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Further Reading on the Roman Empire

In writing the book, “How Often Do You Think About The Roman Empire?” Birdy Slade conducted a great deal of research. Here are some of her research areas with references to accredited academic studies by men and women dedicated to discovering the facts and figures that made the Roman Empire so powerful a force then… and now.

Please search on the studies quoted for more information.

Roman Roads

  • The Extensive Network and Its Impact: Roman roads were not only significant for their engineering and construction but also for their role in connecting the vast Roman Empire, enhancing military mobility, facilitating trade, and integrating diverse provinces. The network spanned over 50,000 miles and three continents, showcasing the empire's vast reach and influence. Roads like the Via Appia, which connected Rome to distant regions, were crucial in maintaining the empire's stability and unity (Staccioli, 2003).

  • Innovations in Construction and Design: Roman roads were marvels of engineering, incorporating advanced construction techniques that included layered roadbeds, efficient drainage systems, and durable surfaces. These roads were built to last, with some parts still in use today. The Romans employed land surveys and maps in their road design process, a practice that was ahead of its time (Davies, 1998).

  • Administrative and Legal Frameworks: The construction and maintenance of these roads were underpinned by a sophisticated administrative and legal framework. Roads were classified based on their construction materials and importance, with the state, local communities, and private citizens all playing roles in their upkeep (Zaharia, 2013).

  • Legacy and Modern Influence: The legacy of Roman roads extends far into the modern era, influencing the development of contemporary road networks. For instance, the layout of modern Italian transport infrastructure, including motorways and railways, has been significantly influenced by the paths traced by ancient Roman roads (Benedictis, Licio, & Pinna, 2022).

  • Cultural and Economic Roles: Beyond their technical and administrative aspects, Roman roads played vital roles in the cultural and economic life of the empire. They facilitated not only the movement of goods and armies but also the spread of ideas, cultures, and innovations across vast distances, knitting together a diverse empire into a cohesive entity (Bekker-Nielsen, 2021).


  • The Life of a Gladiator: Gladiators were often slaves, prisoners of war, or condemned criminals, but some volunteered for the role, lured by the prospect of glory and freedom. They underwent rigorous training in schools like the famous ludus magnus near the Colosseum in Rome. Despite their low social status, successful gladiators could achieve celebrity status and wealth, similar to modern-day athletes (Shaw, 2001).

  • Gladiatorial Games: Originating from Etruscan or Campanian funeral rites, gladiatorial games (munera) became a major form of public spectacle in the Roman world, reflecting societal values of courage, endurance, and the acceptance of one's fate. These games also served political purposes, allowing emperors and politicians to gain favor with the populace (Reid, 2006).

  • Female Gladiators: While rare, female gladiators did exist and performed in the arenas. They were often freedwomen or slaves, and their participation in gladiatorial contests challenged traditional gender roles and perceptions of femininity in Roman society (McCullough, 2008).

  • Medical Care: Gladiators received medical attention from specialized doctors, who treated their wounds and prepared them for fights. The discovery of gladiator cemeteries has provided insights into the injuries they sustained and the medical treatments they received, showcasing the advanced state of Roman medical practice (Moog, 2018).

  • Diet and Nutrition: Contrary to the muscular, meat-eating image popularized in modern culture, evidence suggests that gladiators primarily consumed a vegetarian diet rich in carbohydrates and legumes, which was supplemented with a drink made from plant ashes. This diet was designed to increase their body mass and provide them with sustained energy for training and combat (Longo, Spiezia, Maffulli, & Denaro, 2008).

  • Cultural Impact and Legacy: Gladiators have had a lasting impact on popular culture, symbolizing the Roman Empire's power and the human struggle between life and death. They continue to capture the imagination through films, literature, and art, reflecting modern society's ongoing fascination with these ancient warriors (Popkin, 2023).


Julius Caesar

  • Julius Caesar's Writings and Authenticity: Scholars have applied computational methods to shed light on the authenticity of the Corpus Caesarianum, confirming the involvement of Caesar's general, Aulus Hirtius, in shaping some of these texts. This demonstrates the blend of literary and historical significance in Caesar's writings, emphasizing their importance in understanding Roman culture and politics (Kestemont et al., 2016).

