video ostia antiqua balnea
The theme this time will be Roman customs/daily life
So, we will do proverbs as our phrases>
verbum sat sapienti: a word to the wise is enough
nos omnia possumus omnes: we cannot all do everything

sapient: wise ( homo sapiens)
proverb : words put forth; a common saying

the godfather of soul...tell it

Ancient Rome was a man’s world. In politics, society and the family, men held both the power and the purse-strings – they even decided whether a baby would live or die.

Families were dominated by men. At the head of Roman family life was the oldest living male, called the "paterfamilias," or "father of the family." He looked after the family's business affairs and property and could perform religious rites on their behalf.

Absolute power

The paterfamilias had absolute rule over his household and children. If they angered him, he had the legal right to disown his children, sell them into slavery or even kill them.

Only the paterfamilias could own property: whatever their age, until their father died, his sons only received an allowance, or peliculum, to manage their own households.

Sons were important, because Romans put a lot of value on continuing the family name. If a father had no sons then he could adopt one – often a nephew – to make sure that the family line would not die out.


Roman women usually married in their early teenage years, while men waited until they were in their mid-twenties. As a result, the materfamilias (mother of the family) was usually much younger than her husband.

As was common in Roman society, while men had the formal power, women exerted influence behind the scenes. It was accepted that the materfamilias was in charge of managing the household. In the upper classes, she was also expected to assist her husband’s career by behaving with modesty, grace and dignity.

Baby love?

The influence of women only went so far. The paterfamilias had the right to decide whether to keep newborn babies. After birth, the midwife placed babies on the ground: only if the paterfamilias picked it up was the baby formally accepted into the family.

If the decision went the other way, the baby was exposed – deliberately abandoned outside. This usually happened to deformed babies, or when the father did not think that the family could support another child. Babies were exposed in specific places and it was assumed that an abandoned baby would be picked up and taken a slave.

Infant mortality

Even babies accepted into the household by the paterfamilias had a rocky start in life. Around 25 percent of babies in the first century AD did not survive their first year and up to half of all children would die before the age of 10.

As a result, the Roman state gave legal rewards to women who had successfully given birth. After three live babies (or four children for former slaves), women were recognized as legally independent. For most women, only at this stage could they choose to shrug off male control and take responsibility for their own lives.

During the first eight days of a baby's life there were various religious ceremonies. The day of naming was usually called dies lustricus (day of purification) for the ceremony performed that day.
On the day of dies lustricus, crepundia, or tiny metal trinkets, were strung around the baby's neck by the present guests. The clinking noise they made amused the child, similar to a rattle. In addition, on this day the child, male or female, was given a bulla. This was an elaborate locket made of gold for the wealthy and leather for the poor. It contained charms to ward off the power of the evil numina, and was presented to the child on the day of birth.
.bulla.jpg Roman_boy_wearing_bulla.jpg

de mortuis nihil nisi bono(Horace): about the dead (say) nothing except good
cineri gloria sero est( Martial): Glory to ashes comes too late

inhumation: to put into the ground; a fancy word for "bury"

incinerate: to turn to ashes

Throughout history, different cultures have held very different views about the concept of death and how one deals with it. As time goes on, these views continually change, as do methods for treating bodies of the deceased. During the first and second centuries AD, cremation was the most common burial practice in the Roman empire. Ultimately inhumation would replace cremation; a variety of factors, including the rise of Christianity among Romans and changes in attitudes to the afterlife, would contribute to this marked shift in popular burial practices. **

The Romans maintained a very systematic approach when tending to the dead. First, relatives would close the deceased's eyes while calling out the name of their dearly departed. The body was then washed and a coin was placed in the mouth. The coin was payment to Charon, who ferried the dead across the rivers of the underworld.

Social status was an important factor in the Roman funeral. The dead were put on display: the length of this ancient "wake" depended upon the departed person's position in society. Upper-class individuals, such as the nobility, were often put on display for as long as a week, offering many opportunities for many mourners to pay their final respects. Lower class members of society, on the other hand, were often cremated after only one day.

preparing the body and mourning

After the display, a funerary procession followed. Roman funerals were typically held at night to prevent large public gatherings and discourage crowds and excessive mourning which, in the case of major political figures, could lead to serious unrest. Hired musicians led the parade, followed by mourners and relatives who often carried portrait sculptures or wax masks called imagines of other deceased family members. The procession would end outside of town (it was forbidden to bury anyone within the city limits) and a pyre, or cremation fire, was built. As the fire burned, a eulogy was given in honor of the deceased. After the pyre was extinguished, a family member (usually the deceased's mother or wife) would gather the ashes and place them in an urn.

