Almost everything modern people know about the ancient Romans comes from movies, and fictional books, and unfortunately much of the historical information regarding the ancient Romans is incorrect. Here are five myths about the ancient Romans that many people think are fact.
1. All ancient Romans wore togas. This is in fact untrue, the toga was considered formal wear and as such was only truly worn for either formal occasions, by the very wealthy, as burial clothing, and in an odd way by some prostitutes. Most ancient Romans had everyday clothing in the form of tunics.
2. A vomitoria is a place that Romans go to vomit up all their food after they eat to excess, so they can go and eat to excess some more. This is a myth. A vomitoria was actually a passage in an amphitheater that allowed people to get to and from their seats quickly.
3. Ancient Romans were significantly shorter than modern Romans. Skeletons discovered in Pompeii and Herculaneum actually give the idea that ancient Romans were taller than modern Romans.
4. Hadrian’s purpose in building Hadrian’s Wall was to keep the Barbarians from overrunning Roman territory. Historians now think it was built for administrative purposes, maybe to help communications between the east and the west, or for tax levying purposes.
5. All gladiators were men. While movies and books portray gladiators only as men for the most part, there were in fact female gladiators. While Emperor Severus tried to bad the practice of female gladiators or gladiatricies, the ban was for the most part ignored by Roman society.
These five myths about the ancient Romans are just the tip of the iceberg. Since much of what we know of the ancient Romans is from movies and books, it is easy to see how just as with any culture it is easy to develop stereotypes and mythology that is untrue.