  • Biographical Overview: Gaius Julius Caesar was a pivotal figure in the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. His conquests, particularly in Gaul, and political maneuvers in Rome, including his role as dictator, set the stage for the empire's rise. His assassination reflects the contentious nature of his legacy and the end of the Republic (Gilliver, 2011).

  • Political and Social Impact: Caesar's life was marked by significant military, political, and social reforms that transformed Rome. His ambition and political strategies were rooted in Roman tradition, challenging the perception that he sought absolute power from an early age. His impact on Roman law, society, and the military underscore his central role in Rome's transformation (Stevenson, 2014).

  • Controversial Relationships: Caesar's youth and relationships, such as the rumored affair with King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia, have been subjects of speculation and debate. These aspects of his life highlight the complex nature of his character and the Roman societal norms of the time (Osgood, 2008).

  • Literary Influence: Caesar not only played a key role in Roman history but also in the formation of Latin literary language. His writings and the literature about him have influenced not just historical scholarship but also literature and arts, reflecting his multidimensional legacy (Grillo & Krebs, 2017).

  • Health and Physical Condition: Caesar's health, including reported headaches, seizures, and potential epilepsy, has been a topic of medical historical inquiry. Recent studies suggest reconsidering these conditions with modern medical understanding, possibly attributing them to cerebral arteriovenous malformation (Montemurro, Benet, & Lawton, 2015).

  • Cultural and Historical Encyclopedia: The comprehensive examination of Caesar's world and legacy through encyclopedic works provides insights into his influence on politics, military, culture, and beyond. These resources highlight the enduring fascination with Caesar across various fields of study and public interest (Lovano, 2015).

Roman Architecture and Construction Projects

  • Foundations of Roman Architecture: Roman architecture was characterized by its innovative use of new materials and techniques, such as concrete, which allowed for unprecedented scales and shapes in construction. The Romans mastered the art of building large-scale public buildings, homes, and shops, showcasing their engineering prowess and the organization of their construction industry—from suppliers to craftsmen. Their architecture not only served practical purposes but also reflected the cultural, religious, and social values of their society (Anderson, 1997).

  • Building Materials and Techniques: Roman builders utilized a wide range of materials, including marble, timber, brick, and particularly concrete, which was a key factor in the durability and strength of their structures. The Romans' innovative building methods, such as the arch, vault, and dome, contributed significantly to their ability to create vast interior spaces and complex building forms. These techniques were applied in various types of construction, from monumental public buildings to private residences (Adam, 1994).

  • Design Principles: Roman architects adhered to a set of design principles that balanced functional needs with aesthetic considerations. Their work was guided by an understanding of proportion, symmetry, and the use of decorative elements to enhance the visual appeal of buildings. This approach to design is evident in the layout of Roman cities, the elevation of buildings, and the iconic Corinthian column, which became a hallmark of Roman architectural style (Jones, 2002).

  • Roman Urbanism and Infrastructure: The Romans were also skilled urban planners, creating cities that were well-organized and featured advanced infrastructure, including roads, aqueducts, and sewage systems. Their planning efforts extended beyond the practical to incorporate the social and political aspects of urban life, ensuring that public spaces were integrated into the fabric of the city and accessible to its inhabitants (Yegül & Favro, 2019).

  • Legacy and Influence: The legacy of Roman architecture is vast, influencing subsequent generations of architects and builders across the centuries. Roman construction techniques, particularly the use of concrete and the development of the arch and dome, laid the foundation for future architectural innovations. The endurance of Roman buildings, many of which remain standing today, is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of Roman architects and engineers (Ulrich & Quenemoen, 2014).


Marcus Aurelius

  • Marcus Aurelius' Philosophy and Reign: Marcus Aurelius (121–180 CE) is remembered for his dedication to Stoic philosophy, which he articulated through his personal writings known as the Meditations. These writings reveal his Stoical values, emphasizing virtue, individual will, and the natural order of the universe. Aurelius believed in acting for the sake of good and held that happiness is the ultimate goal of human life (Matthew M. Caverly, 2014).

  • The Meditations as Reflective Practice: Marcus Aurelius' Meditations can be viewed as a series of spiritual exercises reflecting on the challenges of his life as an emperor. He utilized Stoicism as a practical guide through times of adversity, emphasizing indifference to pleasures, contempt for fame, and detachment from riches. This personal document provides a unique insight into the ethical and moral teachings of Stoicism (Bruno Alonso, 2020).

