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Culture of ancient Rome
Wall painting (1st century AD) from Pompeii depicting a multigenerational banquet
Ancient Roman culture existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome.
The term refers to the culture of theRoman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which, at its peak, covered an
area from Lowland Scotland and Morocco to the Euphrates.
Life in ancient Rome revolved around the city of Rome, its famed seven hills, and
its monumental structures such as the Flavian Amphitheatre (now called the Colosseum), the Forum of Trajan,
and the Pantheon. The city also had several theaters, gymnasiums, and many taverns, baths, and brothels.
Throughout the territory under ancient Rome's control,residential architecture ranged from very
modest houses to country villas, and in the capital city of Rome, there were imperial residences on the
elegant Palatine Hill, from which the word "palace" is derived. The vast majority of the population lived in the
city center, packed into insulae(apartment blocks).
The city of Rome was the largest megalopolis of that time, with a population that may well have exceeded one
million people, with a high end estimate of 3.5 million and a low end estimate of 450,000. Historical estimates
indicate that around 30 percent of the population under the city's jurisdiction lived in innumerable urban
centers, with population of at least 10,000 and several military settlements, a very high rate of urbanization by
pre-industrial standards. The most urbanized part of the Empire was Italy, which had an estimated rate of
urbanization of 32%, the same rate of urbanization of England in 1800. Most Roman towns and cities had
a forum, temples and the same type of buildings, on a smaller scale, as found in Rome. The large urban
population required an endless supply of food which was a complex logistical task, including acquiring,
transporting, storing and distribution of food for Rome and other urban
centers. Italian farms supplied vegetables and fruits, but fish and meat were luxuries.Aqueducts were built to
bring water to urban centers and wine and oil were imported from Hispania, Gaul and Africa.
There was a very large amount of commerce between the provinces of the Roman Empire, since its
transportation technology was very efficient. The average costs of transport and the technology were
comparable with 18th-century Europe. The later city of Rome did not fill the space within its ancient Aurelian
walls until after 1870.
Eighty percent of the population under the jurisdiction of ancient Rome lived in the countryside in settlements
with less than 10 thousand inhabitants. Landlords generally resided in cities and their estates were left in the
care of farm managers. The plight of ruralslaves was generally worse than their counterparts working in
urban aristocratic households. To stimulate a higher labor productivity most landlords freed a large number of
slaves and many received wages. Some records indicate that "as many as 42 people lived in one small farm
hut in Egypt, while six families owned a single olive tree."[citation needed] . Such a rural environment continued to
induce migration of population to urban centers until the early 2nd century, when the urban population stopped
growing and started to decline.
Starting in the middle of the 2nd century BC, private Greek culture was increasingly in ascendancy, in spite of
tirades against the "softening" effects of Hellenized culture from the conservative moralists. By the time of
Augustus, cultured Greek household slaves taught the Roman young (sometimes even the girls); chefs,
decorators, secretaries, doctors, and hairdressers—all came from theGreek East. Greek sculptures adorned
Hellenistic landscape gardening on the Palatine or in the villas, or were imitated in Roman sculpture yards by
Greek slaves. The Roman cuisine preserved in the cookery books ascribed to Apicius is essentially Greek.
Roman writers disdained Latin for a cultured Greek style. Only in law and governance was the Italic nature of
Rome's accretive culture supreme.
Against this human background, both the urban and rural setting, one of history's most
influential civilizations took shape, leaving behind a cultural legacy that survives in part today.
Social structure
The centre of the early social structure, dating from the time of the agricultural tribal city state, was the
family, which was not only marked by blood relations but also by the legally constructed relation of patria
potestas. The Pater familias was the absolute head of the family; he was the master over his wife (if she
was given to him sub manu, otherwise the father of wife retained patria potestas), his children, the wives
of his sons (again if married sub manu which became rarer towards the end of the Republic), the
nephews, the slaves and the freedmen (liberated slaves, the first generation still legally inferior to the
freeborn), disposing of them and of their goods at will, even having them put to death.
Slavery and slaves were part of the social order. The slaves were mostly prisoners of war. There
were slave markets where they could be bought and sold. Roman law was not consistent about the status
of slaves, except that they were considered like any othermoveable property. Many slaves were freed by
the masters for fine services rendered; some slaves could save money to buy their freedom.
Generally mutilation and murder of slaves was prohibited by legislation[citation needed], although outrageous
cruelty continued.
Apart from these families (called gentes) and the slaves (legally objects, mancipia i.e. "kept in the
[master's] hand") there werePlebeians that did not exist from a legal perspective. They had no legal
capacity and were not able to make contracts, even though they were not slaves. To deal with this
problem, the so-called clientela was created. By this institution, a plebeian joined the family of a patrician
(in a legal sense) and could close contracts by mediation of his patrician pater familias. Everything the
plebeian possessed or acquired legally belonged to the gens. He was not allowed to form his own gens.
The authority of the pater familias was unlimited, be it in civil rights as well as in criminal law. The king's
duty was to be head over the military, to deal with foreign politics and also to decide on controversies
between the gentes. The patricians were divided into three tribes (Ramnenses, Titientes, Luceres).
During the time of the Roman Republic (founded in 509 BC) Roman citizens were allowed to vote. These
included patricians andplebeians. Women, slaves, and children were not allowed to vote.
There were two assemblies, the assembly of centuries (comitia centuriata) and the assembly of tribes
(comitia tributa), which were made up of all the citizens of Rome. In the comitia centuriata the Romans
were divided according to age, wealth and residence. The citizens in each tribe were divided into five
classes based on property and then each group was subdivided into two centuries by age. All in all, there
were 373 centuries. Like the assembly of tribes, each century had one vote. The Comitia
Centuriata elected the praetors(judicial magistrates), the censors, and the consuls.
The comitia tributa comprised thirty-five tribes from Rome and the country. Each tribe had a single vote.
The Comitia Tributa elected theQuaestors (financial magistrates) and the patrician Curule Aedile.
Over time, Roman law evolved considerably, as well as social views, emancipating (to increasing
degrees) family members. Justice greatly increased, as well. The Romans became more efficient at
considering laws and punishments.
Life in the ancient Roman cities revolved around the Forum, the central business district, where most of
the Romans would go formarketing, shopping, trading, banking, and for participating in festivities and
ceremonies. The Forum was also a place where orators would express themselves to mould public
opinion, and elicit support for any particular issue of interest to them or others. Beforesunrise, children
would go to schools or tutoring them at home would commence. Elders would dress, take a breakfast by
11 o'clock, have a nap and in the afternoon or evening would generally go to the Forum. Going to a public
bath at least once daily was a habit with most Roman citizens. There were separate baths for men and
women. The main difference was that the women's baths were smaller than the men's, and did not have
a frigidarium (cold room) or a palaestra (exercise area).[citation needed]
Different types of outdoor and indoor entertainment, free of cost, were available in ancient Rome.
Depending on the nature of the events, they were scheduled during daytime, afternoons, evenings, or late
nights. Huge crowds gathered at the Colosseum to watch events likegladiators, combats between men, or
fights between men and wild animals. The Circus Maximus was used for chariot racing.
Life in the countryside was slow but lively, with numerous local festivals and social events. Farms were
run by the farm managers, but estate owners would sometimes take a retreat to the countryside for rest,
enjoying the splendor of nature and the sunshine, including activities like fishing, hunting, and riding. On
the other hand, slave labor slogged on continuously, for long hours and all seven days, and ensuring
comforts and creating wealth for their masters. The average farm owners were better off, spending
evenings in economic and social interactions at the village markets. The day ended with a meal, generally
left over from the noontime preparations.
Toga-clad statue, restored with the head of the emperorNerva
In ancient Rome, the cloth and the dress distinguished one class of people from the other class. The tunic
worn by plebeians (common people) like shepherds and slaves was made from coarse and dark material,
whereas the tunic worn by patricians was of linen or white wool. A magistrate would wear the tunica
angusticlavi; senators wore tunics with purple stripes (clavi), called tunica laticlavi. Military tunics were
shorter than the ones worn by civilians.
The many types of togas were also named. Boys, up until the festival of Liberalia, wore the toga
praetexta, which was a toga with a crimson or purple border, also worn by magistrates in office. Thetoga
virilis, (or toga pura) or man's toga was worn by men over the age of 16 to signify their citizenship in
Rome. The toga picta was worn by triumphant generals and had embroidery of their skill on the
battlefield. The toga pulla was worn when in mourning.
Even footwear indicated a person’s social status. Patricians wore red and orange sandals, senators had
brown footwear, consuls had white shoes, and soldiers wore heavy boots. Women wore closed shoes of
colors such as white, yellow, or green.
The bulla was a locket-like amulet worn by children. When about to marry, the woman would donate her
bulla to the household gods, along with her toys, to signify maturity and womanhood. [citation needed]
Men typically wore a toga, and women wore a stola.
The woman's stola was a dress worn over a tunic, and was usually brightly colored. A fibula (or brooch)
would be used as ornamentation or to hold the stola in place. A palla, or shawl, was often worn with
the stola.
Main articles: Ancient Roman cuisine and Grain supply to the city of Rome
Since the beginning of the Republic until 200 BC, ancient Romans had very simple food habits. Simple
food was generally consumed at around 11 o’clock, and consisted
of bread, salad, olives, cheese, fruits, nuts, and cold meat left over from the dinner the night before.
Breakfast was called ientaculum, lunch was prandium, and dinner was called cena. Appetizers were
called gustatio, and dessert was called secunda mensa (or second table). Usually, a nap or rest followed
The family ate together, sitting on stools around a table. Later on, a separate dining room with dining
couches was designed, called atriclinium. Fingers were used to take foods which were prepared
beforehand and brought to the diners to be handled with fingers.Spoons were used for soups.
