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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Society)

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Structure of Roman family

A typical Roman familia consisted of all family members and their slaves slaves. To put it in legal matters, everyone who was subject to the legal control of the head of the house belonged to the family – paterfamilias.

Bas-relief showing the Roman family

Brushing teeth in Roman times was routine

Brushing teeth in Roman times was an inseparable element of personal hygiene. However, modern people would not use the substances used by the Romans. They believed, for example, that hard ingredients allowed teeth to maintain strength – for this purpose, crushed bones and oyster shells from which the mixture was made.

Brushing your teeth in Roman times was routine

Subligaculum – Roman underwear

Subligaculum was underwear, worn e.g. under a toga, which was formed by a linen loincloth. Both men and women wrapped in a belt of material around the waist to cover intimate places. 

Subligaculum - Roman underwear

Did Romans wear rings as sign of love?

In the Roman world, there was no distinction between the wedding ring and the engagement ring. Roman on the occasion of the wedding was donating a ring to his chosen woman. However, this was not proof of love, but rather a subordination of a woman and recognition of her as property. In this way, the future husband clearly stated that the woman he married belongs only to him. It is brutal, but this is what the paternalistic Roman society looked like.

Roman ring showing connected hands

Entering the world of adult Romans

The ritual of maturing a young Roman consisted of shaving a beard and removing his bulla, an amulet worn to protect him from evil spirits. The young man dedicated a bull to the house deities, Lares.

Roman boy with a bull

How did ancient Romans dress in cold climate?

There is a widespread – mistaken – belief that the ancient Romans always wore sandals and dressed in tunics to withstand the warm climate in the Mediterranean. It must be remembered, however, that Roman legions conquered also Gaul, Germania or Britain. There, temperatures, like today, were lower and in the winter heavy snow was falling. The Romans, wanting to survive in such conditions, had to protect the body against hypothermia.

Roman winter clothes

Status of Roman woman

Woman in ancient Rome certainly had much more free life than in Greece. For example, during the classical period (up to 323 BCE), Greek women not only did not have civil rights, but they were also under the rule of a man. First, fathers, later husbands, from whom they were completely dependent. The whole life of an Athenian woman was limited to focusing on the home and children; on weekdays the woman was locked in her room, and only during the holidays she could leave hit. The relative improvement of the Greek woman’s status took place in the Hellenic period (323-30 BCE).

The Roman women practiced

Roman toys

Roman toys that children played with were called crepundia. There were popular rag, clay or wax dolls, wooden horses on wheels.

Roman horse toy

Slave – an object

Ancient Romans treated slaves like things and did not pay much attention to their lives. Marcus Terentius Varro, a man considered as one of the best-educated ancient Romans, treated slaves as nothing other than speaking tool (instrumentum vocale). In addition, he believed that food should not be wasted on sick and unemployed slaves, and that they should not eat too much.

Mosaic showing a master beating a slave

Roman ink

Today, Roman letters are associated mainly with a monumental square capital, engraved in stone arches and columns. On a daily basis, however, the inhabitants of the empire – writings letters, poems or keeping trade correspondence – used less durable tools.

Roman ink

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