Daily Life in Ancient Rome for Kids and Teachers Illustration

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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!

Daily Life in the Roman Kingdom

Daily Life in the Roman Republic for Patricians

Daily Life in the Roman Republic for Plebeians

Daily Life in the Roman Empire

The ancient Romans started their day with breakfast

Then, they got dressed to go out.

Some kids went school. Most kids were educated at home by their mother, a slave, or a tutor.

In wealthy homes, Roman slaves did most of the work

While the lower class Romans went to work, wealthy adults might wander down to the Forum, the marketplace and center of Rome, to do their shopping and banking.

Next stop, the baths!

Honoring their gods was an important part of daily life - Every day included a trip to a temple or two. Even the poor took a moment to pray. The Romans were very religious.

In the afternoon, wealthy Romans took some time to rest at home.  The poor did not stop working to take an afternoon siesta.

When kids got home from school, they played with their friends, their toys, and their pets.

Dinner was different for the rich and the poor.

Under the Empire, Entertainment - All Romans could enjoy the spectacles.
Admission was free!

Life in the countryside was still Roman, but it was far more relaxed

Roman Homes - Flats, Tenements, Villas, and Farm - huts to manors

In wealthy Roman homes, life at home centered around the Atrium

Family and children were very important to all ancient Romans

There were many jobs and occupations in ancient Rome - craftsmen, warriors, statesmen, barbers, fishermen, traders, business men, politicians, farmers, to name a few.

Test Yourself: Interactive Test from Ask Mr. Donn (with answers)

Enjoy these animated cartoons about life in ancient Rome

A Day in the Life of a teenage boy (cartoon video)

Four sisters in ancient Rome (cartoon video)

A Day in the Life of a 10 year old ancient Roman (bbc, cartoon)

What was Rome Life Really Like?

What was life like in ancient Rome?