Ancient Rome

Facts and Fictions

by Monica M. Bontty


Nero could not have played a fiddle while Rome burned, and not all gladiators were men.

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Cover image for Ancient Rome

November 2019


Pages 237
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/General
  Geography and World Cultures/Countries and Regions

This book shares little-known facts from and excerpts of primary source documents to correct popular misconceptions about Ancient Rome and to show how those misconceptions became widespread.

Roman personalities and history have always had a larger-than-life profile in American popular culture, but most people think of this ancient civilization as merely decadent, cruel, and elitist. Most of our stereotypical conceptions of the empire and its people, however, are wrong. This book corrects popular misconceptions about the ancient Roman world, thus making ancient history relevant and accessible to modern readers and allowing modern critics of American politics and society to draw accurate comparisons.

Each chapter discusses how a particular misconception developed, spread, and evolved into what we now believe to be the historical truth. Topics discussed include crucifixion, the destruction of Carthage, Julius Caesar's last words, and Roman hygiene. Excerpts from primary source documents provide evidence of both the rise of the historical fictions and the truths behind the myths.


  • Discusses how historical misconceptions about Ancient Rome proliferated
  • Explores a historical truth that runs counter to a misconception in individual chapters
  • Helps readers to understand how misconceptions developed and provides evidence supporting our understanding of the facts in the form of excerpts from primary source documents
  • Direct readers to additional print and electronic information resources
Series Description

Historical Facts and Fictions

Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? Did the Egyptians really worship animals and gods with animal heads? History is full of misconceptions that have been passed down as historical facts and become rooted in the popular imagination. This series explores historical fictions and what we now believe to be historical truths. Each book focuses on a particular topic, such as a period, event, civilization, movement, religion, or person, and explores roughly 10 misconceptions. Chapters summarize the misconception, discuss how it arose and was propagated, explain what is now taken as historical fact, and provide relevant primary source document excerpts. The series helps readers think critically about the past and prepares them to be equally critical of the present.
Author Info

Monica Bontty received her PhD from UCLA and is professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a respected authority on ancient history. She has edited a monograph on ancient Mediterranean oil lamps and has reviewed a number of books on Roman and Greek history in professional journals. She has presented numerous lectures and discussions on Roman history and Roman Egypt.

Other Titles of Interest

Artifacts from Ancient Rome cover imageThe World of Ancient Rome cover imageAll Things Julius Caesar cover image
Voices of Ancient Greece and Rome cover imageThe World of Ancient Egypt cover imageThe Rise of Christianity cover image

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