Alternate History

Roman Empire in 1333 AUC (Superpowers)

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Roman Empire
Senatus Populusque Romanus
trans. Roman Republic
Government Mixed, functionally Absolute Monarchy
Population 105 million inhabitants (49 million cives)
Area 9,303,000 km²

Roma, Italia

Largest City Roma (1.64 million cives)
Population Density 11.29 inhb/km²
National Language Latin (59% fluent)
  • Greek
  • Ge'ez
  • Celtic
  • Phoenician
  • Coptic
Demonym Romanus
Ethnic Groups
  • 35% Roman
  • 14% Gallic
  • 12% Ethiopian
  • 11% Phoenician
  • 7.6% Greek
  • 5.7% Aegyptian
  • 2.8% Dacian
Emperor Gn. Fabius Comptus Augustus Magnus (Caesar Fabius)

Senatus Romanus
Comitia Centuriata


9.24 billion Dn

Slavery 3.8% of population
  • Foundation : 21 April 753 BCE
  • Republic : 244 AUC
  • Principate : 726 AUC
  • Christianization : 1088 AUC
  • Corpus Juris Civilis : 1288 AUC
Currencies Denarius (Dn)
Sestertius (HS)
  • 79% Roman Christian
  • 6.6% Polytheist
  • 2.9% Unorthodox Christian
  • 2.7% Jewish

Europe up to Vistula and Porata Rivers,
Caledonia, Britannia, Hibernia, Nubia,
Armenia, Egypt, African coast, Ethiopia,
Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Sinai,
Mesopotamian lands in Persia

The Roman Empire (Latin: SPQR) is the largest and wealthiest geopolitical region in the year 580 CE. United by an assembly of aristocratic bureaucrats and one absolute autarch, this region has flourished as other civilizations and their governments have collapsed under internal and external pressures.

Authority over this region is concentrated in Rome - the Caput Mundi or capital of the Western World. However, certain political tools are slowly getting distributed to other cities. Byzantium has become the locus for taxes collected in coin and for auditor-generals of the state finances. In the east, authority is concentrated in Alexandria, where food is shipped to Rome and a large part of the regional bureaucracy resides.

Throughout its history, Rome has weathered threats to its own stability: a great migration of barbarians, waves of new plagues, and two civil wars. With these troubles, Rome has tested its mettle in the harshest fires but emerged stronger than before. Triumphal parades have always shown the common people the military successes of Rome and there have been two such triumphs during the reign of the current emperor.

Setting the Roman Empire apart from other kingdoms are institutions that characterize a modern state. Citizens inhabit regulated colonies spread across a region secure from foreign incursions; a network of public roads, ports, and aqueducts is woven through this land supporting tens of thousands of kilometers of trade routes connecting these settlements; and when Rome goes to war, it fights with a standing army of citizens who are equipped and trained by the central government - a political institution that employs a nationwide apparatus for polling, taxing, and adjudicating. 

In its 1,333rd year, the Imperium Romanum is unique among civilizations, only continuing to grow in size and wealth. Under its present emperor, it is in the midst of a Golden Age for the arts and sciences, accelerating the ongoing process of industrialization in Italy and Germany.


Covering over 9.3 million km², the Imperium of the city of Rome is larger than the claimed lands of any kingdom or polity in human history. Territory of this size is not easily controlled by a state but Rome has sometimes gradually and sometimes violently transitioned to more effective procedures for controlling its possessions. As a democracy, the Senate issued prorogationes (extensions) for the terms of its most powerful magistrates to send them to govern its dependencies. These governors effectively acted as dictators within their jurisdictions and could illicitly amass tremendous wealth using their authority and armies. This unstable situation precipitated several violent coups d'état against the Senate which ultimately ended the republic. As an autocracy, the Senate and emperor have a balanced arrangement for governing territory.


On the whole, the "empire" is just a large region dotted with cities that are engaged in sophisticated intercontinental trade and share certain aspects of an ancient Hellenic culture. Any unity the Roman Empire has does not compare with the political unity of a polis. However, more unifies this land than shared commerce and a heritage of ancient traditions.

Firstly, the political unity of the empire exists through citizenship and the self-identification of these citizens as Roman. Only the capital has the legislative and financial autonomy of an independent polity or state but the possession of citizenship on its own extends some of the political rights required of a polis. Coloniae consisting solely of citizens are a further extension of this same political unity, mitigated primarily by geographic separation from the capital. Fortified borders and trade barriers create a geographic unity that distinguishes a Roman world from the lands beyond the limites (frontiers) of Roman rule. Within these borders, most people feel religious unity through participation in the Ecclesia Christiana (Christian community), an intercontinental group united by the collaboration of bishops with the Bishop of Rome (Pontifex Maximus). Lastly, territorial claims of the Senate and People of Rome over a region constitute the literal meaning of the Imperium of Rome, brought into practice through the military unity of the empire behind the princeps civitatis.

More limited unity as a nation arises from Roman culture - the purple cloth that lies over the distinctive patterns of local cultures within the Imperium Romanum. This culture is distinct from Hellenic culture, which existed before Roman expansion. Features of Roman culture include the Lingua Latina, the holding of grand public spectacles, the enjoyment of performative and musical arts during private social events, and the realistic depiction of the human body on canvas and marble. Cultural aspects of the Romans have disseminated themselves throughout their empire, transforming the local cultures as much as they transformed Rome.

Types of Provinces

Under its present emperor, the Roman Empire is subdivided into three types of provinces (administrative regions): provinciae populorum romanorum, provinciae praefectures, and provinciae augustorum. These categories represent the three modes that the capital has adopted for administering the vast territory shared between the Senate and Caesar.

Praefecturial and Imperial provinces are governed by citizens appointed by the emperor, although the legati augusti who govern the latter are milites (soldiers) as opposed to private citizensPropraetorian provinces are governed by the prorogatio of a praetor's magistracy. This governor is a propraetor whose assigned province is determined by lot between the praetors wishing to take a province after finishing a term. In all cases, a propraetor serves until he is recalled by the Senate, on the basis of whether or not his province has been randomly selected that year for another praetor's prorogatio.

The highest responsibilities of a propraetor are the maintenance of ager publicus (public land) within his province (from which he receives a cut of revenues), supervision of his provincial administration, and presiding over the highest courts for non-citizens. A number of lesser magistrates and public officials assist him in these tasks.

List of Provinces

There are 48 provinciae, excluding Italia, that compose the Imperium Romanum. Among these provinces, only two are known as provinciales praefectures, namely Aegyptus and Armenia. The praefectus aegyptus and praefectus armenicus are civil servants who administer each respective province in the name of the emperor as the entirety of both territories is the ager privatus (private land) of whoever is recognized as princeps civitatis.

The 32 provinciales populorum romanorum are Sicilia, Corsica et Sardinia, Alpes Maritimae, Alpes Ulterior, Aquitania, Gallia Narbonensis, Gallia LugdunensisTarraconensis, Baetica, Lusitania, Melita, Africa, Cyrenaica, Creta, Achaia, Epirus, Syria, Cilicia, Macedonia, Thracia, Moesia Superior, Dalmatia, Noricum, Raetia, Pannonia Superior, Cyprus, Phrygia, Lycia, Galatia, Britannia, Palestina, and finally Caledonia.

The 14 provinciales augustorum are MauretaniaNubiaEthiopiaMesopotamiaCappadociaBithyniaArabiaDacia, Moesia InferiorPannonia InferiorGothicaGermania SuperiorGermania Inferior, and Hibernia. As these lists show, less of the Imperium Romanum falls under the authority of the Caesar than of the Senate. However, Aegyptus and Aethiopia are easily the two richest provinces besides Italia, concentrating Roman wealth in imperial hands.


The region of Italy has a special status within the Imperium. Italy has no governor and none of its citizens live in coloniae. Neither imperial nor promagisterial governors are required for Italy, since the land is governed directly by the Senate. Every free man in Italy is assigned to a centuria for voting in the elections in Rome, unlike the colonies where only partial enfranchisement exists. This political involvement means that Italy, particularly the space around Rome, can be viewed as a true polis - a state where the people are the arbiters of the laws that govern themselves. The magistrati provinciales that extend the authority of the Senate over the provinces are only reflections of the magistrati with financial and political power in Italy (magistrates who are now distinguished by designating them magistrati curules).

As a territory, Italy is subdivided into administrative praefectures, under the oversight of equestrian prefects. This system stems from the time of Augustus. Unlike other governors, the prefects of regions in Italy possess virtually no power of their own and are exclusively tasked with reporting problems to the emperor.

Over the last two centuries, Italy has seen the transferral of the latifundia (landed estates) owned by the nobility to the hands of the common people and veterans. In particular, the regions of Campania and Aemilia are swaddled in these peasant farms which are protected by law from appropriation once again by the nobility.

In the political sphere, Italians were unique for possessing the franchise to vote through the Centurial Assemblies in Rome. At the moment, the empire is transitioning to a wider electoral franchise. On its restoration in 535, the Centurial Assembly was created with distinct centuries for distinct subregions of Greece. While Italy retained exactly 560 out of 608 centuriae in the assembly, this enfranchisement has, in principle, shifted some power from the territory. Extensions of public transport on mainland Europe have expanded the franchise to Greece in practice as well.

Federations of Provinces

Governing territories spread across Europe and North Africa has been a difficult task for the Senate and Caesar, especially when cultural differences from Rome within certain regions have risked inspiring rebellion against the capital. Against this threat, Sulla  granted power to aristocratic citizens in these regions, effectively subdividing the empire into nations that were styled vassals (foederati) with special status. A single such foederata (federation of provinces) was assigned to each of the cultures recognized (however inaccurately) by the Senate. Governors of the provinces in a client nation had to answer to its president, an office formed alongside the abolition of consular authority in Rome, appropriating the title. Each one of these consulares is a senior magistrate elected each year from polls in the cultural capital of his foederata, with urban residents of the nation possessing the franchise as long as they were recognized by the Census (for this reason, tribal communities are excluded from voting for their consul). Candidates must have served as a propraetor and be over 40 years of age.

consul has the political authority to impeach the provincial magistrates and governors within his foederata. The only check on this power is that the Senate or emperor can overrule his decisions, restoring the position of whomever he impeached. Using his unique power, a consul is responsible for communicating the wishes of his community to the magistrates under his command. He must suggest appropriate dates for cultural festivals and gladiatorial games, using only the modest provincial funds at his disposal unless a provincial aedile should deign to support his foederata that year. Furthermore, he is expected to voice issues facing his people to the Senate and constantly travel throughout local communities to communicate directly with his people.