  • Marcus Aurelius in Love: The discovery of letters between Marcus Aurelius and his rhetoric teacher, Marcus Cornelius Fronto, shed light on a deeply personal aspect of the emperor's life. These letters, which include passionate love exchanges, provide a rare glimpse into the private emotions of a stoic philosopher-emperor, revealing the complexity of his character and the depth of his human relationships (Marcus Cornelius Fronto & Amy Richlin, 2006).

  • Dynastic Policy: Marcus Aurelius' approach to imperial power succession was pragmatic, aiming to prevent political upheavals that could lead to civil war. Initially co-ruling with Lucius Verus and later ensuring his son Commodus would inherit the throne, Aurelius' policy sought stability for Rome, although Commodus' reign diverged significantly from his father's principles (V. Tsiupak, 2021).

  • Marcus Aurelius' Reflection on Leadership: Through Meditations, Marcus Aurelius offers timeless wisdom on leadership, showing how Stoic philosophy can guide ethical decision-making and effective governance. His reflections underscore the importance of self-discipline, responsibility, and the common good, serving as a source of inspiration for leaders across the ages.

Roman Innovation and Inventions

  • Engineering and Construction: Romans were masters of engineering, revolutionizing the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, and buildings. The invention of concrete (opus caementicium) allowed them to create structures that could withstand the test of time, such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum. Their roads, constructed with multiple layers for durability and drainage, connected the vast empire, facilitating trade and military movements (Kevin D. Greene, 1990).

  • Water Management: The Romans were pioneers in water management, constructing extensive aqueduct systems that supplied cities with fresh water. Innovations such as the arch and the use of lead pipes allowed them to transport water over long distances and across varied terrains. Public baths, fountains, and sewer systems improved public health and hygiene (D. C. Aryamontri, 2009).

  • Military Innovations: The Roman military was a formidable force, thanks in part to innovations in tactics, organization, and technology. They developed advanced siege engines, like the ballista and catapult, and were among the first to use a professional standing army. The construction of fortified camps and the development of the legionary system demonstrated their strategic prowess (E. Gruen & E. Luttwak, 1978).

  • Agricultural Techniques: Roman innovations in agriculture, such as improved plough designs, crop rotation, and the development of new tools, enhanced productivity and food security. Viticulture and olive cultivation were particularly advanced, with the Romans developing techniques for mass production of wine and olive oil that are still in use today (T. Lewit, 2020).

  • Urban Planning and Architecture: Romans were also adept at urban planning, designing cities with a grid pattern, public squares, and a focus on civic amenities. Innovations in architecture, such as the development of the dome, vault, and arch, allowed for the creation of vast public spaces and monumental buildings (M. Flohr, 2016).

  • Social Innovations: Beyond tangible technological advancements, the Romans introduced social innovations such as the concept of public libraries, legal institutions, and the extensive use of written contracts in commerce. These contributed to a sophisticated and interconnected society that laid the groundwork for modern Western legal and administrative systems.

Roman Contribution to Today's Legal Systems

  • Foundations of Roman Law: Roman law, the legal system of ancient Rome, is considered the bedrock of Western legal tradition. It was highly developed in areas such as property rights, contract law, and family law. The Romans were pioneers in creating a legal system that distinguished between public and private law, and their legal principles were recorded in the Justinian Code (Corpus Juris Civilis) in the 6th century AD. This codification has served as a foundational text for legal systems in many parts of the world (M.V. Byelova & I.Ye. Peresh, 2023).

  • Influence on Medieval and Modern Legal Systems: Roman law was rediscovered in the 12th century at Bologna, leading to its study and adaptation across Europe. It influenced the development of civil law traditions, significantly impacting the legal systems of continental Europe. The principles of Roman law were integrated with local laws to create the ius commune, a common legal framework that underpinned European legal systems until the national codifications of the 19th century (M. Zorić & Milica Župljanić, 2019).

  • Roman Law and Common Law: Although the common law system developed independently from Roman law, Roman legal concepts have influenced common law, especially in areas of legal theory. Legal scholars and practitioners in common law jurisdictions have drawn upon Roman law for insights into property, contracts, and other areas of private law (P. Stein, 1968).

