Olympic Sports from Ancient Greece

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This August, athletes will gather around the world at Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games, well, the ones who aren’t dissuaded from coming by fears pertaining to lack first respondents at the premises, Zika virus, pollution, and all the other ugly stuff going on in Brazil at the moment. Way before we had the modern Olympic Games of today, there were those of Ancient Greece. The first recorded Olympic Games in history was held at Olympia in 776 BCE which only featured one event, a foot race across the stadium. The first Olympic Champion was a cook and baker named Koroibos of Elis and from then on, every victor was recorded and each Olympiad after them. This gave us the first accurate chronology of the Greek world. However, whether this was the first Olympic Games in history will never be known. As to how they got started is a mystery. And it doesn’t help that Greek mythology isn’t noted for its consistency. Some attribute the origins to Zeus celebrating his victory over his father Kronos. Others attribute them to Pelops in honor of his father-in-law Oinomaos. Another legend attributes their founding to the famous Greek mythological hero Heracles (or Hercules as you know him). At any rate, organized athletic competitions already existed in both the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations even if their sporting events were originally associated with funeral rituals, particularly those who’ve fallen in battle like the games of Patrolcus in Homer’s Iliad (organized by Achilles, no doubt). Nevertheless, every 4 years, people from all over Greece and beyond would flock to the sacred city of Olympia whether they be athletes seeking a prize, spectators, trainers, officials, and what not. When a 19th century French aristocrat named Baron Pierre de Coubertin decided to found the International Olympic Committee and restore to the Olympic Games, he intended to restore the games to as close to the Greek spirit as possible but without the religious elements, banning women from watching, and nudity. Yet, de Coubertain’s view of the Ancient Greek Olympics was kind of romanticized and sometimes unfair as best seen when Jim Thorpe was stripped of his medals because he played semi-pro sports (while the athletes were supposed to be amateurs). Meanwhile, the Ancient Greeks? They didn’t even have a designation on amateur or pro in their vocabulary. Nevertheless, the Olympic Games were quite different in Ancient Greece from the ones we’re used to.

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Here’s a close visual approximation on what Ancient Olympia might’ve looked like. But during antiquity, this would be where the Olympic Games were held every 4 years to honor the king of the gods Zeus.

Differences from the modern Olympic Games in general:

  1. It is only one of the Panhellenic Games in Ancient Greece with the quadrennial Pythian as well as the biennial Nemean and Isthmian. All these were sports festivals of Ancient Greek religious significance including the Olympics. However, the Olympics would remain the most prestigious of the four and best remembered.
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Here’s an artist’s depiction on the Statue of Zeus in his Olympia temple. He was the chief deity of the Greek gods who threw lightning bolts whenever pissed as well as couldn’t keep it in his pants.

2. It was a sports festival to honor Zeus and always took place at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia from 700 BCE. And it was because of this that they were suppressed by Roman Emperor Theodosius in 394 as part of a campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.

3. Greek city states marked this occasion with a 3 month Olympic Truce so athletes could travel to the Games in safety when there would be no war or battles and no capital punishment. Violation of that truce consisted of fines. Yet, city states would also use the Olympic Games as a political tool to assert dominance over their rivals as well as later spread Hellenic culture throughout the Mediterranean.

4. Also featured religious celebrations as well as art competitions.

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Here is an olive wreath. Wreaths like these would be bestowed as prizes to Olympic victors along with an etching of their name to the winners roll (except for jockeys and charioteers). Further prizes bestowed on them would depending on their city-state of origin though they’d receive a hero’s welcome and other perks.

5. Prizes were only given to victors which consisted of olive leaf wreaths or crowns as well as other rewards from their home city states (Athenian Olympic winners could have a free meal in the City Hall every day for the rest of their lives as well as a substantial amount of cash). Chariot drivers only received red woolen ribbons worn on the upper arms or around the head while the horse owner received the crown. No Olympic medals in gold, silver, or bronze.

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Here is a hanging of the kind of Olympic events you’d see in Ancient Greece. These included sports in the Pentathlon, Track, Combat, and Equestrian.

6. Had fewer events and lasted for 5 days during the summer at the first full moon after the summer solstice (like mid-July). There were no winter events. However, athletes had to arrive one month before the games and had to declare that they’ve been training for at least 10 months.

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Despite that women weren’t allowed to even watch the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece under penalty of being thrown off Mt. Typaion (well, at least married women anyway), here you see women in Grecian dress at the most recent Olympic torch ceremony at the ruins of Olympia. I’ll get to the torch part later.

7. Only freeborn Greek men and boys who were citizens from Greek city states were allowed to participate (as long as they had a clean record, didn’t defile any temples, or violate the Olympic Truce). Married women weren’t even allowed to watch on penalty of death via being thrown off Mt. Typaion (though they could enter their horses in the equestrian events as well as chariot teams. But they couldn’t drive the chariot themselves. But men who were foreign born and slaves could and did. Also, unmarried girls could watch as well as the Demeter Chamyne priestess). However, ladies can compete, organize, and officiate in the Hera Games as long as they weren’t married but these consists of foot races, chariot racing, wrestling, and dances.

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Unless they were in the hoplite races or the equestrian events, Ancient Greek Olympic athletes usually performed naked. It was part of the Olympic dress code. Yes, I know it’s kind of weird but it’s an Ancient Greek thing.

8. Athletes competed in the nude unless noted otherwise. Exceptions were hoplite racers (who competed in armor) as well as jockeys and charioteers (for obvious safety reasons). Trainers were required to be nude after an athlete’s mother tried to pass herself off as one (but wasn’t executed because she was from a prominent Olympic family).

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Despite the association of lit torches with the Olympics, the Ancient Greeks had no Olympic torch relay. Other Ancient Greek sporting events did, however, including Athens.

9. There was no torch relay (though other Panhellenic Games did have torch relays in their other athletic festivals, including those at Athens).

10. Events were supervised by trained judges from Elis, the Hellanodikai (or agonothetai) who also had various assistants such as the alytai (police officers or referees). Originally these were inherited positions but they were later chosen by lot. They also had the power to disqualify, sort separate the men athletes from the boys (usually by physical appearance), and fine athletes for rule infringement. These guys wore purple cloaks and had special seats of honor in the stadium. Their decisions could never be revoked but they were subject to a council of elders and could be fined if any athlete successfully appealed.

11. Penalties for rule breaking ranged from exclusion and fines to flogging. Fines were paid to the sanctuary and the wronged athlete. But if an offender could not afford to pay the fine, then the city absorbed the penalty or else faced exclusion from the next Olympic Games.

The Greeks Played Naked for the Sake of Beauty

Just a bunch of guys training in the Olympics. Note how most of them have toned bodies like you’d see from 300. Don’t think that’s realistic. Come on.

12. First day consisted of an opening ceremony, judges and athletes taking oaths, competitor registration and scheduling, as well as sacrifice presentations to the gods. Second day consisted of the equestrian events and pentathlon before ending with honor the shrine of Pelops and a parade at the sanctuary of Zeus that included feasting and revelry. Third day had arrival of judges, ambassadors, competitors and Great Altar sacrificial animals, afternoon running races, and a public banquet at the Prytaneion. Fourth day was devoted to combat sports which ended with the hoplite race. And the fifth day was devoted to the closing ceremony.

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While there is an Ancient Greek legend of the first marathon of a messenger running a great distance to inform the leaders of their victory there before collapsing and dying, there was no Ancient Greek Olympic Marathon. Because Ancient Greek athletes weren’t that crazy to run 26 miles.

13. Despite the name having Greek origins as well as a famous story to go with it from the Persian Wars, there was no Olympic marathon.

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Sure this is from the chariot scene in the 1959 Ben Hur which takes place in Ancient Roman times and in 1st century Palestine. However, this is a very historically accurate portrayal on what ancient equestrian events were like. Ancient Greek Olympic chariot racing wouldn’t have been much different since it was a very violent sport with most races experiencing at least one crash and fatalities weren’t unheard of. Ancient chariot races would make today’s auto races seem like mere tea parties.

14. Equestrian events took place in the Hippodrome and were the province of the elite who can afford to equip and maintain horses and a chariot as well as cover the costs of trainers and the charioteer or jockey (who were usually paid servants, family members, or slaves). Only the owners received the olive wreaths and Altis statues, not the athletes. Yet, unlike the equestrian events of today, they appealed to the less than idealistic spectator instincts like “shock value TV” nowadays. Most of the fascination was predicated by their violent nature with the races being quite dangerous and sometimes fatal (think of the Ben Hur chariot race scene. Most chariot races had at least 1 crash per race). Collisions, crashes, and horse wrecks were common, especially near the critical turning post. Equestrian race lengths were grueling distances.

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And here’s another picture from the chariot scene in Ben Hur. Notice how Judah knocked Messala off his chariot away from the spiked wheel which means he’s likely going to die sometime later. Ancient Greek Olympic chariot racing was quite similar in its violence. And the violence in these equestrian events contributed to the entertainment value. Remember these sports weren’t for wimps.

15. Athletes caught cheating had to build a statue of themselves and engrave their name on it so that the city people would know who might cheat in life. These statues were called Zanes.

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Like the Roman chariot race scene in Ben Hur, cheating was also frequent in the Ancient Greek Olympics. However, while those caught cheating had to engrave their names on a Zane statue, they were never made to forfeit their winnings. Just a bad reputation. Yeah, I know it’s pretty awful but a winner was a winner in Ancient Greece even if he was corrupt. Like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots which won 4 Super Bowls.

16. If a winner was caught cheating, he was never made to give up his winnings despite his corruption. Nevertheless, cheating was very common in these games with other participants tampering with other athletes’ equipment, bribing officials, or making them fall during a chariot race (again think of Ben Hur with Messala’s metal spike on his wheel that would basically grind into his rivals’ wheels and cause them to wreck. However, given that Messala is an aristocrat and an officer, it’s very unlikely that he’d be driving his own chariot. Chances are he’d hire someone to drive it for him).

17. No measurements were recorded of the length pertaining to a jump, discus, or javelin throw. No times were kept for the running events. But winners’ names might be recorded but they wouldn’t be considered record holders. Because breaking records wasn’t a thing.

Ancient boxing

This is probably not an Ancient Greek Olympic event depiction due to a female presence. Yet, while modern combat sports match contenders through weight classes, this wasn’t the case in Ancient Greece. During their Olympics, people were matched up according to lot, though the unluckier athletes had a chance to forfeit.

18. Combatants were matched to each other by matching lots before each round. Unlucky athletes matched up against a much stronger opponent usually had the opportunity to withdraw before it was too late to avoid serious injury.

19. Runners and horse racers were sorted into their names by lot.

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And here are the ruins of what’s left of the Temple of Zeus in Olympia. It’s said to be one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient world according to Herodotus.

The events were also quite different in the Ancient Greek Olympic Games. Sure we have some of these events in our modern Olympics, but they’re not quite conducted like nowadays. Some of them are not on the modern Olympic sports roster due to obvious reasons like safety and cruelty to animals. Other events you see in the modern Olympic Games were either not known in Greece at the time or even invented.

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This is what’s left of the Olympia stadium which hosted the Ancient Greek Olympics. At one time, it could hold about 45,000 spectators (and not a single woman among them, well, as far as the rules are concerned).

Greek Olympic Events:

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Olympic victors in Ancient Greece would become instant celebrities and were celebrated like heroes in their home town. Here is a victor being bestowed an olive wreath from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

Track:

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Track events were a long time staple of the Ancient Greek Olympics, which hosted 4 of these. These include 3 races of varying distances as well as a hoplite race where participants were clad in armor.

  1. Stadion – From Olympic Legacy: “The “stadion” was a simple sprint from one end of the stadium to the other, a distance of 600 feet (192.27 meters). This premiere competition of the ancient Olympics was the only event for the first thirteen Olympiads and was never omitted from the program in a millennium. In addition, the stadion became part of the pentathlon when it was introduced in 708 BC.”
  2. Diaulos- From Olympic Legacy: “At 1,200 feet (384.54 meters), the “diaulos” was double the length of the stadion. This second-oldest event was run in a straight line from one end of the stadium to the other and back, rather than in an elliptical lap, as we do today.”
  3. Dolichos- From Olympic Legacy: “Although the exact distance that “dolichos” runner had to traverse is not clear, it is known that this was a lengthy race, requiring great endurance. It is possible that the length was 24 stadia, or 14, 400 feet (4,615 meters).”
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The Hoplitodromos was usually the grand finale of each Ancient Greek Olympic Games. This consisted of athletes running 1,200 ft across the stadium in full hoplite armor. And yes, it was probably not comfortable to do that in mid-July, especially in Greece.

4. Hoplitodromos- From Olympic Legacy: “This theatrical event was the grand finale of each Olympiad. Participants raced the length of a diaulos (1,200 feet / 384.54 meters) with helmet, greaves (lower-leg armor), and a round shield. This militaristic closing event was a reminder that the Olympic truce was almost over.” These were the only runners who didn’t compete in the buff but this was probably not pleasant for the athletes. Think of the armor coming off loose, men tripping and falling, as well as other crowd pleasing chaos.

