Author Archives: maazarat

About maazarat

I am a student in HIST 4720: The Roman World

The Roman Goddess Venus

"Venus de Milo" Hamiaux, M., Les Sculptures grecques, II, Paris, 1998, no. 52, pp. 41-44

Venus is a Roman goddess of love, beauty, sex, sexual seduction and fertility. She had a large role in the Roman religious festivals and myths. The increasing Hellenization of Roman upper classes identified her as the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Venus was born in the sea and first came to shore at Cyprus, floating on a scallop shell. There was a Golden Apple with “For the Fairest” written on the side. Venus, Juno Minerva (She was the goddess of women and marriage) and Minerva (she was the goddess of wisdom) all wanted it. They decided to let a man, Paris, judge between them. They were all so beautiful that he couldn’t make his mind up. So Juno said she would make him powerful. Minerva said she would make him wise. Venus offered him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. He chose Venus, and Helen. Unfortunately Helen was married to someone else, and when Paris carried her off to his home at Troy, her husband came with his allies to get her back. Paris and all his family were killed and Troy was destroyed. One of the few Trojans to survive the Trojan War was Aeneas, the son of Venus. He went to Italy, and was the ancestor of the Romans.

As a native Italian deity, Venus had few myths of her own. Because of this she took over many of the myths of Aphrodite and became identified with various foreign goddesses. One of the biggest accomplishments of the goddess Venus, was having a planet named after her. The planet was at first the star of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and then of Aphrodite. Because of her association with love and with feminine beauty, the goddess Venus has been a favorite subject in art since ancient times; notable representations include the statue known as the “Venus de Milo” (c. 150 BC) (ABOVE) and the painting “The Birth of Venus” (BELOW) by Sandro Botticelli.

"The Birth of Venus" E.H. Gombrich, "The Story of Art"



Gombrich, E.H. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon Press, Ltd, 1995.

Hamiaux, M., Les Sculptures grecques, II, Paris, 1998, no. 52, pp. 41-44

Hill, Dorothy Kent. “Venus in the Roman East.” Hill, Dorothy Kent. The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 1968/1969. 6-12. <

Lindemans, Micha F. “Venus.” 26 May 1999 . Encyclopedia Mythica. 28 November 2011 <;.



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Ancient Roman Children’s Toys and Games

Little horse on wheels, Ancient Greek child's toy. From a tomb dating 950-900 BCE, Kerameikos Archaeological Museum, Athens's_Toy).jpg

The youth in Rome had a variety of activities for play and for exercise.  Some of the most common included jumping, wrestling, boxing and racing.  Activities for the wealthy also included hunting and fishing.  The Romans played many hand games including one similar to ‘handball’ that we still play nowadays.  A few examples of toys include:  balls, board games, hobbyhorses (which is in the picture above), kites, tiny models of people and animals. The ancient Romans played with hoops, with pieces of metal on them, like bells, to jingle and warn people in their way. Boys walked on stilts and played games with balls. They played tic-tac-toe, and a game called “knucklebones”, which is a lot like jacks, only played with bones.  The boys played many war-type games. They played war, and fought with wooden swords. A popular games was a game called “Troy” (lusus Troiae) where a whole pack of kids outnumbering you, who’d try to drag you across a line. Gambling, board games and dice games were also activities the Romans would entertain themselves with.  The girls played with dolls that were made of wax or terracotta (shown in the picture below), sticks, bows and arrows, and yo-yos. When Greek children, especially the girls, came of age it was tradition for them to sacrifice the toys of their childhood to the gods. On the eve of their wedding, young girls, around the ripe old age of fourteen, would offer their dolls in a temple as a rite of passage into adulthood.  After this event women were no longer allowed to be involved in these activities.  Those women, who were in wealthy families, were able to throw dinner parties that could possibly have dancing, poetry readings or music as forms of entertainment.  Smaller children were able to entertain themselves with small toys or games such as leapfrog. 

BBC. Romans: Family and children . 2011. (accessed November 7, 2011).



BBC. Romans: Family and children . 2011. (accessed November 7, 2011).

Rostovtzeff, Mikhail. “A History of the Ancient World: Rome.” In A History of the Ancient World: Rome, by Mikhail Rostovtzeff, 387. Cheshire, CT: Biblo and Tannen Booksellers and Publishers Inc., 1927.    <

ThinkQuest. The Life of a Roman Child. June 2010. (accessed November 7, 2011).


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The Beginning of Education in Rome

A Roman School from an ancient Relief in Trier. Johnston, Harold Whetstone. The Private Life of the Romans. 1932. (accessed October 13, 2011).

In the beginning of the Roman Empire, Rome did not have any public education set up.  Most of the education at this point was done through the families.  In the family the children were taught the techniques for farming, physical skills for war, Roman traditions and legends, and the young boys were taught about public affairs. 

