The ancient Romans were known for many things including but not limited to their long list of rulers, their conquests in war, their gods, and the many scientists who came out of that era. Like many great civilizations the Romans were full of secrets, some of which we are still yet to reveal. Until the time comes for us to uncover them, here are some hidden facts of Ancient Rome that very few people know.
1. Romans Guard Books That Foretell the Future
When it comes to the future the Romans were quite superstitious. Any book or piece of writing concerning the future of Rome and its citizens including how it will end, was kept away from the public, in the Temple of Jupiter to be exact. Only those considered skilled enough were allowed to interpret it in order to prevent whatever doom that lay in their future. According to legend, an elderly woman went to King Tarquin with books about Rome’s future and although he initially declined, he paid the woman’s steep asking price. The legend has been compared to the sibyl who foretold Troy’s fall.
2. There was a Mafia of Ancient Rome
Much like the Colombos, Gambinos, and Luccheses of New York, Ancient Rome had its own version of the mafia, and they were called the publicani also known as tax collectors. You may think that they are bad today, but quite a few of their practices were questionable to say the least. They would go to newly conquered provinces to practice what was called tax farming. They would squeeze as much money as they possibly could out of the poor which they then used to control the banking and trade sectors. They also collected 10% harvest tax which they would give to the Roman government.
3. King Mithridates’ Immunity
Although King Mithridates VI was not Roman, he played quite a role in the country’s history. Mithridates was one of the biggest threats to the state, often waging war in an attempt to break Rome’s rule over Asia. Mithridates had a complicated childhood; after being persecuted by his mother, he ran away to a forest where he lived with animals for seven years. It is believed that it was there he experimented with poisons and toxins which eventually resulted in him becoming immune. Unfortunately, this very advantage would come back to haunt him when he attempted to take his own life after being caught by Pompeiian sympathizers. The job was left to one of his loyal guards.
4. A Horse Was Appointed to Senate
Gaius Caesar Germanicus, also known as Caligula, was one of Rome’s most infamous rulers. Despite only ruling for a short period of time, he was well known for his selfishness, as well as his unpredictable and violent outbursts. Although he had a harsh temperament, he loved animals and he went as far as making one of his horses, Incitatus, a member of the Senate. While some believe he did it out of affection for the animal, others believed that Caligula appointed the horse to show his inferiors that their work was so insignificant that even an animal could do it. His antics would later cost him his life.
5. A Group of Women were Accused of Poisoning
Poison and poisoning have played a major role in Roman history, specifically ancient Roman history. When a large number of the city’s most prominent citizens all died of this same illness, a young woman told the curule aediles, (the formal magistrates), that it was because of a certain group of matrons. An investigation revealed that a group of at least 20 women were secretly brewing poisons. The women argued that they were making medicine, so authorities made them prove their guilt or innocence by drinking their concoctions. They all died shortly after. An additional 170 people were found guilty of this very same offense.
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