Pentathlon:

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In Ancient Greece, the Pentathlon was a major spectacle that consisted of 5 events like 200m dash, javelin, long jump, discus, and wrestling. Nowadays, discus, javelin, and long jump are considered separate events. Not so in Ancient Greece.

  1. Pentathlon- From Olympic Legacy: “The pentathlon consisted of five competitions. The 200-meter dash ( [stadion] ) and [wrestling] were events in their own right, but the remaining events (long jump, discus, and javelin) were only part of the pentathlon competition. Unfortunately, little is known about the order of competition, rules, or how a winner was determined. It is certain, however, that pentathletes (who were greatly admired in antiquity) must have possessed incredible endurance in order to compete in five events in one afternoon. Although it is not known who invented it or how it originated, we do know it was a very popular event.”
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Unlike its modern counterpart, the Ancient Greek Olympic long jump was quite different. For instance, pentathlon athletes used small weights on each hand to pull this off. It wasn’t easy to accomplish.

6. Long Jump- From Olympic Legacy: “The most significant difference between the ancient long jump and its modern cousin is in the use of jumping weights called “halteres.” These small weights held in each hand were swung forward with great force as the jump was launched to propel the jumper forward as much as possible. They would then be swung back and down just before landing. This technically challenging feat was often performed to the accompaniment of flute music, which helped the athlete to maintain the necessary rhythm and spilt-second timing. The jumps took place in a rectangular sand pit in the stadium, with a small take-off ramp on one side. It is unknown whether the long-jump of antiquity was a single, double, or even triple jump.”

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Here’s a an Ancient Greek sculpture of an Olympic discus thrower. Unlike today’s throwers, pentathlon athletes back in Olympia probably threw no further than with a 3/4 turn. The discus itself was either made of stone or metal.

7. Discus- From Olympic Legacy: “This curious sport lives on in the modern Games. The graceful poses of ancient throwers were almost the same as those of today, except that it is likely the ancient athlete made no more than a three-quarter turn, in contrast to the full spins that are standard technique today. Very little is known about the length of throws in those days, although any figure would have little meaning without knowing the weight of the discus that was thrown. Discuses, which were made of stone or metal, were often marked with inscriptions. The terms of the ancient Olympic truce were engraved on a discus and displayed in the Altis.”

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Ancient Greek pentathlon athletes used a leather throng to fling the javelin. It helped if the athlete had military training because soldiers relied heavily on javelins as an offensive weapon.

8. Javelin- From Olympic Legacy: “This event is another example of the traditions that live on the Games of today. In ancient times, this was not a idle sport—warriors relied heavily on the javelin as an offensive weapon. The only real difference between the ancient and modern versions of this event is the use of the “anklye”—a leather thong used to fling the javelin. This strap, which was wound around the shaft and held by its free end, unwound as the spear was thrown, making the javelin spin and ensuring a steady flight.”

 

Combat:

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Here’s a painting depicting an Olympic wrestling match from Ancient Greece. I know it involves a couple of naked guys going at it which I’m aware will upset parents and Bible Belt Christians. But this is what Ancient Greek combat sports were like. I’m trying to enlighten people here.

  1. Wrestling- From Olympic Legacy: “Matches were held in an area filled with sand. Once a match began, it continued without interval until one man had thrown his opponent three times (touching the ground with the back, shoulders, or hip constituted a fall). There were no divisions by weigh, and the bigger men tended to win. Contestants were allowed to trip, but not to bite, gouge, or punch. Over the years, the variety of holds and tricks grew in number and sophistication. Wrestling became the final event of the pentathlon when it was introduced in 708 BC.”
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Here’s an Ancient Greek sculpture of an Olympic boxer. Boxing was one of the most brutal sports at the time. And participants often ended up disfigured (since most boxers bashed each other’s heads). Too bad the leather straps didn’t offer much protection.

10. Boxing- From Olympic Legacy: “Although ancient boxing is similar to its modern counterpart, matches were not conducted in a roped-off ring and there were no breaks and no time limit. Victory was declared when one opponent was knocked out or conceded the contest. No wrestling or holding were allowed, but it was possible to hit a fallen opponent. Virtually all blows were directed to the head, while the body was left exposed. A series of hand straps evolved over the years, culminating in a relatively sophisticated glove. This hand-gear did not lessen the violence of this sport, and ancient boxers were very recognizable by their “cauliflower ears” and other facial disfigurements.” Serious injuries were common and fatalities weren’t unknown. It was considered to be the most violent sport in Ancient Greece.

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Panrkation was an a very brutal, empty hand submission, and all-in type of wrestling in Ancient Greece with scarcely any rules other than no gouging eyes or biting. Basically combatants do almost whatever it takes to pummel their opponent to the ground. Used techniques or wrestling, boxing, and others. It’s the Ancient Greek equivalent to MMA.

11. Pankration- From Olympic Legacy: “This hugely popular event, which ancient poets were inspired to immortalize with numerous odes, is unlike any competition today. It was a conglomeration of elements from boxing, a form a wrestling known as “ground wrestling,” and elements quite unique to itself. Judging by what was allowed—competitors could strike with the fist, an open hand, twist arms, even break fingers!—the pankration seems very violent, yet it was considered less dangerous than boxing. Much of the struggle took place on the ground, although several upright holds were popular. In contrast to the sand-filled wrestling square, the pankration was conducted in an area where the ground was watered and somewhat muddy.” In a nutshell, this is the Ancient Greek equivalent to MMA and UFC in which the only illegal moves were eye gouging and biting. Also experienced some occasional fatalities.The famous Greek philosopher Plato was said to do extremely well in this event. Yes, that Plato. Yeah, you probably don’t imagine your Greek philosophers doing MMA stuff. But if he wasn’t, he’d be just known as Aristocles.

 

Equestrian:

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This is a 1908 painting of the Ben Hur chariot scene where Judah gets back on his chariot and eventually knocks Messala down which sends him to his eventual death. In Ancient Greek Olympics, this type of chariot racing was called Tethrippon which consisted of 4 horse chariots doing 12 laps across the track. It’s more like Ancient Greek NASCAR than contemporary harness racing while much more violent and much less safe. Seriously, people actually died in these races.

  1. Tethrippon- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “the four-horse chariot race added in 680 BCE, run over ten or twelve circuits of the hippodrome. A version using foals over 8 circuits was added in 384 BCE.” Keep in mind that 12 circuits translates to 14 kilometers or 8.7 miles.
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Ancient Greek Olympic horse racing was extremely dangerous since jockeys rode with no saddles, stirrups, horseshoes, or safety equipment. They were also riding on rough ground. So if riders were thrown off their horses, they would die.

13. Keles- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “a horse race added in 648 BCE and run over 6 circuits. A version for foals was added in 256 BCE.” Keep in mind that 6 circuits equal 7 kilometers or 4.3 miles. Remember that horseshoes, saddles, and stirrups weren’t invented yet though whips were sometimes employed. It was especially dangerous because the ground was so rough. Riders thrown to the ground usually died. This kind of horseback riding isn’t one for wimps and perhaps the most dangerous.

14. Apene- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “a race with chariots pulled by two mules, added in 500 BCE (dropped from 444 BCE).”

15. Kalpe- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “a trotting horse race for mares, added in 496 BCE (dropped from 444 BCE).” FAMSF adds: “After a few laps around the track on the animals’ backs, the riders jumped off and ran the last lap alongside the galloping horse. In addition to the challenge of trying to keep up on foot with a horse, the competitors also had to avoid being trampled to death.” Wonder what the body count on this sport was. This just seems so stupid.

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While the Tethrippon consisted of a chariot race pulled by 4 horses, the Synoris chariots were pulled by 2. But it’s way more dangerous than modern harness racing.

16. Synoris- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “the two-horse chariot race run over eight circuits of the hippodrome, added in 408 BCE. A version using foals over three circuits was added in 268 BCE.”

Other:

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Alongside athletic events, the Ancient Greek Olympics had a contest for trumpeters. The winner would be seen as the herald of the Games.

  1. Herald and Trumpeter Competitions- From Ancient History Encyclopedia: “added in 396 BCE. This was held on the first day and the winners – those whose sound carried the furthest – were also given the honour of announcing the victors on the final day at the official prize-giving event.” At least people didn’t die in this event.

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History of the World According to the Movies: Part 5- Early Christianity

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Of course, I had to post a bloody Jesus picture from The Passion of the Christ directed by Mel Gibson. Though most historians agree Jesus really existed, he probably didn’t look like this at his crucifixion (save for the blood). I mean he’s just too white but I thought you already knew that. Still, this post is all about him and the religion he founded.

In my post of Ancient Rome, I deliberately left out the history of early Christianity because not only does it play a key role in Roman history and history in general (as well as one of the most prominent religion with so many sects and followers of different denominations), but it’s also a popular subject with filmmakers and one of the reasons why so many movies take place in Ancient Rome. There have been countless movies made about Jesus as well as take place in first century Palestine (including Life of Brian pictured in my last post). Heck, there are even movies about people even remotely associated with Jesus like Salome, Judah Ben Hur, Marcellus who crucified him, or Brian born down the street from Jesus. Don’t forget to see appearances of St. Peter and St. Paul (who should totally get his own movie), Pontius Pilate, the Virgin Mary, Judas Iscariot, St. Joseph, and those three kings of Orient are. Nevertheless, while Christianity began as a religion of martyrs as well as an offshoot of Judaism, it soon became the dominant and official religion of the Roman Empire (and later the one of the most dominant religions in the world). Yet, even filmmakers can get things wrong in the life of Christ as well as the early years of Christianity which I shall list as follows to make sure you understand why God may inflict his wrath on some of them over wrong information (of course, some of it was taken from the Bible and many of these movies do well at the box office but still).

The Story of Jesus:

Pontius Pilate remained neutral during the trial of Jesus and even says that he found nothing treasonable in Jesus’ actions. (Out of most of the biblical characters in the Passion narrative, I’ve always had a problem with the characterization of Pontius Pilate. In the gospels, Pilate seems all too reluctant to condemn Jesus to death, which I don’t find believable. I mean would someone in Pilate’s stature be all too reluctant to sign the death warrant of a man who has basically spoken against almost everything he and the Roman Empire stood for? I think he’d either not give a damn or be all too happy to crucify him. Perhaps his portrayal was the intent of the authors to characterize him in one of least offensive way possible but not make him seem like a good guy or maybe the whole thing was an act, at least in the Gospels anyway for perhaps the writers were playing it safe to depict Pilate that way. The Jewish perception of Pilate seems much more believable as well as their notion that Pilate didn’t last long in Jerusalem after Jesus’ crucifixion because the Romans thought he was too brutal.)

Jesus was a rather good looking man. (In the Bible, it’s best to say that he wasn’t very remarkable looking but certainly not butt ugly either. Thus, Jesus’s looks were about average that he wouldn’t stand out as far as history and the Gospels were concerned. He looked no different than what you’d expect from any Palestinian Jew in his 30s with tan skin, dark eyes, short dark hair, and a beard. Yet, most actors who portray Jesus look straight out of a fitness magazine. If he was seen as attractive, the events in the Gospels might’ve went quite differently, particularly when he greets his disciples after the resurrection.)

Mary was a teenage girl when she had Jesus. (She probably would’ve been no younger than 16, though it was possible that she would’ve been between 12-14 during her betrothal to Joseph, maybe even younger than that {like when they were kids}. St. Joseph probably would’ve been no older than 30 and most likely would’ve never married or have any kids. Thus, Jesus’s “brothers and sisters” would’ve been actually his cousins and other close relatives like aunts or uncles {this is according to my religious interpretation}.)

Herod the Great ordered the slaughter of babies in a mad quest to find the baby Jesus. (This is said in the Gospel of Matthew but there’s no record to support this. Besides, it’s fair to say it’s only included in Matthew because the author was writing for a Jewish Christian audience with his Gospel portraying Jesus as a “new Moses.” Herod slaughtering infants around Jesus’ birth was included to draw parallels with Moses’ birth birth story under the Pharaoh. However, though Herod may not have slaughtered any infants, this doesn’t mean he was a crazy or brutal king for he certainly was. In fact, he’s known for killing members of his own family out of paranoia, including a wife and 2 sons.)

Pontius Pilate was bullied by the Sanhedrin to crucify Jesus. (This is very unlikely for the Sanhedrin were only Roman puppets of the period and knew they only existed at Rome’s pleasure. Also, it would’ve been very unlikely for a Roman prefect to accept such actions. It’s probably safe to say that Jesus’ execution was one thing that he and the Sanhedrin could agree upon.)