The foederatae of the Imperium Romanum are ItaliaGalliaHispaniaGermania, IllyriaDaciaGraeciaAnatoliaArabia, JudaeaAfrica, and Mauretania, meaning there are 12 consulares serving at a given time. Since each consul must have family ties to the community that he governs, these senior magistrates are often from families with origins in the local nobility before the annexation of their land by Rome. The Consul Italiarum used to be the only national president that had to come from the Senate but now is on equal footing with the other presidents in this respect With so few available spots, former consuls are usually of the highest dignitas when they return to their positions in the Senate. They are privileged to speak before almost any other senator and tend to be at the centers of political factions within the Roman government.

Although consulares lost direct financial powers during the latest change in laws, their power over their respective magistrates is more than sufficient to force their hands whenever desired. Furthermore, a consul officially has the third highest imperium after the censores, earning him 12 lictores (magisterial bodyguards) for his protection.


Rome may have the only absolute monarchy which can function perfectly without its autarch. The absolute monarch of Rome is designated its princeps civitatis (first citizen) and princeps senatus (first senator) to denote his imperium maius (supreme power) and auctoritas principis (primary moral authority). The latter auctoritas has no constitutional basis except as the senator who may speak first or interrupt any other magistrate on the floor of the Senate. Otherwise, the authority of the princeps civitatis derives only from the history of imperial leaders and the past successes of the present ruler. A good emperor is regarded by citizens as bearing equal auctoritas to the pontifex maximus but a bad emperor will usually fail to garner the respect of the Senate and people. Despite its formality, an emperor's auctoritas principis allows him to pass legislation through the Senate, by the reverence that senators and the public have for the moral prescriptions of a respectable emperor.

An emperor without auctoritas that outshines his magistrates could easily fall from power, since other men hold greater sway over the decisions of the Senate. However, the act of appointment by itself grants immense respect on whomever it is bestowed, to the extent that a first citizen must show tremendous incompetence to lose his authority to rule. Any emperor has some privileges on the basis of his auctoritas (without any constitutional rationale). In particular, an emperor has the auctoritas to speak for Rome with kings or delegates; to declare war against a foreign power; to demand the presence of any magistrate or private citizen; to request favors of the pontifex maximus; and to advise the pontifex maximus on matters of the Christian faith. These are not rights or powers conferred upon an emperor by law but liberties permitted to him out of respect, tradition, or fear. Actual power resides in the imperium which Roman law recognizes in the person of the first citizen - the highest power of command over the magistrates, courts, and legions. From this supreme power, the emperor may dismiss any magistrate other than a censor, or tribunus; convene the Senate at his leisure; pardon a criminal in the courts; appoint governors for certain provinces; order an aedile to procur funds from the treasury for either games or public works; confer citizenship upon any peregrinus; emancipate any servus; and adopt any citizen as his lawful heir. In addition to these political powers, the imperium of the emperor extends over the citizens who have entered the service of Rome as soldiers of the Legion.

In particular, the emperor is a perpetual imperator, one with the sole right to maintain his military imperium within Rome. On the field, he may command any miles (soldier) up to the highest legate; may appoint any of his legates as dux generalissimus (most general commander of the armies) to share his military imperium with another man; and may dismiss any miles from his duties. Similarly, the emperor may permanently disband legions at his pleasure. Despite his power of command over the Legion and the Praetorians, the emperor has no direct control over the Classis, an authority that rests solely with the Senate.

Aside from his imperium maius and auctoritas principis, the emperor holds the tribunicia potestas maior. While he cannot be a tribune, the emperor is nominally elected by the populus romanus, granting him tremendous legislative authority. Aside from permission to sit on meetings of the Concilium Tribunum, the emperor may veto legislation passed by the Senate or another magistrate; overrule the veto of any individual tribunus but not of the entire Concilium Tribunum; and, most significantly, his body is sacrosanct. The sacrosanctity of a living emperor renders anyone who lays hands on him an outlaw, a heretic, a non-citizen, and guilty of the highest treason (for this reason, Imperator Antoninus had to be recognized as illegitimate in order to sanction his murder by his nephew Maximius).

Comitia Centuriata

Magistrates have their authority on the basis that they all exercise their powers for the populus romanus (people of Rome), a group of people identified by possession of civitatem romanum (citizenship). Although Caesar Augustus recognized the Senatus as authoritative of the interests of the whole populus romanus, Caesar Ulpius reversed this decision by reinstituting the Comitia Centuriata (Centurial Assembly) as an electoral body of citizens (cives). Now, in practice, every civis publicus receives his office and powers either directly or indirectly from the consent of every civis privatus (private citizen). All citizens living in Italia, Graecia, or certain colonial cities are assigned by the Census to their own centuria suffragia, out of 608 centuriae.

There are two purposes for any given Comitia Centuriata: (1) for electing some magistrate by a certain majority of the citizens and (2) for passing a bill without the authorization of the Senatus but through the will of the populus romanus. Only someone with tribunicia potestas may call an assembly of the citizens for enacting a piece of legislation mentioned in the Senate. Any election starts on specific days enshrined in the laws, only ending once every century has gone. For any decision, the patrician centuries - of which there are two - vote first, setting the precedent for the rest of the polls (centuries vote one at a time).

Every vote is presided over by the Consul Italiarum (Consul of the Italians), whose duty is to declare each step as it arises and to announce the collective vote of each centuria. When a bill comes before the assembly, individual voters write either a large V or a large A on their tabella (paper ballot) to declare their agreement or disagreement respectively. Voters assemble in different parts of the city of Rome, with temporary barriers in place to group members of each centuria. When a centuria has its turn, its voters assemble in the Campus Martius (Field of Mars) where they will cross the pons (bridge) into the saepta (voting pens). The saepta  can hold upwards of 40,000 voters at once, requiring incredible organization on the part of the aediles curules. Once voting begins, a committee consisting of two tribuni, two censores, two consulares, two senatores, and two praetores will supervise two groups, of a hundred custodes, that each does its own distributio (tally) of ballots. Counting happens in full view of the citizens whose votes are being tallied, preventing even the swiftest custodis from discreetly discarding ballots. Each group sums its counts to produce two independent tallies that are averaged to determine the vote of that centuria.

Depending on the size of a centuria, this process can take anywhere from a minute to ten minutes, meaning some votes can take up to a week to complete. The election for Fabius drew the largest crowd of voters, with nearly every freeborn male of Italy traveling to Rome to express his agreement with the incumbent emperor.

Senatores are elected by the same procedure as emperors, meaning each candidate receives either a V or an A. However, more than one senator goes up for election at once, with one ballot for every candidate. A citizen may only submit as many Vs as there are available positions in the Senate. The same situation applies to the election of censores.

Other elections usually involve a number of candidates for which every male citizen gets two distinct votes. Imperial positions for aedilepraetor, and censor are refilled each year by public elections held in July. Unless a tribunus calls for the impeachment of a magistrate in one of these offices, there will be no other elections until the next July. Senatores and the Consul Italiarum also have their public elections in Rome at the same time as these other magistracies.

Senatus Romanus

Although ordinary senators have no imperium as individuals, the Senate itself receives 24 lictors who answer to the princeps senatus (i.e. the emperor). These bodyguards usually stand by the rope cordoning off the main floor of the Senate from onlookers who come from the street to view their legislature in action. On the steps of the Colossus of Sulla outside the old Curia Julia (Senate House) is the senaculum, a space for senatores to mingle in the hour before the curia opens for business. The flocking of Senatores, clad in their stark white and purple togas, to this spot is widely considered one of the greatest sights of Rome.

In total, there are 600 senatores serving as members of the Senatus Romanus. When a senator is elected to a magistracy, he retains his seat and single vote in the Senatus, although his duties may keep him physically absent. Every senatorial meeting is opened with a speech by some senior magistrate, usually the Consul Italiarum, princeps civitatis, or praetor urbanus. This man is the presiding magistrate for the assembly that day and decides the day's order of business. When an issue is presented, the various senators speak in order of seniority: essentially, princeps senatuscensores, magistri, consularespraetoresaediles, and, finally, the pedarii (those who vote with their feet), senatores who have yet to hold other offices. Someone who has once held any of these offices has the same privilege of speech in the Senate as one presently holding that office.

When a vote is called by the presiding magistrate, all senatores stand then relocate to the side of the house representing their decision on the matter at hand (unless the motion is sufficiently minor to merely involve a show of hands). Should someone with the tribunicia potestas be present for any vote, he may veto the motion using his right of intercessio. Should the motion pass then whatever action is entailed by the decision must be carried out by relevant magistrates. For a legislative bill, the result is a new lex (statute) that carries the force of law, either in the public or private courts.

In principle, the sole power of a senator is his vote - alone, a senator is powerless beyond his personal auctoritas. Senators rely on attaining proper magisterial power (potestas or imperium) to exercise authority in the public arena.


At the highest position in Roman law is the emperor, who may pardon any criminal unless opposed by a censor, but next to him in imperium is the princeps judex (first judge), who presides over the highest court of Roman law - the Judicium Maium. It is his duty to judge any case brought before this court, one that meets on the rostra of the Basilica Divi Julii. After Agricola deconsecrated the Temple of Divine Julius, this public building has served as a bureau of justice, with the praetores curules and a number of judges working inside. Most importantly, it is where the public courts accept libelli (summons) from plaintiffs.

Aside from the judicium maium, there are fifteen public courts in Rome, each presided over by a praetor curulis. Each court meets regularly at a specific location in the capital. Every imperial praetor has one such public location which serves as his official place of work and court, where he may be found during regular work days. Some of these locations are:

  • Extortion court: in front of the Basilica Commercia, site of the bureau of standards carrying official weights and measures.
  • Electoral court: in front of the Saepta Julia, where voting takes place during elections.
  • Treason court: on the rostra, directly in front of the Basilica Concordiae, considered the bureau of the censores.
  • Embezzlement court: on the Forum Traini, beside the equestrian statue of Trajan and near the great marketplace.
  • Adultery court: in front of the Templum de Virgo Maria, a convent for nuns that was formerly the House of Vestals.
  • Perjury court: on the portico of the Tabularium, the national archive that also contains records of court procedures.
  • Parricide court: in front of the Basilica Patriae, the former Temple of Divine Antoninus and Faustina.
  • Guardianship court: on a rostra of the Domus Augustana, where clients of an emperor come to wait in the Domus Flaviae.
  • Inheritance court: in front of the Biblioteca Minervae, the former Temple of Minerva on the Transitorium.
  • Debtors court: in front of the Banca Romae, the bank situated beside the Temple of Harmony.
  • Malpractice court: in the gardens of the primary hospital in the capital.