  • Legal Education and Jurisprudence: The Roman law school in Beirut was a center of legal education, producing generations of jurists who contributed to the development of Roman law. The tradition of Roman legal scholarship has been instrumental in the evolution of legal education and professional legal training in Europe and beyond (Haitham Fadlallah, 2023).

  • Continued Relevance of Roman Law: Roman law's emphasis on rational legal formulas and universal principles has left a lasting legacy on the concept of law as the basis of civil order and societal progress. Even in jurisdictions without a direct reception of Roman law, its influence persists in the underlying principles of private law, legal reasoning, and the structure of legal systems (E. Metzger, 2020).

Mark Anthony and Cleopatra

  • Political Alliances and Love: Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII, the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, were not only lovers but also political allies. Their relationship was as much a political alliance as it was a personal romance, with each party seeking to strengthen their position against their enemies. Antony needed access to Egypt's wealth and resources, while Cleopatra sought to secure her throne and the future of her kingdom by aligning with one of Rome's most powerful men (C. Rowan, 2018).

  • Public Presentation and Propaganda: The relationship between Antony and Cleopatra was publicly presented through various mediums, including coinage, which served as a vital tool for propaganda. These coins offer insights into how their alliance was viewed and how they sought to present themselves to the wider Mediterranean world. The role of Antony's supporters and the effects of the Donations of Alexandria, where Antony distributed lands and titles to Cleopatra and their children, also played a significant part in their public image (C. Rowan, 2018).

  • Cultural and Gender Dynamics: Their story challenges and plays with contemporary notions of gender and power. Cleopatra, a powerful and intelligent woman leading a significant world power, and Antony, a Roman general with a reputation for both military and political prowess, defied traditional gender roles of their time. Their relationship, often depicted as a struggle between Roman discipline and Egyptian luxury, reflects broader cultural clashes between the East and the West (R. Kelly, 2009).

  • Literature and Artistic Depictions: Shakespeare’s "Antony and Cleopatra" is a masterpiece that explores the complexities of their relationship, highlighting themes of power, love, betrayal, and tragedy. The play and its various adaptations in film and theatre have significantly shaped how we perceive both figures today. The portrayal of their characters in art and literature often reflects the values and anxieties of the times in which these works were created, from Roman times to the present day (Warren Chernaik, 2011).

  • End and Legacy: The tragic end of Antony and Cleopatra, culminating in their suicides following the defeat at the Battle of Actium, marked the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the beginning of Egypt as a Roman province. Their deaths have been subject to various interpretations, with some seeing them as a romanticized union in death and others as a strategic move to avoid the humiliation of capture. The legacy of Antony and Cleopatra continues to captivate the imagination, embodying the eternal themes of love, power, and defiance (F. Retief & L. Cilliers, 2005).

Roman Food

  • Diversity of the Roman Diet: The Roman diet was diverse and consisted of grains, olives, wine, vegetables, fruits, and meats. It was heavily based on cereals, pulses, and olives, with meat being less common in the everyday diet. Despite this, archaeological evidence and texts suggest that Romans had access to a variety of foodstuffs, reflecting both local agricultural practices and the importation of foods from across the empire (D. Eichholz, 1963).

  • Class and Dietary Differences: Dietary habits in Rome varied significantly with social class. While the elite enjoyed a varied diet that included luxury foods and imported delicacies, the lower classes' diet was simpler, primarily focusing on grains, vegetables, and occasionally meat. Studies on human and animal remains from the Imperial period indicate differences in diet within the population of Rome itself, suggesting varying levels of access to foods like millet and imported grains (K. Killgrove & R. Tykot, 2013).

  • Meat Consumption: Although pork was the most popular meat, other sources such as beef, lamb, and goat were also consumed. The consumption of these meats varied over time and by region, with evidence suggesting that meat played a more significant role in the diet than previously thought, especially in ceremonial and religious contexts (Mamoru Ikeguchi, 2017).

  • Cultural and Social Aspects of Food: Food in Rome was not just about sustenance but also played a crucial role in social and cultural contexts. Feasting and dining practices were integral to Roman society, reflecting social status, political power, and cultural values. The study of food remains and artifacts related to food preparation and consumption offers insights into these practices (N. Purcell, 2003).