Mary was with Jesus during most of his ministry. (Movies tend to depict this, but her appearances vary in the Gospels {in terms of certainty}. In Matthew, she’s only present in the infancy narrative. In Luke, she only appears up until Jesus is 12. However, Luke has her appear at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles for the Ascension and Pentecost, so it’s possible she traveled with him during his ministry in his Gospel. In John, she’s at the Wedding of Cana and present at Jesus’s crucifixion {the only Gospel she’s present at this event}. However, in Mark, she’s only seen in Nazareth with other family members who were obviously not happy with what Jesus was doing. Nevertheless, having Mary with Jesus during his ministry seems to make a lot more sense.)

Salome was the voluptuous stepdaughter of Herod Antipas who had designs on John the Baptist and his refusal was the reason why he lost his head. (Of course, Salome has suffered the same fate as many women in history like Pocahontas, Cleopatra, and Catherine the Great, called the sex up, which consists of making historical figures much more physically attractive than they were in real life. Yet, unlike the characterization, the Gospels portray Salome as a young girl who probably never met John the Baptist but asks for his head on a platter at the request of her mother and she presented his head to her when the deed was done. She was her mother’s pawn and she wasn’t a sexy young woman either.)

Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. (She wasn’t but she was from a sea town which didn’t have the best reputation. And she wasn’t the woman who anointed Jesus either. She was probably the Mediterranean Jewish equivalent to the American white trash girl from a trailer park. The mentioned “harlot” in the Gospels is another woman. Also, the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet was Mary of Bethany who was the sister of Martha and Lazarus.)

Jesus was crucified with a loincloth over him. (In most crucifixions, the victim was completely naked, which was done to disgrace and humiliate the victims. I know Jesus wasn’t depicted as such in religious art but there’s probably no reason to believe he was spared of this. Still, I don’t think religious authorities should be upset at a naked depiction of Jesus on the cross for some say that shame and humiliation was an issue that Jesus dealt with as separation from God. But hey, to each his own, but I know how Hollywood has striven to make history family friendly and I would preach against depicting Jesus’ crucifixion in that historically accurate fashion for you will never hear the end of it. Yet, at least Jesus gets depicted on the cross nearly naked for whenever someone other than Jesus is crucified, he or she usually has their clothes on like Spartacus or anyone crucified in Life of Brian except Brian but that was due to cold temperatures.)

Jesus and his disciples drank out of a metal chalice during the Last Supper. (The Holy Grail is never mentioned in the Bible. Besides, I think he and his disciples probably drank out of a wooden chalice which didn’t look anything special.)

Jesus was white. (He was Jewish and had Semitic features. If you saw him at the airport in the US, it’s possible he’d be subjected to extra profiling by the TSA to see he wasn’t an Islamic terrorist.)

Jesus had long hair and a beard. (He had dark hair and beard, but most men of his day had short hair. Also, remember that Judas Iscariot had to kiss him in order to identify them. So if you were to see Jesus at the Last Supper, he’d probably look almost indistinguishable from his disciples.)

Jesus and Joseph were carpenters. (We’re not sure whether they were or just itinerant workers.)

Judas didn’t really believe Jesus was the son of God. (Who knows if he did?)

Mary didn’t want to marry Joseph. (Her view on her impending marriage to Joseph did not matter at the time, even after she became pregnant when he was the only one who took her in as his wife. Still, she could’ve done worse. Nevertheless, according to tradition, being the mother of Jesus was ultimately Mary’s decision {though she was chosen by God out of many different women}.)

Jesus spoke Aramaic which is a language that can be spoken today. (Yes, Jesus spoke Aramaic, but the “Aramaic” you hear in Mel Gibson’s holy gore fest is mostly educated guesswork on what it might’ve sounded and is probably as “authentic” as it’s going to get. However, the real pronunciations and intonations are lost to time that even linguists don’t exactly know how it sounded. Besides, the New Testament was originally written in Greek.)

Jesus celebrated the Passover with a seder of leaven bread sitting upright at a table. (It would more likely be matza or stuff made for Communion wafers. Also, a Seder is supposed to be eaten while reclining not in dining room fashion. Of course, you may have plenty of artists to blame because this is how the Last Supper is usually depicted.)

The crowd of Jews and Sanhedrin gave the order to crucify him. (Despite the Bible may tell you, there are only four death penalties permitted according to Jewish Law- beheading, stoning, burning or strangling. Crucifixion wasn’t one of them, yet it was probably more or less Pilate’s idea. Thus, no Jew would ever give the order to crucify Jesus, assuming if other execution methods were available then. Also, the Sanhedrin had no authority to execute anyone since Jesus was a kid and had to turn Jesus to Pilate to be judged by Roman law {and the Roman governor probably wouldn’t hesitate to crucify him whether the Jews wanted it or not}. Also, only the Temple security could use deadly force and only to those caught trespassing. Then the Torah says part of the death penalty was to hang a criminal’s corpse on a tree until evening after killing him so perhaps this is what the crowds and Sanhedrin chanted for instead. Then again, “Kill him and hang him to a tree!” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it as “Crucify him!” Besides, Rome would rather save time by killing Jesus by hanging him on a tree anyway.)

Jesus was nailed to the cross with nails driven through his hands. (Nails would be driven through is wrists since palm tissue is too soft to support the weight of the victim.)

Romans and Judeans would speak to each other in their native tongues. (They’d more likely be communicating in Koine Greek to each other, the lingua franca of the Mediterranean.)

Herod Antipas was a depraved homosexual. (There’s no way of knowing this. However, according to the Gospels, he ran off and married his sister-in-law, Herodias while she was still technically married to his brother {also called Herod} and was his niece. John the Baptist was put in prison and later executed for criticizing Herod over this, {explaining why Herodias wanted Salome to ask her stepfather for his head}. Then again, Josephus says that Herod was worried that John the Baptist’s public influence would instigate a rebellion so he had him put to death. Still, he was said to have a notorious reputation for womanizing and Hellenizing royalty, which the Jews didn’t like. Also, dumping his first wife would later lead to a war between him and her dad.)

Herod Antipas only beheaded John the Baptist at the insistence of Salome as Herodias’s pawn. (Only in Mark’s Gospel he’s personally reluctant. In Matthew’s Gospel, Herod wants John the Baptist dead but worries that executing him might start an insurrection. Thus, in Matthew, Herod is reluctant to kill John the Baptist because he doesn’t think it’s good policy.)

Peter was a middle aged man with graying hair at the time of Jesus. (He’s usually depicted this way {save in The Robe} but he was probably not much older than Jesus. Also, Jesus and his disciples all looked alike, remember?)

“Christ” is Jesus’ surname. (It’s a descriptive title used by the Greeks to mean “anointed one.” Also, Jesus didn’t actually have a surname like most people of common birth at the time. Surnames were reserved for nobles.)

There were three magi. (Matthew doesn’t necessarily say how many they were, but most nativity usually go with three for gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Oh, and he says they visited him when he was two years old in a house somewhere else.)

Peter, James, and John were tempted by snakes as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. (They were tempted by sleep, not snakes. And yes, Peter, James, and John all fell asleep anyway. Also, Jesus wasn’t tempted at all.)

Jesus invented the dining table. (Dining tables existed before Jesus and there’s quite a lot of evidence for that.)

Early Christianity:

Christians were martyred at the Roman Coliseum. (Yes, there were possibly Christians martyred on the land before the place was built but they weren’t martyred in the building. It is said that Pope Benedict XIV made that up because he didn’t want the coliseum to be destroyed by developers who wanted to build a wool factory there. Still, he was right to say that it was a historically significant place even if he did make a few things up.)

Hypathia was a scientist and atheist. She was killed by Christians in the name of knowledge and science and because she was a woman. Her death ushered the Dark Ages. (She was a philosopher and a monotheistic pagan and she was killed as sixty-five, not young and pretty as in most depictions. I mean she believed in God in some sense, but she didn’t believe in Jesus or in the Bible. She believed in Neo-Platonism and her teachings appealed to a broad range of people whether they be Christian, Jew, or fellow pagans like herself. Also, Germanic tribes ushered in the Dark Ages since they were the ones who sacked Rome, not Christians and that happened in Hypathia’s lifetime. Besides, the ancient Christians weren’t against science either and she even had Christian students, one later becoming a bishop. Not only that, but Orestes and Socrates Scholastics were also Christians and she was known to be respected by Christians and pagans alike because of her learning, virtue, and dignity. As to the motive of death, she was killed on account of politics and revenge {or because her friend Orestes tortured and killed a monk and that Cyril of Alexandria saw her as an obstacle for reconciliation between the two of them}, not science, not philosophy, not because she was a woman, and certainly not rationalism. Not to mention, despite the fact that Cyril of Alexandria was a bishop and that she was killed by a Christian mob, religion had nothing to do with her murder since it was a feud between two prominent Christians fighting for power. Besides, everyone was horrified upon hearing her death, at least in Alexandria. As for the female part, there was another highly renowned female scientist a generation later named Aedisia who practiced science unmolested. Sorry, atheists, but Carl Sagan lied on this one. Just because he’s a scientist doesn’t mean you can believe him when it comes to history.)

The Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed by Christians and Jews. (It was more likely burned down by Julius Caesar in 48 B. C. which was way before Christianity or Hypathia. Actually the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria was part of a long process of degradation and decline. Also, I’m not sure if the peoples of the antiquity ever cared for their libraries at all and I don’t think people in Hypathia’s time would’ve used scrolls either since books were available. However, there was a temple called the Serapeum which served as a “daughter library” at some point, but in 391, it was said to have contained only pagan idols. Also, the Christians were more interested in destroying pagan religious artifacts, not books. Nevertheless, the librarians of Alexandria weren’t said to be more like thugs concerned with securing power and prestige in Egypt than with the place being a haven of knowledge during the Ptolemic period. Whenever a ship came to port, the librarians would seize all the books on board, take them to the Library, and made rushed, cheap copies which they returned. This book-stealing stunt almost caused a war with Athens. In times of plague and famine, they would pressure book owners in exchange of food or medicine. And even then, there were repeated attempts to burn the place down.)

Christians were a single united sect during the time of the Roman Empire. (Even in the time of Saint Paul, there were different Christian sects depending on how closely it should be tied to Judaism. Paul’s original letters reflect this, particularly to the Galatians. Also, there were movements of Gnosticism, Arianism, and Nestorianism but they took storm outside the Empire and were later swallowed up by orthodox movements and Islam. Then there’s the presence of the Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire. Interestingly, the guys who brought upon the Reformation didn’t know this.)

The Romans persecuted Christians because they didn’t understand Christianity and acts performed by Christians. (This may be true but it’s misinterpreted. The Romans were sickened by Christians rescuing newborns not because they thought they were performing a human sacrifice, but because they believed saving exposed newborns was immoral and indecent for they saw the weak, disabled, and illegitimate as a drain on the Empire’s resources and keeping them alive was viewed as stealing food from the healthy. And they didn’t persecute Christians who refused to sacrifice because they didn’t understand the Christian viewpoint but because to a Roman, refusing to sacrifice was equivalent to an American refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance or stand for the national anthem or flag burning {or worse as TTI says, “many Romans believed that if humans failed to perform sacrifices the gods would destroy the earth via earthquakes, volcanoes, plagues, and other disasters.” Not to mention, some Christians were persecuted because they avoided conscription and there was no such thing as Conscientious Objector status exemption then. Once Christianity became the official Roman religion, the Christians would end up persecuting the pagans. Other reasons why as TTI implies are:

     “The Romans also felt that Jews and Christians were probably the most intolerant religion ever, since they did not accept other gods as real. They could understand a god having other gods as rivals or enemies, but not one claiming to be the only God of all creation.

    Romans also believed that Christians performed brother-sister Incest because followers addressed each other as “Brother” and “Sister” and said that they loved each other, and believed that Christianity was some kind of death cult, because they used an execution platform as one of their symbols and their followers were often eager to be executed. Let’s not even get into how Jesus being his own father impacts his relationship with his mother.

       The Roman rumor mill managed to combine the Christian practice of calling their savior “the baby Jesus” (which despite popular belief isn’t a carryover from Christmas, but a reference to his child-like innocence) and their eating the “body and blood of Christ” during communion, and led Romans to think Christians ceremonially killed and ate babies.

        Which makes it all more ironic that blood libel became a very common accusation against Jews in Medieval (and early modern) Europe.

        Romans were extremely disturbed by the phrase “washed clean by the blood of Christ,” taking it to mean that Christians (as essentially a springoff of Judaism) had murdered their own god and bathed in his blood.

        This was further propagated by the Jewish tradition of having no idols, or emptiness where an idol would be. The Roman reaction ranged from horror at the implication to said belief that the Christians had killed Him.

        To Romans, religion was mostly done out in the open (or in publicly accessible temples), unless it was a mystery cult, which usually were offshoot religions that still worshiped well-known gods (Isis, Marduk, etc.). Christians only celebrated indoors, away from the public eye, and this was viewed as highly suspicious.

        Early Christians also had a tendency to require recent converts to essentially cut themselves off from their non-Christian relatives and only associate with their new Christian brothers and sisters. Today, that would be viewed as classic cult behavior.”})

St. Paul was originally known as Saul. (He had both names throughout his life. Saul was his Hebrew name while Paul was his Roman name. He was a Jewish Roman citizen by the way. As an Apostle to the Gentiles, we mostly call him Paul.)

