The dangerous streets of ancient Rome

Join Mary Beard on a tour of the imperial capital after sunset, when armed muggers, drunken toffs and flying chamber pots hold sway

A relief portrays patrons of a Roman tavern. (Photo By DEA / A. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the April 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Ancient Rome after dark was a dangerous place. Most of us can easily imagine the bright shining marble spaces of the imperial city on a sunny day – that’s usually what movies and novels show us, not to mention the history books. But what happened when night fell? More to the point, what happened for the vast majority of the population of Rome, who lived in the over-crowded high-rise garrets, not in the spacious mansions of the rich?

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