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Roman Politics, Government & Law

Explore the complex political landscape of ancient Rome through this collection of articles on Roman politics, government, and law. Learn about the various forms of government that existed during different periods of Roman history, as well as individual aspects of governance and law, and even how Roman law influenced Western legal systems and continue to shape modern political institutions.

A 1593 edition of the Corpus Juris Civilis.

Corpus Juris Civilis Law: Created by a Byzantine Emperor and Still Relevant in Courts Over 1,500 Years Later

By the time of Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s reign in the 6th century AD, the Western Roman Empire was kaput, lost to waves of Germanic invaders from the North. Justinian was determined to recapture...
Artifact Reveals People Were Fed To Lions In Roman Britain

Artifact Reveals People Were Fed To Lions In Roman Britain

Archaeologists have presented gory visual evidence that problematic people were fed to lions in Roman Britain. Excavations at a Roman house in Leicester, England in 2017 unearthed a dirt-caked bronze...
15th century the basement of a "market house" used as a prison

Prisons and Imprisonment in the Ancient World: Punishments Used to Maintain Public Order

One of the most well-known forms of punishment today is imprisonment. One could argue that for any society to function properly, public order has to be maintained. This is an important function of...
Roman executions at the Colosseum were a gruesome affair, as depicted in The Christian Marturs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Source: Public domain

Roman Executions in the Colosseum: The Stories of Laureolus and Androcles

Public order in ancient Rome was a priority for the elite, who contrived a range of gruesome punishments for purportedly serious crimes deserving the death penalty. As a result, a day of fun and...
Decimation was the cruelest punishment in the Roman army. Source: vukkostic / Adobe Stock

Roman Decimation: The Cruelest Form of Punishment in History?

The Roman army was one of the fiercest armies ever assembled. It was disciplined, well trained, and well equipped. This combination meant the Roman army played a crucial role in Rome’s expansion from...
A Roman Ring with Linked Hands – this was a popular design for Roman wedding rings.

Roman Engagement and Wedding Rings: Joining Hands and Hearts

The use of engagement rings and wedding rings are common in Western culture to indicate a person’s relationship status. This tradition may be traced back to ancient times, in particular, to the Roman...
Reconstruction drawing of the communal latrines at Housesteads Roman fort (Vercovicium) on Hadrian's Wall. This site is now in the care of English Heritage (2010).

Money Does Not Stink: The Urine Tax of Ancient Rome

The ancient Romans have passed many traditions on to modern day society, but they certainly had a different perspective on urine. It was seen as much more useful than today. They used it as a...
"Ertränken im Fass oder Sack", a 1560 sketch showing ‘punishment of the sack’.

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Early Roman history is full of stories about the terrible fates that befell citizens who broke the law. When a certain Tarpeia let the enemy Sabines into Rome, she was crushed and thrown headlong...
Modern-day legislation has been heavily influenced by Roman law. Source: Anneke / Adobe Stock

Roman Law and Its Lasting Influence On the Legal System of Europe

During the creation of the mighty Roman Empire, between 753 BC and 1453 AD, the Romans not only created the political institutions of Roman governance, but they also set up a series of legal...
Replica Roman slave collars, after Zoninus. Source: nikhg / Adobe Stock.

“Hold Me Or I Will Run!” Roman Slave Collars Came With A Warning

Slavery was a large part of the Roman Empire. Military expansion brought captives, to compliment the material wealth taken back to Rome. And there is strong evidence that these slaves were not always...
The Frumentarii were the eyes and ears of the Roman Emperor. Source: oz/AdobeStock

Frumentarii - The Roman Emperor’s Eyes and Ears

Throughout the world’s history, many of the kingdoms, empires, and rulers depended on some sort of a secretive assistance. Powerful realms are like intricate machines - filled with secrets. To...
Roman Empire in its splendor. Source: Artcuboy/Adobe Stock

The Roman Empire: A Story of Power, Glory, and Tragedy

For centuries, the Roman Empire stood as a formidable superpower, spanning vast territories, and leaving an indelible mark on Western civilization. The Roman Empire was a powerhouse of innovation,...
Roman soldiers and their general (vukkostic / Adobe Stock)

The Roman Republic – Was It Truly A Republic?

The Roman Republic was the period in ancient Roman history that superseded the Roman Kingdom and preceded the Roman Empire. Traditionally, the founding of the Roman Republic is dated to 509 BC, when...
Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Death by Immurement

Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Death by Immurement

Immurement is a practice whereby a person is enclosed within a confined space with no exits. Normally, a person who is immured is left in that space till he/she dies, either of dehydration or...