Constantine the Great and the Council of Nicea made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. (Constantine the Great only made Christianity a legal religion while the Council of Nicea decided on questions like the divinity of Christ. Emperor Theodosius would only declare Christianity the state religion 65 years later. Oh, and Constantine approached Christianity as if it was just an inclusive pagan religion.)

Peter and Paul met each other in Rome. (I don’t know whether they were in Rome at the same time or whether they did meet there. However, Peter and Paul did meet in Antioch though and it didn’t end well. It’s in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians {which is one of the seven Pauline letters actually written by him}.)

The Roman Empire was run by the Church near its end. (Actually it was more like the Empire was running the Church. Check your religious history.)

Christianity brought on the fall of the Roman Empire. (Even if someone like Edward Gibbon said this, doesn’t mean it’s true. Also, he actually didn’t since Rome’s seeds of destruction were present before Christianity became the Empire’s official religion anyway {and Rome had been on the decline by then, too}.)

Catacombs existed in Rome during the early first century. (They didn’t exist until decades later when there was a larger Christian community. Actually would’ve been more accurate if Roman Christians met in each other’s houses.)

The first Christian persecution was under Caligula. (It was under Claudius.)

St. Peter was in Rome at the same time as Caligula. (Peter mostly spent Caligula’s reign as prisoner in Judea and wasn’t in Rome until after the guy’s reign.)

Persecution of Christians in Rome was continual. (It was intermittent and rare with periods of many decades between attacks. Well, state sponsored persecutions anyway. Hate crimes may have been a different story.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 4- Ancient Rome

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Okay, I know this is from Life of Brian which is a comedy but this movie scene nevertheless shows a lot of things you see in a movie on Ancient Rome. For instance, the soldiers are dressed in outfits similar to Greek hopilites and all the actors portraying Romans are British (justified since this is a British film and Monty Python). Nevertheless, this is a very entertaining film I really enjoy.

No series of history in the movies can be complete without mentioning one of the ancient entity everyone talks about: Rome. More movies set in ancient times usually pertain to Ancient Rome than any other. And most movies set in Ancient Rome usually focus on the Empire during the first century. Of course, there are plenty of reasons why. After all, when we think of Rome we think of things like depraved hedonistic rulers and aristocrats, Julius Caesar, gladiators, statues, Cleopatra, Pompeii and Herculaneum being covered by Mount Vesuvius’ ash, great feats of architecture, tons of fighting and intrigue, assimilation of cultures, and Jesus as well as the early Christian era (which will be in a separate post I swear.) Oh, and the fact that it lasts for a considerable long time like from 753 B. C. E. to A. D. 476 (or to 1453 if you include the Byzantine Empire but their time is more suited for The Middle Ages. Also, the fall of the Western Roman Empire usually marks the end of Ancient times anyways.) Not to mention, the Ancient Romans left so many records and remains for archaeologists to examine. While much of Roman history is drawn from archaeology (from Pompeii and Herculaneum naturally) and written records, sometimes it’s hard to which is true and which isn’t since it was mainly written by aristocrats who had biased opinions. Also, many people don’t know that Rome was originally founded as a kingdom before it became a Republic and later an Empire. Still, despite all the Roman history material we have, filmmakers still do take artistic liberties and add things in we’re sure didn’t happen, which I shall list.

The Kingdom of Rome and Roman Republic:

Spartacus was born a slave and was crucified outside the gates of Rome. (He was enslaved as a prisoner of war or an ex-Roman auxiliary {non-citizen} soldier sold to gladiator school for desertion. Oh, and he died during the battle so everything from the I Am Spartacus scene in Spartacus is mostly made up.)

Spartacus’ slave revolt led to a crisis that resulted in Crassus becoming dictator. (The Roman Republic was still alive and well at this time and when Crassus went after Spartacus, he was an relatively wealthy ex-praetor and after the revolt would later serve a term as Consul {a bit like prime minister or chairman of the board} after the war but he never was a dictator of Rome. Though ruthless and possibly bisexual {common among Roman aristocrats} he wasn’t psychotic like the Sir Laurence Olivier portrayal. Also, if it helps, he’d later lose his life in a battle with the Parthians who not only decapitated him but also used his severed head as a prop for a play.)

Rome was founded as a Republic. (It was originally founded as a kingdom, later became a “Republic” or an aristocratic oligarchy, and then an Empire.)

Spartacus had a son with a woman from Britannia. (While it’s unclear whether Spartacus had any children at all, he most certainly didn’t know anyone from Britannia, let alone sleep with someone from there. No Roman would step foot in Britain until thirty years after Spartacus’ revolt.)

Spartacus’ revolt would lead to the break up of the Roman slave system. (No chance in hell that was ever going to happen since slavery survived for another two thousand years, which was well after Rome. And no, Rome never abolished slavery and crushed every slave revolt taking place.)

Slave rebels in Spartacus’ revolt lived a harmonious existence with one another. (C’mon, there had to be some confusion of purpose among Spartacus’ followers.)

Spartacus was a gladiator who led a slave revolt as well as humane guy. (It’s said he was brutal enough to put some three hundred Roman prisoners to death in honor of a slave comrade-in-arms by the name of Crixus. Then again, this just might be Roman propaganda. Still, if he did, he might’ve had some good reason to.)

Caesar’s last words were “Et Tu Brute?” (They weren’t. What he actually said to have told Brutus was, “You too, my child?”)

Julius Caesar was stabbed by members of the Roman Senate because they thought he was becoming too much of a king as well as a danger to the Republic. (Well, yes, Caesar was well aware of his reputation as well as had megalomaniac tendencies {though he did refuse kingship in 44 B. C. E. though he was pretty much king in all but name and had declared himself dictator for life}. Yet, the senators were also worried about being able to compete for real power and that any office they held was meaningless even if it was a consulship. Oh, and it’s said he was going to depart in three days time and leave the running of Rome to his henchmen Oppius and Balbus who was a Spaniard, which the Roman nobles thought absolutely intolerable. Add to that Cleopatra had his son Caesarion {I’m not making this up} and wearing red boots {what old Roman kings used to wear}. Thus, they were more worried about their own power stakes than the form of government itself in Rome at least with the possible exception of Brutus.)

Gracchus was a politician of plebeian sensibilities and showed some sympathy for Spartacus and his followers, if only with the ultimate goal to upstage Crassus. (There were actually two revolutionary politicians named Gracchus {both brothers} but they were long dead before Spartacus’ time, like at least 50 years prior. Also, they were tribunes, not senators.)

Spartacus’ men were crucified because they refused to hand him in. (The Romans had planned on killing them all anyway to set a very clear example not to mess with Rome. So any of the slave survivors would certainly have been crucified, a fate that would’ve awaited Spartacus had he survived the battle as well {which he didn’t in real life}. The women and children would probably have been renslaved though.)

Julius Caesar participated in suppressing Spartacus’ Rebellion. (Sure he was a young officer in the legion but it’s unknown whether he did take part in it.)

The Carthage general Hannibal was white. (We’re not sure whether he was or not since he hailed from North Africa.)

Spartacus was against the gladiatorial games. (Spartacus celebrated several of his victories by holding gladiatorial games, which is strange for a freedom fighter. Makes him seem less like Katniss Everdeen and more like Alma Coin.)

Spartacus was a freedom fighter who desired to have slavery eliminated. (He may have been just trying to get out of Italy or maybe even a warlord escaped slavery through rape, pillage, and burn. He probably wasn’t the kind of freedom fighter portrayed by Kirk Douglas.)

Cicero was involved in Julius Caesar’s assassination. (He wasn’t involved in any way, though he approved of it.)

Agrippa was seated in the Curia and wore a senatorial toga. (He was a hereditary member of an equestrian order and prohibited under Republican law from non-invitational attendance to the Curia or wearing any patrician insignia.)

Julius Caesar declared himself Emperor. (He was Emperor in all but name at that point he became dictator for life.)

Julius Caesar had a full head of hair. (His family earned the name Caesar as a joke because the men were well known for pre-mature baldness. At the time it meant “hairy” until Julius Caesar showed up. Still, though depicted with a full head of hair on busts and other art, the real Caesar would’ve been bald for most of his adult life, maybe since his late teens.)

Mark Antony was a dashing, romantic hero and Rome would’ve been far better off under him than Octavian. (Between Antony and Octavian, Antony was the more violent of the two. Also, Cleopatra was well know for backstabbing and murder for hire as well, but being a Ptolemy, you can’t really hold it against her.)

Cleopatra:

Cleopatra was an Egyptian known for her beauty and was one of the most gorgeous women of her time able to win men over with her sexuality. (For one, Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek and a direct descendant through a man called Ptolemy who was a general of Alexander the Great and her capital was Alexandria founded by, well, you know who. Still, she did speak Egyptian and presented herself as a reincarnation of Isis. Second, though archaeologists have never found Cleopatra’s body, they have found bodies of some of her family and most of the women they found were no more than 5 feet tall, overweight with Venus ring necks, and sported noses comparable to the size of Adrien Brody’s, not an attractive combination at least nowadays {and certainly nothing like Elizabeth Taylor}. And even Roman historians say that she wasn’t the best looking girl around. What Cleopatra’s best assets were her strong personality, her intelligence, and her political savvy and that was how she won over Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.)

Cleopatra killed herself by poisoning herself through snakebite by an asp. (Again, this is also false but often depicted in movies because it’s in many ancient sources. Actually, historians may agree that she committed suicide to avoid capture by Octavian but the methods, well, that’s a matter of debate since the asp would cause a slow and painful death through paralysis. If Cleopatra wanted to kill herself to avoid capture, she probably wanted to do it quick so an asp bite might not have done the job.)

Cleopatra had affairs with Roman leaders out of satisfying her sexual urges. (Actually she slept with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony because it also helped her country retain political independence from Rome. She was doing it for political reasons, not for herself. It didn’t work for long as we know now.)

Caesarion was Julius Caesar’s son and heir. (Caesar never acknowledged him though he was his son. Also, in order to be Caesar’s heir, Cleopatra would have to be a Roman citizen as well, which she wasn’t. Not to mention, he made Octavian his heir anyway.)

Cleopatra was unusually brutal toward her own siblings. (Yes, Cleo killed her brothers and sisters but knocking off relatives wasn’t unusual for an Egyptian pharaoh. Not to mention, the Ptolemys were notorious for marrying and killing their relatives. There’s no wonder why that bunch is considered one of the most dysfunctional families in history.)

Cleopatra led a procession into the Roman Forum. (Foreign rulers were prohibited from crossing the Pomerium which was the sacred boundary of Rome.)

Gladiators:

In Roman gladiator matches the loser always died. (Actually the loser’s fate really depended on how well he fought for the Romans would never let a good gladiator die in a fight even if he lost as well as his popularity {emperors could suffer in popularity if they allowed a renowned gladiator get slaughtered}. It was usually convicts sentenced to the arena who were made to fight to the death, not professional gladiators who went through regular training. Besides, training gladiators was expensive and it didn’t make sense to have them slaughtered their first time out in the arena. Sure gladiators were slaves, criminals, and POWs as well as didn’t live long but the death rate among Roman gladiators was 1 out of every 4 not 1 out of every 2. Also, gladiators were treated more like many of our professional athletes as well as better than most slaves of their day.)

Gladiators had chiseled physiques. (Actually unlike you see in films, most gladiators didn’t have chiseled six packs due to the fact that they had a carb-rich diet to cultivate a protective layer of fat which would protect them from shallow slashing blows that were typical in gladiator fights. So a real gladiator may have the chance of looking like a linebacker from the NFL than the chiseled hunks in Gladiator or Spartacus. But no one wants to see that.)

The sign for wanting a gladiator finished off was thumbs down and to spare him was thumbs up. (Actually, the signal to kill the gladiator was thumbs up, while the signal to spare him was in the shape of a fist.)

Gladiators usually fought people they didn’t know. (Gladiators fought only those they trained with at their school as depicted in Spartacus.)

Gladiators fought their counterparts of different sizes. (They were usually matched by their size.)

Gladiators fought in helmets of Germanic designs. (Those in Gladiator were made after Rome fell.)

Gorillas were used in the Roman Coliseum. (They wouldn’t be known to Europeans until 15 centuries later. Same goes for alligators, which only exist in the US and China where Romans had never stepped foot.)

The Roman Empire:

When Octavian declared war on Egypt, he stabbed Cleopatra’s ambassador Sosigenes of Alexandria with a spear. (This never happened. Also, Sosigenes was an astronomer and didn’t have any place in Cleopatra’s regime.)

Nero set fire to Rome and fiddled while it fell so he could expand his palace. (Actually, Nero was in Antium when the fire broke out and had nothing to do with causing it. Rather when he heard the news, he immediately rushed back home where he help try to extinguish the blaze and assisted in the rebuilding efforts paid by his own funds. Most historians believe that the fire was caused by his political enemies. As for the fiddle, well, it wasn’t invented yet.)