Eggs, thrushes, napkin, and vessels (wall painting from the House of Julia Felix, Pompeii)
Wine was considered a staple drink, consumed at all meals and occasions by all classes and was quite
cheap; however, it was always mixed with water.[citation needed] This was the case even during explicit
evening drinking events (comissatio) where an important part of the festivity was choosing an arbiter
bibendi (Judge of Drinking) who was, among other things, responsible for deciding the ratio of wine to
water in the drinking wine. Wine to water ratios of 1:2, 1:3, or 1:4 were commonly used. Many types of
drinks involving grapes and honey were consumed, as well. Mulsum was honeyed wine, mustum was
grape juice, mulsa was honeyed water. The per-person-consumption of wine per day in the city of Rome
has been estimated at 0.8 to 1.1 gallons for males, and about 0.5 gallons for females. Even the
notoriously strict Cato the Elder recommended distributing a daily ration of low quality wine of more than
0.5 gallons among the slaves forced to work on farms.[citation needed]
Drinking non-watered wine on an empty stomach was regarded as boorish and a sure sign
ofalcoholism whose debilitating physical and psychological effects were already recognized in ancient
Rome. An accurate accusation of being an alcoholic—in the gossip-crazy society of the city bound to
come to light and easily verified—was a favorite and damaging way to discredit political rivals employed
by some of Rome's greatest orators like Cicero and Julius Caesar. Prominent Roman alcoholics
include Mark Antony, Cicero's own son Marcus (Cicero Minor) and the emperor Tiberius Claudius
Nero whose soldiers gave him the unflattering nickname Biberius Caldius Mero (lit. boozer of pure wine,
Sueton Tib. 42,1). Cato the Younger was also known as a heavy drinker, frequently found stumbling
home disoriented and the worse for wear in the early hours of morning by fellow citizens.
During the Imperial period, staple food of the lower class Romans (plebeians) was
vegetable porridge and bread, and occasionally fish,meat, olives and fruits. Sometimes, subsidized or
free foods were distributed in cities. The patrician's aristocracy had elaborate dinners, with parties and
wines and a variety of comestibles. Sometimes, dancing girls would entertain the diners. Women and
children ate separately, but in the later Empire period, with permissiveness creeping in, even decent
women would attend such dinner parties.
Main article: Roman school
Schooling in a more formal sense was begun around 200 BC. Education began at the age of around six,
and in the next six to seven years, boys and girls were expected to learn the basics
of reading, writing and counting. By the age of twelve, they would be
learningLatin, Greek, grammar and literature, followed by training for public speaking. Oratory was an art
to be practiced and learnt and good orators commanded respect; to become an effective orator was one
of the objectives of education and learning. Poor children could not afford education. In some cases,
services of gifted slaves were utilized for imparting education.
Main article: Latin
Fragmentary military diploma from Carnuntum; Latin was the language of the military throughout the Empire
The native language of the Romans was Latin, an Italic language in the Indo-European family. Several
forms of Latin existed, and the language evolved considerably over time, eventually becoming
the Romance languages spoken today. Silver Age Latin was the most popular.
Initially a highly inflectional and synthetic language, older forms of Latin rely little on word order,
conveying meaning through a system of affixes attached to word stems. Like other Indo-European
languages, Latin gradually became much more analytic over time and acquired conventionalized word
orders as it lost more and more of its case system and associated inflections. Its alphabet, the Latin
alphabet, is based on the Old Italic alphabet, which is in turn derived from theGreek alphabet. The Latin
alphabet is still used today to write most European and many other languages.
Although surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial and highly
stylized and polished literary language from the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language of the
Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar, vocabulary,
and eventually pronunciation. Also, although Latin remained the main written language of the Roman
Empire, Greek came to be the language spoken by the well-educated elite, as most of the literature
studied by Romans was written in Greek. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which became
the Byzantine Empire; Greek was the main lingua franca as it had been since the time ofAlexander the
Great, while Latin was mostly used by the Roman administration and its soldiers. Eventually Greek would
supplant Latin as both the official written and spoken language of the Eastern Roman Empire, while the
various dialects of Vulgar Latin used in theWestern Roman Empire evolved into the modern Romance
languages still used today.
The expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout Europe, and over time Vulgar Latin evolved
and dialectized in different locations, gradually shifting into a number of distinct Romance
languages beginning in around the 9th century. Many of these languages,
including French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish, flourished, the differences between them
growing greater over time.
Although English is Germanic rather than Romanic in origin—Britannia was a Roman province, but the
Roman presence in Britain had effectively disappeared by the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions—
English today borrows heavily from Latin and Latin-derived words. Old English borrowings were relatively
sparse and drew mainly from ecclesiastical usage after the Christianization of England. WhenWilliam the
Conqueror invaded England from Normandy in 1066, he brought with him a considerable number of
retainers who spokeAnglo-Norman French, a Romance language derived from Latin. Anglo-Norman
French remained the language of the English upper classes for centuries, and the number of Latinate
words in English increased immensely through borrowing during this Middle Englishperiod. More recently,
during the Modern English period, the revival of interest in classical culture during the Renaissance led to
a great deal of conscious adaptation of words from Classical Latin authors into English.
Although Latin is an extinct language with very few remaining fluent speakers, it remains in use in many
ways. In particular, Latin has survived through Ecclesiastical Latin, the traditional language of the Roman
Catholic Church and one of the official languages of theVatican City. Although distinct from both Classical
and Vulgar Latin in a number of ways, Ecclesiastical Latin was more stable than typical Medieval Latin.
More Classical sensibilities eventually re-emerged in the Renaissance with Humanist Latin. Due to both
the prevalence of Christianity and the enduring influence of the Roman civilization, Latin became western
Europe's lingua franca, a language used to cross international borders, such as for academic and
diplomatic usage. A deep knowledge of classical Latin was a standard part of the educational curriculum
in many western countries until well into the 20th century, and is still taught in many schools today.
Although it was eventually supplanted in this respect by French in the 19th century and English in the
20th, Latin continues to see heavy use in religious, legal, and scientific terminology, and in academia in
Sports and entertainment
The ancient city of Rome had a place called the Campus, a sort of drill ground for Roman soldiers, which
was located near the Tiber river. Later, the Campus became Rome’s track and field playground, which
even Julius Caesar and Augustus were said to have frequented. Imitating the Campus in Rome, similar
grounds were developed in several other urban centers and military settlements.
In the campus, the youth assembled to play and exercise, which
included jumping, wrestling, boxing and racing. Riding, throwing, andswimming were also preferred
physical activities. In the countryside, pastimes also included fishing and hunting. Females did not
participate in these activities. Ball playing was a popular sport and ancient Romans had several ball
games, which included Handball (Expulsim Ludere), field hockey, catch, and some form of Soccer.
Board games played in ancient Rome included Dice (Tesserae or Tali), Roman Chess (Latrunculi),
Roman Checkers (Calculi), Tic-tac-toe (Terni Lapilli), and Ludus duodecim scriptorum and Tabula,
predecessors of backgammon.
There were several other activities to keep people engaged like chariot races, musical and theatrical
performances, public executionsand gladiatorial combat. In the Colosseum, Rome’s amphitheatre, 50,000
persons could be accommodated. There are also accounts of the Colosseum’s floor being flooded to hold
mock naval battles for the public to watch.
Mosaic from Pompeii depicting theAcademy of Plato
Two major philosophical schools of thought that derived from Greek religion and philosophy that became
prominent in Rome in the 1st and 2nd century AD was Cynicism and Stoicismwhich, according to Cora
Lutz were “fairly well merged” in the early years of the Roman Empire. Cynicism taught that civilization
was corrupt and people needed to break away from it and its trappings and Stoicism taught that one must
give up all earthly goods by remaining detached from civilization and help others. Because of their
negative views on civilization and of their way of life, in where many of them just wore a dirty cloak,
carried a staff, and a coin purse, and slept outdoors, they were the targets of the Roman aristocracy and
of the emperor and many were persecuted by the Roman government for being "subversive". The
philosopher Lucian attacked the Cynics in his book "The Philosophies for Sale" in which he mocked the
Cynics by stating "First...stripping you of your luxury...I will put a cloak on you...Next I will compel you to
undergo pains and hardships, sleeping on the ground, drinking nothing but water...Leading this life you
will say that your are happier than the Great King...Frequent the most crowded market place...and in [it]
desire to be solitary and uncommunicative...
The Romans - Clothing
Roman clothes were made of wool, spun into cloth by the women of the family. Later on the richer
people had slaves to do this work for them. If you could afford to buy clothes, you could buy linen,
cotton or silk, which was brought to Rome from other parts of the Empire. Washing clothes was
difficult because the Romans did not have washing machines or soap powder. They used either a
chemical called sulphur or urine.
These are the clothes that Romans wore
The Toga
This man is wearing a toga. Only male citizens of Rome were
allowed to wear togas. They were made out of wool and were
very large. The material was not sewn or pinned but was
draped around the body and over one arm. Togas were very
expensive because of the large amount of material needed to
make them and very heavy. It was the law that all citizens
wore togas for public events. They were even told which
colour of toga they had to wear:
A plain white toga was worn by all adult male citizens
An off-white toga with a purple border was worn by
magistrates and upper class boys
A toga made of dark coloured wool was worn after someone
had died
A bleached toga was worn by politicians
A purple toga with gold embroidery was worn by a victorious
general and later by emperors.
In later times it became more acceptable to wear togas of different colours with embroidery but
this was frowned on by those who preferred to keep to the established order.
The Tunic
The tunic was standard dress for all men from slaves to the nobles. It
could be worn plain, belted at the waist or under a cloak. Citizens of Rome
would wear a tunic under their toga.
The simplest and cheapest tunics were made by sewing two pieces of
wool together to make a tube with holes for the arms. For those that could
afford it tunics could be made of linen or even silk. The tunic would be
worn belted at the waist and just covering the knees.
Both men and women wore a simple loincloth called a subligaculum under their clothes.
Indoors, the Romans wore open-toed sandals. However, outdoors they
preferred to wear shoes that covered their toes. The Romans made shoes and
sandals by fixing strips of leather to a tough leather or cork base. Sandals, to be
worn indoors or in the summer, had a smaller number of leather strips. Shoes
for walking, for winter or for soldiers had many more leather strips to cover the
toes and provide more warmth.
