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ACTAvating public knowledge

Posted by: | October 21, 2009 | No Comment |

The difference making The Roman Empire better than all those who came before it, was how news travelled.  The Roman Empire through the use of the acta, started the idea of newspapers and was able to remain a strong empire for nearly 1000 years. 

Bust of Julius Caesar

Bust of Julius Caesar. desitin.no

The Acta had been around for nearly one hundred years before Julius Caesar came to rule.  Julius Caesar made the recordings, of both the senate and the people, available to both the senate and the people.  The news would be recorded and then copies would be made by hand and posted in areas of heavy traffic were the most people would find them. 

As we learned in Chapter 5 of Stephen’s History of News, after the acta was published and posted, people would copy it by hand.  They would take these copies and then sell them to those who were unable to travel to where the acta was, like in the case of Cicero in Asia Minor. 

The acta was not just political news but also news of the public including gladiator sports and news of marriages and deaths.  Because the acta covered such a wide array topics it relates heavily to the modern newspaper.    

While there was no doubt censorship was used by the government in what was provided to the public in the acta, the news seems to be covered thoroughly.  The majority of censorship seems to come from rulers after Julius Caesar, who did not share in his ideology of public information.

Sadly, no acta  survives to this day.  After the actas were displayed for all to see, they were stored in the public archives with other important information.  The destruction or demise of all this information is unknown and only fragments are remembered through letters and other writings which survived the period.

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