Ancient Roman FAQs

Maxima Shock

Writing

In ancient Rome, the citizens didn't have any paper; however, they did have papyrus. Papyrus is a reed that is cut, dried and pressed into a thin sheet that can be written on by a quill dipped in ink. The quill is a dried reed that is cut so that it can hold the ink, but the upper-class citizens would have quills with a metal tip. The Romans wouldn't have even known about papyrus if they hadn't discovered the Egyptians. Before that they would write on shallow tablets with a layer of wax on it, they would write on it with a stylus, and when they were done they would heat it and start over.

Family

The Roman family is different from modern day because in Rome, the family consists of the mother, father, children, parents, wards (basically adopted children), and slaves. Unlike today where we don't and can't own slaves, and can disown people . Also, the paterfamilias, or the eldest male in the household, has absolute power over the members of his family, and that includes death. The mother of a child won't nurse it themselves, they'll typically pay for a wet nurse, who will usually stay long after the child is grown. The mother's main job is to run the household, and to raise the children. The children are seen as "the free ones" because they have the most freedom out of any other Roman citizen. They are taught at home by an expensive, educated slaves. The child can be either accepted or rejected by the father. If it is accepted the family can keep it, but if it is rejected then it will be left outside to die, or be adopted by another family.

The children are named depending on their gender, as we do in the modern times, the boys also have three names. However the females can only have two names. For a male the first name they have is called their praenomen, it is used to distinguish one male from the rest of the family. The second name is the nomen, which is a common name that many Romans would've had, for instance: Lucius or Marcus. The third name that the child would receive would be their cognomen, or the name of the family. But the girls only have a nomen and a cognoman.

Men and Boy Clothing

The men would wear togas, but only when they reached manhood could they wear the toga pura, a semi-circle of white wool, or they could wear a toga virilis. The men wore their togas as a sign of Roman citizenship, and they were required for official activities. The toga was typically worn over a tunic, kind of like a longer t-shirt. Sons wore toga praexta, a toga with a purple border that is two or three inches wide. When they turned seventeen they got rid of the toga praexta and wore the toga pura. And when they were boys, they would wear a bulla, a neckchain and round pouch that had protective amulets. Boys of an upper-class would have a bulla, but it would be made of gold. They also wore small gold rings carved with phallus for good luck. When they were older, the only item of jewlery they wore is a signet ring, to make an impression in the wax to seal and authorize a document. It was also sometimes used as a key to their strong box.

Women and Girls' Clothing

Women in ancient Rome wore a palla which was a square imitation of a toga. Women's tunics were long and loose, and married women had to have their heads covered whenever they're in public. On their wedding day they had to weave their own tunic on the upright loom, they also had to make their hair net, which had to be died yellow orange: the color of chastity. Women had to wear a veil from their house to wherever they are getting married to keep off all bad things. Widowed women wore, instead of the usual head covering, a ricinium, a shawl that's made of a square piece of cloth. It is folded, and then half is thrown back over her shoulder. Widowers also wore a plain white toga. Otherwise you would've been seen as a prostitute, or having been disgraced by wearing a toga.

Citations

  • "Writing and Language." World Eras. Ed. John T. Kirby. Vol. 3: Roman Republic and Empire, 264 B.C.E.- 476 C.E. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 170-172. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
  • “Books and Manuscripts." Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. Carroll Moulton. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. 98-100. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
  • "The Nature of the Family." World Eras. Ed. John T. Kirby. Vol. 3: Roman Republic and Empire, 264 B.C.E.- 476 C.E. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 324-325. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
  • "Family." The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 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. 8 Oct. 2015.
  • "Clothing." Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. Carroll Moulton. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. 148-153. World History in Context. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.
  • "The Dress of Roman Women." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras. Ed. Edward I. Bleiberg, et al. Vol. 2: Ancient Greece and Rome 1200 B.C.E.-476 C.E. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 106-109. World History in Context. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.
  • McManus, Barbara F. "Roman Clothing, Part I." Roman Clothing, Part I. VROMA, Aug. 2003. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
  • Lawall, Gilbert, Timothy S. Abney, David J. Perry and Ronald B. Palma. Ecce Romani: A Latin Reading Program. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2009. Print.