Nero was a hedonistic and bloodthirsty emperor who killed his mother and two of his wives as well as other political enemies, had an Oedipus complex, and blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians. (Actually with Nero’s life, it’s difficult to separate the fact from fiction. Yes, he did kill his mother and at least his first wife and several others but so did other emperors for the chances of assassination were very real. As for his second, she might have died from a miscarriage. As for his mother, she had considerable influence on him but I don’t think he was attracted to her. And for blaming the fire on Christians, even that’s up for debate. Overall, there was no doubt that Nero was a controversial figure who inspired considerable bias from ancient historians. Not to mention, most people who wrote about him and knew him personally {except for friend Senectus} hated him though he was a great lover of the arts and loved by the commoners.)

Octavian was a pathetic, tantrum prone to a homicidal degree, and totally unfit to rule as despot. (He was one of the most competent Roman Emperors who ever lived.)

Augustus was a wide-eyed idealist who tried to do everything for the good of Rome and only did his bad things because he was forced to by his enemies. (Yes, he was a competent emperor who tried to be good to Rome but did many bad things as well such as marry his daughter off to Tiberius and exile her when he found out she was having an affair.)

Marcus Aurelius wanted a return to the old Roman Republic and didn’t trust his son Commodus. (Marcus wouldn’t have wanted to return to the Roman Republic and actually did trust his son Commodus as well as wanted him to succeed his throne. After all, it was a Roman Emperor’s dream to have a son succeed him as well as a rather wise decision. Also, Rome had been through a string of decent emperors by the reign of Marcus Aurelius and the Roman Senate’s power would later be further diminished to the point of being purely ceremonial.)

The Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire were two different entities. (Actually the Byzantine Empire was the Roman Empire, it was the Eastern part of the Empire, even though they spoke Greek, they still used the same Roman systems and even referred to themselves as Roman long after the Byzantine Empire fell in 1453.)

Power automatically passed to Commodus after Marcus Aurelius died, even though his dad wanted someone else to succeed him. (Marcus Aurelius chose his son to succeed him. Not to mention, there was no clear emperor succession line because many of the emperors before Marcus Aurelius simply didn’t have any surviving sons to succeed them or didn’t live long enough to have them. Thus, many of these emperors would appoint a successor and legally adopt them. A strong emperor’s son wouldn’t be passed over until Constantius’ son Constantine, which sparked a civil war.)

Lucilla’s son was alive during his uncle’s reign. (Her son was already dead by the time his uncle became emperor.)

Marcus Aurelius banned the gladiatorial games. (Only in Antioch and only as a punishment. He did cause a shortage of gladiators by putting them in the army and the games actually profited from it. A Roman Emperor banning the gladiatorial games in the 2nd century? Unthinkable!)

Octavian called himself Octavian. (More like Gaius Octavius Caesar at least from the time he was adopted to the time he was emperor.)

Augustus referred to himself as Emperor. (He preferred people call him the princeps or First Citizen of Rome, not emperor.)

Caligula was a hedonistic, sadistic, depraved, and psychotic ruler with megalomaniac delusions of grandeur who referred to himself as a god, had endless extravagant orgies, liked to kill and torture for fun, had incestuous relations with his sisters, as well as other absurd antics of insanity and gore. In other words, he was a complete monster. (Well, he probably was a bad enough emperor to have himself and most of his family killed {save Claudius} by his own bodyguards {many Roman Emperors died this way}, his monstrosity during his reign is probably an exaggeration and created by noble Romans who didn’t like him. Still, he was said to be popular among the lower classes and was seen as a noble ruler the first six months of his reign. Yet, he probably did want to increase his authority which made him unpopular with the Senate as well, had several conspiracies against him, may have had an excuse for killing his great uncle Tiberius {who killed several of his family members [like his dad] leaving him as the sole male survivor}, spent extravagant sums of money on ambitious construction projects {including two aqueducts in Rome} and his luxurious dwellings, had several family members killed {typical for Roman Emperors}, and might’ve wanted the people to recognize as a god. However, he probably didn’t have sex with his sisters {though he did make one as his queen but they were married to different people}. He probably didn’t make his horse a consul or declare war on sea deity to collect shells as booty. He most likely didn’t kill Tiberius who probably died of natural causes. Also, most sources about him were written 80 years after his death so reliability is questionable. Oh, and he didn’t like being called Caligula which translates to “Bootsie” in Latin. Bad ruler, yes, but not as evil or crazy as portrayed.)

Roman Emperor Commodus killed his father Marcus Aurelius, banged his sister, and was killed in the arena. (Actually, Commodus didn’t kill his father or slept with his sister. What killed Marcus Aurelius was chicken pox or plague. Not to mention, Commodus was a highly respected statesman who was chosen by his father to succeed him after a few years as his assistant. Also, he was married and had his sister killed for trying to assassinate him in order seize the throne herself. He’s not considered well regarded because he believed himself to be Hercules and tried to rename everything in the Empire after himself, including Rome {though he’s said to be popular with the army and the people}. He was also known as a spendthrift and tactless as well as for starting Rome’s long decline. As for his death, Commodus was strangled in his bathtub at the end of his thirteen year reign even though he did fight in the arena but mostly incognito. Nevertheless, he’s known for herding women, snogging men, killing rare animals, cross-dressing, boozing, coprophagy, being afraid of hairdressers, feeding his guards poisoned figs, and forcing people to beat themselves to death with pinecones. Guess Ridley Scott didn’t do his research.)

Rome conquered Germania in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. (Sorry, Ridley Scott, but Germania was never conquered by Rome.)

Tribune was a military office during the Roman Empire. (It’s actually a political office from the Roman Republic and no, tribunes wouldn’t serve alongside the Emperor.)

Roman Emperors fought wars against the Goths. (Only near the very end, in which the Romans lost.)

Marcus Aurelius was related to Claudius. (They came from two different dynasties.)

“Caesar” was the title for a Roman Emperor. (After 180 A. D. it was then reserved for the Emperor’s heir while “Augustus” was the Emperor’s title.)

Nero had pet Arabian Salukis. (They weren’t kept as pets in Europe until the Crusades.)

Agrippa was around the same age as Julius Caesar and Octavian’s mentor. (He was the same age as Octavian as well as his best friend who did almost everything for him. Yet, Augustus did treat him well.)

The 9th Legion was massacred in Scotland. (We’re not sure what happened to the 9th Legion since they disappear from the records after 108AD in Britain. Yet, some of its officers and detachments popped up occasionally.)

Miscellaneous:

The Romans referred the Flavian Amphitheatre as the Coliseum. (Coliseum wasn’t used until way after the Roman Empire.)

Crucifixion was one of the main methods of execution during the Roman Empire. (Crucifixion was a punishment for crimes against the state, which was a serious crime and one that Jesus was crucified for {Note: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews}. Besides, they had other methods of punishment for criminals like gladiator school, slavery, and for the aristocrats, exile and suicide. And if you killed your father, they’d put you in a sack with an animal before throwing you into the sea.)

Ancient Rome was filled with white marble statues and buildings. (They were painted in bright colors and so were many historical monuments in ancient civilization, well, a good many of them. Same would go for the Greeks.)

Roman aristocratic men wore togas almost anywhere. (They only wore them in the forum because they were required to and avoided wearing one whenever they could.)

The Roman Senate was an elected body. (They were appointed by the Roman censor, the Emperor, the Senate itself by a vote, or won a major public office at election {except Plebian Tribuneship}, even during the Republic. There was even a Citizens’ Assembly from which Senators were excluded and any citizen can vote on the matter at hand that day. They also had significant legislative and executive power and much like Athenian democracy.)

Roman centurions had uniforms similar to Greek hoplites. (No, they looked pretty different and later ended up looking more medieval than anything you’d see from ancient Greece. Also, there’s a variation that comes with pants.)

The Romans were a hedonistic people. (They were no more hedonistic than anyone else. Well, maybe the aristocrats but your average Roman citizens, not so much. Though some surviving Roman literature puts Fifty Shades of Grey to shame.)

All Roman soldiers were known as centurions. (A centurion was a Roman Army officer or platoon leader.)

Winning chariot horses got to race another day. (They were sacrificed as offerings, but the winner got to keep the tail.)

Roman crosses were T-shaped. (They had several different shapes and weren’t standardized.)

The Romans were cruel oppressors in their conquered areas. (Well, yes, but many of their domains had as cruel and brutal criminal justice systems as they did and resistance movements spent more time squabbling amongst themselves than resisting the Romans. Not to mention, they did improve the lives of many of their subjects. Also, being seen as a Messiah isn’t as good as it’s cracked up to be {as the story of Jesus would tell you}.)

Rome was the only Empire in existence during its time. (Well, in Europe. However, there was also their rivals the Parthians {later Sassanid} and Han China.)

Roman soldiers wore the lorica segmentata armor. (They only wore this during the first century. It’s just that its the easiest and cheapest Roman armor to make for costume designers. Also, many Roman soldiers outside Rome usually wore the uniform they already had.)

Most Roman architecture was composed of marble. (It was mostly built from brick but most of the bricks either crumbled or were stolen for other buildings while the marble was left alone.)

The Ancient Romans had all out orgies of debauchery. (Orgies were seen as secret religious rituals and no, they didn’t involve lurid and debauched sex. Okay, the orgies involved plenty of lurid and debauched sex but it was nothing like Caligula. Many Roman couples usually had sex at night, in complete darkness, with their clothes on.  Of course, the wealthy did have sex in front of their servants but they were mostly seen as furniture that bring you stuff. Also, they definitely had sex with their slaves, as depicted in the notorious bathing scene in Spartacus when Sir Laurence Olivier basically tells Tony Curtis that he’s his slave and he better do what he wants. Even if it means having sex with him.)

Roman birth control was very effective. (Roman contraceptive methods were virtually useless. It wasn’t very common for Roman mothers to toss away newborn babies in the trash heap left to die. It’s widely suggestive that many Roman slaves were unwanted children.)

Roman aristocrats only had sex with adults. (Pederasty was neither uncommon nor unacceptable so long as the kid involved was a slave, of course. If he was under 12 years old.)

Roman cities contained no lewd imagery on the streets. (Archaeology has told a very different story. Pornographic imagery was everywhere from the temples, bathhouses, sculpture, mosaics, and the like. Oh, and a lot of the buildings in Pompeii contain very dirty graffiti. Then there are Roman graves with plenty of inscriptions on the dead people’s sex lives.)

Ancient Rome was a lily white society. (Actually it was a real melting pot of every nationality stretching from western Europe to the Middle East by the 3rd century. However, Spartacus’s wife was probably not British, if he ever had one.)

Roman soldiers had beards had stirrups on their horses. (Stirrups weren’t invented yet and most Roman soldiers and aristocrats were clean shaven.)

Romans spoke in modern Ecclesiastic Latin. (They spoke in the historical Classic pronunciation whenever they spoke Latin.)

The Roman streets were sandy. (They were paved with stones.)

Romans had German Shepherds as pets. (They weren’t a registered breed until 1899.)

Roman legionaries camped on open spaces. (They usually fortified their camps.)

The Roman Army treated their soldiers with decency. (You may think this, especially in movies that show heroic Roman generals but it’s not true. Trainers regularly beat up trainees, exercises were done in full armor with non-lethal weapons that still hurt and weighed more than combat ones, and they were forced to learn some engineering {because they’d build aqueducts, roads, forts, and long mile walls}. They were also made to march on wooden poles because they’d have to build, fortify, dismantle their camp on a daily basis on campaign. And this was when they were lucky. Those trainees would get trainers so harsh they’d kill more people than actual battles. Pissed-off commanders could select a tenth of their soldiers to have the rest beat to death in order to teach them a disciplinary lesson {this is a process known as decimation}. Marcus Licinius Crassus killed 4,000 of his own men this way after taking command of an army recently trashed by Spartacus.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 3- Ancient Greece and Other Things

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This is from the notorious historical disasterpiece 300. While there was a Battle of Thermopylae as well as a real King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo, they certainly didn’t dress like that. I mean Spartan warriors would fight without upper body protection while Spartan women wouldn’t wear their hair below shoulder length or don in outfits other tan a short tunic. Also, you don’t see any helots tending the fields, which they certainly would because slavery was actively enforced in Sparta. Not to mention, Leonidas’ son would have to be at the Spartan warrior school learning fighting, survival skills, and dirty tricks by now since there’s no way he looks younger than seven.