Men were only allowed to wear one piece of jewellery - a ring that was used to make a mark in wax for
sealing documents. However, many ignored the rules and wore several rings and brooches to pin their
All men had their hair cut short and shaved. After the time of Hadrian some men began growing
Clothing in ancient Rome generally comprised the toga, the tunic, the stola, brooches for these,
and breeches.
Wool, the most commonly used fibre, was most likely the first material to be spun.
The sheep of Tarentum were renowned for the quality of their wool, although the Romans never ceased
trying to optimise the quality of wool through cross-breeding. The production of linen and hemp was very
similar to that of wool and was described by Pliny the Elder. After the harvest, the material would be
immersed (most probably in water), it would be skinned and then aired. Once dry, the fibers would be
pressed mechanically (with a mallet) and then smoothed. Following this, the materials were woven. Linen
and hemp both are tough and durable materials.
Silk and cotton
Silk and cotton were imported, from China and India respectively. Silk was rare and expensive; a luxury
afforded only to the richest. Due to the cost of imported clothing, quality garments were also woven
from nettle.[1]
Knitted sea silk glove, Italy
Wild silk, that is, cocoons collected from the wild after the insect had eaten its way out, also was
known.[2] Wild silk, being of smaller lengths, had to be spun. A rare luxury cloth with a beautiful golden
sheen, known as sea silk, was made from the long silky filaments or byssusproduced by Pinna nobilis, a
large Mediterranean seashell.[3][4][5][6]
These different fibres had to be prepared in different ways. According to Forbes,[7] their wool contained
around 50% fatty impurities, flax and hemp were about 25% impure, silk was between 19 and 25%
impure, while cotton (the most pure of all the source fibers) contained only 6% impurities.
Workers hanging up clothing to dry, wall painting from a dye shop (fullonica) atPompeii
The Romans had to turn their material with a manual spinner. Iron alum was used as the base fixing
agent and it is known that the marine gastropod, Haustellum brandaris, was used as a red dye, due to
its purple-red colorant (6,6'-dibromoindigotin); the color of the emperor. The dye was imported from Tyre,
Lebanon and was used primarily by wealthy women.[1] Cheaper versions were also produced by
counterfeiters.[1] A more widely used tint was indigo, allowing blue or yellow shades, whilemadder, a
dicotyledon angiosperm, produced a shade of red and was one of the cheapest dyes available. According
to Pliny the Elder, a blackish colour was preferred to red. Yellow, obtained from saffron, was expensive
and reserved for the clothing of married women or theVestal Virgins. There were far fewer colours than in
the modern era.
Archaeological discoveries of Greek vases[clarification needed] depict the art of weaving, while writers in the
field of antiques mention the art of weaving and fibre production. Some clothes have survived for several
centuries and, as clothing is necessary, examples are numerous and diverse. These materials often
provide some of the most detailed and precious information on the production means used, on the dyes
used, on the nature of the soil where the materials were grown and, therefore, on trade routes and
climate, among many other things.
Historical research in the area of ancient clothing is very active and allows researchers to understand a
great deal about the lifestyle of the Romans. The materials used were similar to those used by the ancient
Greeks, except the tilling process had been ameliorated and the tilled linen and wool were of a far
superior quality.
Hides, leather, and skins
The Romans had two main ways of tanning, one of which was mineral tanning, or "tawing" – making hide
into leather without the use of tanning, especially by soaking it in a solution of alum and salt. The Romans
used tools that resembled those that would be used in the Middle Ages.
The tanned leather then was used to fashion heavy coats to keep Roman soldiers warm during
travel,[citation needed] and in more frigid areas of Rome,[clarification needed] it was used during cold seasons.
The leather was not given to the soldiers by the military commanders or overseers, but rather from the
soldier's wives and family[citation needed] before the soldiers left for a campaign.
Although leather sometimes was used for protection against poor weather, its primary use was in
footwear and belts.[citation needed]
Animal skins were worn over the helmet with bearskins being popular among legionaries and feline
among with Praetorians.[8] Ancient Roman taxidermists would retain the entire body and the head, with
the front legs tied to fasten over the armor. The animal's head would fit over the soldier's helmet, and
mostly was worn by the Roman aquilifer, who carried the symbol of Rome into battle.
The Romans rarely used goatskin for their leather,[citation needed] preferring pig or sheepskin, although the
ideal would be the preferred leather was that most readily available – cattle skin. The thickest and most
durable leather was used for shoe soles – they had to be durable to endure war.
Types of clothing
Roman marble torso from the 1st century AD, showing a woman's clothing
The act of putting on outer garments such as the toga or pallium, was described as amicire, which led to
any individual outer garment sometimes being identified as an amictus without it being thought necessary
to specify which outer garment was referred to.[9] The equivalent term for the donning of
undergarments,such as the tunica, was induere (indutus).[9]
Looms and their effect on clothing
In general, individual clothes were woven on vertical looms during antiquity. This contrasts with the
medieval period when cloth was produced on foot-powered horizontal looms that later was made into
clothes by tailors. Evidence for the transition between these two distinct systems, from Egypt, suggests
that it had begun by 298 AD but it is likely that it was very gradual. [10] The weaver sat at the horizontal
loom producing rectangular lengths of cloth which never were wider than the weaver's two arms could
reach with the shuttle. Conversely, a weaver who stood at a vertical loom could weave cloth of a greater
width than was possible sitting down, including the toga, which could, and did, have a complex shape.
Women's clothing
After the 2nd century BC, besides tunics, women wore a simple garment known as a stolaand usually
followed the fashions of their Greek contemporaries. Stolae typically comprised two rectangular segments
of cloth joined at the side by fibulae and buttons in a manner allowing the garment to drape freely over the
front of the wearer. Over the stola, women often wore the palla, a sort of shawl made of an oblong piece
of material that could be worn as a coat, with or without hood, or draped over the left shoulder, under the
right arm, and then over the left arm.[11]
Girls' clothing
Roman girls often wore nothing more than a tunic hanging below the knees or lower, belted at the waist
and very simply decorated, most often white. When a girl went out she sometimes wore another tunic,
longer than the first, sometimes to the ankles or even the feet.
Undergarments (indutus)
The basic garment for both sexes, often worn beneath one or more additional layers, was the tunica or
tunic. This was a simple rectangle sewn into a tubular shape and pinned around the shoulders like a
Greek chiton. Women might also wear a strophium or breast cloth. Garments to cover the loins, known
as subligacula or subligaria, might also be worn, especially by soldiers. TheVindolanda tablets found
in Great Britain confirm this fashion at the time of the Roman Empire, when a subligaculum might be
made of leather. Farm workers wore loincloths.[1]
Official clothing
The dress code of the day[clarification needed] was complex and had to reflect one's position accurately in the
social order, one's gender, and one's language.
The variations of clothing worn in Rome were similar to the clothing worn in Greece at the same time, with
the exception of the traditionally Roman toga. Until the 2nd century BC, the toga was worn by both
genders and bore no distinction of rank – after that, a woman wearing a toga was marked out as a
prostitute. The differentiation between rich and poor was made through the quality of the material; the
upper-classes wore thin, naturally colored, wool togas while the lower-classes wore coarse material or
thin felt. They also differentiated by colours used:
the toga praetextata, with a purple border, worn by male children and magistrates during official
the toga picta or toga palmata, with a gold border, used by generals in their triumphs
trabea – toga entirely in purple, worn by statues of deities and emperors
saffron toga – worn by augurs and priestesses, white with a purple band, also worn by consuls on
public festivals and equites during a transvectio
Red Borders – worn by men and women for festivals
Religious ceremonies
laena – worn by the king and the flamens at sacrifices
crocota – saffron robe worn by women during ceremonies to Cybele
Roman clothing of Late Antiquity (after 284 AD)
Roman fashions underwent very gradual change from the late Republic to the end of the Western empire,
600 years later.[12] In the later empire after Diocletian's reforms, clothing worn by soldiers and non-military
government bureaucrats became highly decorated, with woven or embellished strips, clavi, and circular
roundels, orbiculi, added to tunics and cloaks. These decorative elements usually comprised geometrical
patterns and stylised plant motifs, but could include human or animal figures. [13] The use of silk also
increased steadily and most courtiers in late antiquity wore elaborate silk robes. Heavy military-style belts
were worn by bureaucrats as well as soldiers, revealing the general militarization of late Roman
government. Trousers — considered barbarous garments worn by Germans and Persians — achieved
only limited popularity in the latter days of the empire, and were regarded by conservatives as a sign of
cultural decay.[14] In early medieval Europe, kings and aristocrats dressed like late Roman generals, not
like the older toga-clad senatorial tradition.[15]
Roman Clothes
What clothes did men wear in Roman
Men wore a knee-length tunic (chilton), either sleeveless or shortsleeved. Roman men wore a cloak over their tunic, which was like
a wide shawl that was draped over the shoulder and carefully
wrapped around the body.
Important Romans dressed in a long robe called a toga.
What clothes did women wear?
Women wore a longer tunic which was often ankle-length.
Over this the women
wore a stola which was a
full length from neck to
ankle, high- waisted and
fastened at the shoulders
with clasps.
Rich women wore long tunics made from expensive
cotton or silk. They also wore lots of jewellery and
make-up, strong scent and elaborate hairstyles. They
had specially trained slaves to help them dress.
arrange their hair and put make up on their faces.
What did Roman children
Boys wore a tunic down to their knees and a cloak if it was cold.
Rich boy's wore a toga which had a purple border.
Girls wore a tunic with a woolen belt tied around their waists.
Children wore a special charm around their neck called a bulla. It was given to them when
they were a few days old.
When did men wear a
Only men who were Roman citizens could wear a
toga. They wore it when they wanted to look smart,
like wearing a suit today. The toga was made from
white wool or white Egyptian linen. It was square or
rectangular in shape and was worn draped around
the body. A tunic was always worn under a toga.
Colours were used for special occasions or to show
peoples rank. Only the Emperor was a allowed to
wear a purple toga. Purple dye was very expensive
and so by wearing the colour, an Emperor would be
showing off how important he was.
