Overrated Myths (And Underrated Facts) About Ancient Rome

How well do you read Latin? Because if you’re not all that good at reading Latin or other dead languages, good news: you could have still had a job as an 1800s historian. Fun example: there’s a story claiming the Roman emperor Caligula was SO CRAZY, he sent a whole army to a beach to pick up seashells for him. However, the Latin word ‘musculi’ means both “shells” and “military huts”, so he likely actually told his troops to pack up their campsite. Which is normal. That’s a completely different kind of emperor, right? And here’s a fun thing: your pop cultural understanding of the Roman Empire is approximately that far off of the truth, in a lot of fascinating ways.

On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Siobhan Thompson (CollegeHumor, BBC America) and Patrick Wyman (Tides Of History, ‘Jeopardy!’) for a trip through the inaccurate lies you’ve been fed about the ancient Romans, and also the much more interesting true things you never knew about them. Get your head straight about everything from mighty gladiators to ancient fast food to the stunning economic benefits of living near a former Roman road.

Footnotes:

Siobhan Thompson on Twitter

Patrick Wyman on Twitter

Tides Of History podcast (Wondery)

The Fall Of Rome podcast (Wondery)

The development of Aquae Sulis (BBC Legacies [archived])

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 83 – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (The Guardian)

5 Scenes From History That Everyone Pictures Incorrectly (Cracked)

5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations (Cracked)

7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think (Cracked)

Where Does the ‘Thumbs-Up’ Gesture Really Come From? (TIME)

Terrell Suggs explains why he wore gladiator helmet in Ravens’ pregame (USA Today FTW)

Gladiator Gatorade? Ancient Athletes Had A Recovery Drink, Too (NPR)

When Did the Barbary Lion Really Go Extinct? (Scientific American)

13 Of Your Favorite Foods (And Their Bizarre Secret Origins) (The Cracked Podcast)

Unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall: lost secrets of first Roman soldiers to fight the barbarians (The Guardian)

Borders of the Roman Empire (Wikipedia)

Why modern mortar crumbles, but Roman concrete lasts millennia (Science)

How the Ancient Romans Made Better Concrete Than We Do Now (io9)

Scientists Match Pollution in Greenland’s Ice Sheet to Events from Ancient Greece and Rome (Gizmodo)

Interview: Historian Kyle Harper on Disease, Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire (Tides Of History)

Hans Dragendorff (Wikipedia)

Roman Roads to Prosperity: Persistence and Non-Persistence of Public Goods Provision (study from University of Copenhagen)

Mary Beard is right – ‘Romans’ could be from anywhere, from Carlisle to Cairo (The Guardian)

Himmler’s Antiquity (Los Angeles Review Of Books)

The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture (The New Yorker)

See the first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR this spring! Get your tickets now for: Thursday April 11th — Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL and Friday April 12th — Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul MN.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/overrated-myths-and-underrated-facts-about-ancient-rome

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