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Health in Ancient Rome

Alexis Elinkowski

Blog Post #5: Roman Medicines

 The ancient Roman culture, the diet was viewed as medicinal. A good diet was seen as essential to healthy living. Food was viewed as having a healing effect or a causative affect on disease. The effect that transpired was determined by the impact the food had on the humors. For more information on the humors, see the previous blog post, titled “Important Figures”. Food and diet put an emphasis on prevention instead of treatment. Eating foods in moderation was an extremely important principle in ancient Rome. When the diet did not work to promote health for a person anymore, drugs, phlebotomy, cautery, and/or surgery were used. Patient autonomy seemed to have been valued because people managed their own preventative medical diets. They had control of their lives and could seek doctors if they wanted to (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The use of herbal medicine was very popular during the Roman Empire. The ancient names of the herbal medicines used were often derived from Greek. However, they are not necessarily the same thing as individual modern species, even if the name is the same (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Some herbal medicines used in ancient Rome were Fennel, Rhubarb, Gentian, Birthwort, Liquorice, and Aloe (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The Latin/Greek name for Fennel was Ippomarathron. It was used to cure painful urination, expel menstrual flow, stop bowel discharge, bring out breast milk, and break kidney and urinary stones (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The Latin/Greek name for Rhubarb was Ra. It was used to help with convulsions, intestinal disorders (stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys, womb, peritoneum) sciatica, asthma, and rickets. It was also used to help with flatulence and dysentery (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The Latin/Greek name for Gentian was Gentiane. It was used to help with poisonous bites and liver disorders. Gentian was also used to treat deep ulcers and eye inflammation (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The Latin/Greek name for Birthwort was Aristolochia. It was used to assist in childbirth (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). The function of Aristolochia was to expel the placenta in women who were ready to have a baby. Today, there is evidence suggesting that Aristolochia is a carcinogen and a kidney toxin (“Aristolochia”).

The Latin/Greek name for Liquorice was Glukoriza. It was used to calm the stomach. It was also used for chest, liver, kidney, and bladder disorders (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). Today, Liquorice is used as a flavoring for many products including tobacco, candies, and sweeteners. “Additionally, Liquorice may be effective in treating hyperlipidaemia (a high amount of fats in the blood). Liquorice has also demonstrated efficacy in treating inflammation-induced skin hyperpigmentation. Liquorice may also be useful in preventing neurodegenerative disorders and dental caries” (“Liquorice”).

The Latin/Greek name for Aloe was also Aloe. It was used to heal wounds, remove boils, and treat alopecia (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). Today, Aloe is used externally for skin discomforts. It is also used as a laxative, and Aloe Vera juice is used internally for digestive comfort (“Aloe”).


Aloe. Retrieved from

Wine was also used in ancient Roman medicine. It is well know today that alcohol is used to extract the active elements from plants. Wine was the only form of alcohol available to the ancient Romans. Herbs were often soaked in wine, so the active elements in the plants would come out (“Ancient Roman Medicine”).

Ancient Roman houses often included herb gardens, and ancient Roman recipes are full of herbs. The typical Roman herb garden would have included Angelica, Aniseed, Coriander, Elecampane, Fennel, Hyssop, Mint, Rosemary, Speedwell, Tansy, Thyme, Violets, and Wormwood, to name a few. Some herbs would be imported from the East, even though it was very expensive. One example of an imported herb would be Cinnamon (“Ancient Roman Medicine”).


Works Cited


“Aloe.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Ancient Roman Medicine.” Ancient Roman Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Aristolochia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Liquorice.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.        

