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15 Truly Bizarre Facts About Ancient Rome

Ancient Romans did everything from drinking gladiator blood to washing clothes in urine.

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2. Purple clothing was a status symbol and reserved only for emperors or senators. To achieve the color, a dye was made from murex seashells. It was treason for anyone other than the emperor to dress completely in purple.


5. Left-handed people were considered unlucky.


The word "sinister" was originally the Latin adjective "sinister"/"sinistra"/"sinistrum" that meant "left" but took on the meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by the Classical Latin era.

7. Caligula's favorite horse, Incitatus, lived in a marble stable, with an ivory manger. Caligula also tried to make him a consul — the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and the most important job in the government.

8. In the first century B.C., the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus addressed two of his critics, another poet Furius and a senator Aurelius, in a poem considered so vulgar and obscene that it was not translated outside of Latin until the 20th century.


English translation of the poem:

I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,

Cock-sucker Aurelius and catamite Furius,

You who think, because my verses

Are delicate, that I am modest

For it's right for the devoted poet to be chaste

Himself, but it's not necessary for his verses to be so.

Verses which then have taste and charm,

If they are delicate and sexy,

And can incite an itch,

And I don't mean in boys, but in those hairy old men

Who can't get their flaccid dicks up.

You, because you have read of my countless kisses,

You think I'm a sissy?

I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.


14. Not everyone wore togas. Only free-born Roman men as a were allowed to wear togas (as a sign of Roman citizenship), while Roman women wore stolas.

Strangely, prostitutes were forbidden to wear the stola, so instead they wore togas.