Ancient Rome – What was Daily Life Like?
A day in Ancient Rome began with breakfast, and depending on whether you are upper class (patrician) or lower class (plebian), breakfast was dependent on what was affordable. After breakfast, adults might venture down to the Forum to do their shopping and banking. The Forum was the main marketplace and business center, as well as a place for public speaking, as ancient Romans were considered great orators. It was also used for festivals and religious ceremonies.
While the adults were busy at The Forum, the children attended school. In early Roman days, a young boy’s education took place at home. The father’s role was that of teacher instructing his son in Roman law, history, customs, and physical training to prepare for war. Girls were taught to spin, weave, and sew by their mother. As time passed, the rules for school training changed from home schooling to sending the boys, and some girls (with their father’s permission) to school when the child reached 6 or 7 years of age. School day began at sunrise. There was a rest time at lunch as well as in the afternoon, then back to school until late afternoon. For the adults, the order of business was to go to the baths, either before or after the Forum. The baths were visited at least once every day. Children were not allowed to visit, and there was an admission charged. Slaves could not use the baths, but they could visit as attendants. In the afternoon, wealthy Romans rested at home or with friends while the poor worked constantly.
When the children came home from school, they played with their pets, toys, and friends. Dinner for the plebeians during The Imperial Age consisted of porridge. When they could afford it, fish, bread, olives, and wine with meat was eaten on special occasions. The patricians had dinners that were quite elaborate with a lot of wine. The men held dinner parties while the women and children ate separately. Then, in the evening, one might attend one of the many free theatres.
Ancient Rome – The Religious Influence
The people of Ancient Rome worshiped many gods, and they played a very important role in worship. The gods controlled their lives. The most important god to the people was Jupiter who had a wife by the name of Juno, goddess of the sky. Other gods included Mars (god of war), Mercury (messenger of the gods), Neptune (god of the sea), Janus (god of the doorway), Diana (goddess of hunting), Vesta (goddess of the hearth), Minerva (goddess of healing and wisdom) and Venus (goddess of love).
Some emperors were also considered gods and worshiped on special occasions. Each god had a special festival day which was usually a public holiday. On this particular day, people would visit the temple for whichever god was being celebrated. At the temple, priests would sacrifice animals and offer them to the god. Temples of this nature were built throughout ancient Rome and had the same building pattern. People called augurs were also usually present in the temples during the sacrifice of animals at the altar. These people were special priests who interpreted natural phenomena, which were believed to represent messages sent from the gods. These phenomena included flights of birds, patterns in clouds and smoke, and markings on livers of sacrificial animals.
Ancient Rome – The Influence of Christianity
During this time, the Christians were pursued and persecuted. The reason why is not clear, except that they were possibly used as scapegoats. Also, the Romans did not understand the accounts they heard of the various rites Christians celebrated in secrecy. Pagans were suspicious of the Christian refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods as this was an insult to them as well as an act of treason.