“Medicine in ancient Rome.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

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Health in Ancient Rome

Alexis Elinkowski

Blog Post #4: Important Figures

 Many of the Roman physicians came from Greece. Some of the most famous include Dioscorides, Soranus, and espcecially Galen (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek botanist, as well as a doctor and pharmacologist. He lived from 40-90 A.D. He practiced in Rome during the reign of Nero. He was a well-known Roman Army physician. One of Dioscorides’ great works was an encyclopedia he wrote called De Materia Medica. It contained over 600 herbal cures, which formed a powerful and long-lasting pharmacopeia (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). A pharmacopeia is “a book published usually under the jurisdiction of the government and containing a list of drugs, their formulas, methods for making medicinal preparations, requirements and tests for their strength and purity, and other related information” (“pharmacopoeia”). For the next 1,500 years, his encyclopedia was used by many doctors (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The next physician we will discuss was named Soranus. He was a Greek doctor from Ephesus. Soranus was alive around 98- 138 A.D., during reigns of Trajan and Hadrin. According to the Suda, he practiced in Alexandria and Rome. “The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world…” (Suda wiki). He became the chief representative of the Methodic school of medicine. His work called Gynaecology is still in existence. It was first published in 1838. In 1882, it was published by V. Rose, including a 6th century Latin translation by Muscio. Muscio was a physician of the same school as Soranus (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Galen of Pergamon was known to be a very famous Greek physician. He was born in 129 A.D. and died around 200 or 216 A.D. His impressive theories ended up dominating Western medical science for over 1,000 years. By age 20, he had already served for four years in his local temple as a therapeutes, which means attendant or associate, of the god Asclepius. For more information about the god Asclepius, see the first blog post titled “Greek Influence”. Galen extensively studied the human body, but dissection of human cadavers was against Roman law. Because of this, he used pigs, apes, and other animals for dissection (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). The reason why Galen thought that anatomy was so important was because he believed in the Aristotelian doctrine that forms follow function. For example, he believed that in order to understand how a specific organ works, we must first understand what that organ looks like (K., David).


Galen. Retrieved from

Galen moved to Rome in 162 A.D. While in Rome he lectured and wrote. He also performed demonstrations about his anatomical knowledge. His reputation as an experienced physician grew, which led him acquiring many clients. One of his clients was named Flavius Boethius. Flavius introduced him to the imperial court, where he had the privilege of becoming Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ physician (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Even though he was a member of the Court he did not like Latin. He preferred to speak in Greek, his native tongue. He treated Roman role models Lucius Verus, Commodus, and Septimus Severus. In 166 A.D. he returned to Pergamon until he went back to Rome permanently in 169 A.D. (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Galen believed in Hippocrates theory of the four humors, which explained that a person’s health had to do with the balance between the four main fluids of the body- blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Food was supposed to be the main component that stabilized the humors (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Hippocratic medicine survived because of Galen. Galen referenced Hippocrates many times in his writings. He thought that Hippocratic literature should be the basic for physician conduct and treatments. Galen wrote about how a physician should have reasoning skills. He should practice temperance and despise all money. He should also treat every patient fairly (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).


Works Cited

K., David. “Galen.” Greek N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016

“Medicine in ancient Rome.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“pharmacopoeia”. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 15 Dec. 2016. <>.

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Health in Ancient Rome

Alexis Elinkowski

Blog Post #3: First Hospitals

The first hospitals were established in ancient Rome. Even today’s hospitals have a history that dates back to the Roman Empire. During the Roman Empire, military hospitals were set up to treat and care for the soldiers of the powerful Roman army. Unlike the hospitals we use today, Roman hospitals were only for slaves and soldiers. Physicians were assigned to follow certain armies or ships, where they would care for the injured. Unfortunately, medical care for the poor was nearly non-existent. Because of this, the poor would resort to spiritual aid (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The earliest hospitals we know of were built under the reign of Emperor Trajan, during the first and second century A.D. The Roman army expanded beyond the Italian Peninsula, so the wounded could not be cared for in private homes any more. Because of this, The Valetudinarium was established (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). Valentudinarium is a Latin word. In English, it simply means “hospital” (“Valentudinarium”).

The Valentudinarium was also known by other names, including the Field Hospitals or Flying Military Camps. It started as a small group of tents and fortresses for wounded soldiers. As time went on, the fortresses turned into permanent facilities. The original hospitals were built along main roads. However, they later became part of Roman fort architecture and most of the time they were put near the outer wall in a quiet part of the fort (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

A regular valentudinarium was a rectangular building, like most hospitals today are. It had “…four wings that were connected by an entrance hall that could be pressed into the service of a triage center.” Each legion hospital could serve 6-10% of the legion’s 5,000 men. There was also a kitchen, dispensary, large hall, reception ward, staff quarters, and washing and latrine facilities (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).


