Welcome to Bad Ancient. We fact-check claims that are made about the ancient world. If you want to know if hoplites were named after their shields or if people in ancient times believed the world was flat, you’ve come to the right place.
Some ancient sources claim that elephants were given wine before battle in order to rouse them into a fighting frenzy. But was this practical or even safe?
The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is sometimes portrayed as one of cousins, most notably in movies based on the Iliad, but their relationship was far more complex.
It is often repeated that the Spartans practiced an institutionalised form of eugenics, part of which included the disposing of “imperfect” babies . Modern archaeology, and historical studies, have brought this story under serious scrutiny.
It is often said that the Spartans returned their war dead back to Sparta on their shields, due in no small part to a famous quote in Plutarch.
The idea that ancient armies would set a pig on fire sounds like the fantasy found in computer games, but the claim it is not as ridiculous as it may first appear.
Popular perceptions of the Oracle at Delphi include the Pythia sitting by or above a geological fissure and becoming intoxicated on fumes of some kind. Historians are less convinced by this image.
Molōn Labe has become a go-to phrase to denounce political authorities removing the perceived rights of citizens, and its origins in Spartan history is used to solidify its meaning as a righteous stand against oppression.
It is a common claim that the construction of the pyramids are a mystery and archaeologists have no real evidence to figure out how they were built. As a result, alternative histories offer elaborate theories to try and explain the pyramids.
The Hippocratic Oath is used to this day as a marker of medical diligence and responsibility, and it is assumed that its author was none other than Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”.
The Amazons are often said to have been real, with female warriors present in the ranks of nomadic armies.