in a position of power, who had not yet taken a clear side, now chose Sulla.

Regardless, the war would continue on with Asiagenus raising another army in defense with Carbo. Indecisive battles were fought between Carbo and Sulla’s forces but Carbo knew that his cause was lost.

On 1 November 82 BC, the two forces met at the Battle of the Colline Gate, just outside of Rome. The battle was a huge and desperate final struggle with both sides certainly believing their own victory would save Rome.Battle of the Colline Gate

Sulla was pushed hard on his left flank with the situation so dangerous that he and his men were pushed right up against the city walls. Crassus’ forces, fighting on Sulla’s right however, managed to turn the opposition’s flank and drive them back.

The Samnites and the Marian forces were folded up and broke. In the end, over 50,000 combatants lost their lives and Sulla stood alone as the master of Rome.

After his second consulship, he withdrew to his country villa near Puteoli to be with family. From this distance, Sulla remained out of the day-to-day political activities in Rome, intervening only a few times when his policies were involved (eg The Granius episode).

Sulla’s goal now was to write his memoirs, which he finished in 78 BC, just before his death. They are now largely lost, although fragments from them exist as quotations in later writers.Orating

Ancient accounts of Sulla’s death indicate that he died from liver failure or a ruptured gastric ulcer possibly caused by chronic alcohol abuse. His funeral in Rome was on a scale unmatched until that of Augustus in AD 14. His epitaph reads “No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full”.

Sulla is generally seen to have provided the example that led Caesar to cross the Rubicon, and also provided the inspiration for Caesar’s eventual Dictatorship. A fighter to the last is why Lucius Cornelius Sulla is #10 on our list.

We hope you enjoyed today’s look at yet another Top Commander of Rome. Stop by again, and remember – Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Keaveney, Arthur, Sulla: The Last Republican, Routledge; 2nd edition (June 23, 2005). ISBN 978-0-415-33660-4.

Plutarch’s Life of Sulla research site

Constantine the Great – The Legacy

On this day in 22 May 337 AD, a flame was extinguished. This light was cast from the Oceanum Atlanticum in the West to the Pontus Euxinus in the East, and from the Ister Danubius in the North to the Sinus Arabicus in the South. This flame once shone brightly for the pagan Sol Invictus, but then changed to shine brighter for Jesus Christ.

As Emperor of Rome, Constantine championed the dominance and glory of the Empire, along with Christianity. Rome Across Europe has pieces about his Rise to Power, as well as being the First Christian Emperor. Today’s discussion is the impact Constantine left.

Situated in Rome, between the Amphitheatrum Flavium and the Mons Palatinus, stands the Arcus Constantini. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on 28 October 312 AD.


The arch spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph. Dedicated in 315 AD, it is the latest dated of the existing triumphal arches in Rome.

The re-purposed friezes on the atticus illustrate Constantine’s campaign in Italy with praise of the Emperor, both in battle and in his civilian duties. Decoration taken from the height of the Empire under the 2nd century emperors whose reliefs were re-used places Constantine next to these grand emperors, and the content of the pieces calls to mind images of Constantine as a victorious and pious ruler.


Identically on both sides, above the main arch, it reads thus:


To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs.

During the Middle Ages, the Arch of Constantine was incorporated into one of the family strongholds of ancient Rome. Works of restoration were first carried out in the 18th century. The arch served as the finish line of the marathon for the 1960 Summer Olympics. The most recent excavations have taken place in the late 1990s, just before the Great Jubilee of 2000.

Having already been extensively rebuilt on Roman patterns of urbanism Constantine next decided to work on the Greek city of Byzantium. The century prior Byzantium had already acknowledged for its strategic importance by other emperors. Thus the city was founded in 324 AD, dedicated on 11 May 330 AD, and renamed Constantinopolis.


With the size of the Empire, Constantine was well aware that Rome was an unsatisfactory capital since it was too far from the frontiers and the armies, the imperial courts, and it offered an undesirable playground for disaffected politicians.