Statues from the Roman times show us what the Romans wore
Roman Food
The rich Ancient Romans enjoyed their food. Expensive food, along with a lavish villa, was an obvious
way of showing off your wealth to others. If you hosted a banquet at your villa to which other Roman
worthies had been invited, it had to go well if your social standing was to be maintained - hence why
elaborate and expensive foods were well provided. Roast peacock and ostriches and the like, would be
A different lifestyle also meant that the eating habits of the Ancient Romans were different to ours today.
Breakfast (the Romans called this jentaculum) was taken in the master's bedroom and usually consisted
of a slice of bread or a wheat pancake eaten with dates and honey. Wine was also drunk. Lunch (the
Romans called this prandium) was eaten at about 11.00 a.m. and consisted of a light meal of bread,
cheese and possibly some meat. In many senses, everything was geared up towards the main meal of
the day - cena. This was eaten in the late afternoon or early evening. If the master of the house had no
guests, cena might take about one hour. If he did have guests, then this meal might take as long as four
hours. A light supper was usually eaten just before the Romans went to bed, consisting of bread and fruit.
The Romans were usually not big meat eaters and a lot of their normal meals involved vegetables, herbs
and spices together with a wheat meal that looked like porridge.
However, for a rich man's banquet anything exotic that could be purchased was served. Many meals
were served with sauces. The Romans seemed to be particularly fond of sauces as it gave a cook the
opportunity to make a dish seem a little bit more exciting that it may have been without the sauce. One
particular favourite was garum which was made by mixing up fish waste with salt water and leaving it for
several weeks until it was ready for use. By all accounts, it was a salty and highly flavored sauce. Sauces
made from vinegar, honey, pepper, herbs and spices were also popular. The Romans seemed to be very
keen on sweet food and drink. One of the favoured drinks was called mulsum which was a mixture of
boiled wine and honey.
One sign that a meal or a banquet had gone down well was if guests asked for bags to take homes
dishes that they had enjoyed. This in particular pleased a master as it showed to everyone who was there
that at least some of the courses on offer had been well received.
Most food was either boiled or fried in olive oil. Very few homes needed an oven as so little food was
Two Roman meals were:
Baked dormice: "Stuff the dormice with minced pork or the meat of other
dormice chopped up with herbs, pepper and pine nuts. Sew up the
dormice and cook in a small oven."
A sweet: "Take the crusts from a white loaf and break the bread into
largish pieces. Soak them in milk. Fry them in hot oil or fat. Pour honey
over them and serve."
The writer Petronius wrote about his eating experiences in around AD 60:
"After a generous rubdown with oil, we put on dinner clothes. We were taken
into the next room where we found three couches drawn up and a table, very
luxuriously laid out, awaiting us.
We were invited to take our seats. Immediately, Egyptian slaves came in and
poured ice water over our hands. The starters were served. On a large tray
stood a donkey made of bronze. On its back were two baskets, one holding
green olives, and the other black. On either side were dormice, dipped in
honey and rolled in poppy seed. nearby, on a silver grill, piping hot, lay small
sausages. As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it."
The Romans - Food
The Romans did not eat huge meals.
Their main food was pottage. Pottage is a kind of thick stew made from wheat, millet or corn.
Sometimes they would add cooked meat, offal or a sauce made out of wine.
Food for the common people consisted of wheat or barley, olive oil. a little fish, wine, home grown
vegetables, and if they were lucky enough to own a goat or cow or chickens, cheese and a few
As the Republic grew and the Empire expanded the Romans came into contact with food from
other countries. They used herbs and spices to flavour their food and began eating more fish,
especially shell fish.
Vegetables were plentiful and most of the Roman's recipes included vegetables. They also ate a
lot of fruit, especially grapes, and made wine.
The Romans ate their food with their fingers. They used knives made from antlers, wood or bronze
with an iron blade to cut their food. They also had spoons made from bronze, silver and bone
which they used to eat eggs, shellfish and liquids.
A Typical Roman's Food for the day:
Breakfast - This would be eaten early, probably as soon as the sun rose and would include bread
and fresh fruit.
Lunch - Probably taken around noon. Lunch was only a small meal as it was thought a large meal
would make one fall asleep in the afternoon. It would include some of the following - a little cooked
meat - ham or salami, salad, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables and bread.
Dinner - This would begin at about four in the afternoon and could continue into the night. The
starter would be either a salad or dish of small fish. The main course of fish, cooked meat and
vegetables would be served next. The dessert would consist of fresh fruit and cheese. Sometimes
small cakes sweetened with honey would be served.
Marriage in ancient Rome
Roman couple joining hands; the bride's belt may show the knot symbolizing that the husband was "belted and bound" to
her, which he was to untie in their bed (4th century sarcophagus)[1]
Marriage in ancient Rome was a strictly monogamous institution: aRoman citizen by law could have only one
spouse at a time. The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient
civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from
the egalitarianism of thedemocratic and republican political systems of the city-states. It is one aspect
of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in
later Western culture.[2]
Marriage had mythical precedents, starting with the abduction of the Sabine Women, which may reflect the
archaic custom of bride abduction.Romulus and his band of male immigrants were rejected conubium, the legal
right to intermarriage, from the Sabines. According to Livy, Romulusand his men abducted the Sabine maidens,
but promised them an honorable marriage, in which they would enjoy the benefits of property, citizenship, and
children. These three benefits seem to define the purpose of marriage in ancient Rome. [3]
The word matrimonium, the root for the English word "matrimony," defines the institution's main function.
Involving the mater (mother), it carries with it the implication of the man taking to woman in marriage to have
children. It is the idea conventionally shared by Romans as to the purpose of marriage, which would be to
produce legitimate children; citizens producing new citizens.[3]
Consortium is a word used for the sharing of property, usually used in a technical sense for the property held
by heirs, but could also be used in the context of marriage. Such usage was commonly seen
in Christian writings. However, the sharing of water and fire (aquae et ignis communiciatio) was symbolically
more important. It refers to the sharing of natural resources. Worldly possessions transferred automatically
from the wife to the husband in archaic times, whereas the classical marriage kept the wife's property
In order for the union of a man and woman to be legitimate, there needed to be consent legally and morally.
Both parties had to be willing and intend to marry, and both needed their fathers' consent. If all other legal
conditions were met, a marriage was made.
Conventions of Roman marriage
A group portrait of a mother, son and daughter on glass (c. 250 AD), once thought to be the family of Valentinian III.
The lives of elite Roman women were essentially determined by their marriages. We are best informed
about families with both wealth and political standing, whose largely inherited money would follow both
their sons and their daughters. In the earliest periods of Roman history, Manus Marriage meant that a
married woman would be subjugated by her husband, but that custom had died out by the 1st century
BCE, in favor of Free Marriage which did not grant a husband any rights over his wife or have any
changing effect on a woman's status.[4]
Elite young men would usually marry in their mid-twenties, after a year or more ofmilitary service and
some initial experience attending cases and even pleading in the criminal or civil courts.[5] Their brides,
however, would be markedly younger women, between fifteen and twenty years of age. [6] This was in part
because the family felt no need to retain the daughter at home in order to give her a full education, [citation
needed]and partly from fear that once into the flush of adolescence the girl might throw away her virginity or
lose the reputation for chastity, which was a prerequisite for marriage. [citation needed] The higher the social
position of the girl, the sooner betrothal tended to follow puberty, since marriage were arranged for
political reasons. The actual marriage, however, was usually postponed until she was physically mature
enough to carry a healthy pregnancy or survive the high risks of childbirth. The young wife would learn
some of the complexities of running a large household by observing her mother, and her training would
be supplemented by the slave staff of her new household.[7]
The more prominent her family, the less it was likely that the girl would have much choice in the age,
appearance or character of her first husband.[7] Through high status marriages (even imperial ones),
women were able to gain associative power from their husbands' prominent positions in society. Women
who gained power in this way could even then legitimize the power positions of their sons (such as
with Livia and Tiberius) as their symbolic status influenced Roman society.
While upper class girls married very young, there is evidence[citation needed] that lower class women –
plebeians, freedwomen etc. – often married in their late teens or early twenties. Women were not seen
as likely to marry after thirty. Marriage for them was not about economic or political gain, so it was not as
In a sense, the lives of all women in antiquity were defined around their expectation and achievement of
marriage: first as young girls, then as wives and, if all went well, as mothers. In their later years, it was
statistically probable that they would survive their husbands and live as widows. From day to day, on a
larger scale, their obligations and opportunities depended on the man or men to whom they were
Marriage in Roman times began as a sacred institution. Divorce was unknown. Patricians married only
patricians, and they were married in the stately form of marriage called confarreatio (the only legal form
of marriage at the time). The patrician took his bride from her father's family into his own, with the direct
consent of the gods (revealed by the auspices), in the presence of representatives of his gens. In this
form, the wife passed in manum viri (under her husband's authority) and her husband would also
become, in a way, her master. The ceremony involved the joining of hands of the bride and groom by
the pronuba (a matron who had been married only once and was still living with there husband) in front
of ten witnesses, representing the ten clans of the curia, an old patrician division of the people. The term
confarriato came from the cake of far(spelt, an old variety of wheat), which was dedicated to Jupiter by
the high priest and the priest of Jupiter.
Plebiens (free non-citizens), however, had their own form of marriage, called usus. In modern times,
usus would be similar to our commonlaw marriages. Essentially it consisted of the living together of man
and woman as husband and wife. There were probably other forms and ceremonies of which we know
nothing. Paticians did not recognize plebian marriages because plebians were not citizens. Usus did not
involve manus. A wife could remain a member of her father's family and hold whatever property her
father allowed her by staying away from her husband for three nights in succession each year. If she did
this, her husband could not control her property.
Another Roman form of marriage, coemptio, was ancient - but not so old as usus. Coemptio was a
fictitious sale by which the pater familias of the woman, or her guardian if she had one, transferred her
to the man in marriage. This form may have been a survival of the ancient custom of purchase of wives.
