Book 9; Thought 30

The universal cause is like a winter torrent: it carries everything along with it. But how worthless are all these poor people who are engaged in matters political, and, as they suppose, are playing the philosopher! All drivellers. Well then, man: do what nature now Sun Holdingrequires. Set thyself in motion, if it is in thy power, and do not look about thee to see if any one will observe it; nor yet expect Plato’s Republic: but be content if the smallest thing goes on well, and consider such an event to be no small matter. For who can change men’s opinions? And without a change of opinions what else is there than the slavery of men who groan while they pretend to obey? Come now and tell me of Alexander and Philip and Demetrius of Phalerum. They themselves shall judge whether they discovered what the common nature required, and trained themselves accordingly. But if they acted like tragedy heroes, no one has condemned me to imitate them. Simple and modest is the work of philosophy. Draw me not aside to indolence and pride.

The Nicene Creed – Written by an Emperor

Good day to everyone and welcome to Rome Across Europe! Having gone to Mass this past Sunday, and going again to daily service this morning, it got me thinking about sharing my faith with everyone.

This is not as a means to make converts, simply to share and make a personal connection. If you’ve made it this far, especially past the title, then we welcome you to continue as today we discuss the origin of the Nicene Creed!Nicaea_icon

The Nicene Creed (Symbolum Nicaenum) is a profession of faith widely used in Christian liturgy.

It is called Nicene because it was originally adopted in the city of Nicaea by the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. In 381 AD, it was amended at the First Council of Constantinople, and the amended form is referred to as the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I (aka Constantine the Great). This initial ecumenical council was the primary effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.Constantine the Great

A Bishop from the West, Hosius of Corduba, presided of the affair. The main goals were to settle the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter and promulgation of early canon law.

Emperor Constantine welcomed all the Bishops with an opening address in Latin, with a simultaneous Greek translation. Constantine said:

It is the object of my prayers, my friends, to share in your company, and now that I have received this, I know I must express my gratitude to the King of all, because, in addition to everything else He has allowed me to see in this, which is better than any other good thing; I mean, to receive you all gathered together and to observe one unanimous opinion shared by all. Let no jealous enemy ruin our prosperity; now that the war of the tyrants against God has been swept away by the power of God the Savior, let no other malignant demon encompass the divine law with blasphemies by other means. For to me, internal division in the Church of God is graver than any war or fierce battle, and these things appear to cause more pain than secular affairs.

Then Constantine himself put forward his own confession of faith, what we now know as the Nicene Creed.sinod-niceea

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible—and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who is of the same substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father; by whom all things were made, both which are in heaven and on earth; who for the sake of us men, and on account of our salvation, descended, became incarnate, was made man, suffered, and rose again on the third day; he ascended into the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead. We also believe in the Holy Ghost. But those who say “There was a time when he was not” and “Before his generation he was not,” and “he came to be from nothing,” or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of other hypostasis or substance,” or “created” or “alterable” or “mutable,” the universal and apostolic Church anathematizes.

Since this site is about the Imperium Rōmānum, and I am of Roman Catholic faith, we are going to stick with the version done by the Emperor.

There are several designations for the pair of forms of the Nicene Creed, some with overlapping meanings. Icon/Symbol of the Faith is the usual designation for the revised version of Constantinopolis in the Orthodox churches, where this is the only creed used in the liturgy.

The purpose of a Credo is to provide a doctrinal statement of correct belief, or Orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine.Holy Trinity description

Acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of a particular doctrine or set of doctrines. For that reason a creed was called a symbolon, a word that meant half of a broken object which, when placed together with the other half, verified the bearer’s identity.

The Greek word passed through Latin symbolum into English as symbol. Only later did this take on the meaning of an outward sign of something.

The Nicene Creed was adopted in the face of the Arian controversy. Arius, a Libyan presbyter in Alexandria, had declared that although the Son was divine, he was a created being and therefore not co-essential with the Father, and “there was when he was not”.

This made Jesus less than the Father, which posed soteriological challenges for the nascent doctrine of the Trinitas. Arius’s teaching provoked a serious crisis.

Constantine removed Arius and some priests who supported him from their positions, and were only allowed back into communion when they publicly stated their accord with the Nicene Creed. So basically the outcome of the conference probably exceeded even Constantine’s hopes.Constantine_burning_Arian_books

Although Christological controversy would continue, for a while after the Council of Nicaea, a noteworthy peace acquired. Mission accomplished, Emperor!

The Nicene Creed of 325 explicitly affirms the co-essential divinity of Jesus, applying to him the term consubstantialis. Also at that time, the text ended after the words “We believe in the Holy Spirit“.

The 381 version speaks of the Holy Spirit as worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son. This version also adds an anathema.

What is known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed received this name because of a belief that it was adopted at the Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople as a modification of the original Nicene Creed. In that light, it also came to be very commonly known simply as the Nicene Creed.Council

It differs in a number of respects, both by addition and omission, from the creed adopted at the original Council of Nicaea.

The most notable difference is the additional section “And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver-of-Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. And [we believe] in one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

Since the end of the 19th Century, scholars have questioned the traditional explanation of the origin of this creed, which has been passed down in the name of the council, whose official acts have been lost over time.

A local council of Constantinople in 382 and the Third Ecumenical Council made no mention of it, with the latter affirming the 325 AD Creed of Nicaea as a valid statement of the faith and using it to denounce Nestorianism.

Though some scholarship claims that hints of the later creed’s existence are discernible in some writings, no extant document gives its text or makes explicit mention of it earlier than the Fourth ecumenical council at Chalcedon in 451.

Many of the Bishops of the 451 council themselves had never heard of it and initially greeted it skeptically. However, it was produced from the Episcopal archives of Constantinople, and the council accepted it “not as supplying any omission but as an authentic interpretation of the faith of Nicaea”.

On the basis of evidence both internal and external to the text, it has been argued that this creed originated not as an editing of the original Creed proposed at Nicaea in 325, but as an independent creed modified to make it more like the Nicene Creed.At Nicea

It is generally agreed that the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is not simply an expansion of the Creed of Nicaea, and was probably based on another traditional creed independent of the one from Nicaea.

The view that the Nicene Creed can serve as a touchstone of true Christian faith is reflected in the name “symbol of faith”, which was given to it in Greek and Latin, when in those languages the word “symbol” meant a “token for identification (by comparison with a counterpart)”, and which continues in use even in languages in which “symbol” no longer has that meaning.

In the Roman Rite Mass, the Latin text of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, with Deum de Deo (God from God) and Filioque (and from the Son), phrases absent in the original text, was previously the only form used for the “profession of faith”.