When telling the history of the western world, you can’t leave out the Greeks. Much of our vocabulary comes from them as well as the fact that they were the forerunners of a lot of things like science, medicine, theater, democracy (sort of), and other academic disciplines. Not to mention, the word “history” itself is a Greek word meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation.” Also, they had the Olympics (but not in way we’d be familiar with since they didn’t have women’s events and competed in the nude. Not to mention, they cheated a lot.) There’s even Greek mythology with a pantheon of many complete assholes save a few like Hades. Of course, Greece was never a very united entity and consisted of an array of city states, the most famous being Athens a naval power as well as a place of culture, quasi-democracy, and rampant misogyny and Sparta a oligarchical warrior slave state where everyone lived off the land supported by helots and the only place in Greece where women had any rights. Still, there are movies made on Ancient Greece most notably the gory historic trainwreck 300 and it’s sequel 300: Rise of an Empire as well as all those movies on Greek mythology like Clash of the Titans. Nevertheless, even though it was the Greeks who came up with the concept of history (though it’s hard to distinguish history from myth sometimes in this context), filmmakers still find ways to butcher theirs (as well as other civilizations, but at least they didn’t leave any written records).

Ancient Greece:

The Greeks carved marble statues. (The marble Greek statues you see are Roman copies. Actually the Greeks cast their statues in bronze using a marble prototype. Most of the original bronze Greek statues were melted during the Middle Ages for cannons and church bells.)

Oracles had leprosy and had naked girls danced around for them. (Bullshit, but the oracles were on drugs.)

Oracles were attractive women who danced naked in a trancelike state. (Sorry, but 300 gets this wrong. They were mostly old women.)

Most Greek city states looked like Athens. (A lot of Greek city states would later get fed up with Athens and fight against them so why would they want to emulate them? Also, filmmakers usually use Athens for Ancient Greece because it’s the most familiar Greek city most people know.)

Most men of Ancient Greece were clean shaven. (Contrary to what you see in the movies, a lot of guys in Ancient Greece had beards and dark hair.)

The Greek hoplites threw doru spears. (Actually they would be too long and heavy to be thrown. Javelins would’ve been used instead.)

Ancient Greece was a progressive beacon of reason. (Actually Ancient Greece consisted of over 1,000 city states that had their own unique culture as well as more or less resembled a sectarian war zone. Also, only less than 5% of the Ancient Greek population was literate. Of course, the Greeks were willing to lynch, exile, and execute some of the brighter among them like Socrates as well as possessed no qualms to enslave their fellow man, with Athens said to have more slaves than anybody. Also, whatever achievements the ancient Greeks made, they didn’t spread too far since most Greeks were illiterate rural farmers and herders who rarely ventured beyond their own city state. And your average ancient Greek didn’t really care about logic, literature, or theater. In fact, they’d prefer the comfort of familiarity and superstition.)

Ancient Greek Olympic athletes were amateurs who just believed in fair play and peace. (Yeah right. Actually Ancient Greek Olympians were nothing of the sort and the early Olympics were rife with cheating, corruption and commercialism. They didn’t have the spirit of sportsmanship like we do today. Sure punishments for cheating ranged from flogging to death, but in Ancient Greece, the Olympics were such a big deal with the prize being instant and lasting fame as well as riches and bitches, athletes took cheating to an art form as well as bribed judges and competitors. Thus, what made their games different than our games is that they didn’t allow women to watch or compete and that they competed in the nude.)

Crete:

The Cretans participated in human sacrifice. (There’s no evidence they actually did this, though there are mythological references to it, which might have been just propaganda.)

Sparta:

Spartan warriors were all buffed out with six-pack abs and bulging muscles as well as went into battle nearly naked. (Just because Spartan men devoted their lives as warriors doesn’t mean they had the bodies of Olympic athletes. As for clothes, they were covered in bronze armor in battle not speedos. A Spartan warrior knew better than that.)

Sparta was an unstoppable military juggernaut with an army of proud warrior race guys and badass warrior kings, only stopping to deliver witty lines to philosophers for posterity’s sake. (This might be what Sparta was like in 300 or how men like Plato or Xenophon saw it. Ditto the Romans who admired Sparta’s military spirit. But the real Sparta was very much like the North Korea of its day that had secret police as well as highly discouraged contact with the outside {then again, comparing ancient Sparta to North Korea may not be accurate militarily speaking, but it does fit with the repressive closed society bit}. Visitors were usually given the Spartan Disneyland treatment of all the things in which the Spartans would glorify about themselves. However, more modern assessments state that Sparta was a Peloponnese regional power that essentially cannibalized all the non-military functions of its own state, in order to continue a bitter war with the city-state of Argos, and was able to use the ensuing victory to bully its allies into fighting for them. Spartan military supremacy lasted less than 100 years and its hegemony over Greece lasted only 10. Furthermore, the Spartan  army lost more battles than it won and its central warrior caste was decimated by the city’s town leaders to profit from their “inalienable” land holdings. Let’s just say Disney’s Hercules has a better assessment of Sparta than 300, especially when an old Theban says, “That’s it, I’m moving to Sparta.”)

300 Spartans fought against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae under King Leonidas. (Actually, though there were 300 Spartans present at the Battle of Thermopylae, they didn’t fight alone like 300 suggests. And unlike what 300 suggests, only a fraction of their force for they wouldn’t send their whole army that far north. Though Leonidas did command the Spartan force personally, there were 4000 other troops under him as well such as 700 Thespiae, 400 Thebans, and 900 helots to assist. And out of Leonidas’ forces, 1500 of them were involved in the last stand. Some scholars even said that the Greeks had about 7000. And they weren’t against half a million Persians, but 80,000.)

Spartan men’s only occupation they were trained for was that of a solider. (Yes, but they also learned how to sing, dance, read, write, and perform in plays. And when a Spartan man got too old to fight, he spent the rest of his life either on the council or teaching other Spartan boys to fight in the warrior school.)

Sparta was the only Greek city state with a professional army. (Well, they were the only one that required that all male citizens participate in the army and sent their boys to boot camp from the age of seven though all Greek city states had some form of conscription. Also, every Greek city state had a professional army not as dedicated, hardened, and well trained as the Spartan Army but certainly not sculptors or potters.)

Spartans had manhood rituals such as slaying a wolf. (No, they didn’t. Actually it involved living in the wild for a week and killing a slave.)

Spartans left their weak babies to die. (No archaeological evidence has been found to support this. Rather, people with disabilities were cared for in Spartan society.)

Sparta sent a naval fleet at the Battle of Salamis. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, Sparta had no navy until the Peloponnesian Wars when they need one to fight the Athenians. Ironically, their navy was given by the Persians.)

The Spartans had hundreds of ships at the Battle of Salamis and turned up at the last minute to save the day. (Nice try, 300: Rise of an Empire, but they didn’t show up at the last minute and only had 16 ships. Oh, and they weren’t led by Queen Gorgo either.)

Adultery was shameful in Sparta. (It wasn’t.)

The Spartans had disdain for the ephors and the supernatural. (They were particularly religious for Ancient Greece and were big worshipers of Ares.)

The ephors were deformed molester priests who betrayed the people of Sparta. (They actually were five Senators who ran the Spartan government and democratically elected by each village but only served a year.)

Sparta was ruled by two democratically elected “kings” who held equal power and judged by the ephors. (While Sparta did have two kings ruling the land, the positions were hereditary.)

The Spartan Gerousia consisted of men of varying ages. (Spartan men had to be at least 60 before ever being considered for the Gerousia. Of course, there is the Apella made up of representatives of the Spartan citizenry but they didn’t have much power.)

The Spartan city state was mostly populated by Spartans. (They were a minority military caste in their own city-state where the state-owned helot serfs made up 90% of the population. Also, you have the perioci from Laconia who were autonomous civilians but were never considered citizens though they were required to fight when needed to.)

Sparta was a rural  and freedom loving society. (It was far from it than what you see in 300 but rather a dictatorship by a militant elite minority who lived by and continually repressed the majority helot population basically slaves who worked the land to produce food so the Spartans could spend all their time oppressing them and fighting other wars in between. Also, during some periods a Spartan could kill a helot and never be punished for it if he wanted. Oh, and they killed diplomats, were profoundly racist, and may have practiced eugenics. Not to mention, they regularly beat up boys during warrior training and taught them to be bullies {which can be somewhat justified}.)

Queen Gorgo killed a council member named Theron. (There’s no evidence she did this.)

Spartans referred Athenians as “boy lovers.” (This might be true, but Spartan soldiers and other Greeks weren’t so above being pederasts themselves either. As Television Tropes and Idioms says: “The relationship between adult men and adolescent boys was used like in all Greek states for education of the adolescent boy. However many Spartan sources, and even some outside of Sparta, insist that the relationship was not sexual in nature as that would have been similar to a father doing it with his son. The relationships were broken by the time the older man married as he would have to concentrate on his main job in peace: procreation. In Athens however the matter was completely different due to the locking up of women in gyneceums and their general lack of rights compared to Spartan women, the main sexual relationships of men were with other men. When it came to the relationship between adult men and adolescent boys it involved a lot of competition between the older men for the affections of the teens and the whole thing resembled soap operas with the older men serenading the boys writing them love poem and stuff like that, something that would have ended with two beheaded bodies in Sparta. That might have been what Leonidas meant by “boy lovers”.”)

The Spartans had an excellent military training program. (Spartan military training was especially harsh but it didn’t put them at a better advantage against other Greek city states.)

Ephialtes was a deformed Spartan tempted to join the Persian side when Xerxes showed him a tent full of naked ladies. (According to Herodotus, he was a non-deformed non-Spartan who showed the Persians a mountain trail around Thermopylae which led them to victory.)

Queen Gorgo had long flowing hair and wore long backless dresses. (Gorgo would’ve looked like any Spartan woman of the time such as a slit up dress called pelos as well as had hair that went no further than their shoulders. In fact, Gorgo wouldn’t be allowed to have her hair that long. Also, if a Spartan woman was just married, it would be very easy to tell because she’d have a shaved head. Thus, in 300, most female Spartan characters would’ve been way overdressed.)

Sparta saved Athenian democracy. (The Peloponnesian Wars show a very different story since they kicked the crap out of Athens.)

Athens:

The Ancient Athenians had a democracy. (Actually, though it may have been a democracy it was a only a democracy for adult male citizens who have completed military training which was 20%, for the rest like women, slaves, freed slaves, resident aliens, and disqualified citizens, it wasn’t.)

Themistocles said his only family was the Athenian fleet. (According to Plutarch, he was married at least once and had as many as ten kids. Not only that, but he was also a prominent politician in Athens as well so much of his life didn’t just revolve around the Athenian navy.)

Themistocles wasn’t present at the Battle of Thermopylae. (Contrary to 300, he was and made a very significant contribution to it by preventing the Persians to sail past the Spartan army as well as outflanking them. He only retreated once the pass was taken and defending the sea became irrelevant. In some respect, he held where Leonidas failed. However, Themistocles doesn’t get any recognition for this in movies solely because he’s Athenian. So if you aren’t Sparta in Thermopylae, you basically don’t get squat.)

Themistocles devised the strategy and led the charge in the Battle of Marathon as well as killed King Darius. (While he did fight at Marathon, he was only one of many captains involved in the struggle. But he didn’t devise the strategy or lead the charge. Also, he didn’t kill King Darius who wasn’t at the battle and died a few years later of completely natural causes. Oh, and Artemisia didn’t manipulate Xerxes into becoming king {Darius was his father}, have him to reshape himself into a god {which would’ve been blasphemy}, nor did she encourage him to declare war on Greece. Nor was she a lousy commander either or obsessed with revenge.)

Athenian warriors had six pack abs and went out scantily clad. (Seriously, I’m beginning to think that the 300 franchise is catered to guys deep in the closet. Besides, hopilites would’ve been clad with armor no matter where they came from.)

Macedonia:

The Macedonians spoke in an Irish accent. (Oliver Stone cast Irish actors in Alexander to show how hickish they were compared to the Greeks though {at least in their point of view}, which was true in fact.)

Trojan War:

The Trojan War was fought over a woman named Helen. (Yes, but there were a lot of other things. For instance, Menelaus only became king by marrying Helen {who was the actual queen and much more than a pretty face} and the fact that she made off with Paris not only endangered his position but also gave the Trojans a claim to Sparta. Menelaus just couldn’t let Helen go with Paris, even if she just wasn’t that into him. Also, Paris violated sacred hospitality which is never to run off with the wife of his host.This is according to Homer. As for the real Trojan War, well, we can’t really be sure but a recent theory of a Mycenaean Allied Hittite commander from Miletus who wanted to expand his territory and had spent 35 years attacking Hittite vassal states.)

The Greeks were the aggressors in the Trojan War. (Actually, archaeology squarely puts this on the Hittites, not the Mycenaean Greeks. Also, it’s fairly established in The Illiad that Paris caused the whole war.)

Llamas were present in the city of Troy and Zeus’ symbol was a bald eagle. (These are native to the Americas so the Ancient Greeks would have no knowledge of these animals.)

The Trojan War was fought with Iron Age weapons. (Actually it was fought in the Bronze Age if it was ever fought at all {most likely it was}.)

Menelaus and Agamemnon didn’t survive the Trojan War. (According to Homer, they did and even won the Trojan War {further Menelaus gets Helen back}. Not to mention, neither of them are the disgusting middle aged guys depicted in Troy. Still, in Agamemnon’s case, it wasn’t for long.)