  • Luxury Foods and Trade: The Roman Empire's extensive trade networks facilitated the importation of luxury foods and exotic ingredients from distant lands. Archaeobotanical evidence from sites across the empire shows that Romans had access to foods like rice, chickpea, gourd, black pepper, and fruits like dates and pomegranates, which remained luxuries throughout the Roman period (C. Bakels & S. Jacomet, 2003).

  • Impact of Environment on Diet: The local environment and geography played a significant role in shaping dietary habits. Studies on stable isotopes from human bones in Rome have highlighted the impact of the environment on the diet of lower social classes, showing that people's diets were influenced by their immediate surroundings and available food resources (F. De Angelis et al., 2020).

Roman Health and Medicine

  • Military Health Care: The Roman Empire is renowned for its organized and sophisticated approach to military health care. Medical officers, known as "medici," were attached to legions to provide medical services to soldiers. This system represented one of the earliest examples of structured military medicine, underscoring the importance the Romans placed on maintaining the health of their soldiers (Lindsay Allason-Jones, 1999).

  • Medical Knowledge and Practice: Roman medicine was significantly influenced by Greek medical knowledge, which was assimilated and further developed in Rome. Despite this, Rome also developed its unique contributions, particularly in public health measures like sanitation, aqueducts, and public baths. Notable medical figures such as Galen further advanced Roman medical knowledge through detailed anatomical and physiological studies (Peter R Mayall, 2015).

  • Public Health Infrastructure: Romans made substantial advancements in public health infrastructure, including the construction of aqueducts for clean water supply, sewer systems for waste management, and public baths for hygiene. These developments were crucial in preventing diseases and promoting overall public health in urban areas (M. Taher et al., 2019).

  • Hospitals and Medical Centers: The establishment of hospitals (valetudinaria) primarily for soldiers and later for civilians illustrates the organized approach to health care. These facilities provided medical treatment and were an integral part of Roman military forts and urban centers, demonstrating the importance of accessible medical care (R. Davies, 1970).

  • Medical Tools and Pharmaceuticals: Archaeological findings, including medical tools and pharmaceutical preparations, offer insights into the practical aspects of Roman medicine. These tools and the preparation of medicines from plants, minerals, and animal products highlight the sophisticated level of Roman medical practice and its reliance on natural resources (A. Marty, 1989).

  • Epidemic Control and Public Health Laws: Romans implemented public health laws and measures to control epidemics, emphasizing the importance of preventive care. The control of epidemics in the Roman army and the broader population shows a proactive approach to health and medicine, which was ahead of its time (Valentine J. Belfiglio, 2017).

Roman Water and Roman Aqueducts

  • Innovation and Scale: Roman aqueducts were marvels of engineering, designed to transport water from distant sources directly into cities and towns, supporting public baths, fountains, and private households. The construction of aqueducts like Aqua Appia, Aqua Marcia, and Aqua Claudia showcased the Romans' innovative approach to solving the challenge of urban water supply on an unprecedented scale (P. Bono & C. Boni, 1996).

  • Engineering Techniques: Roman engineers employed advanced techniques to ensure a continuous and reliable water flow, such as gravity flow systems, sedimentation tanks, sluice gates, and distribution tanks. The precise measurement and leveling of aqueducts were critical to estimate their flows and ensure efficiency (C. Alimonti et al., 2018).

  • Public Health and Sanitation: The introduction of aqueducts significantly improved public health by providing access to clean water and supporting the sewer systems that removed waste from urban areas. The public baths (thermae), which were emblematic of Roman civilization, relied heavily on the water supplied by these aqueducts (D. C. Aryamontri, 2009).

  • Hydraulic Engineering Knowledge: Despite some scholars suggesting that Roman engineers did not fully grasp the principle of conservation of mass, evidence from the construction and operation of aqueducts demonstrates their profound understanding of hydraulic engineering. The Romans were aware of the need for energy dissipation devices and other techniques to manage water flow efficiently (H. Chanson, 2008).

  • Legal and Administrative Frameworks: Roman law played a crucial role in the construction, maintenance, and regulation of aqueducts and water usage. Public aqueducts served the public welfare by supplying free drinking water, reflecting an early form of environmental regulation aimed at ensuring public health and managing water resources responsibly (Magdolna Sič, 2015).