Of course, it entailed manus, since in form it was a transfer of property. It seems to have been
considered socially a better form than usus. Coemptio survived usus as a form of marriage with manus.
For the ceremony, five witnesses were necessary. The purchase money was represented by a single coin
laid in scales held by a scale-holder. The scales, scale-holder, and witnesses were all essential in the
When plebians became citizens, their forms of marriage were legalized, but they still did not have the
right of intermarriage (jus conubii) with patricians. This was mostly due to the patricians' religious
objections. Since the gods of the State were their gods, auspices could be taken only by patricians, and
therefore only marriages of patricians were sanctioned by the gods. Patrician orators protested that
unions of plebeians were not justae nuptiae (legal marriages). Although many plebeian families were
almost as ancient as patricians and many were rich and powerful, it was not until 445 B.C. that marriage
between the two classes were formally sanctioned by law, at which point new conditions were fixed for
justae nuptiae. Coemptio became the usual form of marriage when one party was pleveian. Marriage with
manus became less common as patrician women realized the advantages of marriage without it. Taking
the auspices before the ceremony became a mere form, and marriage gradually lost its sacramental
character. Later, these changes resulted in a laxness in marriage and a freedom of divorce that seemed
int he time of Augustus to threaten the life of the Roman commonwealth.
By Cicero's time marriage with manus was probably uncommon and consequently confarreatio and
coemptio were not generally used. However, confarreatio never really died out because certain Roman
priesthoods could only be held by men who had been married in this form. To induce women to be
married by the confarreate ceremony, Augustus offered exemption from manus to a wife after she had
three children. This proved not to be enough and under Tiberius manus was eliminated from confarreatio
in order to fill even the few priestly offices.
In order for a marriage to be legal, a number of criteria had to be filled. The consent of both bride and
groom, or that of the pater familias if both were in patria potestate, had to be given. In the time of
Augustus a law was passed forbidding the pater familias from refusing his consent without showing valid
reason. Both parties had to be adult (probably meaning fourteen for the groom and twelve for the bride).
Both man and woman had to be unmarried (Rome never sanctioned polygamy). The contracting parties
could not be closely related. Marriage was forbidden between ascendants and descendants, between
other cognates within the sixth (later the fourth) degree, and between the nearer connections by
Other distinctions might affect the civil status of a couple's children. If all requirements were fulfilled and
both parties were Roman citizens, the children were legitimate, and by birth possessed of all civil rights.
If one of the parties to a marriage was a Roman citizen and the other a member of a community havin
jus conubii but not full Roman citizenship, the children took the civil standing of their father. If the father
was a citizen, so were the children; if not, they were foreigners like him. If either party was without jus
conubii, the union, although legal, was an irregular marriage; the children were legitimate, but took the
civil position of the parent of lower degree.
A formal betrothal before marriage was considered good form but not legally necessary; it carried with it
no obligations that could be enforced by law. Betrothal involved the girl being promised in solemn form
by her pater familias or guardian to the man if he was independent, or to the head of his house. The
word spondeo was used for this promise, and the girl was henceforth sponsa(promised/engaged). The
person making the promise had the right to cancel it at any time. This was usually done through a third
person, a nuntius (messenger). The formal expression for breaking an engagement was repudium
renuntiare (to send a rejection), or simply renuntiare.
A man almost always presented gifts to his betrothed, such as a ring or sometimes articles for personal
use. The ring was worn on the third finger of the left hand because there was a belief in Roman times
and for centuries later that a nerve or sinew ran directly from this finger to the heart. Engagements and
wedding rings are still worn on this finger. Also the girl usually made a gift to her betrothed.
It was a point of honour with Romans for the bride to bring her husband a dowry ( dos). If the girl was in
patria potestate, this was provided by the head of her house. If she was independent, she supplied her
own dowry, or if she had no property her relatives might help out (if they were unwilling, there was a
process of law with which she could compel her parents or grandparents to furnish it).
Roman marriage required no license or state officials. The essential consent had to be shown by some
act of personal union between the parties (marriage could not be entered into by letter, messenger, or
proxy). This public act could consist of the joining of hands in the presence of witnesses, the bride's
letting herself be escorted to her husband's house, or in later times, the signing of the marriage contract.
Escorting a bride to her new home was a custom never omitted when those concerned had any social
The choice of wedding day was a complicated one. The Kalends, Nones, and Ides of each moths, and the
day following each one, were unlucky. So were all of May and the first half of June, because of certain
religious ceremonies observed in these months, the memorial days (February 13-21), and the days when
the entrance to the lower world was supposed to be open (August 24, October 5, and November 8). The
great holidays, too, were avoided, because friends and relatives were sure to have many engagements
then. A woman marrying for the second time might choose one of these holidays, so that her wedding
would not be conspicuous.
On the evening before her wedding day, a bride dedicated to the lares of her father's house
herbulla (locket), and if she was young, her childish toys. For the sake of a favorable omen, she tried on
her wedding dress, the tunica recta (straight tunic), woven in one piece and falling to the feet. It was
supposed to have taken the name recta from being woven in the old-fashioned way an upright loom.
On the morning of her wedding day a bride was dressed by her mother. The tunica recta was fastened
around the waist with a band of wool tied in the knot of Hercules (probably because Hercules was the
guardian of wedded life), which only the husband was privileged to untie. Over the tunic the bride wore a
flame-coloured veil (so significant that nubere, to veil oneself, is the word regularly used for a woman's
marriage). The bride's hair was divided into six locks by the point of a spear, or a comb of that shape (a
practice surviving perhaps from the ancient custom of marriage by capture. These locks were coiled an
held in position by ribbons. The Vestal Virgins wore their hair this way, so the style must have been an
extremely early one. In addition, the bride wore a wreath made of flowers and sacred plants which she
had gathered herself. The groom, wearing a toga, had a similar wreath of flowers on his head.
The actual wedding ceremonies depended on the particular form used, and varied considerably. Most
weddings were probably simpler than those described by our chief authorities. The house of the bride's
father, where the ceremony was performed, was decorated with flowers, boughs of trees, bands of wool,
and tapestries. The omens had already been taken before sunrise. If the omens were pronounced
favourable, the bride and the groom appeared in the atrium and the wedding began.
First came the marriage ceremony, varying according to the form used. Next came the wedding dinner,
usually given at the house of the bride's father, sometimes very extravagant. After this, the bride was
always formally escorted to her husband's house. This was the wedding procession. The marriage hymn
was sung and the groom took the bride with a show of force from her mother's arms (seen by the
Romans as a reference to the rape of the Sabines, but more likely an allusion to the tradition of marriage
by capture). The bride, attended by three boys whose parents were both living, joined the procession.
Two boys held her hands and one carried the wedding torch of hawthorne. Behind her walked the
camillus, and someone carrying a distaff and spindle (emblems of domestic life). During the march rude
songs called the versus Fescennini were sung. The crowd shouted the ancient marriage cry, whose origin
is unknown. There are many variations of it, most of them sounding something like Talassius or Talassio.
The bride had three coins with her, one of which she dropped as an offering to the gods of the
crossroads, another of which she later gave to the groom as an emblem of the dowry she brought him,
and the third she offered tot he lares of his house. The groom scattered nuts, sweetmeats, and sesame
cakes through the crowd.
Upon arrival at the groom's house, the bride wound the doorposts with bands of wool (probably a symbol
of her future work as mistress of the household), and anointed the door with oil and fat, emblems of
plenty. She was then lifted carefully over the threshold (possibly in order to avoid such a bad omen as a
slip of the foot on entering her new home for the first time, possibly another reminder of marriage by
capture). In the atrium, the husband offered his wife fire and water in token of the life they were to live
together. The bride kindled the hearth with the marriage torch (the torch as later tossed among the
guests to be scrambled for as a lucky possession). The bride recited a prayer and was led by the pronuba
to the wedding couch. On the following nights, there were other festivities and dinner parties.
After a woman was married, she was a person of incredibly high position. She was the absolute mistress
of the house, overseeing education of her children as well as the slaves. She often helped with business.
She had a place at public games, at theaters and at great religious ceremonies of state. She could testify
in court and until late in the Republic, might even defend a case. Often she managed her own property.
Her birthday was sacredly observed. The Roman Matronalia was very much like our own Mother's Day,
celebrated on the kalends of first day of March. When a woman of a noble family died, she might be
honoured with a public eulogy, delivered from the rostra in the Forum.
Two rooms are prepared, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. In Roman terms these represent the bride's
parental home and the groom's house to which she will be taken. Each room is decorated with family photos from
the family represented therein.
Also in the "bride's home" (wedding location): Spelt bread [this is made with an older kind of wheat used to
symbolize the ancient far, and is available at health food stores], an incense burner and some incense on an altar.
Altar candles.
Also in the "groom's home" (reception location): A Lararium with incense burner. Bowls of alcohol (for "fire") and
water. A miniature bed. A vase with two flowers. A couch with a sheepskin spread across it (this might originally
have been the skin of an animal sacrificed for the wedding).
When the guests are settled, Auspex lights the altar incense and (as
far as is practical) purifies the space. She then lights the altar
Auspex: All who are here, be silent! This place is cleansed of
unlucky influences. The auspices show favor to this union.
Officiant: Providence and Fortune, stay here and be with us, while
we go on with this sacred ritual. May William and Patricia deserve
to get from our hands the sacred wedding tie, sanctified by the
strength that the Immortals will give to them, symbolized by this
sacred spelt bread. Iuppiter Feretrius, god of contracts, and Iuno
Pronuba, goddess of marriage, shall make one thing of them both,
and nor time, nor adversities, nor death itself will upset this.
Happiness, Harmony and Love reign over their hearts.
Let the bride be led forward. [Pronuba (matron of honor) leads the
bride to the altar.]
The officiant prepares herself at the altar.
Officiant: Patricia, answer truly: Are you of sufficient age to marry, being contracted to no other man, and bearing
no blood relationship to your chosen husband?
Bride: I am.
Officiant: And have you come from the house of your family to this place, of your own will and intent, to be married
to this man?
Bride: I have.
Officiant: Does the representative of your family agree to this marriage?