Constantine identified the site of Byzantium as the right place for an emperor to sit readily defended, with easy access to the Danube or the Euphrates, where his court could be supplied from the rich gardens and sophisticated workshops of Roman Asia, and his treasuries filled by the wealthiest provinces of the Empire.

Like Rome, Constantine divided his city into 14 regions, and ornamented it with public works worthy of an imperial metropolis. A new program of building was carried out in great haste: columns, marbles, doors, and tiles were taken wholesale from the temples of the empire and moved to the new city. In similar fashion, many of the greatest works of Greek and Roman art were soon to be seen in its squares and streets.

A ceremonial square, Augustaeum, was laid out by Constantine. The new Curia was housed in a basilica on the east side. South of the great square was erected the Great Palace of Constantinople with its imposing entrance, the Chalke, and its ceremonial suite known as the Palace of Daphne. Nearby was the 80,000 seat Hippodrome for chariot-races, and the famed Baths of Zeuxippus. At the Augustaeum’s western entrance was the Milion, a vaulted monument from which distances were measured across the Eastern Roman Empire.

While the creation of Constantinopolis was happening in the East, exciting things were happening in the West. Constantine began a major expansion of Augusta Treverorum by strengthening the circuit wall around the city with military towers and fortified gates, and building a palace complex in the northeastern part of the city.

Augusta Treverorum - Trier

South of the palace, Constantine ordered the construction of a large formal hall and a massive imperial bathhouse. Constantine sponsored many building projects across Gallia during his tenure as Emperor of the West, especially in Augustodunum and Arelate.

After the runaway inflation of the 3rd Century, associated with the production of fiat money to pay for public expenses, an unsuccessful attempt had been made to reestablish trustworthy minting of silver. From the early 300s on, Constantine renounced any attempts at restoring the silver currency, preferring instead to concentrate on minting large quantities of good standard gold pieces, the solidus, 72 of which made a pound of gold.

Constantine’s monetary policy was closely associated with his religious ones, in that increased minting was associated with measures of confiscation of all gold, silver and bronze from pagan temples. Declared as imperial property, and as monetary assets, any metal of value from old pagan idolatry was used to make new Christian coinage for the vast Roman Empire.

Constantine Empire 337 AD

Two imperial commissioners for each province had the task of getting hold of the statues and having them used for immediate minting. The only exceptions were some bronze statues used as public monuments for the beautification of the new capital in Constantinople.

Constantine’s legacy continued with the Colossus of Constantine, a colossal statue carved from white marble, with a trunk of wood, that once occupied the west apse of the Basilica of Maxentius near the Forum Romanum. Portions of the Colossus now reside in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, on the Mons Capitolinus, above the west end of the Forum.

Colossus of Constantine

The statue’s hand may have held a staff with the sacred monogram XP (Chi Rho) affixed to it. An inscription is said to have been engraved below the statue:

“Through this sign of salvation, which is the true symbol of goodness, I rescued your city and freed it from the tyrant’s yoke, and through my act of liberation I restored the Senate and People of Rome to their ancient renown and splendor.”

Of all the non-physical things Constantine achieved while ruling the Roman Empire, the one still present today came from the First Council of Nicaea. In 325 AD Constantine convened all Christian bishops in Nicaea in Bithynia. This ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.

Emperor Constantine and bishops of the First Council of Nicaea

Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.

Remnants of Constantine are still seen all over Europe, and the rest of the world that was not even part of the Roman Empire. This was especially true for his conversion, of himself and the Empire, to Christianity. Becoming the first Christian Emperor allowed the influence of Constantine to go anywhere a Christian did.

The Roman Empire was fortunate to have Constantine in charge when it did for there are few leaders who were as visionary as he was. So celebrate Constantine, the Roman Empire, and its impact today, and Don’t Stop Rome-ing!




Spartacus: Behind the Myth

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Recently we’ve been addicted to the Starz series on Spartacus, Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena.

Today we are going to take a look at the real Spartacus, and go behind the myth. So kick off your shoes and put your feet up and enjoy watching history come alive.

