The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which took place in December, was a time of revelry and inversion of social norms. During the festival, slaves and masters would swap places, with slaves being treated to elaborate feasts and given temporary freedom to speak their minds. The festival was also marked by gambling, drinking, and gift-giving, and it was seen as a time of general merriment and enjoyment.
In many ways, the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia bears some resemblance to modern New Year’s Eve celebrations, which are often characterized by partying, indulgence, and a sense of letting go and starting anew. However, it’s important to note that the ancient Roman festival had a very different cultural and historical context, and it should not be romanticized or appropriated without understanding its true significance.
In ancient Rome, the celebration of the New Year was held on March 1st, and it was a time of purification and renewal. The Romans believed that the start of the New Year was a time to put the past behind them and start fresh, and they would celebrate by making offerings to the gods, engaging in elaborate rituals of purification, and holding feasts and parties.
During the celebration, the Romans also believed that they could communicate with the spirits of the dead, and they would perform rituals to honor their ancestors. The celebration of the New Year in ancient Rome was an important event that was observed by all members of society, and it was a time of great joy and festivity.
During the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula (AD 37-41), he is said to have appointed his favorite horse, Incitatus, to the position of Consul, which was one of the highest offices in the Roman Republic. Caligula is also said to have planned to build a palace for Incitatus and to have given the horse a stable of marble and a team of slaves to attend to its every need. It’s important to note that the accuracy of these stories is debated among historians, as they were primarily recorded by Caligula’s enemies and may have been exaggerated or fabricated. However, they do serve as an example of the excesses and extravagances of Caligula’s reign, which was characterized by widespread corruption and abuse of power.
In ancient Rome, it was considered a sign of wealth and sophistication to have one’s own private urine collection. Urine was collected and then sold to launderers, who used it to bleach clothing because it contained ammonia, a natural cleaning agent. Urine from men who ate a lot of vegetables was considered the most valuable because it was the most acidic, which made it more effective at bleaching cloth.
In fact, the demand for urine was so high that the Roman Empire established a tax on it, known as the “urinary tax,” which was collected by the government. The urine trade was so lucrative that some people even went so far as to fake their own urine collection in order to avoid paying the tax. It may seem bizarre to us today, but in ancient Rome, urine was an important commodity that was used in a variety of everyday products and processes.
There are many interesting and unusual facts from history, but here is one that might be considered “crazy”:
In ancient Rome, it was considered a sign of prosperity to be able to eat food with your hands, rather than using utensils. As a result, people would often eat their food with their fingers, and it was considered fashionable to have dirty hands and dirty fingernails as a sign of wealth and status. However, this practice was considered somewhat unsanitary, and it was common for people to have slaves whose job it was to clean their fingers for them after a meal.
One interesting historical fact that comes to mind is that in ancient Rome, it was common practice for wealthy people to have a “taster” sample their food and drinks before they consumed it. This was done to ensure that the food or drink was not poisoned. The taster would sample a small amount of the food or drink and wait to see if they experienced any adverse effects before giving the all-clear for the person to consume it. This practice was seen as a sign of wealth and status, as it meant that the person was important enough to have someone else taste their food to ensure their safety.
The largest stadium in history, the Circus Maximus, built in 6BC Rome, it had a capacity of 300,000 spectators. The largest modern stadium, Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, holds a mere 150,000 spectators.
A large number of Graffiti found in Pompeii are political ads. Specificaly, one Gnaeus Helvius Sabinus appears in no less than 140 political signs throughout the town, endorsed by all manner of individuals, trade unions, religious and social groups.
The formal clothing of the Roman Citizen was the Toga. During Roman elections, those running for political office would rub their Toga with a dazzling white chalk to stand out. Called Toga Candida (pure-white) this clothing was the origin of the word “candidate”.