Tag Archives: Roman Empire

Roman’s “thumbs up” for the death

Roman’s “thumbs up” for the death


Neither Roman spectators calling for the death of the gladiator, nor Roman Emperors authorising one, ever gave a thumbs down. In fact, the Romans did not use a “thumbs down” at all. If death was desired, the thumb was stuck up – like a drawn sword. For a loser’s life to be spared, the thumb was tucked away inside the closed fist – as with a sheathed weapon. This is expressed in latin as pollice compresso favor iudicabatur, “goodwill is decided by the thumb being kept in”.

The Last Druids

The Last Druids

In the summer of AD 60, a vast Roman army commanded by the Governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, descended on the coast of north Wales. This well disciplined fighting force was directed at eradicating all resistance on the island of Anglesey (Mona Insulis), which lay just off the coast.

There were several motives behind Rome’s assault against Anglesey. For Tacitus, the reasons for Paulinus choosing to attack the island were twofold: “Mona Insulis contained a large population, while it also acted as a haven for refugees.” Paulinus therefore appears to have been intending to remove this independent refuge to which opponents of Roman rule had been fleeing.

Claudius I – The Wisest Fool in Rome

Claudius I – The Wisest Fool in Rome

“What an artist the world is losing in me!” – Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (August 1, 10 B.C.E. – October 13, 54)

As news of Caligula‘s assassination spread, the senate gathered in haste, several of them ready to press their own claims to the succession, other urged that the moment had come to restore the republic.