We hope you enjoyed today’s presentation and will see you again soon. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Book 11; Thought 18

MA JudgmentSuppose any man shall despise me. Let him look to that himself. But I will look to this, that I be not discovered doing or saying anything deserving of contempt. Shall any man hate me? Let him look to it. But I will be mild and benevolent towards every man, and ready to show even him his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet as making a display of my endurance, but nobly and honestly, like the great Phocion, unless indeed he only assumed it. For the interior parts ought to be such, and a man ought to be seen by the gods neither dissatisfied with anything nor complaining. For what evil is it to thee, if thou art now doing what is agreeable to thy own nature, and art satisfied with that which at this moment is suitable to the nature of the universe, since thou art a human being placed at thy post in order that what is for the common advantage may be done in some way?

Arch of Augustus – Aosta

Salve et optatissimus! Ciao e bentornati! Hello and welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Recently we ventured to the Aosta, the principal city in Italy’s Aosta Valley, which you can check out here.

Today we are heading back to Aosta in order to take a better look at their Arcus Triumphus for Augustus. We look at the arch in this particular location since there are a total of 6 arches dedicated to Augustus throughout the Empire.Night

The Arch of Augustus in Aosta is a monument dedicated to Rome’s 1st Emperor and the creator of Imperial Rome. Built and created by Aulus Terentius Varro Murena, the arch was built in 25 BC. It is an eloquent sign of the presence and power of Rome, which had definitively defeated the Salassi and founded the new colonia.

It is created on the axis of the Decumanus Maximus, a little distance from the Bourg Saint-Ours and from the city wall’s eastern entrance, the Porta Praetoria. This would also be near the bridge over the Buthier River.

The arch’s severe stateliness, typical of the architecture of the late Res publica Romana era, is a single round arch, measuring 27.2 feet in width, like the road that crosses it. The barrel vault, constituting an extension in width of a round arch, has a height to the keystone of 37.4 feet.

In the monument, various styles can be recognized. The pillars at its sides have half-columns at the 4 corners on attic bases surmounted by Corinthian capitals, the same that divide up the facades and the sides. These surfaces were originally interrupted by reliefs which most likely had monumental representations located in the 4 alcoves of the facade.Capitals

A Doric trabeation with tryglyphs and metopes closes what remains of the monument in the upper section. For centuries the entablature has been stripped of the attic on which the commemorative inscription was written in bronze lettering.

During the Middle Ages, the arch was called Saint-Voût given the presence of an image of Jesus Christ which was positioned on it and then later replaced with the Crucifix. This is French for “Holy Arch” since French is one of the official languages of Aosta.Old

During the 12th century, the arch contained the home of a local noble family. In 1318 AD, a small fortification was built on its inside which was designed for a corps of crossbowmen.

In Stendhal’s Rome: Then and Now, he comments on the arch as follows:

I was fortunate in contemplating these beautiful passages
and the triumphal arch of Aosta
which has a unique vow to express
that ways endure forever.

In 1716 the Conseil des Commis (French Clerk of the Board) decided to preserve the monument from the infiltration of water by covering it with a slate roof. The modern appearance is the result of the final intervention for restoration and consolidation which occurred in 1912 under the direction of Ernesto Schiaparelli.Restauro_1912

An excavation nearby, dating back to the early years of the 1900’s, brought to light 2 large letters in gilded bronze. These most likely formed part of the dedicatory inscription.

The wooden crucifix displayed below the vault is a copy of the one which was placed there in 1449 as a votive offering against the flooding of the Buthier River, which flows to the east. The original crucifix is now held at the Museum of Aosta Cathedral’s Treasures.Columns

We at Rome Across Europe certainly hope you had as much fun reading about this Arch of Augustus as we did discovering it. Until next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!


Barocelli, “L’arco di Augusto ad Aosta: I restauri del 1912-1913”, Rivista di Studi Liguri XLI-XLII (1975-1976) p. 283.

Tesserae – Can You Cast Lots?

