This paper begins with a stark contrast. Whereas the Athenians took great pride in claiming autochthony, a bloodline unsullied by admixture with barbarians or even other Hellenes, Rome's legendary genealogy unhesitatingly encompassed a host of divergent blends and multiple minglings. Greek forbears from Arcadia, Trojan immigrants who merged with Latins, Sabine and Etruscan kings, the fabled intermarriage of Romans and Sabine women – all indicate a firm belief in ethnic mixture at the origins of the nation. This article asks a pointed question: if Romans were perfectly comfortable with multiple identities in their own makeup, how does one account for the numerous slurs, smears and nasty comments addressed by Roman writers against other races and peoples? It examines a variety of such calumnies and stereotypes and argues that they do not fall into the category of ethnic prejudice. Many of the more (ostensibly) hostile remarks have been taken out of context, misunderstood, more humorous than malicious, and outweighed by a host of admiring comments. The collection of quips, jibes and clichés does not amount to ethnic bigotry. Indeed ethnicity, in terms of genetic characteristics that render non-Romans inferior to Romans, plays little or no role in these assessments. A far better indicator of the Roman outlook is the remarkable practice of extending citizenship to manumitted slaves — almost all of whom (or their ancestors) came from abroad. The Romans’ sense of themselves did not require the establishment of ethnic superiority.