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15 Amazing Fun Roman Facts!

Have you ever wanted to know how Romans go to the toilet? Or what gross thing gladiators sold to their fans? Here are 15 amazing facts all about the ancient Romans, their inventions, food and lifestyle! Which fact will be your favourite?

Beano Team
Last Updated:  September 20th 2023

Ave! If you've come to learn some amazing facts about the Romans, you're in the right place! From their huge empire to their very own numerals, the Romans and the Roman empire gave us loads of amazing buildings, inventions and art! Here are 15 of the best fun facts about the Romans and their lives!

1. The Romans Invented a Lot of Stuff

If you know one thing about the Romans, it's how much amazing stuff they contributed to the world - food, science, art and buildings were all improved and added to by the Romans, including introducing us to: underfloor heating, the basis of modern democracy, viaducts and aqueducts, pipes, concrete, newspapers, numbers, toilets, medical tools, better roads, post, new warfare techniques, hairstyles and the calendar. Phew!

2. The Romans Never Made it to Scotland

The Roman Empire was massive and impressive, but there's one bit of the world they couldn't quite conquer. When the Romans first invaded Britain, the made their way fairly steadily up the country, until they got to Scotland. A combination of disgruntled locals, weather and rough terrain made most of Scotland just too tricky to defeat, and to be honest, Rome didn't think it would be much use anyway. So they build two walls - Hadrian's Wall along the lower border, and the Antonine Wall a bit further up, and called it a day!

3. The Romans Didn't Use Soap

Soap was actually a Celtic invention - that's right, those barbarians knew how to keep clean! The Roman's favoured a different method -they would cover themselves in olive oil, and then scrape it all off again! The scraping would take lots of dirt, sweat and other gross things off with the oil, leaving you clean! But a bit greasy.

4. But They Loved a Bath!

They didn't use soap, but they sure loved to bathe! The Romans were famous for their complex public baths, huge swimming pool sized spaces with lots of different types of pools in them, including freezing and hot pools to get the blood flowing. Bathing was also a social activity, and people would meet at bath houses to chat, do business and even gamble! They loved baths so much that they even built them all over the empire - you can see some one of the most impressive example in, er, Bath, UK today!

5. They Had Some Weird Gods

You've probably heard of the most important gods - Jupiter, father of all the gods, Mars, god of war, Mercury, the messenger god etc. But it gets weirder. The Romans didn't just have gods for sensible things like health, love and war. They also had gods for very specific, random stuff, including door hinges, wheat, daylight, cows, con men and, er, poo. Okay then.

6. The Roman Empire Was Big

The Roman Empire stretched all the way from, er, Rome to Britain in the west, Egypt in the south and the modern day Middle East in the East. It encompassed loads of different cultures, languages, foods and peoples and ancient Rome was a very multicultural city, filled with all sorts of different people. The Empire lasted into the beginning of the Middle Ages in some parts of Europe, and all the way up to the 13th century in the East (Though it was called the Byzantium Empire by then).

7. They Had Some Tasty Food

The Romans are credited with creating some great food, including an early form of pizza, sea food from their coastal towns and cheese and fruit from all over the Empire. In fact, the Romans introduced apples to Britain!

8. ...And Some Really Gross Food

It wasn't all delicious in ancient Rome, some of their tastes were a bit weirder! Apart from the very wealthy emperors and senators who might dine on crazy things like flamingo tongues, stuffed dormice and ostrich, everyday people had some odd favourites too, including garum, a very popular sauce that was put on everything (a bit like ketchup) and which was made of rotting fish! Yeuch!

9. They Shared Toilets

The Romans weren't quite as bothered about privacy as we are, as evidenced from the many communal toilets found on archaeological sites. These public toilets, consisting of many holes in one long wooden bench, would have been used by ordinary people on the god, and instead of toilet paper, they usually had a vinegar-soaked sponge on a stick. Er, is that better? Toilet paper sounds preferable.

10. Rome Wasn't Built in A Day

In fact, it was built over 100s of years! It was supposedly founded in 753BC, and the legend of the founding of Rome goes like this - two twin baby boys, Romulus and Remus, are raised by a wolf in the wild. When they grow up, they decide to build a city together, but fight over it. Romulus kills Remus, and names the city after himself - Rome! You can still see lots of Rome's ancient building today, including the colosseum, the forum and the emperor's palace!

11. Gladiators Were Celebrities

Gladiators were the sports stars of their days. Each gladiator would specialise in a fighting style, have a cool ring name and outfit, and his own fan club made up of excited plebeians and rich patrons, who could gift him nice things if he did well. People would bet on their favourite gladiator to win, and weirdest of all, some women believed that gladiator sweat would make them irresistible to men. Yup, you could buy bottles of gladiator sweat! Well, it's one way to make money!

12. They had some very unusual jewellery

Most Roman children wore something called a 'Bulla'. This was a pouch round their neck which contained a special charm or pendant - sometimes it would be an animal, a god or a lucky symbol.

13. Not everyone wore Togas

If you picture a Roman, chances are you're picturing a man in a big, flowing toga. However, that's not entirely accurate. Not everyone wore togas, and those who did didn't wear them all the time. A toga was an official or special occasion garment, and it was mostly worn by men. In everyday life, most romans wore tunics and other simple clothing.

14. Their Army Was Legendary

The Roman army was known throughout the ancient world for its impressive size, military tactics and ability to successfully invade countries all over Europe! As the Roman empire expanded, it filled its army with soldiers from all over the place, so what you think of as Roman soldiers might not be Romans at all, but Gauls, Celts, Africans and other people from all over the Empire!

15. You Can Still See Loads of Roman Stuff All Over The UK Today!

When the Romans left Britain, they left behind loads of cool stuff including amphitheatres, houses, mosaics and jewellery! You can still see Roman remains all over the UK today, including in Bath, at the Museum of London, Hadrian's wall, Chester and loads of other places!