Bride's father: Yes.
Officiant: Let the bridegroom be led forward. [Pronuba leads him forward.]
Officiant: William, answer truly: Are you of sufficient age to marry, being contracted to no other woman, and
bearing no blood relationship to your chosen wife?
Groom: I am.
Officiant: And have you come from the house of your family to this place, of your own will and intent, to be married
to this woman?
Groom: I am.
Officiant: Does the representative of your family agree to this marriage?
Groom's father: Yes.
Officiant: I charge you, Infernal Nemesis and you, Mania, (Goddess of Death) away from these people. Go away
with haste!
(offers incense) God or goddess of this place, receive the right sacrifice for our presence here. If I do this, or if
others do it, may this be done in the right way. By this means, while I give to you these offerings, I pray to you.
(offers incense) Oh goddess of this house, I bow and I pray you. Look over
the people of this house. May all of them have a long life.
(holds candle aloft) Oh eternal Fire, make us forever prosperous, forever
happy. You that feed us, you that are rich, receive our offering and give us
happiness, and sweet health.
(makes sign of opening over the couple) Oh Ianus, father of us all, you are
the guardian of the sacred heaven's door. Ianus, the good creator, come to us
and be beneficial.
Patricia and William, you have spoken your consent to be married. Signify it
now by joining hands. [wraps the hands with a leather cord]
Juppiter Feretrius, Juno Pronuba and holy Fides, god of loyalty, hear and
observe what is to come. Hold William and Patricia united for all their
remaining lifetime. May the gods allow it.
(to couple) This cord ties you to each other with the bond of Love, which is
as gentle as silk, and the bond of Trust, which is as strong as iron.
Patricia and William stand together
with their hands bound in marriage.
From this moment forward you are wed, yet there are ceremonies that must
be observed to bring good fortune to your marriage. [Officiant takes up the
cake and breaks it in two, putting one half in each free hand. Bride and groom eat.]
Officiant (while they are eating): By ancient custom this sacred wheat cake is eaten by both of you to bring long life,
renewal and growth. By choosing to be married in this style, called confarreatio after the wheat known as "far," you
choose the most binding and most hallowed of marriages, practiced only by the most traditional of patrician
[Officiant moves to the brazier and offers another spelt cake.]
Jupiter Farreus, god of the sacred wheat, because it is proper for offerings to be given to you for the sacred feast of a
new-married couple, may you be honored by this, the feast offering. Be favorable to us and be favorable to William
Patricia who come to you for the sacred wedding tie. So be you honored for this sacrifice I give you.
[Officiant unties the cord, gives it to the groom, and bids the couple rise.]
Patricia and William, as a token of the marriage you have just contracted, you have brought rings, circles without
beginning or end, as tokens of love and faith. (Pronuba and Flamen produce the rings and give them to Officiant.)
Iuppiter Feretrius, Iuno Pronuba, while I offer you this spelt bread, with devoted prayers, I ask your grace and I ask
you to consecrate these wedding rings. (hands the rings over the brazier with the incense, allowing smoke to cover
them) Infuse in them your power, since the sacred tie that the couple will now seal, will shelter them from any
adversity, and let them be prosperous, in the breast of happiness, forever. Ita est!
[Bride takes Groom's hand.]
Bride: Ubi ti Cassius, ego Cassia. With this ring, I, Patricia, take you, William, to my heart, my hand and my spirit.
[Groom takes bride's hand.]
Groom: Ubi ti Cassia, ego Cassius. With this ring, I, William, take
you, Patricia, to my heart, my hand and my spirit.
Officiant: Let the spirits of their ancestors, and our sisters and
brothers gathered here witness that Patricia and William have been
joined together in the sight of the gods. May Iuppiter Feretrius and
Juno Pronuba lead you away from here, taking you by the hand.
May the divine Dioscures, guardians of the journey, watch over you
and, from the height of the skies, follow you with their winged
horses. May all the superior gods be beneficial to you. May the
inferior gods draw away their dark hand from you. May you
remember this moment with joy, when you are old.
Patricia places William's wedding ring on his
hand. The double-ring ceremony is not
Roman, though rings were traditional betrothal
gifts and were popular in general in Roman
Listen, the rite is done! May the gods be favorable to you all! Now let us make a merry procession to the next room,
which symbolizes the home where the new bridegroom will welcome his bride. The Flamen Dialis and I shall
accompany him there, and help him to make all ready for the ceremony of welcome. The respected elders of the
couple's families should come next, so as to be sure of having seats, and the rest of you may follow. Last will come
the bride and her attendants. Let the music begin!
Iuppiter Feretrius and all you gods that we invoked until now, if in
this ceremony there is something wrong, may with this offer of
apology, myself, this couple, and everyone present, be purified.
[Procession. The band sings and plays. The groom gets into the next room and lights a candle at the Lararium, lights
charcoal for incense and lights the firepot. The bride's attendants make it into the room and make sure there's a path
for the bride and the Pronuba. Pronuba leads bride up to the door.]
Groom: Come and be welcome in your new home!
[Bride comes forward. Groom picks up the fire and water bowls.]
Groom: (takes a basin with some water and, lifting it:)
I offer you this Water, because we all were born from it. May you take care
of it in our house, for purifying us, and quench our thirst when needed. Drink
the Water with me. (gives the water to the bride and they drink it)
I offer you this Fire, because it is the ignited element of our immortal souls.
Take care of our domestic fire, take care of the visible and concealed god that
lives inside us. Never let it extinguish, because our life depends from its life.
(gives the cup to the bride, she takes care of it for a moment, then she puts it
over the ceremonial table).
William welcomes Patricia. This
Bride: I accept this Water and this Fire. May the gods guard it and maintain it
picture shows the traditional six locks forever, until the sweet life which hold us united passes. So I desire and pray.
of hair, curled and gathered at the
back of her head.
[Both pick up flowers from the vase.]
Groom: This represents my genius, the spirit that is essential to me.
Bride: This represents my juno, the spirit that is essential to me.
[Together they lay the flowers on the bed.]
Groom: Let these spirits dwell together in love and harmony.
Groom: This is the Lararium, wherein dwells the spirit of our home. (goes near the brazier, takes some spelt in
hand:) I make this offering, because the gods gave you to me. So let us be together, loving each other, with happy
thoughts and souls. May the gods allow us to live together for many, many years. (offers the spelt to the fire)
Bride: (goes near the brazier, takes some spelt in hand:) "I make this offering to the Numi of the domestic fire, for
our happiness. I want to live with you and be your bride, until we both shall reach the oldest age. This I declare and
swear upon the gods." (offers the spelt to the fire)
Groom: Be well, family Lars (adoratio). [A ritual gesture putting the hand to the mouth and then holding it out and
up. Rather like blowing a kiss, but more solemn.]
Bride: Be well, Di Penates (adoratio).
Groom: Be well, House of the Paterfamilias (adoratio).
Bride: Be well, Mother Vesta (adoratio).
Groom: May we, our families and our nation have what is goodly, auspicious, fruitful, fortunate, and wholesome. Ita
Groom: The ceremony is ended. Let the celebration begin! [They take a seat together on a couch covered in
Roman Sports
History, Facts and Information about Roman Sports
One of the most important attributes of the Romans was the ability to assimilate ideas and customs from the cultures and societies which
they encountered. Roman sports were highly influenced by the Greeks. However, the Romans applied their own 'twist' to sports which
were less artistic than their Greek counterparts. The Roman attention to developing and strengthening the body by exercises was
considerable, though only for military purposes. In many Roman sports the emphasis was on spectacle and violence and therefore could be
added to the Roman 'games'. The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about life in Ancient Rome
including Roman Sports.
Roman Sports and Exercise - The Greek influence
The Romans originally had no places corresponding to the Greek gymnasia and palaestrae; and when towards the close of the republic,
wealthy Romans, in imitation of the Greeks, began to build places for exercise in their villas which they called gymnasia and palaestrae.
Roman Sports - The Gymnasium, Stadia and Xysti
The gymnasium was introduced among the Romans from Greece. The emperor Nero was the first to build a public gymnasium at Rome.
Another was erected by Commodus. Although these institutions were intended to introduce Greek gymnastics among the Romans they
never gained any great importance, as the magnificent amphitheatres, and other colossal buildings had always greater charms for the
Romans than the gymnasia. The stadia were places in the form of the circus (circi), for the running of men and horses. A beautiful stadia
was built by Domitian. The xysti were places constructed like porticos, in which the wrestlers exercised.
Roman Sports - The Campus Martius
The Campus Martius was located near the Tiber. It was called Martius, because it had been consecrated to Mars, the god of war. Sports
and exercises were practised and performed here including chariot races and races with single horses. The Martius complex was adorned
with the statues of famous men, with arches, columns, porticos and other magnificent structures. This location also housed the villa
publica or palace, for the reception and entertainment of ambassadors from foreign states, who were not allowed to enter the city of Rome.
Roman Sports - The Athletes
Athletae or athletes were those who contended in the public games of the Romans for the prizes which were given to those who conquered
in contests of agility and strength. Athletes entirely devoted themselves to a course of training which might fit them to excel in such
contests and who made athletic exercises their profession. The athletae differed, therefore, from the agonistae who only pursued gymnastic
exercises for the sake of improving their health and bodily strength, and who, though they sometimes contended for the prizes in the public
games, did not devote their whole lives, like the athletae, to preparing for these contests. The athletae were those who contended for a
prize in the five following contests:
Running ( cursus)
Wrestling ( lucta)
Boxing ( pugilatus)
The pentathlon (quinquertium) which consisted of:
 jumping or leaping
 the foot-race
 throwing of the discus
 throwing of the spear
 wrestling
The pancratium - a combination of wrestling and boxing and martial arts
Roman Sports - History of the Athletes
Athletae, or athletes, were first introduced at Rome, B.C. 186, in the games exhibited by M. Fulvius, on the conclusion of the Aetolian
war. A certamen athletarum was also exhibited by Scaurus, in B.C. 59. Julius Caesar also subsidised a contest of athletae, which lasted for
three days and was exhibited in a temporary stadium in the Campus Martius. Under the Roman emperors, and especially under Nero, who
was passionately fond of the Grecian games, the number of athletae greatly increased enjoying many privileges and were generally
relieved from the payment of taxes, and also enjoyed the first seats in all public games and spectacles. The athletae, or athletes, of Rome
formed a kind of corporation, and possessed a tabularium (record office) and a common hall called the curia athletarum where they
discussed matters which had a reference to the interests of the body. The romans loved gambling and considerable money was placed on
the contests of the athletes.