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe. We all love to have fun and be entertained, the Romans were no different. Today we’ll be taking a look at Roman dice (datum) and dice games, or Tesserae.

Roman entertainment was a development of the world they had around them. As the depth and breadth of this world expanded so too did their entertainment.Mosaic of Gamblers

It can’t be said that the Romans actually invented any of the more common games, but they certainly adopted them with a vengeance. In addition to using dice to settle disputes or impartially distribute goods, they were also used for entertainment and gambling.

Roman Statesman and Historian Cato the Elder refers to gaming (dice) as only being fit for the elderly given that the young should be out in the fields practicing their arms. The only use of dice which probably wasn’t restricted was to elect what lyric poet Horace calls the “arbiter bibendi” (the rule maker at a drinking party).

Playing dice was very popular among the Romans. The Romans called these Tesserae, but they also played with Tali (knucklebones). The sheep knuckle bones, were easily found and usually free.astra

Each bone had 4 distinct sides and expert players may have been able to throw them to get the result they wanted. Romans would also make them from brass, silver, gold, ivory, marble, wood, bone, bronze, glass, terracotta, and precious gems.

Like the 6-sided dice we use today, opposite sides of the ancient Roman dice always added up to 7.  If it’s been a while since you played Monopoly, the opposite sides of our dice are 1 and 6, 3 and 4, and 2 and 5.Roman Dice

Tali was very much like the familiar dice game Yahtzee. The count of the dice was scored like poker hands to get a winner, but special boards weren’t needed.

A round consists of each player throwing and the winner of that round was the person with the best hand. Multiple hands could be added for a total score to determine the winner.

A Venus was the highest hand and consisted of a 1, 3, 4, and 6. A Senio was a 6 with any combination of other numbers.

Vultures was a hand where all the tali came up with the same numbers. The worst score you could get, Canis, was all 1s.

The Tali and Tesserae were shaken and thrown from a cup called a Fritillum, Pyrgus, Orca or Turricula. Bets were placed in much the same manner as they are today. Roman wall paintings indicate they played with 3 dice, while the images of Achilles on vases suggest the Greeks played with 2 dice.Achilles and Ajax

Soldiers, like everyone else in Rome, liked to play games with dice. The simplest dice games entailed throwing the highest numbers. But, dice were also used in more complicated games such as the “Game of 12” and the “Game of Brigands”.

Dice games were played in taverns as well as gambling houses, brothels and on the street. The Emperor Commodus, who was especially fond of gambling with dice, turned the Imperial Palace into a brothel and gambling house to raise money for the treasury when he bankrupted the Empire. In this he may have followed a precedent set by the mad Emperor Caligula.Drinking and Gambling

Aristotle, in the Nichomachean Ethics, describes the moral distinction between wicked rulers who sack cities and other types of greedy people:

But the dicer and the footpad or brigand are to be classed as mean, as showing sordid greed, for both ply their trade and endure reproach for gain, the robber risking his life for plunder, and the dicer making gain out of friends, to whom one ought to give; hence both are guilty of sordid greed, trying to get gain from the wrong sources.

Games were so much a part of Roman life that laws had to be made in order to restrict them. In ancient Rome, all gambling, except betting at the circus and races, were forbidden by law. Gambling with dice was forbidden in the streets and Roman soldiers often fined the gamblers or made them move inside.Playing Knucklebones

Amongst others, the Lex Cornelia, Lex Publicia and Lex Titia forbade the game of dice and the penalty could have the perpetrator sent to jail or fined. Fines were a multiple of the amount of money being bet.

Furthermore the law didn’t recognize gambling debts or damages to property arising from gambling. The only time that the population could legally let off steam was during the carnival feast known as Saturnalia when all such games were allowed.

This led to the invention of gambling chips, as seen used in modern times, and the gamblers weren’t playing for money exactly. Total loophole, right? The chips were marked with specific symbols indicating their value, but that didn’t seem to bother the authorities.