Another two praetors hold public courts elsewhere in the empire:

  • Military court: in the outdoor gymansium of the Academia Bellica, the military academy in Carthage.
  • Treasury court: in the Augustaeum, the main forum of Byzantium.

There are a total of 20 praetores curules who operate primarily within the city of Rome, only the praetor peregrinuspraetor fiscalis, and praetor militaris have jobs that keep them largely outside of Italy. Every province has a praetor provincialis who presides over its highest court for citizens and appoints its local judges. These praetores are magistrates of equal rank as praetores curules but their distance from Rome marks them as less prestigious for senators. In particular, senators who are seeking higher magistracies (such as magister fiscalis) seek to get elected as an imperial praetor since those offices tend to improve their reputation in Rome while the appointed provincial praetors do not get such exposure to voting citizens. Although, with the enfranchisement of Greece, the lottery for provinces has become a more exciting occasion for appointed praetors. As for imperium, the princeps iudex qualifies as a magister, earning him the appropriate 12 lictores, whereas the praetores are only vested with sufficient imperium to merit 6 lictores, excepting the praetor urbanus who receives ten.


The Public Treasury (aerarium stabulum) is a secure facility on the main forum of Byzantium where the funds held by the Fiscus (public accounts) are stored - in the forms of both a coin hoard and bricks of gold or silver. Administering the Fiscus is the Magister Fiscalis, appointed by the Senate with the approval of the emperor. His authority extends to the dismissal and the approval of the financial magistrates. Highest of these magistrates are the four aediles curules respectively tasked with the supervision of the grain dole in Italysupervision of the renovation and maintenance of basilicae in Italysuperintending of the public games and festivals held in Rome, and supervision of the public services in Rome. As a junior magistrate, an aedile only has potestas fiscalis, accompanied by the protection of 2 lictores.

Outside Italy, there are twenty aediles provinciales who are assigned yearly by the Senate to a specific provinciafoederata, or urbs. Some provinces such as Thracia have permanent aedilian magistracies, such is their importance to Rome. They perform a mixture of the roles of the imperial aediles but with more limited funds. Regardless of location, an aedile is the sole magistrate who may authorize the removal of funds from the aerarium, using his seal of office to do so through letters.

Conversely, the quaestores provinciales are each appointed by the Senate to each province for the purpose of supervising the tax collectors employed there. They are tasked with hiring the fiscatores (tax collectors), firing them if appropriate, and auditing the accounts of their subordinate numerarii (accountants). In principle, a provincial quaestor is an accountant and auditor-general for taxation in his province. There are thirty quaestores curules appointed by the Senate from patricians who are at least age 30 and are seeking a public career. Out of these junior magistrates, ten supervise tax and spending records in Rome, often advising senators or other magistrates based on these records while the other twenty are the accountants and the comptrollers for the Fiscus in Byzantium, the auditor-generals of the empire.

quaestor only has potestas taxanis (power of appraisal) which does not merit protection by lictores. Few of the quaestores are members of the Senate, since there is dishonor in going backwards to the starting point of a public career. Serving one term as a quaestor is the principle requirement for membership in the Senate, with experience as an advocate or service in the military being optional in principle but practically required as early careers for patricians seeking public careers.

Cursus Honorum

Magistracies in the Roman Empire are constituted in a manner that gradually tests the abilities of the nobles who pursue power and authority in Rome. The standard public career of a patrician is the cursus honorum - a series of magistracies that must be taken to rise in the ranks of the Roman government. Few men achieve the illustrious consularship and even fewer are deemed worthy of the sacred office of censor. Achieving senior magistracies in an honorable fashion and at a young age is the surest way for a patrician to gain dignitas for himself and for his descendants. Those of the highest social standing may even be elected as the next emperor should the reigning princeps civitatis adopt them or die without naming a successor.

First, a patrician who has received a proper Roman education will either take up law as an avocatus (advocate) or join the War Academy to become an officer in the Legion. The former used to be far less prestigious than the latter, with senatores who had not done military service getting reputations of being "draft dodgers", but this changed during the first four centuries of emperors. A noble who pursues a philosophical or business career is usually regarded as unfit for public service by most other nobles, in effect excluding such people from the cursus honorum.

patrician who has spent around a decade in one of these careers may decide to seek the quaestorship by applying to the Senate on the day of his 30th birthday. In the next September, senatorial elections will be held for these yearly positions, of which there are presently 78 available spots. Once he has served one year as quaestor, a patrician is eligible for election to the Senatus Romanus, with around four to fifteen spots opening each year for various reasons (death, dismissal, or bankruptcy). Those who are not elected to the Roman Senate may do other work in Italy or pursue offices in the city senate of a colonia or municipium elsewhere in the empire, as former quaestors are highly sought for in those positions.

As a senator of Rome, a patrician has a direct hand in the governing of the empire, voting in the appointment of many officials and in the enactment of new laws. However, as a new senator, he is a mere pedarius, one whose sole power is where he walks when a vote is called in the Senate. Once he reaches the age of 34, he may run for popular election for the aedileship, thereby gaining magisterial authority and a means of making a name for himself among a wide audience. Even a provincial aedile, when enterprising and popular enough, can have citizens from his province come to Rome to speak on his behalf to the people, thereby elevating his name among the voters in the Comitia Centuriata. However, not only does an aedileship, like any magistracy, not come with a public wage, but the imperial aediles will be expected to supplement the public funds for their assigned task with their own private funds to contribute to the success of their spectacles or services to the populus romanus.

The aedileship is entirely optional for a senator seeking more advanced office but is extremely helpful for currying the favor of the voters in Rome. After his 37th birthday, a senator may apply for the July elections to the praetorship, with the 20 senatores with the highest number of votes receiving the imperial praetorship and the next 48 senatores getting the provincial praetorship. Either praetor will hold his office from January of the following year to December of his fourth year, after which time he may request prorogation of his authority to continue as propraetor of one of the provinciales propraetorianes. Should he become propraetor and return after only a year (the minimum length of his term) then he may join the former praetores who did not seek prorogatio in getting approval from the emperor to run for a consulship at the age of 42.

For a consulship, this senator will be trying to become consul suo anno (in his year) but will be competing with other senators who are seeking election to consul at a later age or even re-election after serving a year as consul and waiting the minimum of five years (a lustrum) before being eligible again for the consulship. Indeed, a patrician who got elected as consul would have the rest of his life to seek re-election, serve as a senator, or apply for the censorship when a spot became available. Exercising one's auctoritas over votes in the Senate, between terms as the administrator of a number of provinces, is the endpoint of the most successful political careers, continuing until that noble's death or retirement from public life.

Concilium Tribunum

For a man of the plebeian order, there is no cursus honorum but there is one position of great power which he can hold. The greatest honor for a pleb is to become a tribunus plebis (tribune of the plebs). Aside from the requirement of order, a male citizen may only be a candidate for the tribuneship if he has not committed any crimes and is least 30 years of age. The censores are also permitted to bar someone from the yearly lottery should they suspect him of being ill-intentioned or of being in the pocket of someone of the patrician order. Furthermore, only citizens living in a municipium or urbs are in the lottery for the tribuneships.

The twelve tribuni take their offices in January of the year after getting selected. Four tribunes are urban male citizens of Italy, four are urban male citizens of Greece (AchaiaEpirus, MacedoniaThraciaAsiaLyciaCreta, and Bithynia), and four are male citizens from one of the coloniae in the other provinces. Citizens eligible for a tribuneship are selected by a lottery held concurrently with the elections of magistrates. Whoever gets selected by the lottery may decline but if he goes to the capital, he lives for a year in the tribunician residence and receives a salary of 2400 Dn to support his family and himself after his term.

Each tribune possesses the tribunicia potestas which confers the authority of intercessio, the veto of legislation promulgated by the Senate. In principle, a tribune must use his power for the benefit of the lower class and if a tribune from each region accuses another of misusing his veto, then the veto is blocked. Perhaps their greatest responsibility and power is the authority to call an irregular assembly of the Comitia Centuriata to vote on a law, an impeachment of a magistrate, or some other function of the government. While each tribunus has this power, the rest can overrule his decision as long as one from each region is opposed.

As a council, the Concilium Tribunum can overrule the major veto of an emperor but only through unanimity. In addition, this plebeian council can vote to overturn some judicial decisions by the praetores, provide sanctuary to any person accused of a crime, and advise the Senate on matters brought to their basilica by the plebs. Their primary facility is the Basilica Popula (formerly the Temple of Vespasian on the Roman Forum) but at least one tribunus can be found most days in the market. There are usually large gatherings of people in the atrium of the Basilica Popula - poor citizens seeking help from their representatives.

With their location close to the Senate, at least one tribune could easily attend every meeting of the Senatus Romanus. This was necessary for the exercise of the plebeian veto which could only be used when physically present, whereas the major veto could be performed after a delay of three days from the emperor being within the Pomerium of the city of Rome.

Comitia Censoria

Perhaps the most authoritative body in the empire is the Comitia Censoria - an assembly of the twelve senior censores. As a group, the censores are the authority on who is a citizen of the Roman Empire. In principle, they have no other power than the ability to decide who has citizenship and what type of citizenship they hold. Unlike in the provinces, where the Census - the recording of data about people living within the empire - occurs on a continuous basis as censitores (census-takers) in each province go to every corner of the territory over the course of five to six years, in Rome the Census happens from January to the start of April exactly every five years. The censores situate themselves in forty rooms of the Saepta Julia on the Campus Martius, talking to every male citizen in the city of Rome, getting the information required of the Census. In this way, they spend about 5 minutes with each person, while a scribe records the responses of the citizen about himself, his wife, and children. Unmarried and independent women are required to attend the Census as men do, something viewed as dishonorable rather than a privilege. Every man in the city knows the procedure for the Census, permitting a certain degree of expediency that would be otherwise impossible for this process (going something like Nomina? answer Aetas? answer, and so on).

Over the course of April, this data is tabulated by apparitores for review by the senior censores, with the assistance of the junior censores. Any gaps are filled by directly calling the citizen to the Basilica Concordiae in the Roman Forum. By July, the data is usually in order, in time for the annual elections. For the next five years, archivists under the Praefectus Tabularius, who is appointed by the Comitia Censoria from senators, compare this data with earlier Census records to determine who has moved away from Rome and to confirm the deaths and births from hospital or funeral records.