Roman Numerals

  • Neural Learning and Recognition: Research into the neural correlates of learning to read Roman numerals indicates that subjects activate a network of brain areas associated with numerical processing when learning that alphabetical symbols have numeric meaning. This activation changes with practice, highlighting the cognitive processing involved in understanding and using Roman numerals (Masataka et al., 2007).

  • Educational Importance: The teaching of Roman numerals in primary education, as illustrated by a Spanish study, emphasizes their relevance not just in mathematics but as a bridge to understanding historical and cultural contexts. This cross-curricular approach aids in making comparisons between ancient Roman and modern traditions, enriching the students' learning experience (Regagliolo, 2021).

  • Historical Origins and Theories: The origin and development of Latin numerals have been the subject of various theories over the years, from tally marks to Etruscan influence. The evolution from simple tallying methods to the sophisticated system of I, V, X, L, C, D, and M reflects a complex interplay of cultural, mathematical, and practical factors (Keyser, 1988).

  • Cognitive and Technical Analysis: Studies have analyzed the cognitive aspects of performing arithmetic operations with Roman numerals, demonstrating their computational similarity to Arabic numerals. This challenges the notion that Roman numerals are inherently less efficient for calculation, revealing intricate trade-offs between problem representation, algorithm, and interactive resources (Schlimm & Neth, 2008).

  • Modern Use and Misconceptions: Despite their ancient origins, Roman numerals remain relevant today, used in various contexts from clock faces to movie release years. However, their application in interactive computer applications has been shown to be often misleading and unreliable, underscoring the importance of understanding and correctly using these numerals in modern technology (Thimbleby & Cairns, 2017).

Roman Emperors

  • Role and Function of Roman Emperors: The Roman emperor was central to the governance and administration of the empire, with responsibilities that ranged from military leadership to judicial authority. The communication patterns between the emperor and his subjects were primarily initiated by the latter, indicating a system that, while autocratic, still required responsiveness to public needs and requests. This structure helped maintain the stability of the empire through various challenges over three centuries (Millar, 1977).

  • Accessibility and Public Expectations: Emperors were expected to be personally accessible to their subjects, a practice deeply ingrained in the political culture of the empire. This expectation of direct access and justice from the emperor, even at the risk of personal inconvenience, underscores the unique relationship between the Roman rulers and their people (Millar, 1967).

  • Periods of Crisis and Stability: Despite facing periods of crisis, such as the third century AD characterized by civil war, anarchy, and a rapid succession of emperors, the Roman Empire managed to maintain relatively stable boundaries and continue its traditions. The resilience of the empire during these tumultuous times highlights the complex mechanisms of imperial governance and the adaptability of its institutions (Hekster, 2008).

  • Imperial Cult and Deification: The divinization of emperors, where rulers were worshipped as gods, was a practice that began in the eastern provinces and gradually found acceptance in Rome. This aspect of emperor worship played a significant role in consolidating imperial authority and linking the emperor's role to divine will, yet it also exposed emperors to the risks of tyranny and the challenges of maintaining their divine status among the populace (Veyne, 2003).

  • Architectural and Cultural Contributions: Emperors also left their mark on the Roman world through monumental architecture and public works, such as aqueducts, temples, and forums, which were not only feats of engineering but also symbols of imperial magnificence and the civilizing mission of Rome. These constructions served to legitimize their rule and demonstrate their contributions to Roman society and culture.


Powerful Roman Women


  • Agrippina the Younger's Power and Influence: Agrippina the Younger, mother of Emperor Nero, exemplifies the power and influence wielded by women in the early Roman Empire. Her ability to navigate the political landscape, along with her strategic marriages, allowed her to ascend to a position of unprecedented influence for a woman of her time. Her story reveals the complex dynamics of female power within the imperial family and Roman society at large (Severy-Hoven & Ginsburg, 2005).

  • Livia and the Early Imperial Women: Livia Drusilla, wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius, set a precedent for the involvement of imperial women in Rome's governance. Her manipulation of her image and strategic use of patronage cemented her status as a model for subsequent imperial women. The comparison between her and other powerful women of the era underscores the unique blend of public reverence and private influence that characterized the lives of Rome's imperial women (Boatwright, 2021).