The Missale Romanum now refers to it jointly with the Apostles’ Creed as “the Symbol or Profession of Faith or Creed”, describing the following as “the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church, known as the Apostles’ Creed”.Holy Trinity

While in certain places where the Byzantine Rite is used, in many places the Creed is typically recited by the cantor, who in this capacity represents the whole congregation although many members of the congregation may join in rhythmic recitation.

Where the latter is the practice, it is customary to invite, as a token of honor, any prominent lay member of the congregation who happens to be present, e.g., royalty, a visiting dignitary, the Mayor, etc., to recite the Creed in lieu of the cantor. This practice stems from the tradition that the prerogative to recite the Creed belonged to the Emperor, speaking for his populace.

All ancient liturgical versions, even the Greek, differ at least to some small extent from the text adopted by the First Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople. The Creed was originally written in Greek, owing to the location of the both councils.Rylands_Nicene_Creed_papyrus

Latin liturgical version

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipoténtem, Factórem cæli et terræ, Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.

Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum, Fílium Dei Unigénitum, Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.

Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero, Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:

Per quem ómnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem, Descéndit de cælis.

Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto, Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est.

Crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto; Passus, et sepúltus est, Et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras, Et ascéndit in cælum, sedet ad déxteram Patris.

Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória, Iudicáre vivos et mórtuos, Cuius regni non erit finis.

Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem: Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit. Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur: Qui locútus est per prophétas.

Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.

Confíteor unum baptísma in remissiónem peccatorum.

Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, Et vitam ventúri sæculi. Amen.

Again, the term consubstantialem, translated as “of one being” or “consubstantial”, have different overtones, being based respectively on Greek (stable being, immutable reality, substance, essence, true nature), and Latin substantia (that of which a thing consists, the being, essence, contents, material, substance).

Credo, which in classical Latin is used with the accusative case of the thing held to be true (and with the dative of the person to whom credence is given), is here used 3 times with the preposition “in”, a literal translation from Greek.Creed Cross

Current Roman Catholic version (2011)

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


In the 20th Century the creed has become a valued statement of faith in overall Christian traditions, thus making it what Constantine had intended it to be. This creed remains the best-known expression by a Roman Emperor in the modern world.Constantine Mosaic for Nicaea

Thank you for carrying on with the article all the way till the end. It’s not so much important that you believe in a particular sect of Christianity as it is you believe in the words put forth by the original Christian Emperor of Rome.

Come back again to see what we have in store for you. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Ayres, Lewis. Nicaea and Its Legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2006). ISBN 0-19-875505-8.

Burn, A. E. The Council of Nicaea. 1925.

Forell, G. Understanding the Nicene Creed. 1965.

Kelly, J. Early Christian Creeds. City: Longman Publishing Group (1982). ISBN 0-582-49219-X.

Potter, David. Constantine the Emperor. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2013). ISBN 978-0-19-975586-8.

“What We Believe”. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The Order of Mass”. Liturgy Office England & Wales. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Ancient Roman Cuisine

Bono Laetificabitur and welcome to Rome Across Europe! We don’t know about you, but there’s always at least one evening each when my family gets together.

It’s typically for catching up and socializing, finished with some great eats. For the Ancient Romans, and even today’s Italians, things were no different.

This day of family is the inspiration for our article. Today we take you to Cuisine of Ancient Rome!FoodRecreated

Ancient Roman cuisine changed over the long duration of this culture. Dietary habits were affected by the influence of Greek culture, the political changes from Kingdom to Republic to Empire, and the Empire’s enormous expansion.

And expansion exposed the Romans to many new, provincial culinary habits and cooking methods. In the beginning the differences between social classes were not very great, but the culinary gap widely developed with the Empire’s growth.

Traditionally, a breakfast called Ientaculum was served at dawn. In the late morning, Romans then ate a small lunch, and in the evening they consumed Cena, the main meal of the day.Cena

With the influence of Greek culture and the increased importation of foreign foods, Cena grew larger in size and more diverse in terms of the foods eaten. Cena gradually shifted to the mid-to-late afternoon, while Vesperna, a light supper eaten in the evening was abandoned completely.

Because of this change in dining times, Prandium, another breakfast, was introduced around noon.

Among the lower classes of society, these changes were less pronounced as the traditional routines corresponded closely to the daily rhythms of manual labor.

Originally flat, round loaves made of emmer with a bit of salt were eaten by the average Citizen. Among the upper classes, eggs, cheese and honey, along with milk and fruit were also consumed.bread

From 301 BC, growing wealth led to ever larger and more sophisticated meals with nutritional value not regarded as important. Gourmets preferred food with low food energy and nutrients that was easily digestible foods, and diuretic stimulants were highly regarded.

In the Imperial period, around the beginning of the Christian era, bread made of wheat was introduced. With time, more and more wheaten foods began to replace emmer loaves.

The bread was sometimes dipped in wine and eaten with olives, cheese, and grapes. They also ate meat as much as possible including: wild boar, beef, sausages, pork, lamb, duck, goose, chickens, small birds, fish and shellfish.Food

Among the members of the upper classes, who did not engage in manual labor, it became customary to schedule all business obligations in the morning. Who wants to work later in the day, especially when the weather gets warm? Not us.

After the Prandium, the last responsibilities would be discharged, and a visit would be made to the Thermae. Around 2 pm Cena would begin.

This meal could last until late in the night, especially if guests were invited, and would often be followed by comissatio (a round of drinks).

In the period of the kings and the early Republic, but also in later periods for the working classes, Cena essentially consisted of a kind of porridge (puls). The simplest kind would be made from emmer, water, salt and fat. The more sophisticated kind was made with olive oil, with an accompaniment of assorted vegetables when available.puls

The richer classes ate their puls with eggs, cheese and honey, and it was also occasionally served with meat or fish. How fancy of them.

Over the course of the Republican period, Cena developed into 2 courses: a main course and a dessert with fruit and seafood (mollusks, shrimp, etc.). By the end of the Republic, it was usual for the meal to be served in 3 parts: Gustatio (Hors d’oeuvre), Primae Mensae (Main Course), and Secundae Mensae (Dessert).

The ancient Roman diet included many items that are staples of modern Italian cooking. Pliny the Elder discussed more than 30 varieties of olive, 40 kinds of pear, figs (native and imported from Africa and the eastern provinces) and a wide variety of vegetables.

Some of these vegetables are no longer present in the modern world, while others have undergone significant changes. For example, carrots of colors other than orange were consumed.

Several foods considered characteristic of modern Italian cuisine were not used in Ancient Rome. In particular, spinach or aubergine were introduced later from the Arab world, while tomatoes and capsicum peppers appeared in Europe following the discovery of the New World. There were also few citrus fruits.

Butcher’s meat was an uncommon luxury. Seafood, game and poultry were more common.

