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Roman Daily Life and Leisure
Transcript of Roman Daily Life and Leisure
Setting the Scene...
Rome was filled with parks, gardens, marble arches, statues, luxurious palaces, huge amphitheaters, and sprawling universities linked together with a complex network of roads and water bearing aqueducts.
The majority of Romans lived in isolated tribal communities where life had little change.
Rome was vibrantly multicultural with 1.5 million residents, strictly divided by a class structure based on wealth and whether or not the person was a slave.
The Roman Empire was the world's first melting pot because it had many cultures along with a diverse group of ethnic, social, religious, and economic standings.
Who held the power?
Wealthy males (
) held most of the power as the head of large wealthy families with much land.
Patrician class owned 80% of all wealth
were the next class who had privileges such as right to marry, sign legal documents, run businesses, and stand for civil office.
Final division is
which make up 15% of the total population and had very few rights.
If a slave were to escape, they would be accepted by society, given rights, and did not face discrimination.
Life of a Man
The day started for everyone at dawn
Average work day was 7 hours in summer and 6 or less during winter months and finished generally before sundown.
Beginning early and working short hours allowed for much leisure time.
For each day of work, the Romans were afforded 1 holiday day
After work, upon cessation of the day, they would bath either privately or publicly
Returned home for dinner, most formidable meal
Life of a Woman
The Good Wife
spent most of time indoors, at home
devoted time to household, "domus" (symbol: devotion to spinning wool)
household was aristocratic husband's office where he met each morning with clients who entered through the atrium (ancestral shrines, household gods, marriage bed, loom)
household was also a home where children received literary and moral education
stayed within shadow of husband
The Working Woman
all women worked because the economy was scarce and they couldn't tolerate any idleness
The Aristocratic woman
wife of upper class patrician
appeared in public: shopped, attended festivals, sacrifices, games, and entertainment
was an excellent hostess, but also dined out
great deal of time spent on personal grooming
The Elderly "Matrona"
most venerated because she had successfully raised children and advanced the family name with high moral standards
represented modesty, restraint, graciousness, and a sense of honor and concern for the family reputation
Women in Small Businesses
free women could work with their husbands in wool works, food shops, and the grocery business
women who worked with their hands were held in low esteem
adultery had heavy penalties, but it was not considered adultery for an elite male to have sexual relations with women in charge of any business or shop because these women didn't matter
Women in "The Professions"
worked as midwives, wet nurses, or nannies individually
hairdresser or seamstress in elite household
some physicians, but males dominated the field
women in prostitution or acting were held in particularly low esteem
Chariot racing is the oldest and most popular pastime
Greek athletics and wrestling also took place
Chariot racing was expensive but highly profitable and charioteers could become rich and famous
Circus itself consisted of tiers of seats built around a U-shape arena, up to 12 4-horse chariots waited at open end of the U where the race began
The 1st Circus was Circus Maximus, supposedly built during the monarchy
Circuses remained common, extending the tradition of Greek games
The word 'arena' comes from the Latin word for 'sand', which was placed in the center of the amphitheater floor to soak up spilled blood.
commonly used for gladiatorial matches and was originally used for gladiatorial schools until they came under state control in 1st century BC
amphitheater itself is Roman not Greek
1st known amphitheater dates back to 80 BC at Pompeii, the fist permanent one at Rome goes back to 29 BC
Design was oval orelleptical with sloped seating and and awning for protection. Animals kept in chambers below.
A place of leisure that men, women, and children from every class could attend
Like today's fitness club or community center
Three parts: a room with an arched ceiling and cold water pools (tepidarium), small heating room (caldarium), and a room for cold baths (frigidarium).
Besides simple bath, possible vapor bath
within term area were courts, playing fields, restaurants, porticoes
Dinner parties could range from intimate parties to events with music and entertainment, or elaborate outdoor affairs such as the floating banquet.
women and men dined together (unlike Greeks)
Thermapolium: small pub-like shop selling warmed wines and the ancient equivalent of fast food
Classical drama was out of favor. Pantomimes employed masks but no words and became very popular.
Elaborate performances with a male dancer (pantomimus: "He who imitates all things") who used gestures and dance to act out a simple story
Dancer was accompanied by a chorus, musicians, and elaborate staging (like modern ballet)
most dancers were male, few women
no masks worn, included dialogue
both males and females took part in the performance, though any woman who became an actress automatically lost respect
Stories were loosely structured around adventure plots with plenty of sex and violence.
one of the favorite activities of Roman boys
most public baths were equipped with plunge pools in which swimming took place
some accounts of women who knew how to swim
every roman was expected to be a good equestrian so this was a preferred activity from a young age for boys
Wrestling and Boxing
popular sports practiced in the palaestra (a central field at Roman baths)
improved overall fitness, strength, and stamina
because there was no such thing as boxing gloves so hands were wrapped in layers of cloth
boys completed footraces with one another
another favorite activity for exercise
Hunting and Fishing
oldest and most popular among the elite
boys accompanied fathers on hunting expeditions, teaching marksmanship
handball, soccer, field hockey, catch, and dodgeball
took place in palaestra or sphaerista (ball-court)
some accounts of female participation
wide variety: dice (tesserae), knucklebones (tali or tropa), chess (latrunculi), checkers (cakuli), tic-tac-toe (terni lapilli), and backgammon (tabula)
The main marketplace and business center as well as a place for public speaking, as Romans were known as great orators.
Also used for festivals and religious ceremonies.