Concilium Civium

Some magistrates work outside the Senate and have no direct roles in the judiciary or finances. Most such senators had additional duties with the emperor - serving as advisors on his personal council. This Concilium Civium (Council of Citizens) did not formally meet as an assembly but its members were required to regularly visit the emperor with reports on their domain and they had to be constantly available to advise him on relevant matters of state. At this time, membership in the CC is large enough that only a list can adequately present the combined scope of their domains:

  1. Proprinceps: assistant to the emperor that is elected by the Senate and who can execute commands with imperial authority.
  2. Praetor Urbanus: representative of the emperor in the Senate and supervising magistrate of the other praetores curules.
  3. Magister Correctores: overseer of provincial governors and of the correct employment of Roman Law in the provinces.
  4. Magister Militum: overseer of the supply chain to all military outposts and caretaker of military records.
  5. Magister Officium: chief of staff for the Senate and palace, coordinating the activities of all civil servants in the capital.
  6. Magister Archiatorum: overseer of the health care system and advisor of national policies in hospitals.
  7. Magister Memoriae: overseer of propaganda and organizer of the communications and public appearances of the emperor.
  8. Praefectus Argentarius: overseer of the central bank in Rome and caretaker of local financial records.
  9. Praefectus Tabularius: caretaker of the archives for census data, political records, and major events.
  10. Praefectus Annonae: overseer of grain dole throughout the empire, often coordinates with the aediles.
  11. Praefectus Itinerarius: overseer of public transportation over land as well as sea and caretaker of the archive for maps.
  12. Praefectus Regulae Urbanae: overseer of compliance with urban regulations by cities throughout the empire and caretaker of the public records on civil problems in major cities.


In practice, the Roman Empire is a vast collection of cities unified through fidelity to a dominant military leader and the idea of Rome as a symbol of Western civilization. This reality is reflected in the different economic, legal, and even political environments into which the empire is vaguely divided. However, speaking in economic terms, the capital may be considered the ideal that other cities and towns approach to varying degrees depending on their respective extents of Romanization.


Wherever there is a city, farmers must do business with craftsmen to exchange agricultural surplus for manufactured goods. A modern farm cannot operate without the services of ironsmiths, potters, carpenters, tanners, and certain other artisans. Similarly, a resident of any settlement cannot survive without the foodstuffs sold by farmers, fishermen, shepherds, and other laborers. Commerce between urban and rural workers allows for cities just as commerce between cities allows for an empire.

Roman farmers alternate planting and fallowing each field, depending on its stage in a two-field rotation of crops. Wheat, oats, rice, millets, and barley are the primary cereal grains in the empire, where each crop is suited to specific regional climates. Recently, the imported sugarcane has become a popular crop in Egypt and Nubia, although some aristocratic landowners have caught onto the trend on their Italian and African estates. Sugar from the stalks of this grass is becoming a popular food additive for the nobility, in a manner similar to the addition of honey to give more flavor to a meal.

A wealthy landowner typically runs a latifundium, a commercial farm spread over more than 350 acres. Agricultural slaves work this land for their masters but still follow typical Roman agricultural practices. In Italy, most harvests follow the same pattern. Fields are furrowed with mouldboard plows drawn by horses. All horse-drawn implements employ the now ubiquitous horse collar for getting pulled by this vastly more efficient beast of burden. The same horses are driven at the head of a mechanical reaper, a complicated machine derived from earlier Gallic reapers, to harvest the ears of a crop without the straw. Between planting and reaping, farmers in Italy water their fields using irrigation channels fed both by the local system of aqueducts, through roadside ceramic pipes, and by local wells on their properties. A smaller farm receives little water from aqueducts on a monthly basis so most of its water comes from wells. However, nearly all modern farms store their water in reservoirs high above the ground, allowing the easy irrigation of fields when desired. Citizen farmers are subject to regulations forcing them to wash out their land before allowing a field to go fallow for a season, since this process is supposed to cleanse the soil.

Other tasks are performed by hand using cast iron tools. Farm implements were more expensive before the spread of iron casting but modern farmers only required a handful of different hand tools on a regular basis (e.g. shovels, pails, scythes, flails), only some of which require metallic components.

Massive estates procure tools and repairs through contracts with blacksmiths and machinists in nearby towns. Other farmers must get these services themselves when they visit cities or towns on the regular market days. Harvested crops are either transported to towns or stored below ground in granaries, after spending time in winnowing barns to remove the chaff. Altogether, a typical wheat farm attains a crop yield better than 15:1 at an average sowing rate of around seven modii of grain per iugerum (76 kg/acre). By implication, an average acre of Italian farmland growing wheat has an output of around 750 kg of grain.

Despite the local efficiency of Italian farms, a lot of grain for the capital comes from the province of Africa Proconsularis, which tends to annually produce over 2.2 billion kg of cereals and exports nearly half of this to the rest of the empire. Similarly, Egypt exports 230 million modii (~1.6 billion kg) of grain over a typical year. These large quantities characterize the specialization of provinces at this point in time, when Egypt and Africa Proconsularis serve as major sources of grain for coastal provinces. These nationwide economies of scale drastically increase supplies and reduce prices for food in cities, allowing larger urban populations.

Through taxation, the Senate gets about 900 million kg of grain for disseminating through a free grain dole to the urban poor. At 300 kg per person, around 200,000 citizens in the capital, 1 million citizens elsewhere in Italy, 800,000 citizens in Egypt, 200,000 citizens in Syria, and 300,000 citizens in Greece are supported entirely by this form of state welfare. The rest of the grain is shipped to the frontiers as part of the salaries of legionaries and auxiliaries.


Only three-quarters of the free population participates in the agricultural industry of the Roman Empire, leaving a substantial portion of Roman citizens for other industries. After farming, the next most common professions are related to processing foodstuffs. In Italy, millers are common but the efficiency of their watermills allows there to be relatively few. In the city of Rome, water from aqueducts not only sustains the populace but also powers over a thousand machines for local craftsmen. In particular, the city has nearly five hundred watermills, together grinding nearly 380 tonnes of flour every day.

Italy is currently transitioning into a proto-industrial economy founded on mechanical hydropower. A century ago, the invention of an efficient turbine that could be driven by water flow from an aqueduct opened the door for water-powered machinery inside cities. Before this time, mining and forestry benefitted immensely from stamp mills, trip hammers, and sawmills wherever rivers were available to power the machinery. Today, hydropower can reach wherever aqueducts go, allowing for the invention of fulling mills and the powering of bellows for smiths, lathes for carpenters, and miniature trip hammers for various other urban professions, who have access to water from aqueducts in their respective cities.

In the early 6th century, the sudden efficiency of some industries in the capital temporarily created a large class of unemployed men, whose labor was no longer needed. This crisis only lasted a few decades before naturally correcting itself through emigration to the frontierlands of Germany. At the time, some starvation was avoided by redirecting more of the available grain dole to Rome. Now, cities have settled into a new equilibrium, with a slower and self-managing rate of new structural unemployment. This process of replacing manual labor with machines characterizes the present Roman economy, creating a new type of craftsman for repairing and assembling complicated machinery - the machinator (machinist). These artisans apprentice in the tradition of Roman geometers and emerged out of architect guilds working in coordination with carpenters and blacksmiths.

Trade Guilds

With nationwide communication and trade, some collegia (guilds) have managed to grow immensely in influence, principally through the unification of guilds from different cities into nationwide intercity guilds. These institutions set minimum prices to prevent craftsmen from undercutting one another through price wars and negotiate business between their craftsmen and the craftsmen of other guilds. Guilds with an influence in multiple port cities tend to advertise supplies of goods available at other ports to help merchants know where the supplies are low and where a new stock may be ready for shipping elsewhere. Cheap communication through the cursus vehicularis has been the driving force behind the spreading influence of intercity guilds, along with the relative safety of traveling by road or by ship within the empire.

The manner in which larger guilds operate differs from the practices of small guilds. The support offered by a guild to members manifests more as a means for guilds to employ workers, by offering benefits in exchange for a share of profits. Since a guild does not provide wages, even to its administrative members, cuts from their members are pure profit that gets saved for taking care of veteran members when they are unable to work, greasing the wheels of business, funding large scale developments, or collaboration with natural philosophers (a transaction largely unique to the metallurgical industry), and even being charitable to their communities. Guild profits have been a driving force for industrialization and for the discovery of new mechanical technologies.

In general, management of a city guild happens through committees of members who take time out of work to discuss business with others of the same trade and to resolve conflicts of interest. Usually, guilds emerge out of the co-operative efforts of workers or merchants in the same city, once they agree to solidify their relationship through a legal association (solidaris). In Rome, most guilds were beholden to a wealthy patron and were tools for that patron to influence the voting of citizens, perhaps allowing him to take bribes from patricians to support their candidacy in an election. An intercity guild tends to be managed by the correspondence of members in one city who volunteer their time to exchange information with associated sub-guilds in other cities. Collegial funds are stored separately by each branch of the guild, since money deposited in one bank cannot be withdrawn in another bank without going through the process of convincing the first bank to give the money to the second. The collegium epistolarum (college of letters) that emerges from hundreds of these intercity guilds corresponding about their own trades has given the empire a rapid flow of information on new techniques, new ideas, and available business in other cities.

Perhaps the largest present guild is the Collegia Stena (Stena Guild). Among its services, this guild: employs merchants for transporting metal ingots throughout the empire, supports thousands of smithies across Central Europe, funds research by the Lyceum (the foremost philosophical school for Aristotelians and, therefore, for geologists), and finances prospecting for miners, especially for immigrants to the German colonies. Unlike other guilds, the Stena Guild is centrally managed by administrators that receive a share of the money paid by members to the guild for the benefits they receive from membership.

Much of the credit for the economies of scale of the Roman economy and the efficient commerce between different suppliers and distributors can be attributed to the sophisticated networks of guilds spread across the empire.


Another powerful guild is the Collegia Argentarium (Bankers' Guild) on the island of Melita (Malta). With its own senate and relations with banks from Lusitania (Portugal) to Syria, this guild acts as the governing body for a disconnected national finance industry. The guild halls and senate house on the little Mediterranean island are a place for hundreds of bankers to mingle. Using the national postal service, the guild constantly disseminates news to banks across the major cities, turning city banks into the most useful places for getting direct news from the other side of the empire.

