A long time ago, in an empire far, far away ...
An equestrian statue of a Julio-Claudian prince, originally identified as Caligula.
©Trustees of the British Museum: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.
The emperor Caligula lavished attention on his favourite horse Incitatus, holding parties for friends in the steed's grand stables. But did he make his horse a consul?
A Roman Feast by Roberto Bompiani (late 19th century).
via Wikimedia Commons
Roman decadence reached its peak with the vomitorium: a room where feasting elites threw up to make room for more food. Or so the story goes ...
Was persecution a consistent imperial policy, and what types of punishments were inflicted on Christians?
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883)/Wikimedia Commons
The image of cowering Christians being thrown to the lions by Roman emperors is a grisly staple of popular culture. But how accurate is it?
The dead wait to be ferried across the River Styx.
The Souls of Acheron (1898) by Adolf Hiremy Hirschl
These days they are scary, but for the ancients, ghosts could be quite useful.
Nero: had a reputation as an arsonist even in antiquity.
The image of a crazed and capricious Emperor Nero is immortalised in popular culture: from fiddling while Rome burns to having a sexual relationship with his mother. The historical evidence, however, is rather different.
A still from the new Ben-Hur.
Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Pictures Inc
Hollywood loves a Roman action film. And recent archaeological evidence offers fresh insight into the world of the hippodrome: from sprinklers to cool horses to a mosaic displaying the four phases of a chariot race.
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the wisdom of the oracle was dispensed.
Cicero asked: 'how to become famous?' Nero sought to know the timing of his death. The Oracle at Delphi offered pronouncements on all manner of topics - yet as with Google today, the question posed was as important as the answer.
Beards: powering tech startups since 813 AD.
Many "modern" inventions actually have precedents dating back over 1000 years.
The Pantheon dome - made entirely out of concrete.
Think atomic theory was invented in the 19th century? Try 5th century BC.
Ruin of a second-century public toilet in Roman Ostia.
Fr Lawrence Lew, OP
Archaeological and textual detective work is filling in some information about how ancient Romans used and thought about their sewers thousands of years ago.
It can be difficult to imagine that the antiquities in our museums were once a part of vibrant and cosmopolitan cities. Let our expert take you on a tour of three cities to rival today's global hubs.
The NBC Nightly News of ancient Greece…
Greek and Roman historians were also known to fudge or fabricate their time in the field.