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What was daily life really like in ancient Rome?
Not only was daily life in ancient Rome considerably different for the rich and poor, which is true for nearly every culture, daily life was also different when Rome was a Kingdom, a Republic, and then an Empire.
Under the Kingdom, Plebeians (lower class) could not marry Patricians (nobles.) Women had no rights and kids did not go to school. Some kids were educated at home and all kids had many chores to do. The people were mostly farmers. Most people worked very hard. People worshipped thousands of gods. There were many religious festivals, some held at night after people were done farming. There was also a busy marketplace, the Forum, where you could buy and sell the goods you made and grew, or at least what was left after the king or the king's officials took an enormous share. The family was very important. The oldest male was in charge.
Under the Republic, the family was still very important, but so was education. Kids went to school. School was not free, so some kids were taught at home by their parents or by an educated slave. Once they got rid of their king, people had more time to relax. They got up, had breakfast, and got dressed. Women had few freedoms but they could shop, and visit the temples, and even stop to hear the great orators in the Forum. The poor still worked very hard. But even the poor had time to visit a temple or two every day, a very important part of daily life for all Romans. Another very important part was a trip to the baths, even on holy days, but the baths were only for Patricians. Plebs and kids had to bath at home or in the river, but they took a bath every day. Towards the end of the Republic, things began to fall apart. There was no police force to help keep order. The Romans were very social, but the streets were so dangerous that people did not go out nearly as much.
Under the Empire, the streets were patrolled and people could freely move about with far less fear of attack. Women could run a business. Women could get a job! Plebeians could marry Patricians! Wealthy merchants could buy prime farmland and build a villa in the countryside. All Romans - men, women, kids, and slaves - could freely attend the spectacles - the chariot races, the gladiators, and the festivals. Plebeians as well as Patricians could use the baths, with separate hours for men and women. Under the Empire, at first, it was a crime if you did not worship the Roman gods each day. Later on, it became a crime if you did. This all changed daily life considerably.
Let's take a look at daily life in ancient Rome for Plebs and Patricians under the Kingdom, under the Republic, and under the Empire. Where did they live? What did they eat? How did they dress? What was in fashion? What did they do all day? Did kids have toys? What happened when kids misbehaved? How were slaves treated? What was daily life like for a gladiator? Then decide - would you have wanted to become a Roman citizen? You might have. And then again, you might not. Welcome to daily life in ancient Rome!
Enjoy these animated cartoons about life in ancient Rome