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The Bad Romans

While the Roman Empire had many achievements, it also had a history of practices and events that would be considered shocking and reprehensible by modern Western standards. Please note that some of these actions were carried out by individuals, not the entire Roman society, and may not represent the entirety of Roman culture.

30 Shocking Acts Carried out by Romans

  1. Slavery: Romans practiced widespread slavery, where both men and women were subjected to inhumane treatment.

  2. Gladiator Games: The Roman tradition of gladiator games involved men fighting to the death for entertainment, often against their will.

  3. Infanticide: The exposure of unwanted infants, often female, was not uncommon in ancient Rome.

  4. Crucifixions: Crucifixion was a brutal form of execution used by Romans against both men and women.

  5. Human Sacrifices: In some cases, Romans practiced human sacrifices to appease gods.

  6. Sexual Exploitation: Both men and women could be subject to sexual exploitation, including in the form of concubinage.

  7. Baths of Blood: Some emperors, like Nero, used men and women as human torches during extravagant parties.

  8. Vomitorium Myth: The idea of a vomitorium where Romans would vomit to eat more is a myth, but it persists as a misconception about Roman excess.

  9. Sexual Violence in Slavery: Male and female slaves were vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence.

  10. Domestic Abuse: Domestic violence against women was a problem in Roman society.

  11. Forced Labor: Men and women, including prisoners of war, were subjected to forced labor in mines and quarries.

  12. Emperor Nero's Torture and Execution of Christians: Nero ordered the brutal torture and execution of Christians, including men, women, and children.

  13. Dehumanization of Slaves: Slaves were often treated as property, and their mistreatment was widespread.

  14. Glaber's Attack on the Village of Spartacus: Roman commander Glaber crucified 6,000 slaves, mostly men, as punishment for participating in the Spartacus slave revolt.

  15. Lustful Emperors: Some emperors, like Tiberius and Caligula, were known for their debauchery and sexual excesses, often involving men and women alike.

  16. Sexual Exploitation in Prostitution: Prostitution was prevalent, and many men and women were forced into this profession.

  17. Execution of Vestal Virgins: Vestal Virgins who broke their vows of chastity were buried alive.

  18. Use of Condemned Individuals in Public Works: Condemned men and women were sometimes used as "living" building materials for construction projects.

  19. Decimation: Roman legions occasionally used decimation, where every tenth soldier was killed by their comrades as punishment for mutiny.

  20. Gynaeceum: The seclusion of women in the gynaeceum and their limited rights within the household were oppressive by modern standards.

  21. Boudicca's Rebellion: The Roman response to Boudicca's rebellion included brutal reprisals against men and women in Britain.

  22. Exile: Roman emperors used exile as a punishment for perceived threats, separating individuals from their families.

  23. Trials by Combat: Some legal disputes were resolved through trials by combat, subjecting both men and women to physical harm.

  24. Conquests and Occupation: The Roman Empire's conquests and occupations often involved brutality and exploitation.

  25. Animal Cruelty in Games: Romans indulged in the brutal killing of animals in public games.

  26. Human Sacrifices in Times of Crisis: In times of crisis, Romans sometimes resorted to human sacrifices, including of men and women.

  27. Destruction of Carthage: The Roman destruction of Carthage resulted in the slaughter and enslavement of its inhabitants, including men, women, and children.

  28. Tacitus' Account of Female Torture: The historian Tacitus documented the torture of a noblewoman named Epicharis during Nero's reign.

  29. Famine Exploitation: In times of famine, the wealthy could exploit the desperation of men and women, driving up prices and causing suffering.

  30. Corruption and Nepotism: Nepotism and corruption within the Roman political system led to the mistreatment of both men and women who were not part of the elite class.


These actions reflect the darker aspects of Roman history and serve as a reminder of the complexity and cruelty that existed alongside the achievements of the Roman Empire.​

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