On his triumphus, Julius Caesar gave a public feast to 260,000 humiliores which featured all 3 of the aforementioned meats, but no butcher’s meat. Apparently meat was sparse except at sacrifices and the dinner parties of the elite and wealthy.Caesar Triumph

The most popular meat in ancient Rome was pork. Beef was uncommon, being more common in Ancient Greece.

Fish was more common than meat, with Italy being a peninsula and all. Aquaculture was sophisticated having lots of large-scale industries devoted to oyster farming.Fish Mosaic

The Romans also engaged in snail farming and oak grub farming. Some fish were greatly esteemed and fetched high prices, such as mullet raised in the fishery at Cosa, and elaborate means were invented to assure its freshness.

Believe it or not, Dormice were consumed. The fattest of these rodents were considered to be a delicacy.dormice

A status symbol among wealthy Romans, some even had dormice weighed in front of dinner guests. A sumptuary law enacted under Marcus Aemilius Scaurus forbade the consumption of dormice, but they continued to be consumed.

When in season fresh fruit was eaten, then dried or preserved over winter. Popular fruits included the following: apples, pears, figs, grapes, quinces, strawberries, blackberries, currants, damson plums, melons, rose hips and pomegranates.

Less common fruits were the more exotic azeroles, medlars, cherries, apricots (introduced in the 1st Century BC), oranges, lemons, dates and peaches (introduced from Persia in the 1st Century AD). At least 35 cultivars of pear were grown in Rome, along with 3 types of apples.Fruits

Although known to the Ancient Romans, lemons were not cultivated in Italy until the Principate. The lemon was known and was accurately distinguished from the citron.

Many kinds of vegetables were cultivated and consumed. These included celery, garlic, yellow squash, cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuce, endive, onion, leek, asparagus, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets and cucumber. Some vegetables were illustrated in reliefs.

The potato, tomato and chili pepper (capsicums) from the New World were not available to the Ancient Romans, nor were French beans, zucchini (courgettes), and corn. Also, while the precursors of Brussels sprouts, artichokes, sweet peas, rutabaga and possibly cauliflower probably existed in Roman times, the modern cultivated forms we think of were not developed until the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance times.

Cato greatly esteemed cabbage, believing it to be good for the digestion, and believing that if a sick person ate a great deal of cabbage and bathed in his urine, he would recover. Legumes were limited to dried peas, sweet peas, lupines, lentils and fava beans.

The Romans knew several varieties of chickpea, which were eaten both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas.

They ate walnuts, almonds, hazel nuts, pine nuts, and sesame seeds, which they sometimes pulverized to thicken spiced, sweet wine sauces for roast meat and fowl.

The Roman colonies provided many foods to Rome. The Capital City received ham from Belgium, oysters from Britanny, garum from Mauritania, wild game from Tunisiasilphium from Cyrenaica, lettuce from Cappadocia and fish from Pontus.

Cheese was eaten and its manufacture was well-established by the Imperial period. It was part of the standard rations for Roman soldiers and was popular among civilians as well.cheese

The Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) fixed maximum prices for cheese. The manufacture of cheese and its quality and culinary uses are mentioned by a number of Roman authors.

Pliny the Elder described cheese’s dietary and medicinal uses in Book 28 of Historia Naturalis, and Varro in De Agricultura described the Roman cheese making season (spring and summer) and compared soft, new cheeses with drier, aged cheeses.

The ancient Romans were known for their fish sauce, which was distinctive in ancient cuisine. It could be used as a seasoning during cooking in place of salt, as a table condiment or as a sauce.garum

There were 4 major fish sauce types: garumliquamenmuria and allec. The term garum referred to the best quality of fish sauce, although it was also used generically to refer to fish sauce in general.

The composition of garum varied, depending on whether it was made from tunny (tuna), mullet, sea bass, or some combination. Flavored garum existed, including a variety mixed with wine (oenogarum), another mixed with vinegar (oxygarum), and some mixed with water (hydrogarum).

Hydrogarum was common among Roman soldiers. The Emperor Elagabalus, however, asserted he was the original host to serve it at public banquets in Rome.

The most esteemed of all garum was garum sociorum, made exclusively from scomber (mackerel). This highly prized sauce was produced at New Carthage fisheries in Hispania, and was widely-traded.

Pliny wrote in his Natural History that 2 congii of this sauce cost 1,000 sesterces, and that “scarcely any other liquid except perfume has begun to be more highly valued”.

The 3 other varieties of fish sauce were of lower quality than garum. Liquamen was the generic term for fish sauce used by Apicius, and included both higher-quality and lower-quality conduct.

Muria referred to a briny liquid used to pack salted fish during transportation, to pickle olives, and to preserve cheese and meat. It was cheaper than garum or liquamen and was salty.

This is the only type of fish sauce attributed in tablets of the castra at Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall.Soldiers Eating

The lowest quality product, allec was unlike the other 3 varieties. It was more of a paste than a liquid. Originally made from the sediment or dreg byproduct of garum production, Pliny writes that allec was made from the tiny apua (anchovy) that was otherwise useless.

Cheers to everyone for joining us today. Maybe you found some items to expand your palate, and quite possibly we made you never want to eat some items at all.

Whatever the case, we hope you come back and visit us again soon. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Roman Dining: A Special Issue of American Journal of Philology – Google Books

Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome – Patrick Faas – Google Books

Famine and Food Supply in the Graeco-Roman World: Responses to Risk and Crisis – Peter Garnsey – Google Books

Jacques André. L’alimentation et la cuisine à Rome. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1981.

Blanc, A. Nercessian. La cuisine romaine antique. Grenoble: Glénat, 1992.

Dalby, Andrew (2003). Food in the ancient world from A to Z. London, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-23259-7.

Dalby, Andrew (2000). Empire of Pleasures. London, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-18624-2.

Grocock, Christopher; Grainger, Sally (2006). Apicius. A critical edition with an introduction and an English translation. Totnes: Prospect Books, ISBN 1-903018-13-7.

Eugenia Salza Prina Ricotti. Dining as a Roman emperor: how to cook ancient Roman recipes today. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1995.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Hello and welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Maybe today I should be saying Hallo.

Previously in Germania, we saw Treviris and the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier. Its time to go back to Germany as we visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today we are going to the Frontiers of the Roman Empire!

The Roman Limites represents the border line of the Imperium Rōmānum at its greatest extent in the 2nd Century AD. It stretched over 3,100 miles from the Atlantic coast of northern Britannia, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa back to the Atlantic coast.

The remains of the Limites today consist of vestiges of built walls, ditches (fossas), castra, fortresses (castella), watchtowers and civilian settlements (togae turmis regredior). Certain elements of the line have been excavated, some reconstructed and a few destroyed.

