Ancient Roman FAQs

Augustus Abernethy

Writing in Ancient Rome

Writing in Ancient Rome was very different from today. One major difference was the absence of paper. Romans did not have the modern paper we have today, they had papyrus, a type of paper which was woven incredibly tightly from river reeds. The making of papyrus began in Egypt and the Romans adopted the technique.

Romans used many different writing utensils from quill and ink to a stylus that could engrave letters on a wax sheet.

The Ancient Roman Family

The Roman family was also very different from most of today's family's. The average family was much more extended and sometimes included the grandparents, slaves, aunts, and uncles. The father in the family had absolute control over his family and could kill his slaves or family members. However, most of these actions required a family council and the father was mostly benevolent.

Women in this time period almost had no rights to anything an mostly cared for the children and the house. However, as the Roman Republic transitioned into the Empire, women gained more rights, such as to be able to own property.

Children were actually quite similar to modern day, being able to play with toys and other things. In this era, though, it was customary to marry off girls very early, around 10 to 12. This was because of a very high infant mortality rate.

Ancient Roman Names

Contrary to modern day, names in the Ancient Roman world were much more significant to the person with that name. The average name consisted of three parts, the praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. These names represented your family and yourself, much like modern names. for example, the famous Caesar's names was Gaius Julius Caesar. Gaius was the his personal name, Julius was his clan name, and Caesar was his family name within the clan. These names helped people recognize important figures and politicians.

Roman Clothing: Men

Because Rome was a patriarchal society, Roman men and boys wore the more elaborate clothing. The basic unit of clothing for men and boys was the tunic. A tunic was commonly a sleeveless shirt. A eras changed, the tunic changed with new Eastern ideas from conquest. The richer the man was, the more elaborate the design.

The toga was another staple of clothing for Roman men. Men were required to wear these long clothes that were intricately wrapped around the body. Once again the richer your were the more colors and elaboration went into the toga.

Roman men and boys also wore jewelry, signifying their social and economic status. Men wore more complicated necklaces and braces. Roman boys wore small spiritual amulets that were probably family heirlooms.

Roman Clothing: Women

Women wore clothing quite similar to men. Women wore a type of tunic with straps, similar to a tank top, called pelpos and another type was called a chiton. Women also wore a type of toga, used mostly only for official use, called a stola.

Hairstyles for Roman women became very elaborate with the passing of history and women tried to emulate Roman goddesses with many different types of hairstyles.

Works Cited

Writing: "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.

Families: "Family." The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 153-155. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

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

Men’s Clothing and Jewelry: McManus, Barbara F. "Roman Clothing, Part I." Roman Clothing, Part I. VROMA, Aug. 2003. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.

Women’s Clothing: McManus, Barbara F. "Roman Clothing, Part II." Roman Clothing, Part II VROMA, Aug. 2003. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.