Life in the Roman Empire: Historical Fact and Fiction

Greetings, or as the Romans might say, salve!

As the author of historical fiction set in the Roman era and a retired scientist, I have a passion for getting the details right. Passionate to the point of acquiring more than 100 books, mostly by academic authors, on Rome and her Empire. As a lover of history and a writer as well, what could be more enjoyable than sharing the knowledge I’ve gleaned with you as history buffs, teachers, and students?

I hope you find these articles as fascinating to read as I have to write. New articles will be appearing here regularly. (After all, there is a lot of information in more than 100 books!) So check back often or, even better, join my email list to receive notice whenever something new is posted. If you have a topic you’d like me to write about, just email me at, and I’ll see what I can do.

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Caveat for teachers and students: For centuries, Rome was a military society driven by a desire for conquest. It was a brutal culture in a brutal world. Human life was not intrinsically valued. It is impossible to accurately describe many topics, such as slavery, crime and punishment, popular entertainment, and military affairs, without acknowledging that fact. However, you will find nothing here that I have written that is  worse than a PG-13 rating, so the material should be suitable for teenage students of history and Latin. However, when there are links to other websites, they were no worse than PG-13 when I made the link. BUT I cannot guarantee that the owner of the linked site hasn’t added R-rated material since I last visited it. You might want to check any linked sites (except those at and, which are also mine and will remain “clean”) before having your students use them.

And now, some questions whose answers might surprise you. (They did me!)

Which future Roman emperor won the 4-horse chariot race at the Olympics in Greece?

How did the charioteer stay in the chariot when it bounced into the air after hitting a bump?

If you were the galley slave, Judah ben Hur, could you have saved the admiral in the shipwreck?

What could get you sewn into a leather sack with a viper, a dog, a rooster, and a monkey and then thrown into a river?

Check out the articles on Chariot Racing, Slavery, Crime and Punishment, and the Roman Navy to find out.

Roman Empire novels by Carol Ashby

The Legacy cover
Volume 4 of the Light in the Empire Series
Available May 28, 2018, in paperback and Kindle formats at,,, and international Amazon sites.

Is the price of true friendship ever too high?

In AD 122, Adela, the fiery daughter of a Germanic chieftain, is kidnapped and taken across the Roman frontier to be sold as a slave. When horse-trader Otto wins her while gambling with her kidnappers, he entrusts her to his friend and trading partner, Galen. Then Otto is kidnapped by the same men, and Galen must track them half way across the Empire before his best friend loses a fight to the death in a Roman arena. More

The Legacy cover
Volume 3 of the Light in the Empire Series
Now available in paperback and Kindle formats at,,, and international Amazon sites.

When Rome has taken everything, what’s left for a man to give?

Betrayed by a ruthless son who’ll do anything for power and wealth, Publius Drusus faces death with an unanswered prayer―that his treasured daughter, Claudia, and honorable son, Titus, will someday share his faith. But who will lead them to the truth once he’s gone? More

Blind Ambition cover
Volume 2 of the Light in the Empire Series
Now available in paperback and Kindle formats at,,, and international Amazon sites.

Sometimes you have to almost die to discover how you want to live.

It’s AD 114 in the Roman province of Germania Superior, and being a Christian carries a death sentence. Tribune Decimus Lentulus is on the fast track for a stellar political career back in Rome. When he’s robbed, blinded, and left for dead, a young German woman who follows the Way finds him. More

Forgiven cover
Volume 1 of the Light in the Empire Series
Now available in paperback and Kindle formats at,, and international Amazon sites. Available at Kobo world wide and at Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook (epub).

Are some wounds too deep to forgive?

With a ruthless father who murdered for the family inheritance, Marcus Drusus plans to do the same. In AD 122, Marcus follows his brother Lucius to Judaea and plots to frame a zealot for his older brother’s death. More

Fact and Fiction by Carol Ashby