Roman Sports - The Pancratium
At Rome the pancratium is first mentioned in the games which Caligula gave to the people. After this time it seems to have become
extremely popular and the consuls had to provide these games for the amusement of the people. The Pancratium was one of the hardest
athletic games, or sports, in which all the powers of the fighter were called into action. The Pancratium consisted of a fierce fight
involving boxing and wrestling. The fight was not controlled by any rules and biting and scratching were not uncommon. In fact, any
tactics were in order that one of the parties might hope to overcome the other. When the contest began, each of the fighters commenced by
boxing or by wrestling. The victory was not decided until one of the parties was killed, or lifted up a finger, thereby declaring that he was
unable to continue the contest either from pain or fatigue. By this action he declared himself conquered or was strangled.
Roman Sports - Boxing
One of the favorite Roman sports was boxing which was a popular game during the whole period of the republic as well as of the empire.
Boxing gloves were made of raw ox-hide cut into thin pieces and tied under the hollow or palm of the hand, leaving the fingers uncovered.
The sport of boxing, like all other gymnastic and athletic games, was regulated by certain rules. Thus pugilists were not allowed to take
hold of one another, or to use their feet for the purpose of making one another fall, as was the case in the Pancratium. Cases of death either
during the fight itself or soon after, appear to have occurred frequently. If both the combatants were tired without wishing to give up the
fight they were allowed to pause to recover their strength; and in some cases they are described as resting on their knees. If the fight lasted
too long the boxers agreed not to move, but to stand still and receive the blows without using any means of defence, except a certain
position of the hands. The contest did not end until one of the combatants was compelled by fatigue, wounds or despair, to declare himself
conquered which was generally done by lifting up one hand.
Roman Sports - The Boxing Match
It was considered a sign of the greatest skill in a boxer to conquer without receiving any wounds, so that the two great points in this game
were to inflict blows, and at the same time not to expose oneself to any danger. A pugilist used his right arm chiefly for fighting, and the
left as a protection for his head, for all regular blows were directed against the upper parts of the body, and the wounds inflicted upon the
head were often very severe and fatal. In some ancient representations of boxers the blood is seen streaming from their noses, and their
teeth were frequently knocked out. The ears especially were exposed to great danger, and with regular pugilists they were generally badly
mutilated and broken.
Roman Sports - Boxing with the Cestus - the "limb breakers"
However, there was a much more dangerous form of boxing in which a boxing glove called the cestus was used. The cestus was a
formidable weapon, a Roman equivalent to a 'knuckle-duster'. It was frequently covered with knots and nails and loaded with lead and
iron. Such weapons in the hands of a trained boxer, must have frequently occasioned death and the cestus were often referred to as "limbbreakers."
Roman Sports - Ball Games and Tennis
The folliculus was an inflated ball of leather, perhaps originally the skin of an animal filled with air. Boys and old men among the Romans
threw it from one to another with their arms and hands as a gentle exercise of the body. But the pula was he name of the ball used by the
serious athletes. The game at ball was as great a favourite with the Romans and was played at Rome by persons of all ages. Augustus used
to play at ball and Pliny relates how much his aged friend Spurinna exercised himself in this game for the purpose of warding off old age.
Under the Roman empire ball games were generally played before taking a bath, in a room called the sphaeristerium which was attached
to the baths and included facilities for the pilicrepus or tennis player. Greek and Roman sports of ball games were played in various ways:
a ball game, in which the ball was thrown up into the air, and each of the persons who played tried to catch it, before it fell to the
football, played in much the same way as with us, by a great number of persons divided into two parties opposed to one another
another ball game was played by a number of persons, who threw the ball from one to another, but its peculiarity consisted in the
person who had the ball pretending to throw it to a certain individual, and while the latter was expecting it, suddenly turning, and
throwing it to another
a ball game in which the player threw the ball to the ground with such force as to cause it to rebound, when he struck it down
again with the palm of his hand and so went on doing many times: the number of times was counted
the favourite ball game of the Romans was the trigon or pila trigonalis, which was played at by three persons, who stood in the
form of a triangle. Skilful players prided themselves upon catching and throwing the ball with their left hand
Roman Sports - Weightlifting
Halteres were masses of stone or metal, which were used in the gymnastic exercises of the Greeks and Romans. Persons who practised
jumping and leaping often performed their exercises with halteres in both hands; but they were also frequently used to exercise the body in
somewhat the same manner as dumb-bells.
Roman Sports - Wrestling
The contest in wrestling was divided by the ancient Roman into two parts: the fight of the athletae as long as they stood upright and where
the athletae struggled with each other while lying on the ground. The wresting continued until one of them acknowledged himself to be
Roman Sports - The Petaurum
The Petaurum is also referred to in respect of the Roman games and sports although there is considerable doubt respecting its meaning.
The petaurum appears to have been a board moving up and down, with a person at each end, and supported in the middle. It was similar to
our see-saw only it appears to have been much longer. The petaurum machine, from which those who exhibited were raised to a great
height and then seemed to fly to the ground. The persons, who took part in this game, were called Petauristae or Petauristarii.
Roman Sports
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and research for schools, colleges and homework. Refer to the Colosseum Sitemap for a comprehensive search on interesting different
categories containing the history, facts and information about Ancient Rome.
The Sports of the Romans
The Ancient Romans liked sports and games as much as the Ancient Greeks did. Physical fitness and athletic
ability in the Roman men was an important part of their culture. All over the Roman Empire, men practiced riding,
fencing, wrestling, throwing, and swimming. In the country, men went hunting and fishing. At home, men played
ball before dinner, which were games of throwing and catching. A popular game was to throw a ball as high as they
could, and then catch it before it hit the ground.
Women did not join in these games. Women did not participate in sports in Ancient Greece either. However, unlike
the Greeks with their Olympic games, most of the sports and sporting events that the Ancient Romans participated in
and watched were not important to their religion but were mostly for entertainment. The big sporting events in
Ancient Rome were a lot like our professional sports leagues we have in the United States today, like the National
Football League (NFL) or the National Basketball League (NBA). Some of these sporting events also caused the
Romans to build some of their most important buildings that you can still see ruins of today. Click on the two
important Ancient Roman buildings below to see what kind of sporting events went on there.
The Colosseum
Circus Maximus
Roman Language: Written and Spoken
From their distinctive history and architecture to their leisure activities and leaders, the Romans have a historical
presence shared by few other civilizations. The language of the Roman era proves to be no exception.
The Roman language system is uniquely intricate and stylistically complicated. The following will briefly overview
Latin, the language of the Romans.
I. The Latin Language - Written
II. The Latin Language - Spoken
III. Examples of Latin Authors
IV. The Latin Influence
I. The Latin Language - Written
The language of the Romans was Latin. In order to understand the intricacies of Latin literature, it is necessary to
understand some of the structure and grammar of the language.
Latin grammar and syntax is completely unlike English. Simply stated, Latin has no syntax requirements. That’s
right: there is no such thing as Latin word order. As in English a sentence may be: “John kicked his ball.” But in
Latin, the same sentence might be written “Ball kicked John his.” This direct translation of Latin word order makes
no sense. The translator must decode every sentence, indeed every word, like a puzzle. However, the lack of word
allows for many rhetorical tropes.
However, since original Latin has no punctuation, there are numerous conventions that are widely followed. To
complicate matters more, each writer had his or her own style, using constructions that were typical of themselves.
Latin has special endings for nouns (like German and Spanish) depending on their gender. Latin nouns are divided
into five groupings called declensions based on how they are “declined” through the Latin cases. The concept of
declining a noun is a very strange one to speakers of English, where no such protocol exists.
Latin has seven cases, compared to English’s three, and they are as follows (cases marked with a ‘*’ have
counterparts in English):
Nominative*: These are the subjects of sentences in both Latin and English.
Genitive*: These are the possessive forms of words. They show ownership.
Dative: This case features words translated with “to/for.” They generally express indirect objects, objects of
prepositions, possession, or direct objects (with dative verbs).
Accusative*: This case features words translated as the direct object in a sentence (called the Objective case in
English). This case can also be used as an object of certain prepositions.
Ablative: This case is used in prepositions, passive voice (as an indicator of agent – “by”), and in special
constructions known as ablative absolutes.
Vocative: This case is used for direct address. (This concept exists in English, but is not marked by any word
structure changes.)
Locative: This case is used to express the locations of cities, towns, and nations (translated with the use of “at”).
An example of a First Declension Latin word “via” – meaning "road" - would be done as follows. The stem “vi” will
have the appropriate case and number ending attached.
This example shows one declension of endings. There are five separate declensions, each with their own vocabulary
and word endings.
Latin verbs are also grouped according to how they are conjugated (much like Spanish). There are four conjugations
of Latin verbs. Just as in English, Latin verbs conjugate to agree with their subject.
To complicate the matter somewhat, Latin verbs have special rules for their usage. The classification system works
as follows:
Mood: Indicative or Subjunctive
Voice: Active or Passive
Tense: Present, Imperfect, Future, Perfect, Future-Perfect, Plu-Perfect
Person: First, Second, or Third
Number: Singular or Plural
This may seem complicated, and in some cases it can be. When translating Latin, it’s necessary to understand each
of these elements to properly translate the verb. Sometimes there are overlaps, where identical forms can mean two
different things based on context!
For instance, the word “amaveris” comes from the verb “amo, amare” – meaning “to love.” Breaking down
“amaveris” would work as follows:
Mood: Could be Indicative or Subjunctive
Voice: Whether Indicative or Subjunctive, the voice is Active
Tense: If Indicative, the tense is future-perfect; if Subjunctive, the tense is perfect
Person: Whether Indicative or Subjunctive, the verb in a second person verb form.
