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5 Ancient Rome Professions You Didn't Know About

Last updated:2022-07-25

Slave trader, gladiator, prostitute - these are certainly professions that are very easy to associate with ancient Rome. But who was pullarius, who did the lyctor work for, and can sleep therapy be effective? Here are 5 Ancient Rome Professions You Didn't Know About.

5. Be careful what you say or I'll send a liktor on you

Liktor is private bodyguard whose representatives should be sought already in royal times. During this period, his task was to keep provocateurs in the crowd and supervise the gatherings. It was these ancient functions that defined the lictors attribute, Latin fasci - a bunch of wands with an ax stuck in them. The rods were most likely used for whipping, and the ax for execution. faces function has been forgotten with time, and with the years and the reclassification of the profession, they have become only a symbol. Already in the times of the republic, the role of lictors was limited to that of the prestigious bodyguard Therefore, it is not surprising that mainly muscular and strong plebeians were accepted for this profession. Such an escort was available only to a few, high-ranking officials, such as consuls, dictators, provincial administrators, but also members of the emperor's family and the Vestals. Their work was usually not demanding and was limited to proud walking with fasci on the shoulder during various celebrations. In return, they received a daily salary equal to two-thirds of the legionnaire's salary. Interestingly, it is from the Latin name faces comes the word "fascism".

On his shoulder, the Liktor carried the symbol of his profession - faces. It was a bunch of rods with an ax stuck in them. This is where the modern word "fascism" comes from.

4. Have you been struck by a mysterious disease that no one can cure? Your last hope is the sleep therapist

In ancient Rome, it was believed that the priests of the god of medical arts, Asclepius, had the skills to heal even the most difficult diseases. These skills had a long tradition dating back to Greek times. The first and most famous temple of this god was built in the 5th century BC. in Epidaurus. The admission of Asclepius to the Roman pantheon was a consequence of the plague of 293 BCE. At that time, a delegation was sent to Epidaurus, which brought with them not only a cult, but also sacred snakes, which escaped from the ship immediately after reaching Rome and sailed to the island in the Tiber, where a temple with the characteristic boat shape was then erected. T sleep erapy took place in the temple and consisted of an introductory conversation and a three-day cleansing - sex, roasted goat meat and cheese were forbidden at that time . Donations were made of cakes and flowers. The next step was being in silence, using various treatments and exercising. The priests' visits prepared the patients for meetings with God, and dreams were also recorded and analyzed. The found medical records and thanksgiving boards confirm the effectiveness of these practices.

The temple in honor of Asclepius was built on an island in the Tiber in 293 BCE. The holy snakes of the god were then brought from Epidaurus, which, after reaching Rome, escaped from the ship to the island. The temple was shaped like a boat.

3. Pullarius and the Sacred Chickens Will Solve Military Dilemmas

It is well known that the ancient Romans consulted the gods very often. Their signs were read by augurs - priests specializing in interpreting divine intentions . pullarius was a very important job, especially in the army, although every day boring. - priest reading the future from the behavior of the holy hens ( pulli ). Pullarius usually spent his days caring for the birds, but when it came to deciding whether to start or postpone a battle, he would become one of the most important people. Augur spread grain and dough, and then released the hens from their cages, and foretold their behavior fortune or doom. If the chickens were eager to eat grains, it was a good sign, but if they flapped their wings and were not interested in eating, the hostilities had to be stopped immediately. The fact that sacred birds should not be ignored was convinced by one of the commanders of the naval battle of the First Punic War . When the hens did not want to go out of the cages on board, he threw them overboard with the words:"if they do not want to eat, let them drink!", And then went to the fight, which, of course, the Roman army lost. The holy hens also wanted nothing to do with the future emperor Servius Galba, who was murdered two weeks later.

2. Ancient Ghost Slayer

The ancients feared wandering souls and often needed the help of professionals in dealing with supernatural forces. The moment when the soul of the deceased went to the underworld was very dangerous . She was then exposed to ghost attacks. Her protection was taken care of by a soul guide, or - as a representative of this profession used to call himself - psychopomp . The history of this profession goes far back to pre-Roman times. In ancient Rome, psychopumps also played an extremely important role in circuses and amphitheaters. He was the representative of the messenger of the gods Mercury, who is also the god of commerce and guide of the dead. In the arena, the gladiators were usually assisted by two soul guides. One, dressed in black, checked with a caduceus (a caduceus entwined with snakes, a curved and red-hot cane) whether his protégé was not pretending to be dead. The other was disguised as the judge of the underworld - Radamantys. His outfit consisted of high boots, a black tunic and a raven mask, and his attribute was a wooden hammer, which summoned the soul of the deceased to leave the body and then escort her to the afterlife.

1. Do you want to organize an orgy? You will need a planner

Nowadays, the word orgy and the activities performed during it are associated with general chaos and improvisation. However, even in Greek times, events of this type were carefully planned, and the Romans rose to the heights in this area. And while it's not hard to guess what the orgy planner did, it's worth mentioning the famous characters who were fans of meticulously planned sex events. One of them was the wife of Claudius Messalin, who even competed with urban prostitutes in carnal pleasures.

The orgies in ancient Rome were carefully planned. They were prepared by the orgy planner. Fresco from Herculanum

For her debauchery and the wedding with her lover, the young senator Gaius Silius, she was sentenced to death. Another famous figure fond of orgies was Emperor Nero . Its chief planner was Gaius Petronius who - when he fell out of favor and had to commit suicide - prepared an orgy of death for himself and his friends . He was succeeded by Tigellin, who in 64 organized a series of high-profile events in Agrippa's thermal baths. Remember that orgies were not reserved only for high-ranking people - the average citizen could also take part in this type of event.


  1. L. Adkins, R.A. Adkins, Dictionary of Roman Religion, New York 1996.
  2. J.C. Fredouille, Lexikon der römischen Welt, Hamburg 2005.
  3. V. León, The colorful underworld of ancient Rome, Warsaw 2007.
  4. L. Ricgardson, jr, A New Topographiocal Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Baltimore / London 1992.