Plan of Valentudinarium. Retrieved from

As we can see, the main reason why the Romans established the first hospitals was because they really wanted to have an effective army. In order to have an effective army, they needed to have strong, healthy, soldiers. When their soldiers got sick or injured, which was bound to happen, they wanted them to be back on their feet as soon as possible. The Roman ethic of military improvement expanded from the battlefield to actual military hospitals. The sick and wounded soldiers were treated in buildings that were specifically reserved for them. These buildings had large halls that were well lit. The halls had individual cells and large rooms off of the corridors. They also had baths, latrines, and areas for food preparation. Roman soldiers were treated with respect and honor in daily life. This special treatment extended to their medical care as well (“Hospital and Treatment Facilities in the Ancient World”).

Roman military hospitals were discovered as far north as Rhine River, which is in Germany. Inside hospitals, surgeries, drainage tubes, splints, and healing salves were applied to injuries. Roman gladiators also received treatments in clinics from the best physicians available. One of the best physicians was a man named Galen (“Hospital and Treatment Facilities in the Ancient World”). We will learn more about Galen in the next blog post, called “Important Figures”.

Prior to these military hospitals, in Greece, there were no hospitals. However, there were specific temples called healing temples. Healing temples were established as sacred places for the sick to receive divine help. They usually had public baths and spa-type facilities. Here, priest-physicians would lead healing rituals. They would also administer massage and herbal medicines (“Hospitals and Treatment Facilities in the Ancient World”). Herbal medicines used by the Romans will later be examined in the blog post called “Roman Medicines”.


Works Cited

“Hospitals and Treatment Facilities in the Ancient World.” Science and Its Times: Understanding the Social Significance of Scientific Discovery. 15 Dec. 2016 <>.

“Medicine in Ancient Rome.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Valetudinarium.” Valetudinarium definition | Latin Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

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Health in Ancient Rome

Alexis Elinkowski

Blog Post #2: Roman Technology and Practices

Some of the greatest technological advancements the Romans built came from an issue they had. The issue was poor sanitation. To help alleviate this problem, the Romans built an efficient, extensive aqueduct system. Today there is evidence of around 200 aqueducts from Spain to Syria and also from Northern Europe to North Africa. From the 13 aqueducts that delivered water to Rome, it is estimated that total capacity was 222 million gallons every two hours. It is incredible that an aqueduct system from thousands of years ago was able to deliver that much water to Rome every single day. Even at the peak of the Roman Empire, this was enough water to provide every Roman citizen with at least 40 gallons of fresh water every day. Measures were taken to make sure the water stayed clean and pure. Along the aqueduct, there were settling basins, where sediment could be deposited (Cottrell).


Roman Aqueduct. Retrieved from

The aqueducts provided water for drinking, bathing, and other needs. “A system of eleven aqueducts supplied the city with water from as far away the river Anio” (“Roman aqueduct”). The biggest systems were called Anio Novus and Aqua Claudia. All wastewater would drain into a sewage system called the Cloaca Maxima. During the end of the first century A.D., the emperor Nerva appointed a man named Frontius to be the water commissioner. Some of his duties included surveying and mapping the entire system, and investigating abuses of the water supply. An example of an abuse would be tapping into the pipes illegally. He also organized workmen for maintenance of the system. He tried to make sure that the best water went to drinking and cooking, while the lower quality water went to fountains, baths, and sewers- in that order (“Roman aqueduct”). Frontius wrote about his work in a two-book official report called De aquaeductu, which was published near the end of the first century A.D. (“De aquaeductu”).

Another technological advancement that stemmed from poor sanitation was underground sewers. These sewers carried away water and sewage. The main sewer in Rome emptied into the Tiber River. This sewer was 10 feet wide and 12 feet high, and during the 20th century, it was still being used as part of the sewer system in Rome (Cottrell).

While the issue of sanitation had been improved with aqueducts and underground sewers, it was still a problem because of improper garbage disposal. House-to-house garbage collection was not practiced. Garbage was left to collect in alleys between buildings in the poor sections of Rome. At times it was so thick, that stepping-stones were needed to walk through the alleys (“Roman aqueduct”).