Number: Whether Indicative or Subjunctive, this is a singular verb form.
So depending on context, this verb could translate as “You had loved” or “You might have loved,” depending on the
There are many complications for the process of translating, and the rules for how to conjugate the Latin verbs are
beyond the scope of this paper.
In addition to the nouns and verbs, Latin is complete with adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and other details that
make the job of writing and translating Latin time consuming. All of these speech elements have their own rules for
Some of the greatest Latin works are poems, written in meter. Meter is the rhythm of the poem. In English, the best
known meter is iambic pentameter. In Latin, the most famous meter is dactylic hexameter. Each poet has his or her
favorites including elegiac couplets, hendecasyllabic, limping iambic, and so on.
Writers would use a series of accented and unaccented syllables. Unlike English, there were a number of rules for
determining the scansion of words. (Scansion is the process of identifying the meter and syllable stresses). This
process is also beyond the scope of this paper, but specific meters often compliment the content of the poem.
Latin is famous for its rhetorical tropes (also known as rhetorical devices). These stylistic elements could greatly
enhance a written piece of Latin literature. Some of the most common rhetorical tropes are:
Synchisis: A construction of word order such that related words form the pattern A B A B.
Chiasmus: A construction of word order such that related words form the pattern A B B A
Consonance, Assonance, and Alliteration: These constructions include the repetition of consonants and
Homeoteleuton: A repetition of sound at the end of a word.
Metonymy and Synecdoche: A kind of substitution for words with significant textual importance.
Syncopation: The verb conjugation has letters removed, or the conjugation has been abbreviated for effect.
Enjabment: Enjambment calls for for the continuation of a concept in poetry beyond the end of the line.
Useful often to various effects.
Some other tropes include tricolon, zeugma, tmesis, polysynedton, and many, many more. The Roman writers were
extremely skilled at manipulating their language into beautiful and meaningful constructions.
This information and the examples should begin to showcase the intricacies of writing in Latin. Hopefully you have
started to build an appreciation for the writers that undertook the challenge of composing in Latin.
The Latin Language – Spoken
The Latin language was spoken almost exactly as it was written. Of course there was less formality in tropes and
rhetorical construction for daily conversation.
When confronted with this idea, many people ask, “How could they talk effectively when translation is such a
difficult task?” The answer to this question is all about conditioning and education. The Romans spoke Latin all the
time and were familiar with its structuring. Just as easily as Americans say “I am” instead of “I is,” Romans were
able to say “Ego sum” instead of “Ego est.”
To hear a sample of spoken Latin, choose one of the selections below:
Ovid's Amores I.13 - (Available from
Virgil's Aeneid 4.9-29 - (Available from
Examples of Latin Authors
Rome has had a number of truly talented writers. Three of the most famous authors are Ovid, Virgil, and Livy.
Publius Ovidius Naso, or Ovid, wrote a number of
more controversial poems during his lifetime (43
BC –- 17 AD) ("Ovid"). His main works include
the Amores - love poems - and
the Metamorphoses - a book of changes.
During Ovid's lifetime, Rome transition from a
republic to an empire, and Augustus, the leader of
this new empire, propounded family values. Ovid's
racy texts quickly earned him disrepute with the
emperor, and he was eventually banished to the
Black Sea (“"Ovid"”), where he lived the
remainder of his life in exile.
Even while living away from the city he loved,
Ovid continue to write. His Epistulae ex Ponto Letters from Pontus - convey the sorrow and
repent for his unspecified crime. It is uncertain
what may have caused Augustus to exile this
talented writer. Ovid never openly mentions his
transgression, but it is believes that a reference to
the sexual exploits of Augustus' daughter may have
been the cause.
Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC - 17 BC), or Virgil,
is best known for his Aeneid, a national epic of
Rome’s history inspired by
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. This masterful work of
twelve books is written in dactylic hexameter and
recounts the tale of how Aeneas escaped the fall of
Troy and went on to found Rome (“"Virgil"”).
An interesting fact regarding the Aeneid is that it
was almost never published. Virgil fell sick and
ordered the manuscript destroyed before he died,
but the Emperor Augustus intervened and saved the
publication from oblivion (“Virgil”).
Titus Livius, or Livy (59 BC – 17 AD), is
best known for his massive history of
Rome entitled Ab Urbe Condita – “From
the Founding of the City.” An immense
undertaking, this prose piece featured
nearly half a millennium of history and
narrative (“Livy”).
Of the original one hundred and forty-two
books, only thirty-five remain today. An
interesting element about Livy is that he
wrote history’s first recorded “what if”
scenario. In his Ab Urbe Condita, Livy
plays out what might have happened if
Alexander the Great had attacked the
Romans (“Livy”). According to Livy, the
Romans would have prevailed.
The Latin Influence
The influences of the Latin language are multiple and can be found everywhere in modern society.
English Words: A multitude of English words have roots in the Latin language. These words span all
elements of language and often deal with math or science.
Numeral System: The Roman numbering system is still used in television and movie production. (It is also
a convenient system for numbering Super Bowls)
Stories and Literature: The Roman myths have a profound place in our culture. Shakespeare’s Romeo
and Juliet is directly based on Ovid’s Pyramus and Thisbe.
Law: Many legal documents have Latin phrases and words, an homage to the birth of our modern legal
Education: Many schools offer Latin as it is immensely useful in understanding English.
Religion: Many Christian religious services include Latin. The official language of Vatican City is still
Science: Many naming conventions for taxonomy are based in Latin.
Few languages have had a greater world impact than Latin. The means of communication of one of the biggest
empires in the history of the world, Latin was once the language of progress and civilization.
Producing an intricate and adaptable system, Latin remains the cornerstone of the great languages of the world.
Note: The information on the latin grammar and structures is the product of over five years of latin education at the
high school and university level
The Roman education
All Roman boys, poor and rich, went to the primary
schoolfrom their 7th till 12th year. The girls stayed at
home and let their mothers teach them how to run the
household in the future. After the primary school the
children of poor parents had no chance to learn more.
After the primary school the boys from rich parents went
to the secondary school. They stayed there till they where
15 years old. A small and select group of boys from the
highest social circles of the Roman Empire went to
the oratorschool after they left the secondary school.
These boys got high functions in the politics or juridics.
The primary school
The secondary school
The oratorschool
The primary school
At the primary school the boys
were taught by the magister, the
schoolmaster. The trade of
magister had no good
reputation. A schoolmaster
earned very little, and he always
had rough times. There were
about 30 boys in the class, all
ages mixed together. For that
reason the magister had to keep
every boy apart at work and
instruct each boy individually. It
is comprehensible that it could
get out of control sometimes.
Very often the students had no
respect for the teacher, so the
teacher had to punish a lot.
Corporal punishments were the
usual way of punishment. A few
raps on the knuckles or back
with a birch were almost the
only weapons of a magister.
On the primary school the boys
learned to read, to write and to
calculate. They sat on small
stools, and the magister sat on a
chair. They wrote on waxboards, wooden boards with a
thin layer of wax, with a sharp
stylus. The handy thing of these
boards was, that you could use
them over and over, by
spreading the wax evenly and
smoothly over the board. Other
writing-methods whom used by
the Romans:
With ink on papyrus
With ink on parchment
Papyrus descended from the
papyrus-plant. This plant grew
on the banks of the Nile in
Egypt. It had an angular stalk,
from which you could cut out
very thin strips. These strips
were placed next to each other,
and after that, there was a
second layer put over it, squared
on the first layer. This was
pressed all together, and then
you had a charta, a sheet of
papyrus. A few of these chartae
were stuck together. The result
was called a volumen, a bookroll.
Parchment was comparatively
much more expensive then
papyrus, but you could keep it
much longer. Parchment was
made out of specially treated
animal's skins, mostly
sheepskins. In the beginning, the
people made a volumen of
parchment too, but later, in the
1st century BC, they invented
thecodex. The pieces of
parchment were now folded and
cut, and together with a jacket
they formed a book (the codex).
The secondary school
As told before, the boys of rich
parents went to the secondary
school after the primary school,
till their 15th. There
agrammaticus taught them. He
taught them in Latin (see
chapter: Language) and Greek.
When the students knew their
own language, Latin, a lot better
then before, and they knew the
principles of the Greek
language, the big authors were
read. For Greek they started for
example with the Iliad and
the Odyssey of Homer. Subjects
like Geography and History
came up for consideration too,
but only when the texts of the
education of literature gave
occasion to it. Like this, the
students became familiar in the
Greek world, and they learned a
lot about the Roman history.
The oratorschool
A small and select group of
boys from the highest social
circles of the Roman Empire
went to the oratorschool after
their successful career at the
primary and secondary school.
These boys were predestined to
have great success in the
political or the juridical world.
These boys had very rich
parents, because the
oratorschool was very
At the oratorschool they learned
how to speak well in public. To
reach that, you had to build op
your oration well, put up your
arguments at the right time and
in the right order, and speak the
whole message with cogency.
You also had to learn a few
important and famous political
orations by heart, so you could
quote pieces of it in the future.
The Romans - Education
The only children to receive a formal education
were the children of the rich. The very rich families
employed a private tutor to teach their children.
Those that could not afford to do this used either
slaves or sent their children to a private school.
Children of poor families, those living in the
country or those whose parents were slaves were
not educated at all.
A Roman school would be one room with one teacher. Teachers were very badly paid and worked
long hours. Children learned to read and write. It was important to be able to read and write
because words were everywhere. If a boy answered a question with the wrong answer, the teacher
would beat him with a cane. If he spoke in class without permission he would be dragged to the
front of the class and beaten with a cane or a whip.
Boys and girls did not receive the same education.
Boys would be given lessons in honourability and physical training which were considered
preparation for a man's role in society and the army. Although they learned how to do simple
addition and subtraction more difficult mathematics was not taught because it was difficult to add
up numbers written in the Roman system.
Girls were only allowed to learn to read and write.