Ancient Roman FAQs

Mariana Ocampo


Ancient Romans did not use regular paper but they used something called papyrus in place of paper. Papyrus paper is made from an Egyptian plant called papyrus. The plant is cut into thin pieces and crossed over each other to make papyrus paper. To write on the papyrus paper, the Romans took a quill an dipped it in ink. Back then papyrus paper was very expensive so the less fortunate Romans used shallow wooden tablets with a thin layer of wax to write on. Another method the Romans did was carving on stones which was the most time consuming and least portable form of writing besides paining on walls which was also very popular.


A roman Family was different from a modern family in many ways. A Roman family was made up of the father, mother, children, slaves, and sometimes aunts and uncles whereas the modern family is generally only made up of the father, mother, and children. In a Roman family, the head of the family is the paterfamilias or the oldest father present. The paterfamilias has the right to control all property earned by the family and they also had the right to regulate and punish the family.

Roman Parents also differ from modern parents for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that the father gets to decide weather to keep a newborn baby or leave it to die. Also the father always gets custody of the child in other words, the father will always legally own the children. Another way they were different was that the parents not only grew close to their own children but also to the children of their slaves. The parents cared about their slaves and their slave's children and they treated them like family. Lastly, Roman mothers are different because she prepares her daughters to be a good wife and mother because the parents always arrange their children's marriages.

Roman names are different from modern names in that roman names have more meaning and importance to the Roman social structure. Women had two names, a nomen and a paranomen. A nomen is known as a last name and comes from the name of their clan which represents their social status. A paranomen is known as the first name and it's used to identify the individual. Most men also had two names but some of them had three with the third being the cognomen or a name that linked the man with his personal characteristics. Men/ boys's names got passed down in generations while girl's were given the same name as her sisters if she had sisters (ex. Spurius I, Spurius II, Spurius III...). Slaves were often called "por" which was slang for "puer" which means boy.

Clothing-Men's and Boys'

Men wore togas over a tunic. Social classes were dictated through clothing because men who wore a toga pura were only free male citizens of Rome who were at least 16 years old. The toga pura was a symbol of Roman citizenship and men were required to wear this toga during official activities. The toga candida was a toga that only political candidates wore and was usually the whitest colored toga. The toga praexta is a toga with a purple border 2-3 inches in width and boys wore it until the age 14-16 then they wore the toga pura.

Roman boys also wore something called a bulla which was a neck chain and round pouch containing protective amulets. For rich or upper class boys, their bulla was made of gold. Some boys also wore small gold rings covered with a phallus for good luck.

Clothing-Women's and Girls'

Like roman boys, the girls wore a toga praexta except they only wore this toga until the age when they start puberty. Girls usually get married at this age and as a bride they wore a tunica recta (tunic), a hairnet, and a belt made of wool. Once they get married they wore a stola and if their husband dies and they become a widow, they wore a black, square shapes shawl.


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“Names." The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 181-182. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.2. 153-155. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

Tortora, Phyllis. "Toga." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Ed. Valerie Steele. Vol. 3. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. 329-331. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

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