funerary mask.jpg

causa mortis: cause of death
abiit ad maiores S/he has gone to the ancestors (i.e., died)

mortician: one who prepares the dead for burial; an undertaker, which is a weird word if you think about it
majority:condition of being greater or superior

Many Romans belonged to funeral societies, called collegia, to ensure proper burial. They would pay monthly dues, which would be employed to cover the cost of funerals for members. Collegia members (provided they were in good standing) were guaranteed a spot in a columbarium. Columbaria were large underground vaults where peoples' cremated remains were placed within small wall niches, which were often marked by memorial plaques and portrait sculptures. Because the Romans believed that a proper burial was essential for passage to the afterlife, there was much concern on this score. Columbaria were an inexpensive way to guarantee this transition, and collegia allowed all classes of society to reach the underworld. Some emperors even provided funeral allowances to those so very poor they could not even afford to belong to a collegia.

And, then there are the ever popular Catacombs:
catacombs.jpgI know this man;s voice is sleep inducing, but the info and film is good; so deal with it.

morituri te salutamus :We who are about to die salute you

ad patres: To the fathers (i.e., dead)

patronymic: ( onym!!!!) : a name derived from the name of the father ( Johnson, Joanna, O'Brien)

salutory: pertaining to a greeting ; a salutory speech, letter, quidcumque)

What on earth do gladiators have to do with Roman funeral customs? Everything, as it turns out!

The first recorded games were held in a Roman cattle market in 264B.C. at the funeral of ex-consul D. Junius Brutus Pera and his brother (, 4/24/98). At these munera (funeral games) there were three sets of gladiators who took part in the combatant display. external image Fight.jpegThis showing was organized by the ex-consul's sons, who were paying tribute to their father as well as bringing political prestige to their family¹s name. The origin of the games began at funerals because there was a common Roman belief that "souls of the dead were propitiated by human blood..." (Hopkins 3). Religious Romans believed in the afterlife, and satisfying the gods with human sacrifice at the dead person's funeral seemed to alleviate qualms of an unsatisfactory entrance to the underworld. The religious aspect was enforced by having attendants dressed as gods, and even slaves dressed as the gods of the Underworld, Pluto, or Charon, whose sole purpose was to symbolically carry away the bodies of the dead gladiators (Hopkins 4). Because this was the funeral of a prominent aristocrat and was held in a public space, the event was likely to have drawn a large crowd. It was important that Romans continued to maintain and uphold the image set forth by the family's predecessors. Pera's sons, by holding this new muneral event, would spark a rumor of good impressions and an eagerness to witness the events among the citizens, thereby raising the social prestige of Pera's family.

The muneral events remained relatively small in size until the beginning of the transformation of the Republic in 100B.C. Funeral events became commonplace; although the peripheral purpose of the games appeared to be paying homage to the dead, the aristocrats knew that more was stake. To gain political prestige, one aristocrats had to surpass the event set forth by the munera before him‹otherwise, that aristocrat was viewed as cheap and was not living up to the new standard. Therefore, each aristocrat was sure to hold more combat fights at his event than the one occurring before. The competition for political and social prestige became intense; aristocrats began to amass so many gladiators that the rich opened schools for training. By 174B.C., the events were as long as three days, beginning as a funeral homage and then for political aspiration. Gladiatorial events, after circa 100B.C., were no longer only for religious homage careers and public prominence were at stake.

One other method of inhumation that I wanted to mention before we put all this death business behind is the sarcophagus;

A sarcophagus (meaning "flesh-eater" in Greek) is a coffin for inhumation burials, widely used throughout the Roman empire starting in the second century A.D. The most luxurious were of marble, but they were also made of other stones, lead , and wood. Prior to the second century, burial in sarcophagi was not a common Roman practice; during the Republican and early Imperial periods, the Romans practiced cremation, and placed remaining bones and ashes in urns or ossuaries. Sarcophagi had been used for centuries by the Etruscans and the Greeks; when the Romans eventually adopted inhumation as their primary funerary practice, both of these cultures had an impact on the development of Roman sarcophagi. The trend spread all over the empire, creating a large demand for sarcophagi during the second and third centuries. Three major regional types dominated the trade: Metropolitan Roman, Attic, and Asiatic.

Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC

Sarcophagus_Endymion_Louvre_Ma1335.jpgSarcophagus, Endymion, the Louvre, Paris

Vale, vale, vale, nos te ordine quo natura permiserit, cuncti sequemur

So, we have birth, we have death, and now we have marriage:
I. Sine manu:"without hand"
a.The wife stayed in her natal family
b.She could thus inherit from her intestate father
c.She could own property if sui iuris
d.If her father was dead she was sui iuris
e.She did not legally enter her husband’s family and in fact in Roman law
was related neither to her husband or to her children
f.She had no rights of intestate inheritance from her husband
II.Cum manu: with hand (rare by the end of the Republic):
a.The wife entered her husband’s family legally
b.She thus fell under her husband’s potestas or his paterfamilias
c.She had no rights of intestate inheritance in her own family; however she had rights of intestate inheritance in her husband’s
d.Her property was her husband’s (or his father’s)
e.She was legally related to both husband and children

intestate( in +testate): not having a will
emanicipate ( ex + manus +capere): to free from the power of another

So, what were the customs?
Well, first one must be certain that one's potential spouse is eligible to be married . The right of conubium confered upon qualified citizens the right to marry( the laws governing eligibilty changed over time).The minimal legal age was 12 for females and 14 for males, but in reality most of the time people were slightly older.
Then, an official engagement would be made at a sponsalia,a ceremony at which the two families, represented by the fathers would agree to the marriage, and the terms of the marriage. This would usually be held at the bride's home, and the bride and groom would be officially recognized, the kind of marriage would be agreed upon, and the details of the dowery would be established.

Ubi tu es Gaius, ego Gaia: Where you are Gaius, I am Gaia.
Throughout Roman history, Gaius was generally the second-most common praenomen, following only Lucius. Although many prominent families did not use it at all, it was so widely distributed amongst all social classes that "Gaius" became a generic name for any man, and "Gaia" for any woman. A familiar Roman wedding ceremony included the words, spoken by the bride, ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia ("as you are Gaius, I am Gaia"), to which the bridegroom replied, ubi tu Gaia, ego Gaius.
Uxor formosa et vinum sunt dulcia venena.: a beautiful wife and wine are sweet poison
"If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you..." Jimmy Soul/If You Want to be Happy Jimmy Soul tells it!

venomous: full of poison
dulcet: sweet and calming ...a dulcet sound; dulcet surroundings

On with the wedding!

There were basically two types of weddings:
conferreatio:This was the ceremony favored by patricians. It was really the only kind of marriage that had any reall legal standing.
This ceremony required the presence of ten witnesses, the Pontifex Maximus, flamen Dialis and his wife, the flamenica Dialis. Unlike other forms of Roman marriage a confarreatio was conducted as a sacred rite by which a husband and wife were placed into a union for all time. Divorce was generally not permitted from a confarreatio, due to its sacred nature. ( I got this info from Dr. Dexter Hoyos ...he is a professor at UGA and he is awesome)
wedding.jpg Roman_wedding.jpg

usus: This was practiced by plebians. In modern times, usus would be similar to our commonlaw marriages. Essentially it consisted of the living together of man and woman as husband and wife. There were probably other forms and ceremonies of which we know nothing.

flamen dialis:
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Dialis was the high priest of Jupiter. There were 15 flamines, of which three were flamines maiores, serving the three gods of theArchaic Triad. According to tradition the flamines were forbidden to touch metal, ride a horse, or see a corpse...and all kinds of others restricitions which seem to be trying to ensure his purity and abuility to attend to his priearhood without distraction:flamen dialis rules and privedges

auspex ( auspices)/aka augur: a priest who reads omens, and sometimes the omens themselves; along with the sacrifice of an animal the reading of omens would be taken by such a person at a Roman wedding ( and a whole lot of other times too...the Romans were really superstitious people)

auspices: favorable signs or protection; The plan was adopted under the auspices of the Pentagon.
auspicious: boding well; full of signs of future success; an auspicious start
Back to the wedding:

HYMENAIOS (Hymen or Hymenaeus) was the god of weddings, or more specifically of the wedding hymn which was sung by the train of the bride as she was led to the house of the groom. Hymenaios was numbered amongst the Erotes, the youthful gods of love.
As one of the gods of song, he was usually described as a son of Apollo and a Muse.