A Roman banca (bank) can serve a wide range of financial purposes for its clients:

  • money lending, where the bank provides a sum of coins to a client on a contract to repay the loan after a period of time.
  • money changing, where the bank exchanges one type of coins for equally valued coins from a client.
  • assaying, where the bank confirms the validity of coins using its weights and other measures.
  • depositing, where the bank stores a sum of coins for a client on a contract to return any fraction when the client desires.
  • mediating, where the bank handles a transaction between two clients without money changing hands.
  • collecting, where the bank receives a sum of coins from all the local citizens specified by contract with the state as the amount that citizen owes for taxes, before paying this exact sum to the state.

In addition to the regular services, banks also act as a meeting places for merchants, a medium for the payment of legionaries by the state, and a storehouse for local financial records.

For these services, every bank has a numerarius (accountant), who manages the accounts of clients and keeps track of funds, an avocatus (legal advocate), who authorizes contracts and advises on legal disputes, and an argentarius (banker), who sees clients in person to arrange services. Larger banks have more than one of each type of professional. Also, every bank has a number of security guards (vigiles) from the local town guards.

After their development in the 3rd century, banks have evolved into the most common multi-purpose institutions for finance. In principle, banks are legally permitted to charge interest on loans. However, Roman law prohibits Christians from usury, implying any unproductive multiplication of wealth, so most banks have circumvented the law by hiring non-Christians - primarily Jews - as bankers. Otherwise, a bank can still earn a profit by investing in commercial endeavors such as trade ventures and resource exploitation. In fact, the regulations on charging interest for loans, combined with the way guilds use their profits, has motivated a high level of investment in the Roman Empire, creating a noticeable culture of entrepeneurship and exploration for geologists, miners, cartographers, maritime traders, and machinists.


Roman currrency has evolved little over the last five centuries since the reign of Augustus, despite fluctuations in value over time. On the whole, the most common unit of currency used by the state is the silver denarius, a coin worth 20 bronze ases which are the common currency for the common people. All coins are minted in Rome by professional moneyers using screw presses, a device similar to the wine press invented during the 2nd century CE.

Enough coins are minted on a regular basis that the Roman Empire has one of the most extensive monetary economies in the known world. A majority of commercial transactions take place using currency and over a third of the population pays its taxes in coin rather than in kind. Everyone employed by the state is paid in coins but the Senate has long used a more thorough means of disseminating newly-minted coins. Licensed banks have deals with the Senate to ship old coins back to Rome to be melted down for the minting of new coins, keeping a fresh circulation of coins on an average cycle of around a decade. The magnitude of this operation is quite extensive but the process evolved steadily which allowed for measures to be adopted to mitigate abuse or waste.

Silver and gold coins minted in Rome are recognized around the world as a trustworthy currency. Obviously Roman coins will be accepted anywhere that silver and gold has value but the currency itself is known for its high purity and consistency. Goldsmiths for the Senate come from an old and refined tradition while senatorial mints are precise and reliable machines. The result is a production of coins that closely resemble one another in both composition and shape.


After centuries of trade, the provinces of Rome have partially transitioned away from producing goods which other provinces can produce more efficiently and shifted production to goods which they produce more efficiently. Among these specialized economies of scale, the types that produce agricultural goods are the most commonplace. Aegyptus and Africa Proconsularis grow wheat for a number of Mediterranean provinces while Italia and Tarraconensis (Eastern Spain) produce most of their olive oil and wine. Spain and Germania Superior (Upper Germany) supply disproportionate quantities of the milk and meat for Italy, Gallia (France & Britain), and Illyria (Western Balkans). Nevertheless, most provinces locally procur the majority of their own food.

There are a handful of provinces that each specialize in mining and processing a variety of metal ores. Hispania (Spain & Portugal) is the largest source for gold, silverlead, and tinBritannia trades large quantities of ironleadcopper, and tin; Gallia provides a great deal of ironbrass, and copper; and Bithynia (Northern Turkey) supplies silver and iron. Conversely, Cyprus specializes in procuring copperDacia (Eastern Balkans) and Noricum (Austria) are the greatest suppliers of iron, and Sicilia is renowned for trading in lead. The provinces of Germania Inferior (Lower Germany), Gothica (West Poland), and Upper Germany are not major producers of materials but their metal exports are cheaper than other sources of ingots.

Other industrial materials are shipped primarily from specific provinces. Coal arrives along the Atlantic coast in vast quantities from Britannia but also comes from local sources in most provinces. Petroleum almost entirely originates in Dacia and Mesopotamia, where oil fields are readily accessible. Lumber once needed to be shipped from Asia Minor and Gallia but Germany has slowly overtaken them as the primary distributor of wood. Scarcity of some of these resources in specific locations, especially the regions of Italy and Greece, have strongly encouraged the development of these large scale forms of specialized commerce.


Roman society places a heavy emphasis on laws and the abiding of laws. Through the promulgation of the Corpis Juris Civilis in the 6th century, Roman law became a consistent system of civil law written explicitly down in statutes (leges), a transition in the focus of law from the earlier reliance on legal customs (mores). The codification of old laws is present in the Codex Ulpianus of the corpus while a number of statutes setting government procedure were promulgated as Novella Constitutiones (New Edicts). After the corpus, the legislation of new laws has been the duty of assemblies alone. On the scale of the empire, either the Senate or a Comitia Centuriata can legitimize a new statute while on the municipal scale, this is solely the duty of a city senate. However, a praetor provincialis has the authority to establish temporary laws for the duration of his term, as an expedient measure. Often, this procedure is only a temporary patch before city senates under his jurisdiction or the Senate itself passes a law to deal with the situation that prompted the praetor to create temporary legislation.

Citizens and non-citizens are subject to different sets of laws. In general, Rome continues to allow its non-citizens the autonomy to govern themselves according to their own laws and legal systems, except in their interactions with Roman citizens. These situations are under the jurisdiction of the praetor provincialis of the relevant province and operate under procedures that are viewed by legal philosophers as more generally applicable to all human beings - the jus gentium (law of nations) as opposed to the jus civile (civil law) which solely pertains to Roman citizens. Nothing of the law of nations exists as statutes. However, the governors and magistrates in the provinces tend to exert their influence upon the judicial officials of other nations within the empire and they use this influence to unofficially and often unintentionally mold local laws in the image of Roman law.


Roman philosophers and jurists hold specific views on the nature of law that are encouraged by the state. The law of nations is regarded as an aspect of jus naturale (natural law), as the product of the natural reason written into the mind of every human being by God. Although certain situations may pertain in nature, natural reason is seen as showing that sometimes they should be otherwise. A popular example is that every human being is naturally free (liberus) but becomes the property of another through war. In general, war and diplomacy are viewed as subject to the law of nations and as a result, rightly involve specific procedures.

Where the law of nations governs all of mankind, specific groups of people follow their respective laws which normally have no bearing on people outside that particular group. Such laws constitute the civil law of that specific society or state. Romans consider the purpose of civil law to be maintaining the stability of a people, in the face of the differing interests of each member. For this reason, everyone within the Imperium of Rome must comply with Roman law in his dealings with Romans, since his nation is part of a larger whole whose stability requires the compliance of all of its parts.


Some authors have described the role of the Senate as consisting of five public things: the collection of taxes, the fielding of an army, the enforcement of laws, the provision of medicine, and the performance of the census. In the empire, the Census is the national process of estimating the status of the empire, from a survey of the populace. One of the core functions of the census is to assign a tax to each person within the limites (frontiers), except some Germans and Celts who pay taxes as one tribe. At the present, the Senate is capable of performing a census that personally approaches nearly every household in the empire over the course of five years, by employing ~760 censitores (census-takers) for the purpose.

Aside from more accurate taxes, the census permits a more precise application of urban regulations, an efficient provision of public transportation, and an easier management of trade routes. In 559, Caesar Fabius had a large committee compile the data from the latest census to produce demographic maps of the empire, representing the geographic spread of citizens, wealth, slaves, and specialists such as doctors and bankers. Although outdated, these maps have only grown in their influence on the Senate. Some senators consider these maps one of the greatest achievement of the empire, providing the government with the most detailed perspective on its dominion as it has ever had in its long history.

Performing the census requires an impressive logistical operation to procure information on everyone in the empire. Deploying the number of censitores needed to gather the information from people is one challenge but this only requires time and people, of which Rome is in no short supply, even when those people need salaries. Paying 400,000 soldiers is several orders of magnitude more expensive than fielding a thousand scribes who are trained to ask questions. The primary challenge of the census is getting enough writing material to record all of the information. Literally millions of pieces of parchment, papyri scrolls, and wax tablets are devoted to each census. The cost of material is not high but the supply has struggled to meet the demand, especially in the early days of the Agricolan Census, when the scope of the census took its greatest leap forward.

Urban laws

During the 4th century, a crisis in Italy and the efforts of the state to resolve this crisis led to the formation of strict laws to govern the activities of citizens living in large settlements. While many of these laws regulated urban immigration and building permits, a major development was the introduction of a grading system for settlements. Alterations to the standards and rules have been made over the last two centuries but they follow the same structure as the original system established by Caesar Faustilon.

On the whole, the Senate recognizes three classes of settlements: a pagus (canton) is a village whose residents are all peregrini who are not included in the census, a colonia (colony) is a planned settlement only for citizens, and an oppidum (town) is any settlement that cannot be classified as a colony or a canton. Towns and most colonies are regulated by the same grading system. The exceptions are the coloniae moeniae (fortified colonies) which are built at their full size within the span of a few years for the purpose of settling veteran legionaries, alongside citizens whose immigration is subsidized to fill out businesses in the colony.

Other colonies are coloniae probatae (honored colonies). While all construction in an honored colony is planned, it happens gradually over time rather than as a single project. Although fortified colonies are rarely built for more than 10,000 residents, an honored colony has no limit on its size and grows according to the grading system for oppida.

The lowest grade of settlement is a vicus (village). Once the population of a village exceeds 8,000, its people have ten years to build a forum and amphitheater, clean the streets, and elect a governing council (curia). After the deadline, village residents would incur additional taxes unless their town met the standards for a settlement of its size. In this case, the village is upgraded to the status of municipium. Every city senate must keep in contact with the Senate in Rome, through the national postal service, to warn the capital of unrest or keep it appraised of the situation across the empire. In general, a collection of houses was not defined as a settlement unless it included a distinct marketplace, was home to over a hundred people, and connected to the public highways by a navigable road.