This was both during the Republic (510 – 27 BC) and the Imperial (27 BC – AD 476) periods, partly because tempers often flared and led to violence and even riots. But, the government was also afraid of magic, which some gamers used to ensure victory.

The laws, however, did not stop Emperors themselves from playing games of chance and betting heavily. Emperor Augustus once lost 30,000 sestertii (30 times the amount a soldier earned in a year).

Emperor Claudius even wrote a book about games. Claudius also traveled in a carriage that was especially designed to allow him and his friends to gamble while on the road.Lawrence_Alma-Tadema_A_Roman_Art_Lover

Another Emperor who was fond of games of chance was Caligula. Not surprisingly, Emperor Caligula was also well known for cheating.

Emperor Lucius Verus, though, was the most passionate gambler of all. He appears to have gambled every single night.

Laws, of course, have never stopped people from using magic or from gambling. The passion for gambling was such that it often provided fodder for writers of satire.

One author, who was well aware of the huge payments made by or to gamblers, noted that carrying a money bag was not enough, gamblers needed the whole safe!

And while graffiti, which could be found all over the city, criticized the emperors’ fondness for games of chance and betting, Romans themselves continued to pursue and play their own smaller-scale games of chance.Graffitti

Since the ancient Romans spent a lot of time playing games and watching the races, they seemed to have no qualms about cheating even if it meant using magic.

Gamers in the past were no different from gamers today who look for cheat codes. Cheating must have been extremely widespread because a device was eventually invented to cut back on cheating with loaded dice.

First the dice were shaken, not in a dice box as was customary, but in a horn (pyxis cornea). Then they were thrown into a tower with a funnel at the top and a spiral staircase inside. The “cleaned” dice then landed on the gaming surface.

The backside of a bronze mirror was found inscribed with an image of Venus playing Tali with Pan. This mirror dates from 350 BC and comes from Greece, where Venus was known as Aphrodite.taliven

In Biblical terms, the rolling of the dice is known as casting lots. It’s a rather popular term, appearing in Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, 2 Esdras, all 4 of the Passion narratives, and in Acts where the Apostles must choose a replacement for Judas.

The Biblical view of dice is probably best expressed in Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord.”roman_soldiers_lots

As for early Christians, they lived in a world dominated by Roman culture. In matters other than faith, they most likely did what their fellow Romans did.

Care to play?

(6,4,3,1): Venus – All 4 tali with different sides.
(6,6,6,4): Total = 22
(6,6,6,3): Total = 21
(6,6,4,4): Total = 20
(6,6,6,1): Total = 19 (high)
(6,6,4,3): Total = 19
(6,6,3,3): Total = 18
(6,6,4,1): Total = 17
(6,6,3,1): Total = 16
(4,4,4,3): Total = 15
(6,6,1,1): Total = 14 (high)
(4,4,3,3): Total = 14
(4,4,4,1): Total = 13
(4,4,3,1): Total = 12
(4,3,3,1): Total = 11
(4,4,1,1): Total = 10 (high)
(3,3,3,1): Total = 10
(4,3,1,1): Total = 9
(3,3,1,1): Total = 8
(4,1,1,1): Total = 7
(3,1,1,1): Total = 6
(6,x,x,x): Senio — A single 6 and anything else
(6,6,6,6): Vultures — All 4 tali the same (high)
(4,4,4,4): Vultures — All 4 tali the same
(3,3,3,3): Vultures — All 4 tali the same
(1,1,1,1): Canis — Lowest of the Vultures

Surprisingly, only 1 ambiguity occurs with the above numerical precedents, at the value 14. In this case the highest pair (the 6s) is assumed to have numerical precedence over the other highest pair (of 4s).

It could also be assumed that descending numerical values decided the winners of each throw, although this wouldn’t actually change the character of the game, being merely an inverted perspective.

It could also be assumed that the rules of Knucklebones can never be known to us, but such extreme skepticism takes the game away altogether. If ancient shepherds could invent this game, so could we.Roman Die

Next time you are stuck indoors or want some new game to play, simply look to the past. We hope you enjoyed today’s article and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!