101 votes
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Why didn't Roman emperors have harems?

One key lies in their treatment of illegitimacy, or bastardy. In Roman society, as is typical of the West in general, illegitimate children had no formal link to their fathers. This was true from the ...
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  • 95.9k
91 votes
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What happened in Rome, when the western empire "fell"?

By 476 the city of Rome had not been the center of the Empire for a long while. Diocletian, picking up the pieces after the crisis of the third century, made a point of snubbing Rome compared to the "...
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85 votes

When did the Roman Empire fall according to contemporaries?

Most people at the time did not think the Roman Empire had fallen -- it's only from five hundred or a thousand years later that we can conclude that it did. Both points of view are reasonable. What ...
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  • 5,656
69 votes
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Why was the Council of Nicea held in Nicea rather than Rome or Constantinople?

The First Council of Nicaea was held in 325, five years before Constantinople would be founded. At the time, the capital of the Eastern Empire was Nicomedia, which Constantine conquered in 324. The ...
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  • 95.9k
60 votes
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When did the Romans finally acknowledge that they were living in an empire?

I take your question as meaning: when did Romans realize that they were living in a monarchy ? (As opposed to the aristocratic regime previously known as "republic".) We must first realize that there ...
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49 votes
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Why was the Roman Empire considered an empire rather than a kingdom (again)?

This is mainly our modern way to look at it. In contemporary sources, Octavian/Augustus was just a princeps among the senators of the res publica, who 'by declared intent' had 'restored the republic' ...
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  • 75.4k
48 votes
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Why did the Romans change Europe's language, but the barbarians didn't?

The short version is "it's complicated!", but I'll try to give a slightly more detailed explanation here. Rome established a single empire with a single language, currency and laws. This doesn't mean ...
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  • 76.2k
47 votes

Did the Byzantines ever attempt to move their capital to Rome?

The Early Middle Ages were not kind to Rome, and the long destructive war to recapture it didn't help things. By the time the dust settled, Rome had practically ceased to exist as a major city, with ...
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  • 110k
45 votes

Did the Romans ever encounter the Vikings?

The question is illogical because there was no such thing as a viking in the days of the undivided Roman Empire or of the Western Roman Empire. A viking is defined as a Scandinavian pirate or sea ...
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  • 2,098
43 votes
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Did the Byzantines ever attempt to move their capital to Rome?

No, they did not try to move their capital to Rome, but the Emperor Heraclius at one point--around 620 or so when the war against Persia was going very badly--did consider moving the capital even ...
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  • 4,068
42 votes

Why is the late Russian Empire associated with Byzantium while having little in common with it?

I'd say that historically, the ideology in Russia meant it preferred to compare itself to Byzantium, probably similarly to the way you can hear the US is compared to Rome. This was, and still ...
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41 votes
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Did Roman unmarried men have a preferred hand and finger for wearing their seal ring?

Pliny the Elder wrote about wearing finger rings in volume 33 of his Naturalis Historia. He states: "The worst crime against mankind was committed by him who was the first to put a ring upon his ...
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  • 76.2k
34 votes

Why would Jesus' parents travel to their birthplace for a Roman census?

The scholarly consensus is almost unanimous on this point: Luke is simply wrong. There are a number of reasons why the account provided by Luke cannot be taken seriously; these reasons include ...
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  • 4,113
32 votes

Did Roman unmarried men have a preferred hand and finger for wearing their seal ring?

Pliny the Elder answers the question. The hand part was quoted by @sempaiscuba, here is the finger part: It was the custom at first to wear rings on a single finger only, the one, namely, that is ...
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31 votes
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Was Hagia Sophia built over a pagan temple?

Going beyond E.B. or Wikipedia: The official website of the Hagia Sophia Museum (at its former domain, link now dead) stated The first church [at the H.S. site] was constructed by Emperor Konstantios ...
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  • 2,445
30 votes
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Why would Jesus' parents travel to their birthplace for a Roman census?

Why travel to one's birthplace for a Roman census? Well Exactly. I suspect since there was a lot of prophecy that needed fulfilling, something had to emerge from the convenience dimension to make ...
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28 votes
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Did ancient Romans anticipate the fall of Rome?

The literary evidence for Romans anticipating the fall of Rome would seem to be very limited and, at most, indirect. There are, though, references to potential future threats to the empire, but also - ...
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28 votes
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Why did Roman women have no praenomen?

Short Answer Although there do not appear to be any ancient sources which specifically address this question, the most likely reason for the disappearance of female praenomen seems to be the absence ...
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28 votes
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How much did Didius Julianus pay to become emperor of Rome?

Short Answer Didius Julianus (ruled 28 March to 1 June 193 AD) promised a total of around 200 million sesterces to the Praetorians but apparently did not have sufficient funds to meet this commitment. ...
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27 votes
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Did the Roman legions wear this type of boots?

These boots are in the calceus style. As such they are quite spot on and accurate for a Roman soldier in colder climates. But not unlike the caligae we stereotypically associate with a legionaire's ...
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  • 75.4k
27 votes
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How many times did the the sacred fire of Vesta die?

The most (and maybe only) clearly recorded incident was in 206 BC when a novice vestal was whipped for letting the flame go out. Several historians record an incident that occurred in 206 BCE, in ...
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26 votes

When did the Greeks stop calling themselves "Roman"?

The Byzantine empire was a continuation of the older Roman empire in the East but it was gradually transformed into a different political entity. Meaning: The original Roman empire used Latin as an ...
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  • 597
25 votes
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When did the Greeks stop calling themselves "Roman"?

You are right, the name Hellenes means “pagans” in the New Testament, and was consequently abandoned by Greek Christians, who preferred to call themselves “Romans”. The term Hellene was revived by the ...
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  • 9,473
25 votes
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Until when was Marseille Greek-speaking?

There is evidence that Greek continued to be used in Massalia (Roman name: Massilia) even during the late empire and the spread of Christianity. To cite one academic source, ...the city preserved its ...
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24 votes
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Why is the Arch of Titus not considered to be anti-Semitic?

Probably because, unlike many other acts in the ancient eastern Mediterranean (perhaps dating back to the antisemitic attitudes expressed by Manetho in the 3rd century BC), the motivation behind the ...
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  • 76.2k
24 votes
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What Roman legions were present in London (UK)?

The Roman conquest of Britain was undertaken in 43 CE by four legions: Legio II Augusta Legio IX Hispana Legio XIV Gemina Legio XX Valeria Victrix These same legions still comprised the ...
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23 votes
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Did Julius Caesar say: "Africa, I have grabbed you"?

It apparently happened during Caesar's campaign against Scipio and Juba in 47BC, part of the wider Roman Civil War that was fought from 49–45BC. The story was recorded by Suetonius (Life of Julius ...
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  • 76.2k
22 votes
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Did the Romans Hold Territory in Ukraine?

The two areas appear to be Olbia and Tyras. They both formed a part of the Roman province of Lower Moesia (or "Moesia Inferior"). It is, perhaps, a little easier to see the detail on this earlier map ...
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  • 76.2k
22 votes

What Roman legions were present in London (UK)?

Actually, no Roman legions appear to have been based in London. There was a fort in the north-west of the Roman city, built early in the second century, which could have held a garrison of about ...
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  • 76.2k
22 votes
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Seeking floor plan of a classical Roman building with 20 to 30 rooms

There are floor plans both for the House of the Vestals, the House of the Faun in Pompeii, and Fishbourne Palace in England, among others. Unfortunately, many of the floor plans available online do ...
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