After growing beyond 25,000 people, a municipium was obliged to procure the service of an aqueduct that could supply as much as two amphorae (13.8 gallons) of water per day for each of its inhabitants. Beyond 80,000 people, a municipium had a decade to add drainage to its roads; to possess a public hospital, a licensed bank, a public bath, a post office, a census office, a guard barracks, a public fountain, and a public stable with a capacity of at least seven dozen horses; to enlarge its main forum; to institute a fire service; and to have more than four amphorae (27.6 gallons) of water available daily to every resident. If the town passes these requirements by the deadline, then it is granted the status of urbs (city) and its city senate receives a yearly stipend of 1 Dn per resident which stacks with an additional 2 Dn per citizen. These funds could be spent at the discretion of the senate but were expected to be used to retain the status of urbs and to pay the salary for a military garrison of one auxiliary guard for every 1,000 residents of the city.

Those few cities that are home to more than 280,000 people can become a magnum urbs (great city) and join the ranks of the greatest cities in the world. Alongside requirements of infrastructure, an urbs needs to possess a public monument that meets the expectations of the senatorial committee that is sent to judge its urban development. More than a mere statue, such a monument could not be on private land and had to somehow benefit the empire. Of course, this standard is loose enough that the Parthenon qualified for Athens and the Great Library qualified for Pergamum. A monument, in this sense, is intended as an object of pride for residents of the city and a symbol of the great city to the rest of the empire. The emperor who implemented this requirement considered such symbols as a means toward fostering a more global identity for citizens of Rome, in the sense that every citizen would know something about distant places in the Roman Empire.

Rome itself has the unique grade of caput mundi (capital of the world), as a means of distinguishing the city from other types of settlements subject to urban regulations. In this capacity, Rome has been under specific regulations for the last two centuries but still has a place within the incremental grading system of the urban laws. Perhaps the most peculiar feature of this status and the point of codifying it into law is that it creates a legal framework in which Rome is owed special treatment as a city among cities, ensuring that the privileges of Rome are encouraged as long as Roman law remains an object of public respect.


Fundamental to the economic and political stability of the Imperium is the presence of a professional army of loyal volunteers. Citizen and non-citizen residents of cities desire the continued rule of Rome and many willingly give their lives for this assurance. The core of these armed forces is the Roman Legion - a standing army of citizens who are trained and armed by the state.

Essential to the operations of the Legion are its legionaries. Each one is a heavily-armored and highly-trained citizen of Rome who fights with a gladius (short sword), scutum (heavy rectangular shield), pilum (javelin), and pugio (dagger). A citizen who volunteers must undergo two years of training before joining the ranks of one of the 28 legions. His military service lasts a further eighteen years after his training but once his term of service ends, a legionary receives a praemia in the amount of 5000 Dn [~$175,000 US]. The lowest ranked legionary is paid an annual wage of 365 Dn, including the meals he is provided. Legionaries arrange with military accountants how their salary will be dispensed. Most send some of their salary into a bank of their choice and ask that some is given during their term of service. Many legions spend the majority of their time in towns and cities, giving their men some downtime for personal recreation.


A camp of ten legionaries is a contubernium and a division consisting of eight camps is a centuria. There are eight centuriae in every cohort, the primary separable unit (manipulus) of the standing army. An army with ten cohortes constitutes a single legion. In other words, there is a total of 6,400 legionaries in every legion, discounting commanding officers above the rank of decanus. An officer's wages increase in large increments with rank, going as high as the 44,000 Dn received by the commander of a legion.

Among the milites (soldiers), there is a semi-formal system of rank that determines the battle order and camp duties of troops. A munifex is a recruit fresh from his two years of basic training, before he may begin specialized training after his fifth year as a soldier. Specialized training happens during the service period of a soldier and involves an apprenticeship of sorts under veteran soldiers to assist in subsidiary tasks within the legion - e.g. medical assistance, artillery support, military engineering, hunting, drill instruction. After beginning such training, a munifex may earn the distinction of discens from his centurion. When he is recognized for his expertise in some specialized task, he is distinguished from other legionaries as an immunis (specialist). These legionaries are no higher on the command hierarchy than their peers but receive exemption from more arduous tasks to allow them to focus their time on their specialized duties.

One of the chief privileges of an immunis is that he is stationed in the rear line of his century during battle. An almost universal tactic of the Legion has long been to alternate the front line over the course of a battle, giving soldiers time to regain their stamina. Other armies must completely disengage from combat to get this type of rest, leaving them vulnerable to a continuous push from a Roman legion. An immunis of the foremost centuries in an open battle usually does not join the fighting until the third or fourth minute, when the front of the enemy has started to tire from constant combat.

Centuriones are commanding officers who are higher in rank than even the most prestigious immunis. Every cohort has eight of its own centuries, each led by a centurion distinguished by a color (where gold denotes the primus pilus or highest ranking centurion of the cohort). In battle, the duty of a centurion is to watch his commander and relate orders to his legionaries with his voice. The commanding officer of centurions is the signiferius, the highest ranking position that serves close to the front lines. True to his name, this officer has the honor of bearing the cloth standard (vexillum) of the cohort under his command, serving as a tool for him to visually issue commands to his centurions and as a designator of the location of his cohort on the battlefield. Cohorts are highly personalized by agreement of their officers, distinguished both in the appearances of their standards and in their names.

The chain of command of a legion in battle is highly sophisticated, relying on a system of visual and auditory signals designed to overlap as little as possible. Legionaries standing closest to a centurion know to repeat his commands in unison, conveying orders throughout the entire century (soldiers on the front line are not expected to take part in this signalling). The highest ranking among the signiferii in a legion is the aquilifer, whose task is to issue legion-wide orders to the other signiferii (avoiding the logistical trouble of a general sending messengers to every signiferius in his legion when he needs everyone to issue the same command). Combined with the years of training of an officer, this system allows for a small library of commands to be delivered to all of the individuals in a legion within a matter of seconds and creates a unique rhythm of battle within a legion.

Lowest of the commanding officers is the decanus, a rank that loses all distinction in battle. His job is to keep the men of his contubernium organized when establishing a camp, by relaying directions for where to lay a tent and instructing each man in the placement of his sudes (stakes). The independence and self-sufficiency of legionaries is one of their essential advantages in warfare and the decanus is a key component of the level of organization required for this operational self-sufficiency.

High Command

After the Draconian reforms, a strict hierarchy has been enforced for the upper echelons of leadership of the Legion. Each legion has its dux (pl. duces) to represent it during the planning phase of any maneuver. These general commanding officers are typically placed above the men of their legion, by enforcing regular salutes and by sleeping in separate quarters within a camp. Dux is the lowest rank to confer the privilege of declining to carry one's own equipment. Nearly all duces would have graduated straight into the rank of signiferius from the Academia Bellica (War Academy), since unschooled soldiers are seen as unfit for any strategic level of command. Nevertheless, history records a few rare examples of stellar military careers where a soldier rose from a recruit in the Legion up to the rank of general or even legate.

Graduates of the War Academy in Carthage partake in a different form of military service than other citizens. They serve in five year periods, each of which can be terminated with retirement from the Legion. This variety of service is considered one of the two main starting points for a political career (cursus honorum) in the Senate. A wealthy citizen could send a son to the Academy as early as the age of 18, where he would learn general military strategy and the tactics that are effective in specific circumstances, especially in the context of which enemies of Rome are suited to different maneuvers. Students also learn the signals in use by officers, providing an intimate acquaintance with military procedures if they join the Legion after their third year.

In principle, nobody can rise higher than dux merely through service in the army, although certain exceptions punctuate history. The high office of legatus augustus or simply legatus, where the context is understood, is both a military and a political rank. For this reason, most legati are senators who had already served for a time as duces. There is no minimum position in the Senate required for appointment as legatus by the emperor but it is considered prudent to choose senators of praetorian rank. Like any other military rank, the titles and authority of legatus are conferred by its superior officer, in this case either the emperor or the supreme commander.

The supreme commander of the Roman Legion is the Dux Generalissimus, literally the most general commander of the Legion. Unlike other ranks, Generalissimus is an extraordinary office, meaning an appointment is only made under certain circumstances. There is no peacetime supreme commander, except the emperor, and most minor conflicts do not require a single general, since a council of legati and duces can handle the strategic command. However, sometimes a single authority is needed to hasten decisions and centralize the formulation of strategies. A Generalissimus adequately serves these dual functions.


Despite being the essential feature of the Legion, legionaries and their officers constitute only about three-quarters of its soldiers. The rest perform less direct roles in combat but are arguably more responsible for the unparalleled strength of the Roman Legion. Among these additional roles, the sagittarius (archer) should be mentioned first as the most directly similar to the role of legionary. Archers in the Legion are heavily armored, except around the limbs, since durability is viewed as more important than mobility. Their bows are a double-recurve composite shortbow, replacing the arcus ligneis (longbow) popularized during the 2nd to 3rd centuries. A sagittarius is a less prestigious and lower wage position in the Legion but involves twice the training and less time in service, in addition to carrying a famously low probability of injury or death compared with infantry duty.

A more personal role than sagittarius is that of cataphractus (heavy cavalry), descending from the tradition of Roman cavalry and the heavy horsemen of Sasanian Persia. Covered in scale armor instead of the laminar armor of legionaries and archers, riders are the most heavily armored soldiers in any European army, wearing a mail hauberk underneath their scales. Their horses wear less armor but are protected by laminated plates around the chest and sides of the head. Most cataphracts are part of a middle class, distinguished by ownership of urban property and their own stable of horses. A personal mount is riden by each cataphract outside battle, with their war horse walking alongside them on a march. Personal horses are lighter mounts without the scale layer of armor, effectively turning their rider into light cavalry. When travelling, generals usually send their cataphracts in this manner to scout around the marching column, allowing one rider to serve dual roles as both heavy and scout cavalry.

Almost as famous as the legionary is the ballistarius (artilleryman) of the Roman Legion. Following the Greeks, Rome has nurtured an elaborate collection of artillery pieces (ballistae) for supporting its infantry. The present emperor founded a school dedicated to the training of artillerymen and the study of weapons and armor, particularly of machinery for artillery. Home to the foremost geometers, architects, and machinists in the empire, this Technaeum Armarum et Armaturae (Technical School for Arms and Armor) has been the source of most advancements in military technology for the last twenty years, including the improved composite bow of sagittarii and the latest versions of standard Roman artillery. Libratores (gunners) for artillery pieces are drawn from the usual sources of legionary recruits, as their role requires minimal knowledge of machinery.

