There were many areas in which the ancient Romans earned a “number one” position. Sectors of excellence such as law or sport or more deplorable like corruption. It is no coincidence that even today, after centuries, we still have much to the Latin culture.
AN ANCIENT PIAGA. Corruption in ancient Rome was truly record-breaking. There was even a ceremony to “corrupt” the gods, the evocatio deorum: the Roman generals convincingly convinced the gods of the enemy cities to pass on their side, allowing the defeat of the cities that they would have to protect in exchange for more majestic temples in Rome.
But it was among the men – politicians and administrators – who turned the real bribes. Sallustio reminds us how the North African king Giugurta could allow himself to leave Rome shouting “City for sale!”, Having bought, one by one, generals and senators who had to fight against it.
FIRE FIGHTERS. The Firefighters are “born” in ancient Rome. In the Urbe (where only the public buildings were in stone, while the houses were made of wood), the fires were recurrent and devastating. Originally the fire defense was entrusted to voluntary groups of private individuals who intervened to stifle the flames in the area where the fire spread. Then special organizations were born.
Firefighters were born in ancient Rome. Augustus in 22 BC established the first public fire service contingent. There were 500, brought to 7,000 in 6 AD, organized into 7 cohorts of a thousand men, each responsible for two regions of Rome. They had barracks and ran a tank system. They were equipped with buckets, pumps, axes, picks, spatulas and mats soaked in vinegar.
ENGINEERING. “It seems to me that the grandeur of the Roman Empire is admirably revealed in three things, the aqueducts, the streets, the sewers”, wrote the Greek historian Dionigi d’Alicarnasso (1st century BC) .In fact, in the golden age a Roman citizen he could count on 1000 liters of water a day, and besides the 11 aqueducts of the Urbe there were similar ones throughout the empire: every city had at least one.
LAW.. Roman law is at the base of part of the mentality that we now call Western. Since the time of the kings (VIII-VI century a.C.), the Romans produced precise laws. But it was later that the Roman talent for jurisprudence emerged in all its strength.
The centuries of evolution of Roman law were summarized and handed down by the code of Emperor Justinian (Corpus Iuris Civilis), in the sixth century AD. That text remained at the foundation of European civil law until the end of the eighteenth century (when it partly inspired ideas on the State of the Enlightenment) and came back into vogue with Napoleonic law.
The colonial expansion of the European kingdoms then extended Roman law throughout the world. Even the Anglo-Saxon system, considered alternative to the common Roman law widespread in continental Europe, was partly influenced by the Latin jurisprudence.
FIRST HOSPITALS. In the first centuries of Roman history, the head of the family took care of the health of the family. But when they understood the importance of medicine, the Romans did things big. Doctors, surgeries and hospitals were not a rarity in Roman territory.
Soon Rome in fact assimilated and expanded the Greek system of medical care, taking care to provide widespread assistance and, if not really public, however very extensive. In the III century a. C. tabernae medicorum were established, the first medical centers not linked to the temples, which until then had had exclusive treatment.
SOCCER AND RUGBY. The first international football match? It was in England, but not at Wembley. In fact, they played (and lost 1-0) the Roman legionaries against the indigenous Britons in 276 AD. C. Even in Rome balloon games were widespread and appreciated, so much so that literati often describe their practice in the streets and at the spa.
Of the different games with the ball, harpastum – practiced by legionnaires and gladiators and also known as pulverulentus ie “the dust” – can be considered the common ancestor of soccer and rugby.
The harpastum was practiced by two teams made up of players who tore the ball to take it over the opposing bottom line. The player in possession of the ball could be attacked and stopped, thus forcing complex schemes and “rugby” passes.
FIRST ALPINS. The Alps were the last Italian territory to be subdued by Rome, at the time of Augustus: the Salassi of Val d’Aosta surrendered only in the 15th century. C. And in the imperial era were established specialized military departments for the mountain war, the Cohortes Alpinorum.
They were made up of 480 infantrymen, and those on horseback added 120 horsemen. These “mountain legionaries” were recruited among the peoples of the Alps, also keeping traditions and equipment!
ALL ROADS BRING TO ROME. The Romans built many still existing roads. There were a total of 80,000 km of the 372 large roads surveyed at the time of Diocletian (3rd century), but perhaps the entire paved network exceeded 100,000. To which must be added 150 thousand km of unpaved roads, in clay.
The streets were 5 meters wide, to pass two side-by-side wagons, to which was added in some stretches over a meter of sidewalk on each side. They had foundations about one meter deep, in several layers: large stones were placed on a sand bottom, then smaller stones and fragments of lime-mixed shards, followed by a layer of compressed gravel, finally smooth stones approached so as not to be able to move.