10 things the Romans invented

1. Rugby – in 90 B.C. the Roman emperor Sulla invented a game where gladiators ran around the Colosseum passing a pig’s bladder to each other, in a game which very closely resembled the modern game of Rugby.

2. Cigarette lighters – the Roman leader Nero was inspired by the small flames around the temple of Juno during the Great Fire of Rome, to create small metal “fire chambers” which he used to light his cigars and cigarettes.

3. Skis – when he arrived in Britain in 43 B.C. Emperor Julius Caesar was impeded by snow along Hadrian’s Wall. One of his slaves suggested putting planks of wood on his feet to move quicker through the snow, and skiing was invented.

4. Swedish cars – on a trip to Scandinavia to fight the Vikings, the Roman leader Alexander the Great invented a large sturdy cart with revolving wheels. He called it “Volvo” which is Latin for “to turn”.

5. Video cameras – the Romans had video cameras, you know. But they had to watch them in black and white. Like on Ben Hur.

6. Buses – the Latin word ‘motorbus’ means ‘everyone’ and this comes from when everyone got on a big chariot drawn by elephants, as would be taken to the amphitheatre to watch a Greek play.

7. Balloons – the Roman emperor Elagabalus frequently filled his enemies with carbon dioxide, and then floated them off into the air during feasts as an entertainment.

8. Spaghetti bolognese – the Romans were from Italy, so they must have eaten spaghetti bolognese. In fact I know they did. They ate it with forks. On Christmas Day.

9. Boomerangs – the Roman emperor Caligula used bendy sticks to kill sparrows and flies, which he fed to his horse, Incitatus.

10. Air-conditioning – the Roman general Scipio Africanus drilled holes in the wall of his tent and sent horses up into the mountains to breathe in freezing air. They then came down and blew cooling air through the holes and kept the cunning general comfortable in the hot Libyan summers.

[do let me know if I have accidentally stumbled upon anything that is actually true in any of these!]


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