Among the artillery pieces of Rome, the most formidable is the polybolos - a mounted semi-automatic crossbow driven by a winch. The type of polybolos used in the Legion is transported on a horse-drawn cart but must be mounted on the ground before use. Once in action, the turret requires two operators to maintain a consistent firing rate of 11 shots per minute as long as ammunition remains. Despite its high rate of fire, a polybolos tends to kill or incapacitate with a single blow, making a battery of polyboloi one of the most effective countermeasures to light infantry and cavalry - to which the failed invasion of the Huns stands as testament.

Other than polyboloi, the Legion fields a regular number of manuballistae - a handheld long-range crossbow - and carroballistae - a mounted crossbow fired from a moving wagon. The former serves the role of picking out targets within an enemy formation from a distance while the latter provides highly-mobile artillery support on a chaotic battlefield. Since the manuballista is handheld, its users operate alongside archers, filling the position that most advanced armies (e.g. China and Persia) allocate to regular crossbows. 

As for numbers, every legion has an identical quantity of each of the above type of soldier. In a legion, there are 400 kataphracti, 1,600 sagittarii, 40 polyboloi, 120 manuballistae, and 10 carroballistae. Another 80 artillerymen serve in every legion to assist in mounting artillery, reloading complicated artillery, building then operating siege artillery such as onagers and heavy ballistae, and guiding the construction of fortifications for a temporary legionary encampment. Many ballistarii have graduated from the Technaeum and possess several years of technical expertise to draw upon during their military service. Otherwise, a ballistarius is a former immunis who has been promoted to serve in the artillery corps of his legion.


For additional support, a legion fields civilians to fill roles which do not partake in battle, mostly to support the baggage train that is firmly integrated into a marching legion. For his part, each legionary and subsidiary unit carries a sarcina (marching pack) containing 14 days of rations, a cooking pot, a tin bowl, a waterskin for posca, a folding shovel, a hatchet, stakes, replacement parts for armor, a cloak, tent pegs, ~29 feet of rope, and a whetstone. Other equipment such as tent sheets, pickaxes, and baskets are shared between legionaries in a contubernium so that each man gets some days of rest from the extra weight.

The most specialized support available to a legion are its field surgeons. Complementing their training at a surgical academy with the typical physical training of a legionary, field surgeons in the Legion carry a portable array of standard surgical tools, alongside a large sack of soaps, and a bag of medicinae (medicines) from herbs to opium. A military surgeon effectively carries an entire hospital on his person, allowing him to treat the kind of wounds and sicknesses that could be expected in war. Every centuria is assigned its own surgeon but, in practice, all of the surgeons in a legion establish a single tent for the mass treatment of the sick and the wounded, giving an encamped legion access to a rudimentary field hospital.

Larger tents such as the medical tent and general's tent are carried on wagons driven by legionaries on a rotation. As with the large marching packs, this practice reflects the custom of delegating tasks to soldiers rather than employing more camp servants, to minimize numbers on a campaign. Nevertheless, a legion has two camp servants for every centuria and an additional five serving the general himself. Their jobs outside of battle include the most menial or labor intensive work required by an encamped army, usually fetching people or water and delivering letters between officers or to a military courier, who campaigns with the legion to relay messages from outside the empire to the national postal service. In combat, a servant has the important task of refilling the missile stocks of the archers and gunners (at a ratio of one servant for every ~13 archers).

Aside from surgeons, couriers, and servants, a single cohort brings on a march its own blacksmith, for repairing damage to armor and weapons, and cartographer, for orienting the legion using local and global maps. As for animals, a legion has 400 war horses and 400 other horses for its cataphracts alongside another war horse for the general. Lighter horses pull wagons of special supplies that cannot be carried by one man, no matter how strong. Since most supplies can be carried by legionaries, a cohort brings only a small number of wagons, avoiding loss of mobility. The most important wagon is the brick kiln that legionaries use to set bricks for an encampment and that the blacksmith uses for heating metal during repairs. Anything pulled alongside a legion is drawn along by medium-weight horses, an expensive but more effective mode of transportation compared with mules or oxen.


Formerly as much a standing army as the Legion, the Auxilia has devolved into a category for stationary defenders of the empire. Unlike legionaries, auxiliary soldiers are not necessarily citizens and require less extensive training before accepting arms in defense of Rome. However, this deficiency does not mean they are always unskilled. About a third of auxiliaries are members of the Municipis, the town guard of every settlement above a population of 80,000 people. Nearly a quarter of men who join the Municipis are retired legionaries, using their one skill to earn a living after their legionary service ends. Men who join without prior military experience undergo a month of training before going onto the streets as guardsmen.

The larger fraction of the auxiliaries are the Limitanis, the border guard for the frontiers of the empire. These soldiers are non-citizens or citizens from the province whose border they defend. Unlike their brothers in cities, recruits of the Limitanis receive a year of training before getting left to their own devices. People who enlist do not serve terms like legionaries but continue to work until they quit or until the age of 50, when they are forced to retire, often to find work as a town guard in a city somewhere in the empire. Soldiers in the Limitanis are more similar to legionaries than to town guards. A large portion of them are trained specifically in artillery or ranged weapons, since they are expected to fight from fortifications, while the rest are trained for the short-range reconnaissance and melee combat required to effectively patrol the frontiers of the empire.

There are around 240,000 auxiliaries working at any given time but their numbers vary daily since there is no set term limit or number of regiments as in the Legion. Despite its limitations, the Auxilia is an effective tool for lightening the load on the Legion and giving a stronger facade to the enemies of Rome, both within and without its national borders.


Although the Classis Romanis (Roman Fleet) once served as only a branch of the Legion, the Caesar Scipio II established a more independent navy as an arm of the Senate, similar to the Legion serving at the pleasure of the emperor. Control over the navy is extended through the appointment of each procurator navalis, a commander of a grecis (high fleet), by the Senate and through the election of the Procurator Admirabillis, the supreme commander of the empire's naval forces. These offices are similar to legates in only being available to senators who have military service under their belts. The five high fleets of Rome are the Grecis Euxinus, Grecis RubricanisGrecis BritannicusGrecis Occidentalis, and Grecis Orientalis.

A high fleet consists of several fleets (classes) commanded by a dux classiarius. Most fleets are named after their primary task and do not feature the full variety of ships employed by the empire. For example, the classis annona africana secures grain shipments in the Mare Internum (Mediterranean Sea) from the scarce few pirates there and only has a few dozen light galleys (cursores) that spend most of their time transporting grain to supply Italy. Conversely, the classis aegyptus augustus is the core military arm of the Red Sea Fleet, defending the coasts of Egypt and Nubia with liburnae, quinqueremes, and decaremes.


Overall, the military strength of the Roman military is difficult to express through mere numbers. The entire armed forces has been incrementally designed throughout its history, with the result of a highly integrated and purposeful military. Furthermore, its foot soldiers are professionals with years of training building physical strength and discipline to match even the finest soldiers in most other armies. For these reasons, the strength of the Legion is greater than the numbers might suggest.

There are 179,200 heavily-armored swordsmen and 44,800 archers in the Legion, supported by 11,200 heavy cavalry that can perform the role of scout cavalry outside of battle. Providing further assistance are 3,360 arbalests and 1,120 anti-infantry guns of the mechanical variety. When necessary, there are ~180,000 light swordsmen in reserves along the borders of the empire and over 30,000 light swordsmen serving as marines on-board ships. These numbers entail a total army of ~420,000 soldiers, albeit spread across a vast territory with borders that stretch across tens of thousands of kilometers.

Philosophy & Technology

By commerce and conquest, Rome inherited the technological and philosophical traditions of the Greeks, Egyptians, Celts, and Persians, alongside some notable discoveries that originated in China. Throughout its history, Rome has succeeded in the gaining and maintaining of its control over Europe and Northern Africa due to its ability to adopt and improve upon foreign ideas. Indeed, some historians consider this trait the defining feature of Roman civilization. However, Romans do not merely assimilate from other cultures. In fact, the stability and opportunity available to people living under Roman rule has led to countless new discoveries and inventions in fields as diverse as medicine, mathematics, and agriculture.

Furthermore, some Roman cities are home to institutions devoted to the study of nature, culture, and the divine. Aristotelian geology and physics are advanced by scholars the Lyceum of Athens and the Academia Faustiana of Byzantium while various medical schools uphold the medical knowledge that Rome owes to Galen. However, the foremost institutions for advancing human knowledge are the Musaeum of Alexandria, for astronomy, mathematics, metaphysics, and theology in all traditions; and the Technaeum of Carthage, for the machinery that drives the war machine of the Roman Empire. Nearly all cities possess a few libraries and the odd philosopher but institutions such as the above are the main sources of innovation.


Possessing the medical knowledge of the Greeks and the Egyptians, Rome had only one equal in medicine before the 2nd century (namely China). Pressured by the Antonine plague, an emperor tasked the physician Galen of Pergamum with studying disease and its causes in the eastern provinces, giving him control of a great library and extensive medical facilities to support his investigations. Over several decades, the library came to house the entire Western canon of medicine and the facilities hosted observations of human nerves, muscles, and arteries in vivo. With all written knowledge in Roman medicine in one spot and with the growing prestige of this institution, the disputes between the various philosophical schools of medicine were soon resolved, uniting the Dogmatic and Empiric schools into a Galenic school of thought. After a century, the entire medical community followed this one tradition: treatments (medicinae) and therapies (regiminae) should be administered on the basis of past success against specific symptoms but a medicus (doctor) should seek the underlying causes of the symptoms in order to inform his understanding of the disease.

Under a unity of doctrine, Galen advanced knowledge of human physiology and improved upon existing surgical techniques. Although Roman chirurgii (surgeons) could be quite skilled, surgery was more a craft than a science, with masters teaching the art to apprentices and justifying its effectiveness with anecdotes as well as a folk understanding of the body. Galen gave a more systematic and grounded explanation of why surgery worked. In general, he created simple models of blood circulationmotor controlventilation, and sight that have seen little modification in the last four centuries. Most of these Galenic models of the body were major leaps forward from the anatomical conceptions of Hippocrates and other earlier Greek physicians.

Regarding infectious diseases, Galen had expanded upon the miasmatic theory of infection and the humor theory of sickness, wherein a miasmatic essence pervaded from certain objects (corpses, swamps, sick people) and upset the balance of humors in the body. His discoveries on hygiene agree with the notion that a nebula (polluted air or μίασμα) emanated from decomposing flesh - i.e. corpses, refuse, or serious wounds - or stagnant water into the air nearby, causing people in already poor health to become ill. He showed that such nebulae often clung to the skin of people exposed to it and further emanated from the sick, spreading its sickening influence by contact with other people. For this reason, wounds needed to be repeatedly cleansed until they healed and the skin should be cleansed after exposure to corpses or wounds. A doctor would usually be fine after exposing himself, since he would be in good health, but his patients were often unhealthy enough that they risked becoming ill from his transfer of pollutants.