  • Antonia Augusta's Role and Influence: Antonia Augusta, through her connections as the daughter of Mark Antony, wife of Drusus, and mother of Claudius, showcased the potential for Roman women to influence the political arena indirectly. Her life story emphasizes the power of familial connections and personal networks in shaping the course of Roman political history (Kokkinos, 1992).

  • Religious Roles and Public Life: Women in ancient Rome played significant roles in religious ceremonies and were integral to the spiritual and ritualistic fabric of Roman society. Their participation in religious activities not only highlights their piety but also their ability to wield influence within a predominantly male-dominated sphere (Hersch, 2009).

  • Empress Theodora's Power: While not from the Roman Republic or early Empire, Empress Theodora's reign alongside Emperor Justinian in the Byzantine Empire exemplifies the pinnacle of female power in Roman history. Her formidable intelligence, political savvy, and legislative reforms mark her as one of the most powerful women in Roman history, bridging the gap between the ancient and medieval worlds (Kotsis, 2016).

  • Stereotypes vs. Reality: The depiction of powerful Roman women in historical texts often reflects contemporary attitudes toward gender and power, rather than factual accounts of their lives. Revisiting these stereotypes allows for a more nuanced understanding of the roles and contributions of women in Roman society (Fischler, 1994).


  • Cicero's Influence on Western Thought: Cicero was a statesman, orator, and writer whose contributions to political and moral thought deeply influenced the Latin Fathers, the Renaissance humanists, and the Enlightenment philosophers in Europe and America. His works remain central to understanding the culture and history of the Roman Republic's final generation (Fantham, 2012).

  • Cicero's Political Career and Philosophy: Cicero's life was marked by his ascent through the Roman political system, achieving the consulship in 63 BCE. His philosophical works, many written during periods of political adversity, contributed significantly to Stoicism, ethics, and political philosophy. His oratory and legal advocacy, exemplified in cases like that against Verres, showcased his eloquence and commitment to justice and the Republic's values (Fuhrmann, 1992).

  • Cicero's Consular Speeches and the Catilinarian Conspiracy: As consul, Cicero faced the Catilinarian Conspiracy, a plot to overthrow the Republic. His series of speeches against the conspirator Catiline are among his most famous works, demonstrating his rhetorical skill and political acumen. These speeches played a pivotal role in preserving the Republic at a critical moment (Cape, 2002).

  • Cicero's Legacy and Memory: Despite his tragic end, Cicero's legacy endured. His extensive correspondence, philosophical treatises, and speeches provide an invaluable window into the late Republic's political, social, and intellectual life. His ideas on natural law, the rights of citizens, and the responsibilities of statesmen have influenced Western legal and political thought for centuries.

  • Cicero's Impact on Modern Thought: Cicero's thoughts and writings continued to influence political theory, education, and rhetoric well beyond antiquity. His emphasis on the importance of a liberal education and the art of persuasion for guiding human affairs resonates with contemporary discussions on the role of humanities and civic education (Herrmann & Chaffin, 1988).

Roman Slaves

  • Origins and Roles of Slaves: Slavery in Rome began with the communities of the Latin tribes and the Italiots using slaves for basic agricultural and domestic tasks. As Rome expanded through conquest, the number of slaves and their roles within society grew significantly. Slaves were utilized in a wide range of capacities, including but not limited to field hands, domestic servants, artisans, and even educators (Westermann, 1942).

  • Public and Private Slaves: In addition to private slaves owned by individual masters, Rome also had public slaves who were owned collectively by the state or the community. These public slaves performed numerous services within civic administration, demonstrating the institutional reliance on slavery beyond personal ownership (Luciani, 2020).

  • Economic Impact and Slave Labor: Slavery had a profound impact on the Roman economy, with slaves playing a crucial role in sectors such as agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. The large-scale use of slave labor in agricultural estates (latifundia) and other industries was a key factor in the economic structure of the empire (Yavetz, 1988).

  • Social Dynamics and Resistance: The presence of a large slave population had significant social implications, including the creation of complex hierarchies and social dynamics within Roman society. Instances of resistance, such as the famous Spartacus revolt, highlight the tensions and conflicts inherent in the system of slavery (Bradley, 1994).

