Thursday, February 5, 2009

5 Things You Didn't Know About Rome

So I was searching all over the place for stuff to post and I came across an article on that I thought was really interesting/funny/weird and I of course wanted to share here are 5 things you didn't know about Rome.

1- In Rome, it was considered decadent to vomit between meals
Did the Romans really make themselves vomit between meals so they could eat more? The short answer: yup. However, it was considered decadent. The Roman philosopher Seneca condemned the practice, recalling that at one feast “while we were reclining at a banquet, one slave wipes up the spittle, as another, beneath the table, collects the leavings of the drunks.” The Roman orator, Cicero, attacked Julius Caesar for expressing “a desire to vomit after dinner.” However, the notion that Romans had a dedicated room for this purpose, a vomitorium, is a myth. There were, in fact, structures called "vomitoria," but they were simply lobbies where the audience exited a theater (the words "vomit" and "vomitorium" are derived from a Latin verb meaning “to disgorge”).

2- Rome was the first civilization to feature central heating systems
During the first century CE (Classical Era), some of the classier homes in Rome were built with terracotta tubes embedded in the walls. The tubes carried warm air from the fires in the basement -- the first central heating systems. Better yet, bathing areas were supplied with hot and cold running water so bathers could move back and forth between three baths according to preference: the caldarium (hot), frigidarium (cold) and tepidarium (warm). The villas of the wealthy often had private baths (attended by slaves -- i.e., the creepy scene with Tony Curtis in Spartacus). However, bathing could be a social event, a sort of combination party and business meeting, which is why you also see Roman aristocrats lounging around naked in the baths in Spartacus.

3- Caligula threatened to make his horse consul
The Roman emperor Gaius Caesar Germanicus was nicknamed “Little Boots” because he was brought up in army camps and sometimes dressed as a miniature soldier. The nickname stuck, and the world remembers him by its Latin version: Caligula. As a young boy, the soldiers were so fond of him that he ended a mutiny just by showing his face. Despite the adorable nickname and popular acclaim, Caligula turned out to be a crazy S.O.B., and not in a good way: According to Suetonius, “He was rearing a viper for the Roman people.” Among Caligula’s more interesting actions -- he threatened to make his horse, Incitatus, consul and gave the animal “a house, a troop of slaves and furniture, for the more elegant entertainment of the guests invited in his name.”

Caligula also announced that he had metamorphosed into Jove, the chief god. He declared war on Neptune, sending his soldiers to attack the sea with swords and catapults, and he “lived in habitual incest with all his sisters.” Later, “at one of his more sumptuous banquets he suddenly burst into a fit of laughter, and when the consuls, who were reclining next to him, politely inquired at what he was laughing, [Caligula] replied: ‘Isn’t it funny? At a single nod of mine both of you could have your throats cut on the spot.’” Apparently, it wasn’t that funny: Various government officials stabbed Caligula to death at the age of 29.

4- Roman husbands kissed their wives to make sure they weren't drunk
Roman husbands kissed their wives on the mouth at the end of the day, but their motives were not at all romantic -- they were checking their spouses’ breath to see if they had been sitting around drinking wine all day. Not that the men could throw stones as far as fidelity was concerned -- the orator, Cicero, once attacked Julius Caesar with the remark that he was “every woman’s husband and every man’s wife.”

5- The city of Rome has a belly button
In love with the idea of order and tidiness, the emperor Augustus had a “Golden Milestone” constructed in the city of Rome on which were listed the distances to all the major cities in the empire. The emperor Constantine later referred to this as the Umbilicus Urbis Romae -- or the “navel of Rome.” It was also the origin of the saying “all roads lead to Rome.” Just how many roads were there? A whole lot: The Romans built over 54,000 miles of roads around the Mediterranean basin. For comparison, as of 2004, the U.S. Interstate Highway System included about 47,000 miles of paved roadway.


  1. You should find out about things that they built. Children would come onto this site. You should put more info on but this is really good info!!!

  2. That is cool! I'm a kid!