Paris survived the Trojan War and gets to keep Helen. (According to Homer, Paris gets killed before the war is over and he is actually blamed for starting the whole thing {he’s actually even destined to doom Troy}. Also, Helen ends up with his brother for a time before being ultimately rescued by Menelaus. Not to mention, Hector’s son doesn’t survive the war either and his wife ends up a concubine to the Greeks.)

The heroes of the Trojan War were kings. (Archaeology casts doubt on this. However, it’s possible. Still, if you weren’t a king in Greek mythology, you probably didn’t mean much in some respects.)

Hector was an all around nice guy. (While he’s nicer than most of the Illiad characters, he does do dubious things in the original poem like stealing, bragging about killing his enemies, and running away from Achilles during their final confrontation until the gods convinced him to fight.)

Achilles and Patrolcus had a close relationship because they were cousins. (As far as the Ancient Greeks are concerned, they could’ve been “cousins” in the same contexts as some of Ava Gardner’s fuck buddies in The Barefoot Contessa or even more so. But Homer also said that Achilles had a son who went on to marry Helen’s daughter Hermione. But, then again, you can’t really tell with the Greeks. He’s also said to fall in love with an Amazon after killing her. So it’s very possible that Achilles went both ways as illustrated in the Homer poem, which was very typical for the Greeks at the time. It’s also possible for Patrolcus to be older than him, too.)

Aeneas was only a teenager when he fled Troy. (According to Homer, he was the best warrior in Troy after Hector and his fate is unknown. In Virgil’s Aeneid, he’s most definitely not a teenager.)

The Trojans worshiped the Greek gods. (We’re not sure whether they did or not or whether Troy was a dependent of the Hittites {it’s said to be located in modern Turkey by the way} or Mycenae. Also, the Greek architecture should look more like Knossos as well as more or less Egyptian. Besides, we don’t know whether the Greeks worshiped their gods in the same context then either.)

Agamemnon and Menelaus had an easy time getting other Greek kings to fight for them. (According to Homer, this was made easier by Odysseus’ meddling. In actuality, getting multiple kings to fight for each other makes cat herding look easy. Oh, and Mycenean Greeks were under a more feudal society more akin to medieval Europe or Medieval and Shogunate Japan.)

The Greeks won the Trojan War with sneaking themselves in Troy with a Trojan horse. (I’m not sure if the Trojans would be that stupid or if such tactics would work. Hell, Moses parting the Red Sea is more believable than this. Still, there’s a theory that the Trojan Horse is an allegory of a timely earthquake.)

Helen of Sparta chose to marry Menelaus. (Even The Illiad doesn’t make this bogus claim. Also, Menelaus had to marry her before he could become king of Sparta anyway.)

Helen of Sparta and Paris had a loving relationship. (According to Homer, Paris was a philandering and cowardly jerk even by Trojan standards who gets his ass beat by Menelaus {who’s no way considered the best Greek warrior}. Furthermore, when Helen is accused of being a slut, Paris doesn’t defend her thinking it’s Hector’s job. Also, we’re not sure if Helen even consented on leaving Sparta with Paris, but if she did, she certainly regretted it and feels very guilty about starting the Trojan War in the first place. Still, by The Illiad, their relationship has considerably cooled and let’s say that the only Trojans Helen generally respects are Prince Hector and King Priam since they’re actually nice to her.)

Troy was destroyed in the Trojan War. (Recent archaeology says it’s possible that it held on for a few centuries. Furthermore, there may have been other cities in present day Turkey attacked by the Greeks with Troy only being one of them.)

Alexander the Great:

Alexander the Great was straight. (Historians aren’t really sure what his sexual orientation was. Let’s say he just humped anything that moves.)

Alexander the Great was tall and imposing with blond hair. (It’s said he was more or less short and stocky by Macedonian standards as well as had twisty neck and eyes of two different colors. Nothing like Colin Farrell in the least.)

Herodotus recounted the events of Alexander the Great’s life. (He died 70 years before Alexander the Great was born.)

Alexander the Great was wounded with an arrow in his chest at the Hydapses and nearly died. (He was wounded in a later siege in what is now Mutan, Pakistan. Also, he won at Hydapses but you wouldn’t know it from Alexander.)

Ancient Europe:

The Celts were uncivilized barbarians who fought naked and participated in barbaric rituals like human sacrifice. (Sure the Celts were a warrior culture headed by kings and nobles but even though they didn’t have writing, they did have civilization and their women had more rights. Not to mention, the Celtic culture wasn’t homogenous as was the case with the Greeks and the Mayans. Besides, most civilizations in the ancient world had their share of barbarity. Same goes for the Germanic tribes.)

Celts usually had red or blond hair as well as blue, gray, and green eyes. (Brown haired and brown eyed Celts also existed. Same goes for Germanic tribes.)

Pictish is Scotch Gaelic. (No record of the Pictish language exists and the Scottish people in Centurion didn’t want to speak Welsh.)

Druids worshiped Zeus. (They were Celts so they most certainly did not.)

The Picts fought the Romans in the 2nd century. (They don’t appear in the historical records until 297 AD. If they were fighting the Scots in the 2nd century, it would’ve been the Caldones.)

Carthage:

The Arab women stripped the dead soldiers of their clothing during the Punic Wars. (There were no Arabs in North Africa during the Punic Wars, and no, Carthaginian civilians didn’t scavenge dead soldiers either.)

Unclassified:

The Hebrews looked just like modern-day white Americans while the Romans resembled Englishmen and spoke in English accents.

Greeks and Romans resembled Northern and Western Europeans.

The civilizations of Greece and Rome tend to look pretty much the same as if they existed around the same time and almost every ancient Greek city looks like Athens.

Greek and Roman galleys were rowed by slaves and condemned criminals. (Galley rowers were free men for it was a highly skilled job and only relied on slaves when they couldn’t get anyone else. And to a slave, galley rowing had good benefits like the potential for freedom. As for condemned criminals, there’s no evidence to support it, even if it is depicted in Ben Hur. Rather the use of galley slaves and prisoners was used far more frequently during the Middle Ages and beyond.)

The Greeks and Romans wore white. (Actually they wore clothes of all kinds of bright colors.)

Everything in Greece and Rome was written on scrolls. (The Romans used books.)

Hospitality wasn’t a big deal in the ancient world. (Are you kidding me? Being a bad host or guest could result in death or destruction. It was deemed so sacred that Sodom and Gomorrah were both destroyed over hospitality violations. Of course, as traveling conditions could be in the ancient world, there’s a good reason why hospitality was deemed so sacred. Heck, Jesus talks about it a lot, too.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 2- Ancient Egypt and Near East

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Of course, no post on Ancient Egypt and the Near East would be complete without discussing The Ten Commandments. Of course, we may not be sure that the Exodus happened under the reign of Ramses II or Thutmose III (though Ramses II is a more plausible candidate), or if at all. Yet, we do know that Queen Nefretiri is way overdressed by Ancient Egyptan standards.

History was born with the invention of writing in Mesopotamia in which scribes would record the events taking place on behalf of the king as well as legends relating to their religion and culture. They also were known for ziggurats and The Epic of Gilgamesh one of the first works of literature. Egypt would later follow suit and would later be known as the civilization for hieroglyphics, the Nile, mummification, pharaohs, and the Pyramids. Oh, and that little thing called the Exodus. Then there are the peoples of the Near East like the Sumerians known for writing, inventing the wheel and Gilgamesh, the Phoenicians known for trade, seafaring, purple, and having the first phonetic alphabet, the Akkadians known for a major empire and possibly the Tower of Babel, Assyrians a fierce warrior culture known for their epic beards, the Hittites known for their empire in Turkey, the Philistines, the Caananites, the Old Babylonians known for the Hammurabi Law Code, and the Neo-Babylonians known holding the Jews in captivity as well as the Hanging Gardens. Of course, the two famous civilizations from the Ancient Near East were the Hebrews from the Bible, particularly the Old Testament and the Persians who amassed one of the largest empires at the time as well as are the ancestors of the modern Iranian people (who take great pride being descended from such a glorious people). Movies made in this era are usually epics in the early sword and sandal and biblical genre (at least in the Old Testament, New Testament is for another post), however, many of these films aren’t 100% accurate nor could be. Besides, most of ancient history in this setting was written when real events could be shrouded in myth so it’s difficult to surmise between fact and fiction. Also, archaeological records are incomplete and very few people knew how to read and write at the time. And those literate had to basically write under an autocratic ruler who’d basically slit their throats if they dared say anything bad about him. Nevertheless, genuine ancient historical errors do abound in movies for some reason (meaning they go against the historic record.)

Ancient Egypt:

During the reigns of Ramses II and his family, the Hebrews lived in Egypt as slaves and were forced to build the Pyramids of Giza. (In reality, this notion is false on many levels. For one, the Pyramids of Giza weren’t built by slaves, but paid volunteer workers and during the time of the Old Kingdom and perhaps around the same time as Stonehenge. Thus, it would probably be a rather ancient landmark by the time Moses came around like over a thousand years old to be exact. Second, slavery wasn’t practiced in Egypt until the time of the New Kingdom and by that time, the Egyptians were no longer building pyramids mostly because they were targets of grave robbers. Pharaohs by that time were being buried in elaborate underground tombs instead since why do you think it took over a couple thousand years to find King Tut’s tomb which was discovered like around 90 years ago?)

Ancient Egyptians used curses to punish those who break into the pharaoh’s tomb such as modern day archaeologists. (Actually, if they did, the curses didn’t seem to work. However, they did do something to deter grave robbing which was apparent in Ancient Egypt, which was to stop building pyramids.)

Egyptians resemble Northern and Western Europeans. (Yul Brynner from The Ten Commandments is perhaps the only guy who looks more like an ancient Egyptian than any other Egyptian character in the cast.)

Moses had a chance to become Pharaoh since Nefretiri was in love with him. (For one, many historians are unsure whether Moses was a real historical figure {with Jesus, it’s an entirely different story}. Still, even if he did exist, was raised in the Pharaoh’s household, and was in love with Nefretiri, Moses would’ve had no chance to be Pharaoh since he was not only adopted but also the youngest. Thus, even if Moses were to marry Nefretiri, he’d still have absolutely no chance at being Pharaoh so Ramses didn’t have much competition for the throne. And if he didn’t have any biological brothers or half-brothers to compete with as most movies about Moses imply, then Ramses wouldn’t have to marry Nefretiri because if it was him and Moses, then Ramses was going to be Pharaoh no matter what. Besides, in the Bible, Moses’ mother also lived with the Pharaoh’s family as a nursemaid so Moses grew up knowing that he was a Hebrew. Not to mention, he was most likely raised with Ramses II and we know he got the job and Nefretiri. As a side note, Ramses wasn’t an atheist and it was his granddad who ordered the killing of male Hebrew babies according to scripture.)

Ramses I ordered the killing of male newborn babies. (I highly doubt that any pharaoh would do this seeing that they needed more Hebrew men to do heavy lifting for their building projects and other jobs. Oh, and make babies with the female slaves. Perhaps he did it around the year Moses was born but the slaughter had to stop sometime for he didn’t rule too long.)

No Egyptian men wore makeup or shaved. (All Egyptian men and women wore eyeliner and shaved most of their body hair. Mostly this was done for health reasons and the environment. Also, in The Ten Commandments, it’s unlikely that Moses would have a full head of hair in the beginning as an adult and he’d certainly have eyeliner. I mean he was raised by Egyptians for God’s sake.)

Joshua was a slave in Egypt. (Joshua was Moses’ apprentice when he received The Ten Commandments. However, in the movie The Ten Commandments, Joshua and Moses are depicted at around the same age even though in the Bible, Moses is clearly much older by at least a generation. Thus, though Joshua may have been a slave in Egypt, he most definitely not been shacked up with a slave girl for he would’ve been at least a teenager, maybe even younger than that if he was born around the time. Also, depicting Joshua as a teenager around Exodus would make better sense since Moses was sort of a priest and they did take teenage apprentices {think about the story of Samuel}. Also, there have been teenage commanders in battle like King Tut and Alexander the Great.)

Female Egyptian rulers didn’t wear beards. (They wore a fake one as a symbol of their power as well as show that they were a reincarnation of Horus.)

Imotep is best known for being buried alive because he messed with a Pharaoh’s mistress. (He was an official, priest, and architect who invented the pyramid and modern medicine before Hippocrates. He was also seen as a good chancellor as well as one of the most respected Ancient Egyptians who ever lived who was deified after his death {which was only reserved for Pharaohs} and there are some theories that contend he was the biblical Joseph {the guy with the technicolor dream coat}. Of course, this might be a different Imotep depicted in The Mummy films since the historical one lived 1300 years before this one.)

Akenaten was poisoned by an assassin. (We’re really not sure what he died from. Though Pharaohs had to worry about assassination {mostly from their own relatives} and the Aten religion soon fell out of favor a few years after his death, he could’ve just as easily died from plague or other nasty diseases, which may explain why his tomb was subsequently abandoned with rapidity. However, unlike his son Tutankhamen, he looked pretty average so there’s no evidence he had anything depicted in artistic representations of him.)

