Knowledge is Power


46. Blood sport? How about we just do some racing…

Gladiatorial fighting wasn’t the most popular entertainment. Modern archaeologists estimate that the Colosseum could accommodate 50,000 people. To be frank, it was dwarfed by the Circus Maximus, where 250,000 Romans could watch chariot racing.

45. Live long and prosperous.

Life expectancy in Ancient Rome was only 20 to 30 years. But they didn’t all die young. Average life expectancy was skewed by the large number of women who died giving birth, and by high infant mortality. If a Roman made it to maturity, they were likely to live as long as people in the modern western world.

Statue of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor who live to age 59.

44. Size matters.

The Roman Empire was not the largest empire in history. At its peak, it comprised 12% of the world’s population, making it the 28th largest empire. The British Empire was the largest in history, followed by the Mongol Empire.

Roman Empire, 54 AD (above).

British Empire, circa 1920 (above).

43. Can’t everyone just get along?

The wars between Romans and Persians lasted about 721 years. This constitutes the longest conflict in human history.

Artistic depiction of ancient Persian soldiers.


42. Now you know how it feels.

Ancient Romans celebrated a festival called “Saturnalia” in which slaves and their masters would switch places. Slaves were treated to a banquet of the kind usually enjoyed by their masters.

41. Nail in the coffin.

During the 7th century B.C., ancient Roman “vestal virgins” were required to keep their hymens intact as proof of virginity until age 30. Vestal virgins who engaged in sexual conduct were buried alive.


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