The ancient Romans also made health advancements besides those linked to the poor sanitation issue. They observed the consequences of occupational hazards on health. They were also the first to build hospitals. The first hospitals will later be explained in detail in the next blog post called “First Hospitals”. By the 2nd Century A.D. a public medical service had been organized. Physicians were appointed to different towns and establishments. A system of private medical practice was also organized in ancient Rome (Cottrell).

Furthering the work of the Greeks, the Romans studied human anatomy and surgery. Unfortunately, some of the Roman anatomists dissected living human beings as a way to learn more about the human body. After getting royal permission, they would dissect prisoners. Some opposed the practice and others supported it. The people who supported these live dissections made the argument that because the people being dissected were prisoners, the practice was somehow acceptable. They also thought that the knowledge that came from dissections could help many people (Cottrell).

          Works Cited

Cottrell, Randall R., James T. Girvan, and James F. McKenzie. Principles & Foundations of Health Promotion and Education. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2009. Print. 15 Dec. 2016.

“De aquaeductu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Roman aqueduct.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

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Health in Ancient Rome

Alexis Elinkowski

Blog Post #1: Greek Influence

The time period of the Ancient Greeks was around 1000- 400 B.C. They were the first early culture to put an emphasis on disease prevention. They believed in the balance of the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of a person. Among early Greeks, religion was an important aspect of health care. However, later, the role of a doctor began to take on a clearer shape. Because of this, a more scientific view of medicine emerged. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the Greek god of Medicine. Hippocrates was an important figure in Greek healthcare. He was the first epidemiologist and the father of modern medicine. He distinguished between endemic and epidemic diseases and discovered the theory of disease causation (Cottrell).

Ancient Romans accepted many health ideas, practices, and procedures from the Greeks (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). According to Prioreschi, “The ancient Greeks were the creators and founders of Western Civilization and the Romans were its builders.” Rome started out as a primitive agricultural society and then came in contact with a more sophisticated and advanced society- The Greek civilization. When it comes to medicine, it is commonly accepted that Roman medicine is basically Greek medicine practiced in Rome. However, this does not mean that there were not differences between the two (Prioreschi).

The Romans conquered the Mediterranean world, so this included the Greeks (Cottrell). That is why they received an abundance of medical information from the Greeks. Also, there was one major conquest that led to a lot of Greek information being available to the Romans. This was the conquering of Alexandria, a city in Egypt. The Romans conquered Egypt in 30 B.C. (“Library of Alexandria”). Alexandria was known for its incredible libraries and universities. For example, “In ancient times, Alexandria was an important center for learning, and its Great Library held countless volumes of ancient Greek medical information” (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

Greek symbols and gods also influenced the Romans. The Caduceus was one of those symbols. The Caduceus is “…a winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it” (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). It was first associated with a Hermes, the Greek god of commerce. Hermes carried around a staff with two snakes wrapped around it. During the Roman Empire, the caduceus became associated with Mercury, one of the Roman gods (“Medicine in ancient Rome”). Today, the caduceus is technically misused in North America. It is seen as a symbol of healthcare and medicinal practice. This is because of confusion with the original medical symbol, which is called the Rod of Asclepius. The Rod of Asclepius has only one snake wrapped around it and it does not have wings (“Caduceus”). The Rod of Asclepius, or the Staff of Asclepius, was held by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine (“Rod of Asclepius”).


The Caduceus. Image retrieved from

Just like Greek physicians, Roman physicians usually used naturalistic observations over spiritual rituals to heal the sick. However, spiritual belief was still prevalent in ancient Rome. For example, famines and plagues were often thought to have come from divine punishment, with spiritual rituals being the way to relief (“Medicine in ancient Rome”).

The Romans did not build upon everything the Greeks did concerning healthcare, however. They only kept the things they saw as beneficial for their large empire. According to Strabo, a Greek geographer, “The Greeks are famous for their cities and in this they aimed at beauty. The Romans excelled in those things which the Greeks took little interest in such as the building of roads, aqueducts and sewers” (“Medicine in Ancient Rome- History Learning Site”) The details about Roman roads, aqueducts, and sewers will be examined in greater detail in the next blog post, called “Roman Technology and Advancements”.

