"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
Men were looked upon as very distinguished human beings. In Rome, men upholded more privileges than women, children, and slaves. The oldest male (whether it was the father, uncle, or grandfather) had control over the household and people that lived within it. This male would be referred to as pater familias. The pater familias acted like a leader in the family. Pater familias were allowed to declare decisions of abandoning, punishing, or selling a family member. It was not against the law to do so, however, pater familias were expected to treat each family member fairly.They made all of the decisions, led the religious ceremonies, taught their sons, owned the property, and had each household member’s fate of life or death in their hands. Most importantly, the pater familias was held responsible for actions committed by any member inside his household. If a member of the household had committed a crime, the pater familias would be held responsible and face punishment.
Women weren’t treated equally to men. First of all, women weren’t even considered citizens of Rome. Clearly, women weren’t very respected/ appreciated. They were expected to obey their husband, look beautiful and presentable, clean the household, prepare food, and take care of the children. Poor women would teach their daughters how to clean, cook, and sew. (Poor fathers home schooled their sons and taught them how to hunt and work in the fields.)
There were two different types of classes in Ancient Rome- plebeians and patricians. Plebeians were lower class Romans while Patricians were upper class Romans. Depending on which social class a Roman belonged to affected what their days had consisted of. For Plebeians, both men and women started the day off first at light and either worked in the house or fields all day. After work and dinner, Plebeians tried going to sleep as early as possible. This was because they’d have to wake up early in the morning for work and to save their oil lamps. On the other hand, Patricians didn’t have to break their backs as much as Plebeians. Wealthy men and women did not need to wake up so early in the morning. This gave them time to enjoy a good breakfast and pray at the household shrine. Wealthy men didn’t work in fields, but rather fulfilled their job by writing letters, meeting other clients and businessmen at the forum. Wealthy women spent the day making themselves look beautiful and planning dinner parties for when their husband returns home. Household chores and watching over the children were able to be upholded by slaves.
Once togas went out of style, Romans started to wear tunics. Tunics looked like long tee-shirts and could be made from cool linen for summer wear and warm wool for winter wear.
Wealthy men accessorized their tunics with rings. It was more respected if only one ring was worn. Yet, some wealthy men would try to show off with handfuls of rings worn on both hands. The way hair was styled sometimes varied with the time. Although, hair was most often long and beards were fully grown.
Women always tried to look their best everyday. Plenty of accessories were accompanied with their tunic. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pearls, and pins would decorate a woman’s appearance. Golden-red hair was most preferred by women and hairpieces would be added to make hair look thicker and longer. Hair styled up would be accompanied with pins, while hair styled down would be curled into ringlets.
>Boys and Girls
Boys wore knee- length white tunics with a crimson border. When becoming a man, they would proceed to wearing an all white tunic. As for girls, they would wear an all white tunic accompanied with a belt around the west. When going outside, girls would change into a tunic than ran down to their feet. When a child is born, they are given a necklace called a bulla. A bulla was used to protect them from evil. Bullas were taken off on the eve of a girl’s wedding day and when a boy becomes a citizen.
Leather sandals were the most common shoes worn by Romans- whether poor or wealthy.
The social class varied what was worn by each class. Since Patricians were wealthier, they owned clothing of better material and owned plenty of accessories. Patricians wore lively colored tunics made of silk with jewelry and strong leather sandals; Plebeians wore dull colored rag-like tunics with worn out sandals.
Once cities progressed into being overpopulated, more insulas (apartments) were built. The popularity of living in an insula remained from around the 4th century until the end of the Roman Empire. The minimum amount of levels in an insula would be 3 stories and the maximum would be 5 stories. There were usually 6-8 apartment blocks in an insula and surrounded a courtyard. The courtyards usually had shops around the area. Both working middle class and lower class Romans lived in insulas; however, more poor people lived in insulas due to safety hazards and lack of sanitation. Apartments located in lower levels were in better condition than apartments located in upper levels. Because of this, more Romans who were a little wealthier lived in the apartments near the courtyard, while poorer Romans lived on the top floors.
