Morbid Angel – “Caesar’s Palace”

On their third album “Covenant,” the Floridian death metal band Morbid Angel devoted the iconic track “Lion’s Den” to the often sensationalized history of violent persecutions conducted by the Roman Empire against the Christians. On their followup LP “Domination” the band develops this theme into a direct equation of Roman imperialism and anti-Christian Satanism, with […]

Benediction – “Violation Domain”

“Crossing the Rubicon” has became a phrase to describe any act of passing beyond a point of no return. Once you’ve crossed this line, there’s no going back, and you’re in it till the end. Such was the case for Julius Caesar when he led his legions across the Rubicon River in January of 49 […]

Promethean – “Le Supplice des Aloades”

Otus and Ephialtes were two mythical giants, and among the original mortals to challenge the supremacy of the gods. Due to the mythical remembrance of their defiance, those who subsequently challenged or questioned the power of the gods (i.e. the earliest porto-atheists) were conceived of by the ancient Greeks as latter-day incarnations of these gigantic […]

Remoria – “Marcus Licinius Crassus”

The politician, general, and real estate mogul Marcus Licinius Crassus was one of the major players in Roman history in the turbulent first century BCE. He became the richest man in Rome through ruthless business tactics, including the strategy of having a private fire brigade that would put out fires provided that the building’s owner […]

Imprecation – “Damnatio ad Bestias”

The ancient Romans had a reputation for efficiency, and one example of this was their combination of criminal justice and popular entertainment. The Romans developed punishments as a means to reinforce class hierarchies. Only those of the lowest social status received the most humiliating punishments. Runaway slaves, foreign spies, common soldiers who betray or desert, […]

Orthostat – “Incitatus”

Incitatus was the mad emperor Caligula’s favorite horse. Below is my translation from the biographer Suetonius, our chief source for this imperial equine: “On the day before chariot races [Caligula] was accustomed to have soldiers proclaim silence throughout the neighborhood so his horse Incitatus wouldn’t be disturbed. Besides a marble stable, an ivory feeding trough, […]

Diocletian – “Baphocletian”

The emperor Diocletian ruled the Roman Empire for over two decades, between his successful bid for power against rival generals in 284 CE to his voluntary abdication to peaceful retirement in 305. To Roman historians, he is best known for a series of reforms that transformed the Roman imperial system. Emperors presented themselves as semi-divine […]