Anubis was the god of evil and Ancient Egypt’s Satan. (He wasn’t, not by a long shot. He’s just a god of the dead. Seth was the evil god.)

The Book of the Dead and the Book of Amun-Ra were written on black stone tablets in gold. (Ancient Egyptians wrote their books on papyrus scrolls.)

Hamunaptra was an ancient city in Egypt and nicknamed the “City of the Dead.” (It’s actually in India as a relic of unknown civilization destroyed thousands of years ago.)

There was a mass Egyptian enslavement of Hebrews. (While the Ancient had slaves, it’s uncertain whether they enslaved Hebrews. If they did, they weren’t technically Hebrews yet but Canaanites.)

Ancient Egyptians viewed cats as terrifying demons. (They worshiped them and were among the greatest cat lovers in history.)

Egyptians domesticated camels in the Old Kingdom. (They domesticated them late in the New Kingdom.)

The Ancient Egyptians practiced ritual sacrifice at the time of the Great Pyramid. (This had faded long before the Great Pyramid was built.)

Old Kingdom Egyptians had bronze and iron weapons as well as horses. (Horses and bronze were introduced in Ancient Egypt around 1400 B. C. E. While iron was introduced by the Hittites around 1000 B. C. E.)

Amun-Ra was the Egyptian sun god during the Old Kingdom. (Amun and Ra merged during the Middle Kingdom. The Sun God was Ra during the Old Kingdom.)

Seti won the Battle of Kadesh. (Ramses II actually fought that battle.)

Potiphar was angry at Joseph (son of Jacob) for his wife’s allegations he was trying to rape her while Joseph resisted her advances. (Contrary to Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat, Potiphar probably knew that his wife had a habit of making advances to the servants and was kind of a bitch. He probably put Joseph in prison to get him out of the way.)

Ancient Persia:

The Persians gave lesser rights to women. (Actually they treated women rather equally even paying them more in some situations.)

The Persians dressed in Arab clothing and had Arab generals. (They dressed in Persian clothing and had Persian generals.)

The Persians kings saw themselves as gods. (They were Zorastrian and only worshiped one god so Xerxes’ god complex in the 300 movies has no basis in reality since he never saw himself as one.)

Persians had massive orgies and lesbian shows I the kings’ room. (Well, the Bible recounts Xerxes wanting his wife Vashti to show herself naked only to banish her later, but that’s about it.)

Persians beheaded their own people. (I’m not sure that they did. However, they did have very brutal form of capital punishment called scaphism, which was far worse than having your head lopped off. This is according to the Greeks.)

Immortals wore face masks and were soulless monsters. (No, they didn’t and they weren’t.)

Persian Immortals wore black ninja like outfits to battle. (Actually their outfits would’ve been wearing masks, light armor, and outfits of bright colors. They also wore jewelry. Oh, and they also had a full head of hair and funky beards.)

The Persians charged elephants and rhinos at Thermopylae. (They used horses. Seriously, the Persian Empire didn’t extend to Africa. However, it’s said they did use these animals in later battles, just not in Greece.)

Persians were dressed in scantily clad outfits, wore jewelry, shaved their bodies, and looked kind of like Cirque du Soleil rejects as well as kind of gay. They are were also debasing and immoral. (Persian men didn’t look like their representations in 300. Look on the murals. Besides, Xerxes had a full head of hair {as far as we know} and a beard like most ancient Persians did even in the Bible. He also wore a tall hat and elaborate robes, was probably not gay, and didn’t wear a lot of jewelry. He also wasn’t 9 feet tall and if he was bald, you probably wouldn’t know it. As for Persian side, it was a pretty diverse group of ethnicities from the Middle East and Egypt, with diverse religious beliefs {including Judaism}. And as with homosexuality, there was plenty of it in the Spartan army and typical Spartan bridal wear consisted of men’s clothes and a shaved head. Sparta was also known for their enslavement of Helots whose uprising were a common feature in Ancient Greece and was one of the least free city states in Greece unless you were a woman. They also practiced pederasty {yet all Greek city states did to some extent}. And in the Bible, the Persians are depicted as perhaps some of the nicest overlords the Jewish people ever had, if one read Daniel and Esther. So it’s possible that you might have a few Israelites fighting in the Persian Wars. They also didn’t have any slaves and believed in equality.)

Persian Immortals wore shiny masks to hide their horrific faces. (They actually wrapped their faces in cloth so you could see through them. Yet, their shields were only made of wicker. Still, they were called the Immortals because they always maintained the strength of 10,000 men. Whenever an Immortal was killed or wounded, there was always someone to take his place which maintained the cohesion of the unit.)

Persians sent their entire army to Thermopylae. (Xerxes would have done no such thing since he had to rule a large empire back at home. Also, I’m not sure if he would even go to Thermopylae himself though he and Leonidas certainly didn’t meet in person. Yet, he’s said to have been at the Battle of Salamis.)

A Persian weapon of choice was the Khopesh. (It was a Canaanite weapon which hadn’t been used for 1000 years up to that point. This would’ve been the equivalent of sending US paratroopers into Normandy equipped with single shot muskets.)

During the Battle of Salamis, the Persians had a large metal ship that chugs out pitch and a detachment of frogman suicide bombers. (Sorry, but there’s no mention of this in Herodotus nor has there been any archaeological finds. Yet, this makes 300: Rise of an Empire ever the more ridiculous.)

Themistocles killed King Darius at the Battle of Marathon. (King Darius probably wasn’t at Marathon but died well after that of completely natural causes {such as a long illness} four years later.)

Themistocles killed Artemisia during the Battle of Salamis. (She survived the battle and ended up as a trusted adviser to Xerxes, even caring for his illegitimate children. Also, Themistocles ended up joining the Persians, though only after he was exiled to Argos and implicated in a plot with Pausanias by Spartans who didn’t like him. The Persians were the only entity who would take him. So it wasn’t like he betrayed the Greeks, rather the Greeks betrayed him.)

Artemisia and Themistocles shared a moment of unbridled passion. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, this never happened for Artemisia knew better than to fool around with any man, let alone a Greek.)

Xerxes tried to dissuade Artemisia from pursuing the Greeks during the Battle of Salamis. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, she advised him against the battle arguing that it was a bad idea to engage the Greeks at sea and was the only one of his allies to do so. Nevertheless, though Xerxes respected her advice, he decided to go through with the naval assault anyway. Thus, it was the other way around. Of course, she was right.)

Artemisia was the Persian naval commander during the Battles of Artemisium and Salamis. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, she was only a Persian naval commander during the battles. In fact, all the authority she had just consisted of 5 ships she contributed to the Persian force. And she would never be able to command those ships if she wasn’t a queen to begin with.)

Darius invaded Athens because he was annoyed by Greek freedom. (Darius more likely just wanted to add more land to empire and that he was getting sick of the Athenian sponsored revolts in his hometown. Also, Persians didn’t have slaves, unlike the Greeks who did.)

Xerxes burned Athens to the ground. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, he had no reason to destroy a city of significant strategic value. Many historians have theorized this is just plain Greek propaganda while Herodotus said this was a Persian objective and Xerxes withdrew from the city shortly afterwards. Thus, it’s highly disputed.)

Queen Artemisia was psychotic. (She was just the queen of one of Xerxes’ satraps {provinces} who just happen to take his side during the Greco-Persian Wars. Also, she was even praised by Herodotus for her decisiveness and intelligence despite being Persian and a woman. Of course, he was also from Halicarnassus and she was a legend in his hometown that was ruled by Artemisia’s grandson {where he’d later be exiled}.)

Persian galleys were rowed by slaves. (Ancient Persia didn’t have any slaves.)

The Persians burned every enemy city they encountered. (With the possible exception of Athens, they didn’t. Rather they viewed cities as future vassals to their empire.)

Artemisia’s family was murdered by Greek hopilites and she was held as a sex slave on a Greek ship. (Contrary to 300: Rise of an Empire, she was a princess and was never held as a sex slave. She was queen of Halicarnassus as well as a mother and regent to a young son. Oh, and did I say that her mother was from Crete?)

Old Testament Times:

The Philistines were an uncivilized and an uncultured people. (They may have been the Hebrew enemies in the Bible but they weren’t uncultured by any means and it’s even said in the Bible.)

Jacob had sons by several different women. (The Bible explicitly said he had sons by 4 women with 6 by Leah, 2 by Rachel, 2 by Billah, and 2 by Zilphah. Of course, Rachel was dead by the time Joseph received his coat while Jacob’s other sons needed dance partners in the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. Jacob also had a daughter named Dinah, too. Of course, he should’ve known that his older brothers had wives and concubines.)

Judaism was always monotheistic. (Yes, the early Jews worshiped Yahweh but they had other minor deities until the Babylonian captivity. Also, the Bible does mention that idol worship was prevalent around the time of David, Solomon, and their successors.)

Uriah was a complete asshole who abused his wife. (The Bible says that King David was the bigger asshole since he knocked up the guy’s wife, tried to get Uriah to go home in order to pass him as the kid’s father {which didn’t work}, and had him sent to the front lines where he’d surely be killed. Uriah, on the other hand, was a nice guy as well as very loyal to his king only to be screwed in the process. Not to mention, David also got a lot of other guys killed in the process who basically had nothing to do with the whole Bathsheba thing.)

Early Passover was celebrated in the seder style. (This style wasn’t celebrated until the later rabbinic tradition which was around the time of the Roman Empire. Before then, the typical Passover tradition was sacrificing a lamb.)

Delilah actually loved Samson even though she gave him the haircut of betrayal. (According to the Bible, it’s unclear whether she had any genuine feelings for him.)

Moses wrote the Torah. (Though 4 of the five Torah books are about Moses, it’s more likely they were written at least during the reign of Solomon or the Babylonian captivity.)

Carrying the Ark of the Covenant would make an army invincible. (Let’s just say the Bible says that every time the Hebrews carried it into battle, they were soundly defeated and lost the ark as well without God’s specific direction to do so. The Hebrews were probably glad to get rid of it to get the Lord to stop smiting them.)

Delilah was sent by the Philistines to seduce Samson and deceive him. (According to the Bible, she was already in a relationship with him when the Philistines approached her. Hollywood just can’t miss an opportunity of a good femme fatale love story.)

Joseph received a multi colored coat from his dad Jacob. (Actually, the chances of Joseph having a technicolor dream coat would’ve been unlikely. He probably just received a very fancy coat.)

Nathan slut shamed Bathsheba for committing adultery with King David. (Unlike what David and Bathsheba implies, the Bible doesn’t really say that Bathsheba received any divine punishment whatsoever {or at least any that wasn’t meant for David like her son dying in infancy}. Hell, the next thing we hear about her after the whole thing was that she became the mother of Solomon and later helps secure his succession. And in the Bible, Nathan doesn’t slut shame her or call her out for infidelity. This is because since David is her sovereign king, her husband’s boss, and wanted to sleep with her, Bathsheba was in absolutely no position to refuse. It didn’t matter how she felt about David or whether she was willing or not. If she refused, it might’ve meant prison or death. Or it might’ve meant prison or death for Uriah, too. Any woman in her situation would’ve done the same thing regardless of marital status. Thus, since Bathsheba couldn’t freely consent to adultery, she was not held responsible. Besides, the Bible clearly shows that whole Bathsheba incident was all David’s fault.)

Ancient Mesopotamia and the Near East:

The Akkadians had blood feuds with the Vikings before the pyramids were built. (Of course, you know that this isn’t true when I mention Vikings, especially around 5000 B. C. E.)

Iron swords were available around 5000 B. C. E. (The Iron Age didn’t begin until about 1000 B. C. E.)

Greek warlords regularly commandeered Babylonian forces. (They most likely didn’t though the Babylonians did have a warrior culture in what is now Iraq.)

The Akkadians were a race of deadly assassins. (For God’s sake, they were just people of Akkad known for amassing an empire in the Fertile Crescent created by a ruler named Sargon and his dynasty.)

Memnon was a Greek general. (We’re not sure if this guy ever existed, wherever he’s from.)

Magic black powder was used in the Middle East around 5000 B. C. E. (For God’s sake, why is that in a movie?)

The Scorpion King was a Mesopotamian ruler from 5000 B. C. E.  or an Egyptian ruler around 3000 B. C. E. (There was a real Scorpion king but he was Egyptian who preceded the Pharaoh Menes and lived around 3100 B. C. E. Still, we don’t know much about him.)

The Hittites worshiped Gozer. (Contrary to Ghostbusters, Gozer doesn’t appear on the Hittite deity lists so it’s uncertain.)

The Babylonians had elephant statues. (Elephants aren’t indigenous to the Middle East and it’s unlikely anyone from Babylon ever saw one. Also, refer to Jesus saying about how easier it was for a camel to pass through the eye of an needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. The camel was the biggest animal anyone in the the ancient Near East anyone would’ve seen.)