A pair of the Limites in Germany covers a length of 342 miles from the north-west of the country to the Danube in the south-east.

The 73-mi-long Vallum Aelium was built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian c. AD 122 at the northernmost limits of Provincia Britannia. It is a striking example of the organization of a military zone and illustrates the defensive techniques and geopolitical strategies of Ancient Rome.

The Antonine Wall, a 37-mi long fortification in Roman Scotland was started by Emperor Antonius Pius in 142 AD as a defense against the barbarians of the north. It constitutes the northwestern-most portion of the Roman Limites.

Thanks for stopping by to check out another WHS. Come back in 2 weeks to see another, or stop by tomorrow to see what we have in store.

Until next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Book 9; Thought 27

SoulsDoorWhen another blames thee or hates thee, or when men say about thee anything injurious, approach their poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men they are. Thou wilt discover that there is no reason to take any trouble that these men may have this or that opinion about thee. However thou must be well disposed towards them, for by nature they are friends. And the gods too aid them in all ways, by dreams, by signs, towards the attainment of those things on which they set a value.

Art of Eternity – The Glory of Byzantium

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! We feel like watching a movie and experiencing something new.

The thought of heading to Rome’s Eastern Empire caught our attention. Today we are going to be checking out Byzantine Art in Byzantium!

Byzantine art is the name for the artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the Empire.

Though the Empire itself emerged from Rome’s decline and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the Empire’s culture and art for centuries afterward.

A number of states contemporary with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it, without actually being part of the Byzantine Commonwealth.

These included Bulgaria, Serbia, and the Rus, as well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire despite being in other respects part of western European culture.

Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day.

Art produced by Eastern Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire is often called “post-Byzantine.”

We hope you enjoyed learning and seeing Byzantine art for yourself and look forward to having you back again soon. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Divorce, Adultery and Concubines

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Yesterday we took a look at Pars I of our look into Roman Marriage, which can be seen here.

As we mentioned, most young women didn’t have a say in to whom or when they were to be married. As the young ladies grew up they became the matronae (matron) of the household and possibly even holder of the estate.

Let’s continue with Pars II of our look into marriage. Today we check out the various nuances of Roman Marriages!ancient-roman-marriage

Patria Potestas was a big deal in Ancient Rome. Fathers of legitimate children alone had patria potestas over their children.

Patria potestas was often a lifelong subjugation of a child to his or her father’s will and applied to sons as much as daughters. This practice disgusted the Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures.

A man or woman who was subject to patria potestas required his or her father’s consent for marriage. Since no paternal consent was required for illegitimate children or those whose fathers had died, this gave the father of legitimate children a very substantial say in at least the initial marriage of his children.

Though a father could deny the right to marriage by refusing a prospective son- or daughter-in-law, he could not legally force his children into marriage nor could he prevent a divorce by one of his children.

One of the most important aspects of the practical and business-like arrangement of Roman marriage was the dowry. The dowry was a contribution made by the wife’s family to the husband to cover the expenses of the household, but it was more customary than compulsory.Dowry

Ancient papyrus texts show that dowries typically included land and slaves but could also include jewelry, toiletries (used to make women more attractive) and clothing. These items were connected with legacy and the woman herself.

The dowry was also how Roman families maintained their social status relative to each other. It was important to ensure that upon the end of a marriage, the dowry was returned to either the wife or her family.

If the wife died early in the marriage, the dowry could be returned to her family. The dowry items could then be buried with the deceased to give a more elaborate interment, or in order to improve her chances of remarriage as well as to maintain the family resource.

In Ancient Rome, the dowry became the husband’s full legal property. In actuality, however, the purpose of the dowry often affected the husband’s freedom to use the dowry.

For example, if the dowry was given to help in the maintenance of the wife the husband was restricted as to how he could make use of the dowry. A legal provision could be made for the wife or her family to reclaim the dowry should the marriage dissolve.

The fate of the dowry at the end of a marriage depended on its original source. A dowry of dos recepticia was one in which agreements were made in advance about its disposal, thus determining how this dowry would be recovered.Wedding

One of dos profecticia was a dowry given by the father of the bride. This type of dowry could be recovered by the donor or by a divorced daughter if her pater familias died.

A dowry of dos adventicia was given by the daughter herself, though it came from her pater. This dowry usually came in non-traditional forms.

For example, in lieu of a debt settlement the dowry was given as a direct charge on the pater’s estate. The wife usually recovered this dowry, however, if she died then the husband retained this dowry.

The evidence for rules of age in Augustus’ marriage legislation wouldStatue-Augustus be applied to either sex. A marriage could be terminated for women who could not give birth or in menopause (aged 20-49), and men who were considered incapable of fathering children (aged 25-59).

Under the terms of the lex Iulia, unmarried persons, caelibes (unmarried as defined by laws), were incapable of taking either inheritances or legacies. Married persons who had no children, orbi, could take no more than 1/2 of either inheritances or legacies.

In the Augustan legislation a husband and wife could enjoy complete capacity to inherit if, apart from the rules of age, they were otherwise related to within the 6th degree, or the husband was absent for a certain period of time (a temporary privilege), or the couple had a living communis child or a certain number of children who had survived to certain ages, or they had otherwise been granted the ius liberorum.

If the married couple could not claim under any of these conditions, then they were capable of taking only 1/10th of the estate of the other.

Divorce (divortium), like marriage, changed and evolved throughout Roman history. As the centuries passed and ancient Rome became more diversified, the laws and customs of divorce also changed and became more diversified to include the customs and beliefs of all the different people.Divorce

Divortium had always been a common occurrence in Rome. From the beginning of ancient law in Rome men had the possibility of divorcing their wives.

Although this custom was usually reserved for serious marital faults, such as adultery, making copies of the household keys, consuming wine or infertility, it could be employed by a husband at any time. For many centuries only husbands had this privilege but wives were finally included in this process and given permission to divorce their husbands as Rome entered into the classical age.

Since marriage was often used as a political tool in ancient Rome, especially in the upper classes, divorces were common when new political opportunities presented themselves. When a new opportunity arose, a man or woman might divorce their current spouse and marry a new one.

A man or woman could form valuable family ties through their various marriages and divorces to different families. A motivated man or woman might marry and divorce a couple times in their lifetime if they thought it to their advantage.

One of the main reasons for divorce, besides serious marital fault, was a desire to no longer remain married to a spouse. Since one of the defining characteristics of marriage was a will to be married and an attitude of regarding one another as husband or wife, the marriage ended when the will or attitude ended.

A husband or wife would notify their spouse that they no longer desired to be married and the marriage would end. It is interesting to note that only a single spouse’s will was required for a divorce and that a divorce was still final even if the other spouse did not receive the notice of divorce.arapacis

All that mattered was that one spouse wanted it to end, and it ended.