Works Cited

“Ancient Rome.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Caduceus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Cottrell, Randall R., James T. Girvan, and James F. McKenzie. Principles & Foundations of Health Promotion and Education. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2009. Print. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Library of Alexandria.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.”Medicine in Ancient Rome.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Medicine in ancient Rome – History Learning Site.” History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Prioreschi, Plinio. A History of Medicine: Roman Medicine. Vol. 3. Edwin Mellen Press, 1996. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

“Rod of Asclepius.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

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by | December 15, 2016 · 11:31 pm

Soldiers and Officers: Family Life

Imperial Rome (1-150 CE)

Subtopics: Women/Marriage, Religion, & Children


Why we chose the topics and time period that we did:


“Soldiers and Officers: Family Life” interested our group because it seemed like a topic commonly overlooked when discussing Rome. Typically, we focus on the military might of Imperial Rome, the campaigns and conquest, or on the political system and rule of law that has been admired ever since. However, less often do we look deeper into what life was like for the typical man or woman, what their roles and rights were, or what may have fueled their actions. Thus, we decided to focus on the family life of those in the Roman military, specifically women and their roles both independently and with regard to their family units. We also decided to look at religion as both a social tool, as well as a motivating factor for action on the state level, as well as the individual household. Children also, seem to be overlooked when casually learning about Rome, seemingly forgotten until they become old enough to become statesmen or soldiers. As such, these topics were our focus.  


Subtopic 1: Women/Marriage


As women began to rise in importance and presence in Roman society, as opposed to Greece, they enjoyed an expanded role in public life as they became artists, shopkeepers, doctors, and even gladiators (Burns, 2007). As their roles changed, I became interested in how their influence and presence affected the soldiers and armies in the Imperial Rome.  Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome, was a great advocate for political, social, and moral reforms in Rome.  As a self-proclaimed “Restorer of the Republic”, he introduced reforms to improve society and create a new government and lifestyle for Rome (Fife, 2012).  Augustus agreed with the statesman Cicero, who believed that the Republic’s decline was due to the degradation of the public’s morals and traditional virtues (Wasson, 2016). In response, Augustus introduced the moral legislation to the Lex Julia in 23 BC (Wikipedia, 2016).  


 Augustus statue as a younger Octavian (Wikipedia, 2016)

These laws, which continued for two centuries, encouraged marriage and having children.  It offered “inducements to marriage and imposed disabilities upon the celibate” (Wikipedia, 2016).  These inducements included financially rewarding families with three or more children, particularly sons.  The punishment for not being properly married included an additional tax that was not imposed on those who were married (Fife, 2012).  Those marriages who were childless could only receive half of an inheritance.  Socially undesirable marriages were banned as well as freeborn persons marrying socially degraded persons (Phang, 2001). In his presentation to the senate of his legislation, Augustus stated, “If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance; but since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.” (Fant & Lefkowitz, 2016)

Being a soldier in the legion, however, made marriage different and almost impossible to accomplish.  Under the rule of Augustus, the term of service rose from sixteen to twenty years and later to twenty-five years (Scheidel, 2005).  As the length of military service lengthened, it became increasingly impractical for soldiers to get married and keep a family.  Through the Lex Julia, soldiers were banned from getting married as ordinary citizens were (Scheidel, 2005).  The soldiers, however, were not prevented from cohabiting with women or raising children when possible.  Since there was a ban that denied soldiers from the legal entitlements of unions, they simply settled for legally non-recognized marriages.  In 44 AD, Claudius finally granted soldiers the conventional legal privileges of married citizens (Scheidel, 2005).

Being a wife to a soldier did not grant many privileges either.  Demographically, epigraphic record shows that about 90% of all recorded wives of soldiers or veterans have Roman names.   This suggests little interaction outside of the military and civilian circles in the areas where they were deployed (Scheidel, 2005).  Evidence has been found from seven legal cases on papyrus documents from Roman Egypt of the disadvantages.  The wives of soldiers lacked the legal entitlements from marriage and could not sue for the return of their dowries despite the fact that they had been made for the purpose of circumventing around the marriage ban (Scheidel, 2005).  There is much debate about the exact purpose of the marriage ban on soldiers.  One argument states that it was created to use the pool of illegitimate sons who grew up in the military environment to build a strong army.  However, there is no evidence that these soldiers would gain citizenship upon enlisting.  Another argument is that the marriage ban was meant to “emphasize the masculine qualities of the professional army, restore order”, and separate from the soldiers from civilians (Scheidel, 2005).  This point seems the most plausible but there are still several questions as to the actual benefit for the soldiers themselves.  

