Articles on Ancient Rome

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Statuette of a female vulve called Baubo, terracotta, from Priene, Asia Minor, 4th century BC. Reddit

When did the vulva become obscene?

An ad alluding to the vulva is sparking controversy, but there are few objections to phallic symbols. What explains this difference in treatment?
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One, June 6, 2019. AP/Alex Brandon

Impeachment is better than exile

When the founders wrote the Constitution, they had to devise a punishment fitting for a civil servant's impeachment. One possible punishment: banishment from the community.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to the media with members of the Senate Republican leadership, Oct. 29, 2019. AP/Jacquelyn Martin

What the Roman senate’s grovelling before emperors explains about GOP senators’ support for Trump

The Roman senate declined from a long-held position of authority under the Roman Republic to become almost wholly reliant on the whims of a given emperor, writes a classics scholar.
Writing wasn’t just invented once by a single person. Many different ancient societies invented writing at different times and places. www.shutterstock.com

Curious Kids: who came up with the first letters?

Writing has only been a part of the human story for the last 5,000 years. In comparison, humans began to communicate using speech some 50,000 years ago.
In the very beginning of the Roman calendar (more than 2000 years ago), there were only 10 months in the year. Jule Berlin/Shutterstock

Curious Kids: how did the months get their names?

December is named for the Roman word for "tenth". So, why is it the twelfth month?
Wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico, in 2016. AP/Christian Torres

Immigration: How ancient Rome dealt with the Barbarians at the gate

As Congress and President Trump struggle to devise a coherent immigration policy along the US southern border, there are lessons from ancient history that could prove instructive.
One important reason for the Spartans’ obsession with fighting was the constant possibility they would need these skills in war and also at home, in Sparta itself. Shutterstock

Curious Kids: who were the Spartans?

From about age seven, Spartan children learned to fight and practise obeying orders. They also staged pretend battles. Boys and girls were trained separately.
In Ancient Greek texts, the king Lycaon is punished for misdeeds by being turned into a wolf. Wikimedia

The ancient origins of werewolves

The earliest surviving example of man-to-wolf transformation is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh, from around 2,100 BC. But the werewolf as we now know it first appeared in ancient Greece and Rome.
Coins from the Hoxne Treasure, Hoxne, England, late 4th – early 5th century CE. silver 1994,0401.299.1-20 © Trustees of the British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum, 2018. All rights reserved

Rome: City + Empire contains wonderful objects but elides the bloody cost of imperialism

A major exhibition of treasures from ancient Rome presents a distinctly old-fashioned tale of the empire's rise and expansion, which is out of step with contemporary scholarly thinking.
Kevin Jackson, Robyn Hendricks and Ty King Wall in the Australian Ballet’s production of Spartacus. Justin Ridler

Spartacus: the rise and rise of an unlikely hero

When Spartacus and 70 or so of his comrades revolted and escaped from their gladiatorial school near Capua in 73 BC, everyone imagined the matter would soon be dealt with. But his rebellion has continued to inspire political movements.

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