  • Legal Framework and Manumission: Roman law provided a comprehensive framework for the regulation of slavery, including provisions for the manumission (freeing) of slaves. The process of manumission and the status of freed persons (liberti) reveal the complexities of social mobility and the porous boundaries between slavery and freedom in Roman society.

  • Cultural and Moral Reflections: Roman authors and philosophers often reflected on the institution of slavery, offering insights into contemporary attitudes and debates. These reflections contribute to our understanding of how Romans conceptualized slavery, human dignity, and the nature of freedom.

Wealth and Wealthy Romans

  • Economic Prosperity in the Early Roman Empire: The Roman Empire was characterized by a high standard of living, with public monuments, roads, and aqueducts signifying its prosperity. This was supported by market institutions and a stable government, allowing for a flourishing economy similar to that of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. Wealthy Romans engaged in various enterprises, including shipping, money lending, and urban property investment, showcasing a vibrant commercial culture (P. Temin, 2006).

  • Luxury and Regulation: The socio-political processes in ancient Rome led to significant wealth accumulation, prompting the state to attempt to limit luxury through various laws. These efforts highlight the tensions between the desire for luxury and the ideals of simplicity and frugality, reflecting changes in societal opinions and legislative activities over time (Sigita Kaikarienė, 2013).

  • The Role of Urban Property Investment: Beyond rural landholdings, investment in urban property played a significant role in the Roman economy. Wealthy Romans invested in houses and rental properties, contributing to the economic context and showcasing the importance of urban real estate as a form of wealth accumulation (P. Garnsey & W. Scheidel, 1998).

  • Wealth Distribution and Social Structure: The distribution of income in the Roman Empire points to a substantial economic inequality, with the elite controlling a significant portion of the total income. This distribution of wealth highlights the economic disparities within Roman society and the concentration of wealth among the upper class (Steven J. Friesen & W. Scheidel, 2009).

  • Associative Order and Business Practices: The status and ethos among Roman businessmen reveal a complex social network characterized by varying levels of wealth and status. Wealthy businessmen, while aiming to adopt aristocratic behaviors and values, maintained distinct social and economic practices, highlighting the intricacies of Roman business circles (Koenraad Verboven, 2007).

Roman Literature, Phrases and Sayings - Today

  • The Influence of Latin on Contemporary Language: Latin, the language of ancient Rome, has left an indelible mark on contemporary languages, especially in legal, medical, and scientific terminology. The study of Latin phrases and their enduring usage underscores the linguistic legacy of Rome and its impact on Western civilization.

  • Roman Architecture and Its Symbolic Expressions: Roman architecture, one of the most enduring physical legacies of the classical world, incorporates many inscriptions and phrases that reflect Roman values, beliefs, and societal norms. These expressions, found in temples, public baths, roads, and aqueducts, offer insights into Roman life and the principles that guided it (R. B. Ulrich & Caroline K. Quenemoen, 2014).

  • 'Romanitas' and the Latin Language: The concept of 'Romanitas', or "Romanness", and its association with the Latin language highlights how language can convey cultural identity and values. The use of Latin as a unifying language within the Roman Empire, and the distinctions between correct and incorrect speech, played a role in reinforcing the definition of "Romanness" (J. Adams, 2003).

  • Latin Poets and Roman Life: The works of Latin poets such as Virgil, Horace, Propertius, and Ovid are rich sources of phrases and expressions that reflect Roman life, values, and emotions. These literary works demonstrate the intricate relationship between language, literature, and lived experience in ancient Rome (Jasper Griffin, 1985).

  • Latinity and Literary Society at Rome: The polemical arena of Roman literature and the contested origins of scholarly Latin provide a backdrop for understanding how phrases and sayings were crafted, used, and preserved. The reflections on proper and improper language within Roman literature serve as a mirror to Roman society, influencing notions of identity and social decorum (W. Martin Bloomer, 1997).

  • Latin Maxims and Legal Systems: The use of Latin maxims and phrases in legal systems across different languages underscores the universal appeal and enduring relevance of Roman legal thought. The analysis of Latinisms in Polish, French, and English legal texts reveals their significance in contemporary legal discourse and the role of Latin in shaping legal principles and practices (Ksenia Gałuskina & Joanna Sycz, 2013).

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