On the evening before her wedding day, a bride dedicated to the lares of her father's house her bulla (locket), and if she was young, her childish toys. For the sake of a favorable omen, she tried on her wedding dress, the tunica recta (straight tunic), woven in one piece and falling to the feet. It was supposed to have taken the name recta from being woven in the old-fashioned way an upright loom.
On the morning of her wedding day a bride was dressed by her mother. The tunica recta was fastened around the waist with a band of wool tied in the knot of Hercules (probably because Hercules was the guardian of wedded life), which only the husband was privileged to untie. Over the tunic the bride wore a flame-coloured veil (so significant that nubere, to veil oneself, is the word regularly used for a woman's marriage). The bride's hair was divided into six locks by the point of a spear, or a comb of that shape (a practice surviving perhaps from the ancient custom of marriage by capture. These locks were coiled an held in position by ribbons( hey check this out...coincidence? I think not )The Vestal Virgins wore their hair this way, so the style must have been an extremely early one. In addition, the bride wore a wreath made of flowers and sacred plants which she had gathered herself. The groom, wearing a toga, had a similar wreath of flowers on his head.
The actual wedding ceremonies depended on the particular form used, and varied considerably. Most weddings were probably simpler than those described by our chief authorities. The house of the bride's father, where the ceremony was performed, was decorated with flowers, boughs of trees, bands of wool, and tapestries. The omens had already been taken before sunrise. If the omens were pronounced favourable, the bride and the groom appeared in the atrium and the wedding began.roman_bride.jpg
First came the marriage ceremony, varying according to the form used. Next came the wedding dinner, usually given at the house of the bride's father, sometimes very extravagant. After this, the bride was always formally escorted to her husband's house. This was the wedding procession. The marriage hymn was sung and the groom took the bride with a show of force from her mother's arms (seen by the Romans as a reference to the rape of the Sabines, but more likely an allusion to the tradition of marriage by capture). The bride, attended by three boys whose parents were both living, joined the procession. Two boys held her hands and one carried the wedding torch of hawthorne. Behind her walked the camillus, and someone carrying a distaff and spindle (emblems of domestic life). During the march rude songs called the versus Fescennini were sung. The crowd shouted the ancient marriage cry, whose origin is unknown. There are many variations of it, most of them sounding something like Talassius or Talassio. The bride had three coins with her, one of which she dropped as an offering to the gods of the crossroads, another of which she later gave to the groom as an emblem of the dowry she brought him, and the third she offered tot he lares of his house. The groom scattered nuts, sweetmeats, and sesame cakes through the crowd.
Upon arrival at the groom's house, the bride wound the doorposts with bands of wool (probably a symbol of her future work as mistress of the household), and anointed the door with oil and fat, emblems of plenty. She was then lifted carefully over the threshold (possibly in order to avoid such a bad omen as a slip of the foot on entering her new home for the first time, possibly another reminder of marriage by capture). In the atrium, the husband offered his wife fire and water in token of the life they were to live together. The bride kindled the hearth with the marriage torch (the torch as later tossed among the guests to be scrambled for as a lucky possession). The bride recited a prayer and was led by the pronuba to the wedding couch. On the following nights, there were other festivities and dinner parties.

Ab ovo usque ad mala: "from the egg all the way to the apples" from beginning to end
Copia ciborum subtilitas impeditur (Seneca the Younger) "The abundance of food hampers intelligence."

copious: abundant
postprandial: after a meal

The rich Ancient Romans enjoyed their food. Expensive food, along with a lavish villa, was an obvious way of showing off your wealth to others. If you hosted a banquet at your villa to which other Roman worthies had been invited, it had to go well if your social standing was to be maintained - hence why elaborate and expensive foods were well provided. Roast peacock and ostriches and the like, would be provided.

A different lifestyle also meant that the eating habits of the Ancient Romans were different to ours today. Breakfast (the Romans called this ientaculum) was taken in the master's bedroom and usually consisted of a slice of bread or a wheat pancake eaten with dates and honey. Wine was also drunk. Lunch (the Romans called this prandium) was eaten at about 11.00 a.m. and consisted of a light meal of bread, cheese and possibly some meat. In many senses, everything was geared up towards the main meal of the day - cena. This was eaten in the late afternoon or early evening. If the master of the house had no guests, cena might take about one hour. If he did have guests, then this meal might take as long as four hours. A light supper was usually eaten just before the Romans went to bed, consisting of bread and fruit. The Romans were usually not big meat eaters and a lot of their normal meals involved vegetables, herbs and spices together with a wheat meal that looked like porridge.

However, for a rich man's banquet anything exotic that could be purchased was served. Many meals were served with sauces. The Romans seemed to be particularly fond of sauces as it gave a cook the opportunity to make a dish seem a little bit more exciting that it may have been without the sauce. One particular favourite was garum which was made by mixing up fish waste with salt water and leaving it for several weeks until it was ready for use. By all accounts, it was a salty and highly flavored sauce. Sauces made from vinegar, honey, pepper, herbs and spices were also popular. The Romans seemed to be very keen on sweet food and drink. One of the favoured drinks was called mulsum which was a mixture of boiled wine and honey.

One sign that a meal or a banquet had gone down well was if guests asked for bags to take homes dishes that they had enjoyed. This in particular pleased a master as it showed to everyone who was there that at least some of the courses on offer had been well received.

