35 Incredible Facts About Ancient Romans and Rome

26Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

A Roman envoy stopped the Seleucid invasion of Egypt by drawing a circle around Antiochus IV Epiphanes and daring him to literally cross the line.

27. The Roman senator Cato the Elder took the threat of Carthage so seriously that he would end all of his speeches, no matter the subject, with the phrase, “And, further, I think that Carthage should be destroyed.”

28. Caligula was not the real name of 3rd Emperor of the Roman Empire. Germanicus’ troops called Gaius Caesar “Caligula” as a boy, meaning “Little Boots” or “Booties.” The nickname stuck and he hated it.

29. In 458 B.C., Roman farmer Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was named the absolute dictator of Rome during a crisis. After achieving victory, he resigned and returned power to the Senate. His resignation of absolute authority is often cited as an example of outstanding leadership, serving the greater good and civic virtue.

30. The Roman Emperor Valentinian got so mad at Quadi envoys who blamed the Romans for a recent war between the two that he burst a blood vessel in his skull and died while yelling at them.



The Romans had a celebratory day (Saturnalia) where the roles of master and slave were reversed.

32. The Roman Empire typically avoided using slave rowers, instead preferring freemen, because they were more motivated.

33. Romans kept track of the years by naming them after the two consuls that year (e.g. the consulship of Vinicius and Haterius) When Julius Caesar essentially ruled alone during his "co-consulship" with Bibulus, Romans joked by referring to that year as the consulship of Julius and Caesar.

34. A Roman general named Marcus Licinius Crassus, also one of the richest men in history used to purchase buildings on fire for a very low price and then put the fires out with his trained army of 500 slaves and rebuild them. If the owners refused to sell their property, he would not engage in firefighting.

35. During Roman times, salt was worth its weight in gold and soldiers were sometimes paid in salt, hence the word "salary".