Birth of children
Childbirths were the most important event in family life.
After birth, the child was brought to the father and placed in front of him. If he picked it up, it symbolized the legitimacy of the birth.
The child was named when 10 years old. At first names consisted of 2 parts, then 3: name, surname, and alias.
Children Upbringing and Youth
Started education at age 7.
Wealthy children were taught personally at home by slaves, and the less wealthy attended school.
Rich roman boys completed education in Athens or on Rhodes Island where they attended philosophers' lectures or rehearsed pronunciation.
It was organized into 3 levels:
1) Literator taught children to read, write, and do simple arithmatic
2) Gramaticus taught children Greek and Roman literature, history, and grammar.
3) Rhetorical educating: acquainted with public speaking and gave fictional speeches
crowded streets with many people walking
poor lived in dilapidated cottages, rented rooms, and flats in tenement houses (narrow, high, poorly built)
wealthy lived in villas surrounded by vast gardens and ponds.
cubiculum= bedroom, atrium= living area, tablinum= office, culina= kitchen, basilicas= library/ meeting room, triclinium= dining room
Romans didn't care much for furniture, instead decorating walls with artwork and floors with mosaics.
Roman Dining Customs
slaves prepared extravagant meals that could last 6 to 9 hours
it was inappropriate to talk business at dinner
they didn't eat with forks, but rather the slaves cut their food into bite sized pieces and they would eat by bringing food to their mouth with their fingers
belching was appreciated an considered a sign of nobility
not considered rude to drool or vomit
nobody cared if food got on clothing or the floor, because the slaves would clean it up (they actually dumped their food on the ground when they were done)
They reclined on couches around a table on 3 sides, and would be served on the 4th side left open.
most important, long white shirt composed of two cotton pieces without sleeves. A tunic that was too long and reached the ankles was unsuitable for men.
tunics were only for the house, so togas were worn out. They were very difficult to wrap so they had special slaves. The only female to wear a toga was a prostitute.
: Long brightly colored shawl worn by women.
: women painted cheeks, penciled eyebrows, and wore eyeshadow.
: sandal like shoe, strapped to foot, worn inside
: full shoe, enclosed foot, worn out (mostly made of leather)
The age border to contract marriage for girls was 12 and boys 14 although boys usually married later in life in late 20's or early 30's after doing some military service and establishing a career.
During the engagement ceremony, a groom handed a coin or iron ring to his future wife
The marriage ceremony took place in witnesses' presence and the groom and bride give their hands to each other and assented into marriage. The gods were asked for a blessing, and when the first star appeared in the sky, the bride would leave the feast and head for the house. The husband, waiting on the doorstep, carried the bride over the threshold.
Wedding took place at bride's father's house, and the bride wore a white tunic and a flame colored scarf and shoes.
Girls were always under the control of a male- father or husband.
Romance was typically irrelevant and they married for political or economic reasons
Confarreatio: the oldest style of marriage, contracted between two patricians, putting the bride entirely under husband's control or "manus". Divorce was difficult.
In other types of marriage:
gave women more independence and were easier to end
Either partner could end marriage simply by informing the spouse that the marriage was over, no formal procedure necessary.
Children usually stayed with father after divorce
organized in a patriarchy, authority given to father (paterfamilia)
father had absolute power over his children, even deciding whether to keep the child in the first place
father could punish misconduct with slavery, banishment, and death (corporal punishment was common)
families usually slept in one room
mothers might breastfeed their own babies or hire wet nurses (it was a common belief that having sex while breastfeeding would harm their milk)
average life expectancy was short due to disease, war, and poor nutrition.
spent a great deal of money on elaborate funerals
The Patricians controlled the government
Two consuls were elected each year and would be given the title of dictator in a crisis
The Senate consisted of 300 Patricians
The Senate was controlled by about 12 Patrician families
Early Government of the
Plebians could own land, businesses, and farms
Consisted of all levels of wealth in middle and lower class
If they met requirements, they were forced to serve in the military
They had few rights and little power, as they couldnt run for public office or marry nobility
Dictators: held absolute power, were elected by the Senate in times of emergency for 6-month term of ruling
Praetors: administrated justice, could command armies
Aediles: Ran local government, maintained roads, water supply, games
Quaetors: in charge of finance
Censors: kept track of property lists, took charge of public morality, could appoint new senators.
Conflict of Orders:
1) Plebeians spent much time serving in the army, farms went into debt.
2) No uniform system of laws, Plebeians taken advantage of by Patricians.
3) Political office not open to Plebeians, cannot influence laws that will benefit them.
**Plebeians went on strike**
After 100 years of Plebeian protest....
Plebeians got their own assembly (Concilium Plebis)
Plebeians got to elect 10 tribunes who watched for abuses against plebeians in public office and could intervene
Public office was open to the plebeians and they could even be elected as consul
Laws were written on twelve tables to prevent bias against plebeians
Plebeians were given the right to marry Patricians (intermarriage)
"The Roman Ideal"
The ultimate social and political status in Rome was the Senatorial Elite
A pecking order in the Senate determined each man's "Dignatas", which was based on family reputation
A man could add to his family's dignatas by increasing his own through "Gloria"
The highest form of gloria was achieved through war, through leading armies to victory
Every Roman noble sought gloria to increase his dignatas and surpass his rivals within the senatorial elite.
To what extent is the quality of life in ancient Rome dependent upon one's social status, class, gender, and career?
Were males and females treated equally?
What was the ideal career?
Was one's success dependent upon their ancestor's past?