In the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. the Roman’s contact with the Greek world during the Macedonian Wars inspired new ideas about education.  Now the richest Romans wanted their children to learn about Greek studies.  Many of these children who were exposed to this education later served Rome as administrators, officials, and possibly even members of the Senate.  In this new idea of education there was the concept of “humanitas,” which was an education in the liberal arts or humanities.  They hoped that this would help students to be well-rounded and not too focused in one area.  Romans thought it essential to have a complete knowledge of Greek which led to the beginning of schools being taught by professional scholars.  At the very top is a relief with a scene of a roman school.

Think Quest. Elementary Schools in Ancient Rome. September 11, 2011. (accessed October 13, 2011).

Those who had lots of money were able to provide tutors for their children.  Those who did not have very much money went to private schools that were taught by educated Greek slaves.  At school kids would wright on wooden tablets coated with wax. A sharp stick made of iron or bronze was used to incise letters into the soft wax of a writing tablet. The stick was called a stylus. The broad flat end of the stylus was used for erasing. There is a picture of these above.  Children were taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetics.  By the age of twelve or thirteen, those children who showed promise could attend the “Grammaticus” which was the school for grammar.  The standard curriculum in the liberal arts included literature, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music.  The core if the curriculum was Greek literature.  The students were exposed to the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Zeno of Elae, along with the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides along with many others.  Most of the Romans were bilingual; they knew both Latin and Greek.  The brightest students would end their education studying Greek oratory.  Many of the best schools were located in Athens. 

Along with all of these schools were also libraries to hold books. Books were treasured possessions but were usually owned privately.  Because of this, in many wealthy Roman households, there was usually a slave called a “copyists” who copied books.  By A.D. 400, Rome had more than thirty libraries in existence; the most important one was located at Alexandria.  It was a giant storehouse of knowledge.

The Romans were extremely intellectual people and the addition of an education system into their everyday lives had an outstanding impact on their grown and prosperity.


Bonner, Stanley Frederick. Education in Ancient Rome: From the Elder Cato to the younger Pliny. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 1977.

Johnston, Harold Whetstone. The Private Life of the Romans. 1932. (accessed October 13, 2011).

Kreis, Steven. A Brief Social History of the Roman Empire. August 4, 2009. (accessed October 13, 2011).

Think Quest. Elementary Schools in Ancient Rome. September 11, 2011. (accessed October 13, 2011).


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Hoplites: Armor and Fighting Strategies.



Hoplites were soldiers for ancient Greece.  Hoplon was the name of the shield used by the Hoplite worriers.  It is said that the Hoplites name came from their shield (Hoplon), but others argue that, Hoplites took their name from their arms and armor as a whole.

Hoplites were usually free citizens of Greece.  In most cases they received basic military training and were responsible for obtaining their own armor for battle.  Since armor was so expensive, it was usually passed down through families.  There were many different styles of armor used by the Hoplites, usually ranging between 45-60 pounds.  Some pheasant soldiers could not even afford armor and would simply fight with a hoplon, spear and possibly a helmet.  The hoplites that had a little more money have linothorax, which was armor that was made from stitched fabric reinforced with animal skin or bronze.  Linothorax was most popular because of it was not too expensive and was very durable.  Those who had lots of money (upper-class) would wear a bronze chest plate.  The helmets used varied over time, getting lighter and simpler as time went on.  The main weapon that they used was a spear, which they called a Dory.  There were different length’s used ranging from 7 feet up to 25 feet.  The Hoplites would hold they dory in one had while holding their hoplon in the other.  The pointy end of the spear was usually a leaf shape.  The other end of the dory was usually spiked so that they could stand the spear in the ground.   

 Many of the Greek worriers had other jobs to attend to, and winters were too tough of conditions, so battles were generally fought during summer in a location that both sides would agree upon prior to battle.  Hoplites generally fought using a Phalanx formation, which was rectangular mass of worriers armed with their hoplons, spears, and other similar weapons.  They would march together toward their opponent and whichever line broke first was generally the losing side. 

Hoplites were tough worriers who obviously made a name for themselves with many films now days based on these worriers.  They were a strong and unforgettable people.



Admin. Hoplite-Armor, Weapons and Phalanx. July 19, 2010. (accessed September 20, 2011).

Snodgrass, A. M. “The Journal of Hellenic Studies.” JSTOR. 1965. (accessed September 20, 2011).

Whitehead, J. F. Lazenby and David. “The Myth of the Hoplite’s Hoplon.” JSTOR. 1996. (accessed September 20, 2011).

Wikia, Inc. King Leonidas. September 28, 2010 . (accessed September 21, 2011).

Wikipedia. Hoplite. September 13, 2011. (accessed September 20, 2011).



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