Daily Life during the Roman Kingdom in the Early Days of Rome for Kids and Teachers Illustration

Daily Life during the Roman Kingdom in the Early Days of Rome

When Rome was a kingdom, before the Roman people overthrew the last king, daily life was focused on farming, fishing, worship, and family. A whole family would live together in one home. Some homes were very nice, but most were simple huts. The family included all unmarried sons and daughters, as well as married sons and their wives.  Married daughters went to live with their husband's family.

The family was ruled by the paterfamilias. (Also spelled pater familias) This was always the oldest male in the family.  Father, grandfather, uncle, oldest brother, whoever was the oldest male was the absolute ruler of the family.  The paterfamilias owned all the family's property and had the power of life and death over every family member. The paterfamilias was responsible for all the actions of the family.  If someone in the family got in trouble, the paterfamilias had to pay the consequences.  The paterfamilias could exile members of the family, beat them, sell them into slavery, even kill them with no threat of reprisal.

Under the kingdom, women had no rights.  A woman's role was to teach her daughters how to behave, and to bear and raise children. 

Children were educated at home by their parents or grandparents. They were allowed to play and visit friends. They also had chores to do.

Children were trained to obey elders.  You never talked back to an elder Roman.  You never talked back to your family.  Doing those things could actually get you thrown out of the house, exiled by the paterfamilias, and never allowed back. It was rare that another family would take you in. To be thrown out of the house was a death sentence. There was no safe place to go. So kids did not talk back.

Older people were treated with honor.  The family respected the wisdom and experience that older people had.  Within a family, the elders were allowed to work or play as they wanted.  This is because the Romans believed that the spirits of the elders would bother them if they were treated badly in life. They were very religious and worshiped thousands of gods and spirits. Worshiping their gods and spirits was an important part of daily life.

To the early Romans, the oldest male provided safety and security for the family. The king was suppose to provide safety and security for the whole kingdom. But it did not work out that way. There were not that many different kings in charge of Rome, but none of them were very good rulers. The Roman people were ready for a change. Tarquin the Proud was the worst king of all. His treatment of the people triggered a revolt that sent him scurrying away for his life, and set the Roman people free. Daily life changed considerably under the Roman Republic.  

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