A Romangladiator was an ancient professional fighter who specialised with particular weapons and armour. They fought before the public in organised games held in large purpose-built arenas throughout the Roman Empire from 105 BCE to 404 CE (official contests). As fights were usually to the death, gladiators had a short life expectancy and so, although it was in some respects a glamorous profession, the majority of fighters were slaves, former slaves or condemned prisoners. Without doubt, gladiator spectacles were one of the most watched forms of popular entertainment in the Roman world.
The Romans were influenced by their predecessors in Italy, the Etruscans, in many ways. For example, in the use of animal sacrifice for divining the future, the use of the symbolic fascesand organising gladiatorial games. The Etruscans associated these contests with the rites of death and so they had a certain religious significance. Although the first privately organised Roman gladiator contests in 264 BCE were to commemorate the death of a father, the later official contests discarded this element. Vestiges of the religious origins did, however, remain in the act of finishing off fallen gladiators. In this case an attendant would strike a blow to the forehead of the injured. The attendant would wear a costume representing Hermes the messenger god who escorted souls to the underworld or Charun (the Etruscan equivalent). The presence of the divine Emperor himself, accompanied by priests and the Vestal Virgins also lent a certain pseudo-religious air to the contest
The Turkish national flag is mostly red, with a white star and a crescent in the center. Ottoman Sultan Selim III formalized the look in 1793, but the flag is actually much older.
The crescent-and-star combination has been used in Turkey since Hellenistic times (400s to 100 BCE). It likely came from ancient Mesopotamian iconocraphy. Ancient depictions of the symbol always show the crescent with horns pointing upward and with the star placed inside the crescent, for reasons that have been lost to time. When it came to Turkey, they gave it their own meanings. For Byzantium the moon symbolized Diana, also known as Artemis, the patron goddess of the city.
In 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the flag remained unchanged. With time, it became not just Istanbul’s flag but the Ottoman flag, with its design formalized in 1793 and its status as national flag formalized in 1844. Turks affectionately call the flag “ay yildiz” – the “moon star” flag.
Many nations that were once part of Ottoman Empire adopted the star-and-crescent when they gained independence, including Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. In the 1900s the symbol became associated with not just the Ottomans, but with Islam in general, and many states that were never part of the Ottoman Empire adopted it too, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Maldives. Pretty amazing that an ancient Mesopotamian symbol is flown around the world today.
“Succession of the Plebians” was a common form of revolt in the early Roman Republic. Everyone except the hereditary aristocrats (called patricians) would leave the city. The patricians would be left to fend for themselves. No servants, no shopkeepers, no farmers.
It was a very effective way to make the patricians negotiate.
ROMAN emperors ruled over the Imperial Roman Empire starting with Augustus from 27 BCE and continuing in the Western Roman Empire until the late 5th century CE and in the Eastern Roman Empire up to the mid-15th century CE. The emperors would take different titles such as Caesarand Imperator but it was always their command of the army which allowed them to keep their seat on one of history’s most prestigious and long-lasting thrones.
Prior to the birth of the Roman Empire in the latter part of the first century BCE, there had existed many empires among these were the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Macedonian. All of these had great leaders such as Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and, of course, Alexander the Great. Yet, history tells us these great men were all called kings; the term emperor was never used. In contrast, the Roman Empire was different, for it didn’t have a king; it had an emperor, and one must search both the Roman Republic and the Empire, almost one thousand years of history, to discover the reasons for the difference.
A man who beat his wife or child laid violent hands, Cato the Elder said, on what was most sacred. A good husband he believed to be more worthy of more praise than a great senator. He admired the ancient Socrates “for nothing so much as for having lived a temperate and contented life with a wife who was a scold, and children who were half-witted.”
FROM the early days of the Roman Republic through the volatile reigns of such ignoble emperors as Caligula, Nero, and Commodus, the Roman Empire continued to expand, stretching its borders to encompass the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as expanding northward to Gaul and Britain. History records the exploits of the heroes as well as the tirades of the emperors. Despite the sometimes shameful deeds of the imperial office, the empire was built on the backs of its citizens – the unsung people who lived a relatively quiet existence, and who are often ignored by history. Rome was a cosmopolitan city with Greeks, Syrians, Jews, North Africans, Spaniards, Gauls, and Britons, and like any society, the average Roman citizen awoke each morning, labored, relaxed, and ate, and while his or her daily life could often be hectic, he or she would always survive.
Outside the cities, in the towns and on the small farms, people lived a much simpler life – dependent almost entirely on their own labor. The daily life of the average city dweller, however, was a lot different and most often routine. The urban areas of the empire – whether it was Rome, Pompeii, Antioch, or Carthage – were magnets to many people who left smaller towns and farms seeking a better way of life. However, the unfulfilled promise of jobs forced countless people to live in the poorer parts of the city.
A large ancient wall, clearly Roman, was first unearthed in the German city of Cologne in 2017. It is not that surprising to find Roman buildings there. Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia, or “colony.” What made the find interesting was its size, and the strange small niches built into the wall.
After comparisons with Roman ruins elsewhere, archaeologists think they have figured out the mystery. The building was a Roman library. The niches were to hold scrolls. Rather a lot of scrolls; it is estimated the library could have held up to 20,000 scrolls.
The building would have been slightly smaller than the famed library at Ephesus, which was built in 117 CE. Cologne’s library was also likely built later, in the mid-100s CE. Located in the middle of the city, near the forum, Cologne’s library was intended for public use. And it was popular enough that eventually an extension was added!
ROMAN coins were first produced in the late 4th century BCE in Italy and continued to be minted for another eight centuries across the empire. Denominations and values more or less constantly changed but certain types such as the sestertii and denarii would persist and come to rank amongst the most famous coins in history.
Roman coinage, as in other societies, represented a guaranteed and widely recognised value which permitted an easy exchange of value which in turn drove both commerce and technology development as all classes could work to own coins which could be spent on all manner of goods and services. Even more significantly, large and identical payments could now be easily made which made possible a whole new scale of commercial activity. Coins also had a function as a vehicle to spread the imagery of the ruling class as coinage was the mass media of the day and often carried likenesses of emperors and famous imperial monuments which would be the nearest most Romans ever got to see of them.