A Hodgepodge of Interesting Ancient Facts

From kings to the Church, the ancient world is filled with a multitude of interesting facts and trivia. Below you will find a collection of interesting ancient finds that deal with gaining advice from the Delphic oracle, a severe case of royal paranoia, and ancient Roman entertainment for children.

In 532 BC, the king of Lydia (Croesus) paid a visit to the Delphic oracle and asked if he should attack the Persians. The oracle replied, ‘Cross the river Halys and attack, and you will destroy a great nation.’ Croesus followed her words and ended up destroying his own people.

There’s nothing worse than when a ruler of a country or large plot of land suffers a bout of paranoia. In the case of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (246 to 210 BC), he became the first leader to uphold his rule by constructing walls to keep out external enemies and removing the tongues, hands, feet, and other unmentionable body parts from the enemies he discovered within his walls. Emperor Qin also became paranoid of what people would say of him and avoided any comparisons of his rule to those before him by burning all Chinese history books. He also took off the heads of the top academics in the region, which totaled 160 people. Even in death, his suspicions and paranoia followed him to the grave. His sweeping mausoleum had 8,000 life-sized soldiers made out of terra cotta guarding his tomb. He believed they would help protect him from the thousands of ghosts he felt would haunt him in the afterlife.

As the Church tried to come to gripes with the deathly path of the Black Death, they came up with a variety of causes to one of the most feared plagues in history. Some of their theories included Mars and Saturn moving too close and ‘turning the air bad,’ the use of dice, lust for older females, olive oil, the Jews placing poison in the wells, and being friends with witches.

Attila the Hun (who lived from 406 to 453) was known as the King of the Huns. Although he was short and physically unattractive, he was feared , earning the nickname of ‘the Scourge of God.’ However, Attila had a reputation as being popular with the ladies and possessed dozen of striking women as his wives. Unfortunately, when he went to bed with his 12th on their wedding night, one of his arteries burst and he died as a result. Some believe that he had been murdered.

The toys of ancient Roman children included ivory or terra cotta masks, letters fashioned out of ivory, lead figurines in the shapes of gods, piggybanks, and miniature-sized sacrificial instruments.

The ancient Greek calendar was divided into months that started with the new moon. The names given to the months came from the names of festivals that took place in each city. For example, the Athenian calendar was comprised of Hedatombaion, Metageimion, Boedromion, Pyanopsion, Maimakierion, Poseidon, Gamelion, Anthesterion, Elaphebolion, Mounychion, Thargelion, and Skirophorion.