Ancient Rome FAQs

Augustus Burnett


Unlike people now people in the roman times did not have lots of paper that they could not usually afford to write anything unless they were wealthier. Instead of using paper they used papyrus as an alternative. As and alternate to pencil they used a quill dipped in ink. One of the advantages to papyrus was that it lasted for hundreds to thousands of years. Yet there were cheaper ways to record things and write, one of those was a recyclable way was on shallow wooden tablets with a thin layer of wax on it. They carved letters into wax using a stylus and when they wanted to erase they just heated the wax slightly. The cheapest way though was to paint or carve on stone and walls.


The most honored social unit in the Roman times was the family. Most Roman families consisted of father, mother, children, and slaves but may expand to outer family such as grandparents and aunts and uncles. The head of the family was the paterfamilias, usually the oldest father present, and they held patria protestas over all other members of the household, including slaves. Eventually laws were set over the paterfamilias even though peers calling for reason usually kept them from unusually cruel punishments and behavior. Even though marriages were set by the families there were records of high degrees of love between husband and wife. When it came to children 9 days after birth there was a naming ceremony. Also Roman children played with the same kind of toys as children do now. Dolls, swings, seesaws, and marbles.

A big difference between families now and then was back then the father chose whether or not to take the child as his own. Also adoption was very different back then then here in the US for example, adoption usually was to provide a heir for a family that had no son to carry on the family name or to receive the families property. Free born boys wore the toga protexta and an amulet called a bulla until reached an age and maturity suitable to the Romans. Once that age and maturity was reached there they were proclaimed a man. Many families chose the festival of the liberalia on March 17 as the day for their sons to get claimed a man.

Almost all Roman girls were named after their father and the sisters all shared the same name. Also most roman men had three names Praenomen, nomen, and a cognomen. the three names were used to place a male to a certain family branch or group and also to tell different males of the family from each other.

Men's and Boy's Clothing

Men and boys clothing was made from wool, fiber, silk, and cotton. A toga was a common dress wear for a roman man. Different togas were worn for different events based on color. Also money class and budget could affect the length of the toga. For example, a shorter toga may be worn by a peasant or poorer person to save money while a richer person looking to impress others may buy a longer toga. Yet some men during emperor Justinian’s rule some men decided to rebel against him through their fashion choices. They wore tunics with outrageously wide, long sleeves tightly fastened at the wrists. When it came to social class Their were hints from literature that different cloaks represented a certain social class. But the piece of writing did not describe the cloak.

As for jewelry men were only authorized one piece of jewelry, a signet ring that was used to make an impression in sealing wax in order to authorize documents. Originally made of iron, these signet rings later came to be made of gold. These were personal items that were not really meant as jewelry but more as a verification tool and a form of signature.

Women's and Girl's Clothing

In ancient roman times respectable women did not wear togas. Prostitutes and women divorced for adultery wore togas as a sign of disapproval. For a girl the attire was a toga worn over a tunic. This was the same a roman boys. They also wore a necklace or amulet that was given to the goddess "Fortuna Virginalis"—Venus at the end of puberty to show their being ready for marriage. Roman brides wore tunica rectas on her wedding day she did her hair with flowers and wore a belt around the tunic. Finally, she wore a veil that was aid to protect her from evil spirits and demons. Once married the common outfit was the stola. It was a dress held to the shoulders by straps; it hung to the feet and resembled a modern slip, except that the skirt was fuller and fell in distinctive folds called rugae. Women were told to cover they're faces and the punishment for disobeying that rule was severe in the second century. A widow would take off her stola and instead wear a ricinium which was a shawl made of a square piece of cloth which a woman folded and then threw back half of it apparently over her shoulder.


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. 12 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. 12 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. 12 Oct. 2015.

WEISS, JESSICA. "Fathering and Fatherhood." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society. Ed. Paula S. Fass. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 348-353. World History in Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

"Family." The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 153-155. World History in Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

"Names, Roman System of." Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. Carroll Moulton. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. 66-67. World History in Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

"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. 12 Oct. 2015.