Divorce in ancient Rome was usually a private affair and only the parties involved were notified of it. A divorce, or marriage even, did not have to be recognized or ratified by the church or state and no public record was kept of a divorce.

This lack of divorce records often led to some confusion with the numerous marriages and divorces going on.

The Manus Marriage custom ended in the 1st Century BC and the Free Marriage divorce emerged. With this, the reasons for any divorce became irrelevant.

Either spouse could leave a marriage at any point. Property during a marriage was kept separate under Roman Law, and this left only the dowry in common.

In cases of adultery, husbands got to keep a portion of the dowry, but without the involvement of adultery women would take most if not all of their dowry with them, as well as their personal property.

However, the woman had to get permission from the government to have a divorce, while the man did not.

Adultery was a sexual offense committed by a man with a woman who was neither his wife nor a permissible partner, such as a prostitute or slave. A married man committed adultery mainly when his female partner was another man’s wife or unmarried daughter.

The punishment varied at different periods of Roman history and depending on the circumstances. Adultery was normally considered a private matter for families to deal with, not a serious criminal offense requiring the attention of the courts, though there were some cases when adultery and sexual transgressions by women had been brought to the aediles for judgment.

A wronged husband was entitled to kill his wife’s lover if the man was a slave or infamis, a person who, though perhaps technically free, was excluded from the normal legal protections extended to Roman citizens. He was not allowed to kill his wife, who was not under his legal authority.Adultery

If he chose to kill the lover, the husband was required to divorce his wife within 3 days and to have her formally charged with adultery. If a husband was aware of the affair and did nothing, he himself could be charged with pandering (lenocinium, from leno, “pimp”).

If no death penalty was carried out and charges for adultery were brought, both the married woman and her lover were subject to criminal penalties, usually including the confiscation of 1/2 of the adulterer’s property, along with 1/3 of the woman’s property and 1/2 her dowry.

Any property brought by a wife to the marriage or gained during marriage normally remained in her possession following a divorce. A woman convicted of adultery was barred from remarrying.

Scholars have often assumed that the Lex Iulia was meant to address a virulent outbreak of adultery in the Late Republic. An androcentric perspective in the early 20th Century held that the Lex Iulia had been “a very necessary check upon the growing independence and recklessness of women”.

A more sympathetic view in the late 20th to early 21st Century saw love affairs as a way for the intelligent, independent women of the elite to form emotionally meaningful relationships outside marriages arranged for political purposes.

The law should perhaps be understood not as addressing a real problem that threatened society, but as one of the instruments of social control exercised by Augustus that cast the state, and by extension himself, in the role of pater familias to all Rome.

Augustus himself, however, had frequent recourse to his moral laws in choosing to banish potential enemies and rivals from Rome. So, the effect of the legislation seems to have been primarily political.

Concubinage (contubernium; concubine=concubina, considered milder than paelex) was the institution practiced in Ancient Rome that allowed men to enter into certain illegal relationships without repercussions, with the exception of involvement with prostitutes.Concubine

This de facto polygamy, since Roman citizens could not legally marry or cohabit with a concubine while also having a legal wife, was “tolerated to the degree that it did not threaten the religious and legal integrity of the family”.

The title of concubine was not considered derogatory in Ancient Rome, and was often inscribed on tombstones.

Emperor Augustus’ Leges Juliae gave the first legal recognition of concubinage, defining it as cohabitation without marital status. Concubinage came to define many relationships and marriages considered unsuitable under Roman law, such a senator’s desire to marry a freedwoman, or his cohabitation with a former prostitute.Concubines

While a man could live in concubinage with any woman of his choice rather than marrying her, he was compelled to give notice to authorities. This type of cohabitation varied little from actual marriage, except that heirs from this union were not considered legitimate.

Often this was the reason that men of high rank would live with a woman in concubinage after the death of their original wife, so that the claims of their children from this primary marriage would not be challenged by the children from this later union.

Concerning the difference between a concubine and a wife, the jurist Julius Paulus wrote in his Opinions that “a concubine differs from a wife only in the regard in which she is held,” meaning that a concubine was not considered a social equal to her patron, as his wife was.

While the official Roman law declared that a man could not have a concubine at the same time he had a wife, there are various notable occurrences of this, including the famous cases of the Emperors Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Vespasian.

Concubines did not receive much protection under the law, aside from the legal recognition of their social stature. They largely relied upon their patrons to provide for them.

Early Roman law sought to differentiate between the status of concubinage and legal marriage, as demonstrated in a law attributed to Numa Pompilius, the 2nd King of Rome, circa 716-673 BC: “A concubine shall not touch the altar of Juno. If she touches it, she shall sacrifice, with her hair unbound, a ewe lamb to Juno”.

Juno_sospita_pushkinThis fragment gives evidence that concubines existed early in the Roman monarchy, but also notes the banning of their involvement in the worship of Juno, the goddess of marriage. This seems to make sense since if you aren’t legally married, then you shouldn’t be allowed to worship the goddess of marriage.

We hope you enjoyed learning about married life in Ancient Rome. Expectantly, this doesn’t cause any of you who are married now to start rethinking your own marital conditions.

Stop by again soon to see what we have in store. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bradley, K.R. Remarriage and the Structure of the Upper-Class Roman Family. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, 79-98. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Corbier, Mireille. Divorce and Adoption as Roman Familial Strategies. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, 47-78. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Fantham, Elaine. Julia Augusti: the Emperor’s Daughter: Women in the Ancient World. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-33146-3.

Gardner, Jane F. Women in Roman Law and Society. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20635-9.

Holland, Barbara, and Lane Yerkes. The long good-bye. Smithsonian 28, no. 12 (March 1998).

Lefkowitz, Mary R. and Fant, Maureen B. Women’s Life in Greece and Rome. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4474-6.

Lelis, Arnold A., Percy, William A. and Verstraete, Beert C.The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome. The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003. ISBN 0-7734-6665-7.

Parkin, Tim G. Old Age in the Roman World: A Cultural and Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7128-X.

Saller, Richard P. Patriarchy, Property, and Death in the Roman Family. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32603-6.

Treggiari, Susan. Divorce Roman Style: How easy and how Frequent was it?. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Treggiari, Susan. Roman Marriage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-814890-9.

Marriage in Ancient Rome

Welcome back to Rome Across Europe! Lately we have tried to incorporate more for women in our articles, but it has been hard since most Roman Historians were men.

The focus of the moment though will apply to both men and women as it is about relationships. Today RAE is talking about marriage in Ancient Rome!Ceremony

Marriage in Ancient Rome was seen as a strictly monogamous institution. By lawRoman citizen could have only a single spouse at a time.

Sometimes, however, appearances aren’t always what they seem. We’ll now discover Pars I of our matrimonium notificatio.