With the ban of marriage in the army, some soldiers chose to be sexually promiscuous throughout their service with the local women.  In fact, some reports show that soldiers in Spain fathered as many and 4,000 children with the local women (Scheidel, 2005).  Because of the lack of women in the areas that the armies were, some argue that they were high rates of polygyny in the towns.  The famous will of C. Longinus Castor freed two of his slavewomen, made them heirs, and made four males, are who assumed to be his children, substitute heirs (Scheidel, 2005).  Another consequence of the lack of women in the imperial army is the appearance of homosexual relationships with male slaves and military subordinates (Scheidel, 2005).  Women were a continual influence not only to men in the army, but as they rose to prominence in society and became contributing members to the the growing nation.  


Subtopic 2: Religion

Parker Langeveld

The Romans, like other aspects of their lives, viewed religion in the practical sense highly governed by logic and reason of the human mind, and such views led them to difficulties in seeing one single, all powerful God. The Romans did not have religion based upon a central belief, but rather a mix of fragments, superstitions, and ideas that humans had created over the years. Because of this viewpoint, religion was less of a spiritual experience and more of an interconnection between humans and their relation to the natural forces around them.

Ideas trickled down from ancient Greek, Etruscan, and Latin influences. Often times the Latin and Etruscan names survived but the deities became seen as the prominent Greek deities. Thus, Roman And Greek pagan Gods appear very similar, but with different names. Because of this constant shifting towards Greek God influence, it often occurred that a God was worshipped and nobody could really remember why. Such it was with the god Furrina. Every year on the 25th of July a festival was held in her honor. However, by the middle of the first century BC nobody could actually remember what she was the god of.

Roman religion was also divided into two levels, namely domestic and state. At the state level, the greater gods were worshipped for the greater good. However, the patriarch of each home also conducted his private prayer and worship within the walls of his own home to his own individual domestic gods to bless and protect his individual family.


Subtopic 3: Children


Imperial soldiers often had long term relationships with women, but their unions were not given legal recognition because of Augustus’ marriage ban. Therefore, their children were considered illegitimate (Scheidel). These children were in their fathers’ paternal authority (patria potestas in Latin). This meant that fathers’ had absolute power over their children.“…in the Imperial period, patria potestas was less oppressive and chiefly determined the children’s property rights and inheritance rights” (Phang). However, if an illegitimate child’s soldier father died and did not have a will, the child would have no claim to his property (Phang).

The wives and children of these soldiers often suffered, due to problems stemming from a union without legal recognition. However, they found ways to adapt and deal with these issues (Phang). The soldiers also suffered because of the same reason, but in A.D 44, emperor Claudius allowed the soldiers to have the same rights as married men, because they couldn’t be married according to the law (Phang).

At the soldier’s honorable discharge, they were given the right to marry, so their unions then became legitimate marriages (Scheidel). The soldier’s discharge rights were established through military diplomas. In these diplomas, “auxiliaries, sailors, and other noncitizen troops were granted Roman citizenship and the right to marry (conubium) at discharge; their children were also granted Roman citizenship” (Phang).



Burns, J. (2007). Great women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and wives of the Caesars. London and New York: Routledge.  

Fant, M. & Lefkowitz, M. (2016). Women’s life in Greece and Rome: A source book in translation. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Fife, S. (2012). Augustus’ political, social, & moral reforms. Retrieved from Ancient History: Encyclopedia November 9th, 2016 from

Phang, S. (2001). The marriage of Roman soldiers (13 B.C. – A.D. 235): Law and family in the imperial army. Boston, USA: Brill.

Scheidel, W. (2005). Marriage, families, and survival in the Roman imperial army: Demographic aspects. Forthcoming Article. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. Retrieved on November, 9, 2016.

Wasson, D. (2016). Reforms of Augustus. Retrieved from Ancient History: Encyclopedia November 9, 2016 from

Wikipedia. (n.d). Augustus. Retrieved from Wikipedia November, 9, 2016 from

Wikipedia. (n.d). Lex Julia. Retrieved from Wikipedia November, 9, 2016 from

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