Friday, May 18, 2007

Ancient Rome on 5 denarii a day

An extract in the Independent from what a fictitious travel guide to ancient Rome might have been like. Not to be missed!

Rome does not have a police force. This is perfectly normal for an ancient city, and it means that there is a clear distinction between "law and order", which is the job of the government, and "crime prevention" , which is the job of the community. The system works because, despite appearing to strangers as a swarming ant hill of humanity, Rome is actually a mosaic of tightly knit communities in which everyone knows everyone else's business. Also, a draconian punishment system cuts down on offenders - and does so literally.


Those who know little of medicine in Rome, or in the ancient world as a whole, are advised to treasure their ignorance of things like Roman catheters and obstetric instruments. The best advice for those falling unexpectedly sick in Rome is - don't.

Whether or not a visitor attends the games while staying in Rome is a matter of personal ethics. Only a small percentage of the city's population attends any particular session of the games. Many do not go because they can't get the tickets, but others just don't want to. Yet, terrible as the arena is, its horrors are offered with a panache seldom, if ever, equalled in human history and the spectacle may yet suck you in.


Dogwood Dell said...


What's the value of a denarii in today's US Dollars?


Gashwin said...

That would be "a denarius" ... :-) And if anyone would know, it would be you! :)