Most food was either boiled or fried in olive oil. Very few homes needed an oven as so little food was roasted.
Two Roman meals were:

|| Baked dormice: "Stuff the dormice with minced pork or the meat of other dormice chopped up with herbs, pepper and pine nuts. Sew up the dormice and cook in a small oven."
A sweet: "Take the crusts from a white loaf and break the bread into largish pieces. Soak them in milk. Fry them in hot oil or fat. Pour honey over them and serve."

The writer Petronius wrote about his eating experiences in around AD 60:

"After a generous rubdown with oil, we put on dinner clothes. We were taken into the next room where we found three couches drawn up and a table, very luxuriously laid out, awaiting us.
We were invited to take our seats. Immediately, Egyptian slaves came in and poured ice water over our hands. The starters were served. On a large tray stood a donkey made of bronze. On its back were two baskets, one holding green olives, and the other black. On either side were dormice, dipped in honey and rolled in poppy seed. nearby, on a silver grill, piping hot, lay small sausages. As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it"

And, our friends at Horrible Histories have a go at it( as the Brits say)!
roman table manners
roman kitchen nightmares

And today's custom is hygiene. The Romans were not stinking barbarians....or not as stinking as most barbarians.
bene lave!: have a good bath!; a greeting
pecunia non olet: money doesn't stink

lavatory: a washroom
latrine: a toilet
In ancient Rome, Thermae (from Greek thermos, "hot") and balnea (Greek βαλανείον, balaneion) were facilities for bathing. Thermae usually refers to the large imperial bath complexes, while balneae were smaller-scale facilities, public or private, that existed in great numbers throughout Rome.[1]
Most Roman cities had at least one, if not many, such buildings, which were centres not only for bathing, but socializing. Roman bath-houses were also provided for private villas, town houses, and forts. They were supplied with water from an adjacent river or stream, or more normally, by an aqueduct. The water could be heated by a log fire before being channelled into the hot bathing rooms.

In many ways, baths were the ancient Roman equivalent of community centres. Because the bathing process took so long, conversation was necessary. Many Romans would use the baths as a place to invite their friends to dinner parties, and many politicians would go to the baths to convince fellow Romans to join their causes. The thermae had many attributes in addition to the baths. There were libraries, rooms for poetry readings, and places to buy and eat food. The modern equivalent would be a combination of a library, art gallery, mall, restaurant, gym, and spa.

Baths-at-Caraclla.gifBaths of Caracalla


roman baths
ostia antiqua

as were public toilets, and not the kind at the mall...forget the stall, let it all hang out, for real:

latrinae publicae: public toilets; I think , here, a picture says a thousand words:Ancient-Roman-public-toilets.jpg

Access to Toilets

"According to O.F. Robinson, Ancient Rome: City Planning and Administration, there were 144 public latrines in Rome in the later Empire. Apparently mostly concomitant of the public baths, which only makes sense as they could share water and sewerage. There may have been a token payment if they were separate from the baths, she conjectures. She also writes that they were comfortable places, where one might sit and read, or otherwise "amuse oneself sociably," hoping for [dinner] invitations. She cites a ditty by Martial:

  • "Why does Vacerra spend his hours in all the privies, and day-long sit? He wants a supper, not a s**t."

  • You could not make this stuff up!

  • and, the sponge on a stick:Sponge-on-stick.jpgI'm pretty sure that is how disease is spread.

And today, we talk about money.

Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas - The love of money is the root of all evil. Avarice is the problem, money itself is not evil.
pecuniae obediunt omnia: all things obey money Money makes the world go around.

cupidity: desire
impecunious: broke; lacking money

Bankers (argentāriī) united money-changing with money-lending. Money-changing was very necessary in a city into which came all the coins of the known world; money-lending was never looked upon as entirely respectable for a Roman, but there can be no doubt that many a Roman of the highest respectability drew profits from this business, carried on discreetly in the name of a freedman. The bankers took deposits, paid interest, and made payments on written orders. They helped their clients to find investments, and through their foreign connections could supply letters of credit to travelers.

So, what did they change foreign coins to? Why Roman coins of course! The Very ancient form of currency was livestock, but that gets messy and cumbersome, so the Romans began to rely upon coin currency. The first coin was called an aes rude ( its funny, I know), which was a bronze coin. Later on, after that became devalued ( hello, inflation), the denarius became more prevalent which was a silver coin worth 16 asses ( it's funny, I know). The aureus was a gold coin, and it was the top of the heap. Anyhow, here is an aarticle explaining the system:Roman money

Roman coins.jpg