The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives. Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states.

This is an aspect of Ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western Culture.

Marriage had mythical precedents, starting with the abduction of the Sabine Women, which may reflect the archaic custom of bride abduction. Romulus and his band of male immigrants were rejected conubium, the legal right to intermarriage, from the Sabines.Rape_of_the_Sabine_Women

According to Livy, Romulus and his men abducted the Sabine maidens, but promised them an honorable marriage, in which they would enjoy the benefits of property, citizenship and children. These 3 benefits seem to define the purpose of marriage in Ancient Rome.

The word matrimonium, the root for the English word matrimony, defines the institution’s main function. Involving the mater (mother), it carries with it the implication of the man taking a woman in marriage to have children. It is the idea conventionally shared by Romans as to the purpose of marriage, which would be to produce legitimate children.Family

Basically, Roman Citizens producing new Roman Citizens.

Consortium is a word used for the sharing of property, usually used in a technical sense for the property held by heirs, but could also be used in the context of marriage.

Worldly possessions transferred automatically from the wife to the husband in olden times, whereas the classical marriage kept the wife’s property separate.

In order for the union of a man and woman to be legitimate, there needed to be consent legally and morally. Both parties had to be willing and intend to marry, and both needed their fathers’ consent.

If all legal conditions were met, a marriage was made. We know how romantic this sounds.

The lives of elite Roman women were essentially determined by their marriages. We are best informed about families with both wealth and political standing, whose largely inherited money would follow both their sons and their daughters.Wedding for the Rich

In the earliest periods of Roman history, Manus Marriage meant that a married woman would be subjugated by her husband. When that custom died out in the 1st Century BC in favor of Liberum Maritagium, a husband was not granted any rights over his wife nor have any changing effect on a woman’s status.

Elite young men would usually marry in their mid-20s, after a year or more of military service and in politics of some sort. Their brides, however, would be markedly younger women (between 15 and 20).

The family typically felt no need to retain the daughter at home in order to give her a full education. They also feared that once she hit puberty the girl might throw away her virginity or lose the reputation for chastity, which was a prerequisite for marriage.Wedding Night

The higher the social position of the young girl, the sooner betrothal tended to follow puberty since marriages were arranged for political reasons. The actual marriage, however, was usually postponed until she was physically mature enough to carry a healthy pregnancy or survive the high risks of childbirth.

The young wife would learn some of the complexities of running a large household by observing her mother, and her training would be supplemented by the slave staff of her new household.

The more prominent her family, the less it was likely that the girl would have much choice in the age, appearance or character of her husband. Through high status marriages, women were able to gain associative power from their husbands’ prominent positions in society.

Women who gained power in this way could even then legitimize the power positions of their sons (such as with Livia and Tiberius) as their symbolic status influenced Roman society.

While upper class girls married very young, lower class women (plebeians, freedwomen, etc.) in practice would marry during their late teens to men in their late 20s. Marriage for these women was not about economic or political gain, so it was not as urgent.Common Marriage

The lives of all women in antiquity were defined around their expectation and achievement of marriage: first as young girls, then as wives and, if all went well, as mothers. In their later years, it was statistically probable that they would survive their husbands and live as widows.

From day to day, on a larger scale, their obligations and opportunities depended on the man or men to whom they were married.

The nuptiae was often begun with a celebration, combining legal, religious and social features. It brings the pair of households together, new property is introduced and there is the underlying promise of children.nuptiae

The wedding ceremony included various customs and religious rites. The typical upper-class wedding tended to be a lavish affair.

The expense of the wedding was normally the bride’s family’s responsibility, much as it is today. The day was carefully chosen, with various religious reasons as to why certain days should be avoided.

During engagement ceremonies, which typically took place before the wedding ceremonies, the groom would often hand his future wife an iron ring. During wedding ceremonies the bride and groom often sacrificed an animal and asked the gods for a blessing.Wedding Ring

Gifts were given to family and friends, and sometimes the bride and groom exchanged presents of money before the wedding. On the wedding day, the bride went with a procession to her new home, while the bridegroom went ahead of the bride to receive her.

The bride brought a torch lit from her family’s hearth, and was offered another torch and water, symbolizing the aquae et ignis communicatio. She was then carried over the threshold by her attendants, not her husband.

The words “Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia” may have been exchanged at this point. The actual consummation of the marriage took place in the bedroom, supposedly in the dark.

The day after the wedding, the groom would hold a dinner party at his house. It was at this time that the bride made an offering to the gods of her new home.Wedding Feast

The verbal consent between the bride and groom fulfilled the legal expectations and was part of publicizing the marriage. The sharing of water and fire, the clasping of their right hands (dextrarum iunctio), the religious and the actual ceremony and celebration fulfilled the social obligation.

Following the collapse of the Republic and the rise of Augustus as Emperor, moral legislation became part of the new political order. As Rome’s original Emperor, in 18 BC Augustus turned his attention to social reforms.

Laws pertaining to marriage, parenting and adultery were part of his program to restore the mos maiorum, traditional social norms, while consolidating his political authority and codifying a more rigid social hierarchy in the wake of the recent civil wars. The appeal to old-fashioned values cloaked the radical overthrow of the Republic’s participatory political institutions by top-down, one-man rule.Inscription_Faustina_Antoninus_Ostia_Antica

Among the upper classes marriage was less frequent, and many couples who did marry failed to produce offspring. Augustus implemented a series of laws pertaining to marriage and family life aimed at increasing the population of native Italians in Italy, encouraging marriage and having children, and punishing adultery as a crime.

Heavier taxes were assessed on unmarried men and women without husbands. However, privileges and recognition were granted for marriage and childbearing (Jus trium liberorum).

These new laws from Augustus were badly received and were modified in AD 9 by the Lex Papia Poppaea, named after the pair of bachelor Consuls of that year. The earlier and later laws are often referred to in juristic sources as the lex Julia et Papia.Mosaic

In part, as a result of Christian opposition to such policies, the laws were eventually nearly all repealed or fell into disuse under Constantine and later Emperors, including Justinian.

Remarriage was very common in Roman society and many men and women were usually married at least twice in their lifetimes. This was due to the high death rate and low average life expectancy in ancient Rome.

This high mortality rate plus the high divorce rate led to many instances of remarriage. Since children were expected in marriage, each spouse usually brought at least one child to the new marriage.

Remarriages thus created a new blending of the family in ancient Roman society, where children were influenced by stepparents and, in some instances, where stepmothers were younger than their stepchildren.Next Wedding

Most wives were encouraged to remarry after either the death of the husband or a divorce. Ancient physicians believed that a woman was liable to get very sick if she was deprived of sexual activity and it could even lead to a woman getting “hysteric uterine constriction”.

