some Roman history worth unlearning

As I wrote back in April, “I always thought my middle-school Latin teacher was an ass, but I figured he knew his stuff.”

As far as I could tell, he was a good teacher, but he was also a smug authoritarian prick who liked to throw his weight around. So of course they made him a dean. The worst rise to the top.

Anyway, the disinformation he spread apparently went beyond his misunderstanding of the vomitorium. Lew Rockwell links today to an article from which I learn that what he taught us about gladiators was also wrong.

Here are 10 things you thought you knew about the Romans, but didn’t:

  1. Julius Caesar’s last words were “Et tu, Brute?”
  2. Rome was built on seven hills.
  3. Romans had “vomitoria” to be sick in between courses at lavish dinners.
  4. Roman men dressed in togas.
  5. Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
  6. The plebeians were the Roman poor.
  7. Gladiators said “Hail Caesar, Those about to die salute thee!” before each show.
  8. When the romans finally destroyed Carthage in 146 BC, they plowed salt into its soil — to make it completely barren.
  9. The Romans were much smaller than us.
  10. Hadrian built his wall to keep the barbarians out of the province of Britannia.

Here’s the corrective.


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