One type of house Romans lived in was a domus (town house). A domus was a house for a single family. However, these families could include aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. The appearance of a domus depended on how wealthy each family was. Unlike wealthier families, poorer families may not have as big of a domus, have as much furniture inside their house, and/ or a good interior/ exterior design. Nice houses would typically contain an atrium (the main room with an open sky in the center), pictures of ancestors, bedrooms, dining rooms, reception rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Wealthier people might even include baths and libraries inside their house. These houses were most commonly painted red towards the bottom and white towards the top of the house.
Villas were large country houses used in Ancient Rome as farmsteads and homes to the wealthy. These country houses were used in many ways- residentially, agriculturally, and industrially. They contained three main parts: the villa complex, villa rustica, and storage space. The villa complex was where Roman families lived. This area of the house would resemble the interior and exterior of a nice domus. The villa rustica was where staff, slave workers, and animals lived and worked. Since a villa was so big, there were plenty of rooms inside. Sometimes there were rooms with an unknown purpose, or would be used as a hospital or prison for the staff and slaves. Other extra rooms found in a villa would be shrines or temples of worship, guestrooms, dining rooms, and a kitchen. The last main part inside villas was storage rooms. Inside storage rooms would be the products ready to be shipped to buyers. Common products made in villas were oil, grain, grapes, and wine.
The foods plebeians and patricians ate differed from one another. Plebeians ate very simple food because of the limited amount of money they had. Patricians would show off how wealthy they were by the variety and abundance of food, plus the quality of their meals. Some types of common food associated into the meals were: barley, wheat, corn, olives, and grapes. Barley, wheat, and corn could be used to make bread, olives could make olive oil, and grapes could be used to make wine. Common types of meat that was eaten were fish, oysters, and pork. Cabbage, lettuce, asparagus, onion, garlic, lentils, beans, beats, fruits, and nuts were imported to Rome and were common as well. A very popular trend in Roman cuisine was that meals would be flavored with sauces, spices, and herbs. For dessert, pastries were made at home and often sweetened with honey. Wine was a popular drink in Ancient Rome; however, wine was most commonly watered down when drunk. Drinking undiluted wine was considered barbaric to Romans.
There was one big meal served everyday. Breakfast and luncheon were preferably light meals. After luncheon, there would be a midday rest period called a siesta. The siesta was a 3-4 hour period where Romans relaxed or took a nap. If one were to go outside during siesta, the streets would be deserted! After siesta, everyone would return to work or school. During the end of the day was dinner, this was the biggest meal of the day. Food was prepared by either the women or slaves of the household.
Bath houses were an important part of daily Roman life. They were very popular and were found in every town in the Roman Empire. Bath houses were open to the public, but weren’t free. Except, they were affordable enough for plebeians. Romans tried to go to bath houses at least once each day. Public baths were places to get clean, but also to meet with friends and exercise. There were also places to eat, rest, play games, and read at the baths. There were separate times for both men and women to bathe. However, women had a shorter time frame than men. Inside the bath house would be a frigidarium (an area with chilled bathing water) and a calidarium (an area with warm bathing water). A tepidarium, or a large, heated hall, would also be included.
There were no public schools in Ancient Rome. There were private schools, but only the wealthy could afford their children to attend. Children in poorer families were taught by their parents. Fathers would teach their son reading, writing, arithmetic, how to hunt, and how to work in the fields. Mothers would teach their daughters how to cook, clean, and sew. Children belonging to wealthy families had the opportunity to attend private school or be taught by an educated slave. The main goal of education was to become an effective and persuasive speaker.
Romans believed in more than one god whom controlled a certain aspect in life. Roman mythology consisted of stories about all of the gods, which were similar to Ancient Greece’s beliefs. In order to worship the gods, there is a temple built in each town and a shrine in every household.
Some important gods:
Jupiter- The King of the Gods
Juno- Jupiter’s wife (and Queen of the Gods)
Mars- The god of war
Mercury- The messenger of the gods
Venus- The goddess of love and beauty
Neptune- The god of the sea
Cupid- The god of love
Minerva- The goddess of wisdom
Ceres- The god of grain
As time passed, Christianity was later being accepted by Romans. By the end of the Roman Empire, Christianity was the official religion of Rome.