There was even legislation passed during the rule of Augustus that required widows and widowers to remarry to be able to fully inherit from people outside of their immediate family.

This ends today’s look at marriage and its overall concept, rules and institution. Come back tomorrow to see Pars II of our focus on marriage.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bradley, K.R. Remarriage and the Structure of the Upper-Class Roman Family. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, 79-98. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Corbier, Mireille. Divorce and Adoption as Roman Familial Strategies. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, 47-78. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Fantham, Elaine. Julia Augusti: the Emperor’s Daughter: Women in the Ancient World. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-33146-3.

Gardner, Jane F. Women in Roman Law and Society. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20635-9.

Holland, Barbara, and Lane Yerkes. The long good-bye. Smithsonian 28, no. 12 (March 1998).

Lefkowitz, Mary R. and Fant, Maureen B. Women’s Life in Greece and Rome. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4474-6.

Lelis, Arnold A., Percy, William A. and Verstraete, Beert C.The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome. The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003. ISBN 0-7734-6665-7.

Parkin, Tim G. Old Age in the Roman World: A Cultural and Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7128-X.

Saller, Richard P. Patriarchy, Property, and Death in the Roman Family. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32603-6.

Treggiari, Susan. Divorce Roman Style: How easy and how Frequent was it?. In Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, eds. Beryl Rawson, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814918-2.

Treggiari, Susan. Roman Marriage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-814890-9.

Book 9; Thought 22

Hasten to examine thy own ruling faculty and that of the universe Contemplating the Universeand that of thy neighbour: thy own that thou mayest make it just: and that of the universe, that thou mayest remember of what thou art a part; and that of thy neighbour, that thou mayest know whether he has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and that thou mayest also consider that his ruling faculty is akin to thine.

War Horses of the Roman Empire

Hello and welcome to Rome Across Europe! At the end of August we looked in on a topic that has never been far from battles, military animals.

In this opening article we looked at Dogs of War. Just like today, man’s best friend has also been holding its own as either a soldier or rehabilitation companion when put in harm’s way.

Moving forward, we’re going to look at next most relied on animal for fighting. Today we discover the Roman War Horses!Germanic Battle

When someone speaks of the Imperium Rōmānum, an initial thought to cross a person’s minds is the magnificent size of her dominions. Because of this vastness, Rome had to maintain its Exercitus Romanus that was capable of crushing any possibility of rebellion.

Similar to the Greeks before Alexander the Great, the Romans relied primarily on its Legiones, the phalanx and other engines of war for fighting. Horses were mainly used for chariots, light skirmishing and hauling supplies.roman_chariot

With so many lands under Rome’s’ control, it’s natural that they would use different types of horses. Particular favorites appear to be the Arabian, the Andalusian, the Camargue, the Dales Pony, the Fell Pony and the Galician Pony.

As Rome was a military empire, the horse was an essential element in communications, transport and fighting. That is why the Romans were smart enough not to rely on just one specific breed of horse.

The Romans inherited knowledge of horses from the Greeks and amassed a corpus of expertise which covered the best types of horses to employ the most effective tackle and training methods to use, and the most effective veterinary practices.

Stallions from ParthiaPersiaMedia, Armenia, Cappadocia, Hispania and Libya were the most prized. Preferring larger animals, horses were also selected for their temperament, stamina, and resistance to extreme environments and food deprivation.

Training ensured horses became used to group charges, flashing weapons, battle noises and strange animals such as elephants which the enemy might field.

Horses were fed barley and each member of the Equites Romani was allotted 6 bushels each month. According to Polybius a horse received 3.5 lb per day.Calvaryman

Despite every care taken, horses ran the risk of disease and injury. The most common, by far, was lameness for horses were largely unshod. In battle, less serious wounds to the animal could be treated but the biggest threat came from infected wounds.

Roman monuments certainly show us a small stocky animal. Recent work on bone evidence suggests that actual military horses were what we would call ponies, robust specimens of 13.2 hands with small regional differences.

Much has been written on the size of the Roman horse. To generalize, there is a consensus that Roman horses in the west were around 13 to14 hands (hh), with some as tall as 15 hh.

Certainly it is safe to assume that strong animals were needed to carry armored riders over considerable distances, and speed would have been a resulting consideration. Size was crucial in determining speed of maneuver, and thusly the effectiveness of Roman Cavalry.

Andalusian Horseandalusians

Cave paintings show that horses have been present on the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 20,000 to 30,000 BC. Throughout history, the Iberian breeds have been influenced by many different peoples and cultures who occupied Spain, including the Celts, the Carthaginians, the Romans, various Germanic tribes and the Moors.

The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse (Pura Raza Española), was identified as a talented war horse as early as 450 BC, and was prized by the nobility. They are known for their intelligence, sensitivity and docility.

Andalusian horses are elegant and strongly built, yet compact. Andalusians have long, thick manes and tails. Their most common coat color is gray, although they can be found in many other colors.

Andalusians stallions and geldings average 15.75 hh (61.5 in) at the withers and 1,129 lb in weight. Mares average 15.5 hh (60.5 in) and 908 lb.

Members of the breed have heads of medium length, with a straight or slightly convex profile. Necks are long and broad, running to well-defined withers and a massive chest.Andalusian

They have a short back and broad, strong hindquarters with a well-rounded croup. The breed tends to have clean legs, with no propensity for blemishes or injuries, and energetic gaits.

The mane and tail are thick and long, but the legs do not have excess feathering. Andalusians, when treated with respect, are quick to learn, responsive and cooperative.

Mitochondrial DNA studies of the modern Andalusian horse of the Iberian peninsula and Barb horse of North Africa present convincing evidence that both breeds crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.

They were used for breeding with each other, influencing one another’s bloodlines. Thus, the Andalusian may have been the first European “warm blood”, a mixture of heavy European and lighter Oriental horses.

Arabian Horsearabians

The Arabian, or Arab horse, is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world.

Horses with these features appeared in rock paintings and inscriptions dating back 4,500 years. In ancient history throughout the Ancient Near East, horses with refined heads and high-carried tails were depicted in artwork, particularly that of Ancient Egypt in the 16th Century BC.

It is also one of the oldest human-developed horse breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses in the Middle East that resemble modern Arabians. Throughout history, Arabian horses have spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone.

The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection from theft. Selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please.

The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.Arabian

The Arabian is a versatile breed and dominate the discipline of endurance riding, a trait certainly used by ancient riders.

Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Most display a distinctive concave, or “dished” profile.

Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate.Bronzed Head

Another breed characteristic is an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe set on a refined, clean throatlatch. In the ideal Arabian it is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe.

Other distinctive features are a relatively long, level croup, top of the hindquarters, and naturally high tail carriage. Well-bred Arabians have a deep, well-angled hip and well laid-back shoulder.