While the need for hygiene supports miasmatic theory, the interconnectedness of fluids inside the body brings the theory of the four humors (bloodyellow bileblack bilephlegm) into greater repute. In essence, the Galenic model of the humors takes the traditional position that a miasma could induce an excess or a deficit in the proportions of these fluids and introduces the core notion of bodily temperaments (sanguinecholeric, melancholicphlegmatic) associated with the dominance of a certain humor within a person, ascribing certain psychological and physiological abnormalities with these states.

Although bloodletting and herbs are commonly prescribed to treat imbalances in humors, surgery is needed to fix breaks and tears in the muscles, bones, or skin, and is often useful for directly fixing problems of excess by removing its source. Examples of the latter procedure include the removal of the appendix, pushing back of a hernia, and the draining of excess fluid directly from an organ (as when swelling or ulceration occurs due to a concentration of fluid). The invention of these procedures made Galen a legend for future surgeons. Sadly, his expertise could not be transferred in all ways to his successors and surgeries on the brain and eyes that he performed with unbelievable rates of success remain risky procedures to this day. Nevertheless, he was able to pass on the difficult procedure of removing cataracts from the eyes. Surgical skill has become more widespread over the last three centuries as medicine has become more regulated and more efficient ways of teaching have been implemented.

There have been few additions to available surgical techniques after Galen. The most prominent development was the performing of the first heart surgery in the last ten years, where a surgeon drained fluid around the heart [treating a pericardial effusion]. Attempts have also been made to accomplish the few procedures that Galen tried and failed to perform: transfusion of blood from an animal to a person and repairing a heart after trauma. No surgeon has successfully done either of these procedures.


As Pliny said, "the most noteworthy" accomplishment of Rome was its sewers. Today, an underground sewer system (cloaca) can be found in every major city within the empire, although none is more sophisticated than the Cloaca Bospora of Byzantium. Sewers are the sinks for the great volumes of water that come to every Roman city through its aqueducts, removing water after its use in baths, turbines, latrines, or public fountains (otherwise water is drank, boiled, or poured into gardens). Since tossing water into the streets is illegal within the precincts of an urbs, people regularly visit public latrines (latrinae) to relieve themselves or to dispose of their waste pots used in the home. Byzantium is the only city where the majority of homes have private latrines for the same purpose; in other cities, only the wealthy are privileged to have their own private showers and washrooms where they might avoid the indignity of having slaves fetch water and dispose of piss pots.

Urine from latrines is processed or collected by slaves for municipal authorities sell the result to farmers as fertilizer, to tanners for hair removal, to apothecaries as a teeth whitener, and to regular people as cleaning fluid. Public latrines are one of the major sources of local income for cities, since urine is such an important commodity in Roman society. These facilities have become efficient enough over centuries of gradual advances that the majority of urine can be released into the sewers with the less easily processed human waste.

For personal hygiene, Romans in even the smallest municipia or colonial villages go almost daily to thermae (public baths). Although these facilities range from the water well fed baths of small communities to the colossal Antonine Baths in Rome, they all provided an appropriate venue for men and women to undress, clean themselves, and relax, perhaps with a slave even doing the cleaning for them. Although Gallic sapo (soap) has grown in popularity, most Romans still clean themselves by massaging oils into the skin then scraping off the oil, and the dirt, using strigils. A variety of functions are incorporated into larger baths and are always segregated into separate rooms. For some, the process of bathing can last an hour from undressing in the apodyterium, opening the pores in the hot waters of a caldarium, acclimatizing in the warm tepidarium, and closing the pores in a frigidarium, after which point the bather could relax and dry off before leaving. Due to the arrangements of most baths, a patron would usually bathe in these rooms in the reverse order before restarting from the caldarium. Bathhouses in major cities often have a laconicum (dry room) attached to the caldarium, as a sweating room for bathers. Both the laconicum and the waters of the caldarium may be heated through the floor using a hypocaust (central heater), although such a system is expensive to maintain.

Although mixed bathing between men and women became popular after the 2nd century, the practice was soon dropped under the pressure of Christian moralists, arguing against the depravity of allowing women to bath within view of men. In general, women are more likely to bathe at home, using water from a well or fountain, as most people do outside cities. For this reason, the change back to gender segregated bathing only met mild opposition in places where it became enforced again.

Fueling these facilities is a network of aquaeducti (aqueducts) that covers nearly the entire empire and provides water for over a thousand cities. More than 400 million gallons of water are carried daily by Italian aqueducts alone while the provinces receive a total of ~2 billion gallons from their own aqueducts, a daily rate of about 23 gallons per resident of the empire.

On the whole, Romans are a clean people. Although over-emphasis on personal grooming is considered too "Germanic", Romans see their baths, latrines, and daily rituals for hygiene as markers of how civilized their society has become, since even poor Romans do not live in streets marred by human filth and find the time to regularly clean themselves.


Life in an urbs (city) revolves around public affairs. Every urban citizen, from a homeless pleb to a senator of Rome, lives most of his life in the public arena, either in the many public spaces available in his city or in his interactions with clients, peers, or patrons. In general, clientela (patronage) stands as one of the defining characteristics of Roman culture and appears at virtually all levels of the state and at frequent points in the life of a Roman citizen. The concept of patronage has evolved from the original relation of a patronus to his clientes, where a citizen of low social standing owed allegiance to a benefactor of higher standing. Today, it stands for the relation of the first citizen to every other citizen, of Rome to each of its vassal nations, and of a number of economic relationships founded on long-term co-operation and mutual trust.


The average male pleb in Italy wears a tunica - basically wool or linen woven into a tube and tied at the waist - that extends a few inches below the waist and usually comes in brown, blue, or red, for which the latter may be reserved for major festivals. Below the tunic, he wears braccae (pants) that vary in length depending on the season. In the German and Britannic provinces, plebeians commonly wear another layer of short trousers beneath their pants, providing extra warmth during the colder months. Wealthier citizens wear similar clothing but always covered in more ornate geometric or floral patterns and favoring the colors yellow and red. An equestrian or senatorial tunic is usually fitted around both the torso and the upper arms. Only a senator has the privilege of ornamenting his tunics with purple stripes, a style of shirt still known as a laticlavus.

Formal dress for magistrates and ambassadors of Rome remains the toga praetexta, a large cloth worn around the body on top of a tunic and with a broad purple strip denoting rank. A regular senator can only wear the toga pura, without the purple band. Ironically, the only other group of Italians who tend to wear a toga in public are prostitutes, who are required by law to wear a toga candida (bright toga) when soliciting customers. Otherwise, the only toga worn by a male citizen in the western provinces is the toga pulla (dark toga) for mourning and the toga pura to celebrate his coming of age.

In the eastern provinces, a popular style for the upper classes is the wide-sleeved tunic (dalmatic) that goes down to the knees, often worn on top of a regular tunic. In particular, the toga pura remains popular in the Greek provinces, where greater attempts have been made by aristocrats and philosophers to resist the onslaught of Germanic and Persian culture. Comedies in the theater are rife with jokes about the similarities in dress between Greek philosophers and prostitutes, much to the chagrin of the former.

Women dress in a manner that varies far too widely to adequately cover. In short, female citizens cannot wear a toga unless required by trade but do not wear pants for more varied cultural reasons. Most clothing for women is a variation on the stola, a long, pleated dress normally worn over a tunica intima (slip), and sometimes covered with a shawl (palla). In general, wealthier women wear multiple layers sewn together into a stola, often to the point where the number and intricacy of layers reaches a mind-boggling complexity. This layering is often combined with generous use of sashes, jewelry, and other personal decorations. Even after lead was banned in cosmetics in 374, Roman women continue to apply generous amounts of makeup in their daily preparations, unless they are not wealthy enough to spare the time. Under it all, nearly all women of modesty wear a subligacula (underwear) sometimes combined with a strophium (breastcloth).

More widely, there is a staggering diversity of clothing styles worn by people across the empire, from the sparse linen draping of Africans to the thick woolen layers of Caledonians. There is a trend of adding layers from the South to the North and of increasing complexity from the West to the East, but the styles tend to express local cultural traditions, with only a slow trend toward Roman customs of dress.

Health care

Medicine and hygiene are integral parts of Roman culture, knowledge of which trickles down from a medical community that has spread its influence throughout the cities of the empire. The authority of this community is enforced through medical academies and galenariae (hospitals), respectively the places where doctors are trained and practice. Over time, these institutions had completely replaced offices for doctors and aesculapia (healing temples), usually appearing on the sites of the former. Nowadays, practicing medicine without a license from one of the dozens of medical academies throughout the empire is illegal and unlicensed practitioners are severely punished. Public health has long been a concern of the Roman government and the support of public medical facilities was inevitable once doctors became united under the Galenic tradition of medicine.

Public hospitals range from small buildings with an atrium for waiting patients, an office for a doctor and a surgeon, and a clean room for operations, to massive temple-like structures with separate wings for surgical rooms, morgues, and offices. The best public hospitals have access to water from an aqueduct and are designed to handle massive intakes of patients during a quarantine. The art of quarantining sick people during an outbreak is greatly supported by an understanding of how to cleanse patients and dispose of dead bodies. Most hospitals have a crematorium accessible from the back where civil workers or regular citizens can bring dead bodies when a proper burial is infeasible during an ongoing crisis due to the plague. Public knowledge of how to proceed during a quarantine is the only thing that makes such measures feasible, as the common understanding of personal hygiene does for the less alarming spreading of disease in major cities.

Perhaps the most crucial application of quarantines is along major choke points for trade, as Carthage and fair Alexandria serve for the respective grain supplies of Africa Carthaginia and Egypt. Lesser ports are prohibited from transporting grain by sea, a policy that had renewed enforcement after the devastation of Greece in the last half-century following centuries of relaxed application. The purpose of this restriction is the ability to ensure that neither diseased crewmen nor animals can come aboard grain vessels, especially those bound for Italy. Similar policies of quarantine are enforced along major roads near the boundaries between provinces, keeping outbreaks of the plague contained within limited regions rather than allowing the nationwide spread of disease. Millions of lives have been saved by these protocols since their implementation in the 3rd century.

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