Roman Life. Roman Life. The Forum was the main marketplace and business center, where the ancient Romans went to do their banking, trading, shopping, and marketing. It was also a place for public speaking.
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The Forum was the main marketplace and business center, where the ancient Romans went to do their banking, trading, shopping, and marketing. It was also a place for public speaking.
The ancient Romans were great orators. They loved to talk (although not nearly as much as the ancient Greeks!) The job of their orators was not to argue, but to argue persuasively!
People thronging the Forum would stop and listen, then wander away to do their shopping, and perhaps leave a gift at a temple for one of their gods. The Forum was also used for festivals and religious ceremonies. It was a very busy place.
The ancient Romans might hit the baths first, and then wander down to the Forum, although many did prefer to get their shopping done early.
In all but the largest baths, there were separate hours for men and women. The women's time slot was apparently much shorter, so that women probably had to be more careful scheduling. Large baths had duplicate facilities.
The Public Baths were extremely popular. Roman women and men tried to visit the baths at least once every day.
The baths had hot and cold pools, towels, slaves to wait on you, steam rooms, saunas, exercise rooms, and hair cutting salons. They had reading rooms and libraries, as among the freeborn, who had the right to frequent baths, the majority could read.
They even had stores, selling all kinds of things. People sold hot fast food. The baths were arranged rather like a very large mall, with bathing pools.
The baths were packed. The people loved them. At one time, there were as many as 900 public baths in ancient Rome. Small ones held about 300 people, and the big ones held 1500 people or more! Some Roman hospitals even had their own bathhouses. A trip to the bath was a very important part of ancient Roman daily life.
Could kids use the baths? No. Was there an admission charge to the baths? Yes. Could slaves use the baths? Properly, no. But the people who could, as a matter of course, brought their slave attendants with them.
There is an old expression, "All roads lead to Rome." In ancient Rome, Rome was the heart of the empire. Each time a new city was conquered, a road was built from that city back to Rome.
Roads were built in straight lines. Many had gutters. Along the side of road, the Romans built road signs called milestones. Milestones did not give any information about other towns in the area. Milestones told how far it was back to Rome.
The ancient Romans loved the ornate and glittery, but their armor - in spite of what you might have seen in the movies - most probably did not shine.
Some armor was made of leather, with metal on the inside, probably against a backing of linen, to make three layers. Some was made of cloth sewn in circular links.
Still, the army was quite a sight! The army was organized into legions. Each legion has 5000 men. Each legion has its own leader, its own banner, and its own number. Each also had its own nickname.
The legion moved camp every night. Men would wander the new campsite, visiting and drilling. The men could always find their way back to their own legion. They simply looked for their legion banner. Once they found that, they looked for their fighting group banner. Each legion was broken into several fighting groups. Camp was very colorful.
A legionary's uniform included a rectangular shield, a short sword, a dagger, a metal jacket, a belt, a helmet, a kilt, a shirt, and hobnailed sandals. The legion wore special hob-nailed sandals. Unless they wanted to sneak in quietly, a legion on the move was impressive!
Their hobnailed sandals were designed to make a loud noise as they marched. They were also accompanied by trumpets and other noise makers. Add the many colorful banners waving above their heads, and you can probably understand why an approaching legion was an impressive sight and sound.
The legion was very organized, and very successful. When the legion marched into a new region, some people gave up with a fight. The legion's fighting power was that famous!
Each legionary served for 25 years. If they lived through their service, they could retire. They were given land and a pension so that they live comfortably. The land they were given was located in the provinces. This was very clever of Rome. It gave their retired military men a place to call home that they would defend. This system placed loyal military men all over the provinces.
In early Roman days, kids did not go to school. A Roman boy's education took place at home. If his father could read and write, he taught his son to do the same. The father instructed his sons in Roman law, history, customs, and physical training, to prepare for war. Reverence for the gods, respect for law, obedience to authority, and truthfulness were the most important lessons to be taught.
Girls were taught by their mother. Girls learned to spin, weave, and sew. The rich had tutors for the children, but mostly, the kids were taught at home.
The goal of education in under the Republic was to be an effective speaker. The school day began before sunrise, as did all work in Rome. Kids brought candles to use until daybreak. There was a rest for lunch and the afternoon siesta, and then back to school until late afternoon. No one knows how long the school year actually was; it probably varied from school to school. However, one thing was fixed. School began each year on the 24th of March!
Under the Republic, the children studied reading, writing, and counting. They read scrolls and books. They wrote on boards covered with wax, and used pebbles to do math problems. They were taught Roman numerals, and recited lessons they had memorized. At age 12 or 13, the boys of the upper classes attended "grammar" school, where they studied Latin, Greek, grammar, and literature. At age 16, some boys went on to study public speaking at the rhetoric school, to prepare for a life as an orator.
Did the kids of the poor go to school? At the poorer levels, no. School was not free. Nor should anyone imagine large classes in special buildings. Children, educated outside of the home, were sent to the house of a tutor, who would group-tutor. Children, educated in the home, were taught by intelligent and gifted slaves. Children, in poorer homes, did not have slaves to teach them; they were taught by their parents, as they were in early Roman days.
The ruler of the family was the oldest male. That could be the father, the grandfather, or perhaps even an uncle. His title was paterfamilias. The paterfamilias led religious ceremonies, taught his sons how to farm, and made all the important decisions. This word was law as far as his family was concerned. He owned the property, and had total authority, the power of life and death, over every member of his household.
Even when his children became adults, he was still the boss. But, he was also responsible for the actions of any member of his household. He could order a child or an adult out of his house. If anyone in his household committed a crime, he could be punished for something his family did. It was not against the law for the head of the house to put a sick baby out to die or to sell members of his family into slavery.
However, the Romans expected a paterfamilias to treat his family fairly. There were no laws to stop him from treating them unfairly, but there was social pressure.