Most have a compact body with a short back. Arabians usually have dense, strong bone, and good hoof walls.

The breed is described as standing between 14.1 to 15.1 hh (57 to 61 inches) tall, “with the occasional individual over or under.” All Arabians, regardless of height, are classified as “horses” even though 14.2 hh (58 inches) is the traditional cutoff height between a horse and a pony.

A common myth is that Arabians are not strong because they are relatively small and refined. However, the Arabian horse is noted for a greater density of bone than other breeds, short cannons, sound feet, and a broad, short back.

All of which give the breed physical strength comparable to many taller animals. Basically, even a smaller Arabian can carry a heavy rider or travel longer.

The Arabian is also classified as a “hot-blooded” breed and, like other hot-bloods, Arabians’ sensitivity and intelligence enable quick learning and greater communication with their riders. However, their intelligence also allows them to learn bad habits as quickly as good ones, and they do not tolerate inept or abusive training practices.

Camargue horsecamargues

The Camargue horse is an ancient breed of horse indigenous to the Camargue area in southern France. Its origins remain relatively unknown, although it is generally considered one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world.

For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the Camargue marshes and wetlands of the Rhône delta. There they developed the stamina, hardiness and agility for which they are known today.

Traditionally, they live in semi-feral conditions and are used to herd the black Camargue bulls used in bullfighting in southern France. Camargue horses galloping through water is a popular and romantic image of the region.

Camargue horses are always gray. This means that they have black skin underlying a white hair coat as adult horses.

They are born with a hair coat that is black or dark brown in color, but as they grow to adulthood, their hair coat becomes ever more intermingled with white hairs until it is completely white. They are small horses, generally standing 13.1 to 14.3 hh at the withers, and weighing 770 to 1,100 lb.camargue

Despite their small size, they have the strength to carry grown adults. Considered rugged and intelligent, they have a short neck, deep chest, compact body, well-jointed, strong limbs and a full mane and tail.

Some researchers believe the Camargue are descended from the ancient Solutré horse hunted during the Upper Paleolithic period. Extensive archeological evidence has been found in the present-day Burgundy region of France.

The Camargue breed was appreciated by the Celtic and Roman invaders who entered the Iberian Peninsula. Their genealogy is closely tied with Iberian horses, especially those of the northern part of the peninsula.

Dales Ponydales

Horse remains dating to Roman times were found in the Ribchester area of the Dales, during North Pennines Archaeology’s excavations at land behind the Black Bull Inn in 2009. The Romans themselves named an ancient British tribe to the east of the Pennines the Gabrantovici (Horse-Riding Warriors).

The breed is known for its strength, hardiness, stamina, courage, intelligence, and good disposition.

The Dales Pony is ideally 14 to 14.2 hh (56 to 58 inches). The head is straight, neat, and broad between the eyes, with a fine muzzle and incurving ears.Dales Pony

The body is fairly short in the back, with a broad and deep rib cage, long, broad and well-muscled quarters, a well-muscled neck of a good length joining neatly into strong withers and strong sloping shoulders.

The legs are very muscular, with hard, dense bone, clearly defined tendons, flexible pasterns, and large round hooves with open heels. The mane, tail and leg feathers are straight, silky and abundant.

Fell PonyFell Ponies

The Fell pony shares its origins with the now-extinct Galloway pony which was also the root of the Dales pony. It is believed to have originated on the border between England and Scotland, quite probably pre-dating Roman times.

They are primarily a working breed of pony with activity, stamina, hardiness and intelligence that enables them to live and thrive in tough conditions out on the fells in the Lake District.

The Fell pony was originally used as a packhorse, carrying lead, slate, copper and iron ore. They were also used for light agriculture and the transportation of bulky farm goods such as wool.Fell Pony

With their sturdy bodies, strong legs and equable disposition, and being good, fast walkers, they would travel up to 240 mi a week. They were favoured by the Vikings as packhorses as well as for plowing, riding and pulling sledges.

By the Iron Age, equines were in relatively common use in Britannia. They averaged 12.1 hh in height and resembled the modern Exmoor breed in terms of overall build.

By the later part of the Roman occupation, somewhat later than the improvements in other domestic species, the average height of British ponies had increased to around 13 hh.

Galician PonyGalacians

The Galician Pony (cabalo galego or poldro galaico in Galician) is a breed of pony developed in Galicia. It is thought to have developed partly from a mix of Celtic horses, Roman horses and horses brought to Galicia by the Swabians.

The ponies are hardy and rugged. They are between 3.9 and 4.6 feet in height, with a short body and strong legs. They have a straight profile, and usually are bay in color.Galician Pony

There was a strong love for quality horses in Roman society. This love sometimes becoming so extreme it neared worship.

Particular stories of Romans going to great lengths for their horses survive to this day. Particular celebrated horses were practically treated as royalty. Their hooves were painted with gilt and they were given spectacular presents.

In fact, the “Mad Emperor” Caligula is said to have presented his favorite horse, Incitatus, with a house complete with furniture. Caligula also insisted that friends come to dine with his horse and in turn invite their own horse to dine with them.Reiterstatue

Rome was built on the backs of its infantry, but got some help from its horses. We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the varieties of horses used by the Romans.

Come back soon to check out what we have in store for you. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!


Archer, Rosemary, Colin Pearson and Cecil Covey. (1978). The Crabbet Arabian Stud: Its History and Influence. Northleach. Gloucestershire: Alexander Heriot & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-906382-00-9.

Azzaroli, A. (1985). An Early History of Horsemanship. ISBN 9789004072336.

Bennett, Deb. Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship. Solvang, CA: Amigo Publications Inc. ISBN 0-9658533-0-6.

Bonnet, Jocelyne. La fabrication des mythes: Une approche ethno-historique du cheval camarguais. (ethnology thesis) Université Montpellier III (in French). The fabrication of myths: an ethno-historic approach to the Camargue horse.

Cartwright, Mark. Roman Cavalry. May 2014.

Davis, Caroline. The kingdom of the horse: a comprehensive guide to the horse and the major breeds. New York: Howell Book House. ISBN 978-0-87605-037-8.

Edwards, Gladys Brown. The Arabian: War Horse to Show Horse (Revised Collector’s ed.). Covina, California: Rich Publishing, Inc.

Loch, Sylvia (1986). The Royal Horse of Europe: The Story of the Andalusian and Lusitano. London: J. A. Allen. ISBN 0-85131-422-8.

Mason, I.L. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. 4th Edition. C.A.B International. 1996.

Wentworth, Judith Anne Dorothea Blunt-Lytton. The Authentic Arabian Horse. George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

About Fell Ponies.

History of the War Horse. The Roman Empire and its Enemies.