Ancient Roman FAQs

Maximus Manigo 4A


You may be wondering if the Romans had paper or what they used to write. Well, yes, the Romans had paper. However, they did not have modern day resources. Romans used a material called papyrus. Papyrus came from an Egyptian plant with the same name. The papyrus would be cut, soaked, dried, and weaved to make what we know as papyrus. A quill or stylus was usually dipped in ink and used as a primary writing utensil.


How was a Roman family different from a modern family? First of all, the head of a Roman family was the paterfamilias or the oldest living father in the family. The paterfamilias had reigning power over every member in the family, which means he made all the decisions. Mom stayed home. Her task was to maintain the household and raise the children. Children of a Roman family stayed home as well and helped mom [particularly girls]. In modern time, we don't have slaves, but the Romans did and they considered them to be FAMILY! Slaves were tasked with cleaning and other things you would imagine a slave to do.

Roman parents were much different than parents you would see nowadays. The father had the choice, whether or not, he would raise a newborn baby. The baby would be sat at his feet and if he picked the baby up, it signaled that he chose to accept the baby. However, if he did NOT pick up the baby, it signaled that he chose to reject the newborn child.

Roman names had a much more broad meaning. It is believed that Roman upperclassmen had longer names and poor people had shorter names. Men and boys inherited three names. The praenomen [the first name], nomen [the family name], and cognomen [the nickname]. Women's names were much simpler. Females only had a nomen that was the feminine version of their father's name. However, in early Roman times, females may have also had a praenomen.

Clothing - Men's and Boy's

Clothing meant a lot to the Romans. Roman clothing determined a persons citizenship and social status. The more eminent a man was dictated the status of that man. Men and boys in Rome wore tunics and togas. The tunic was the more basic of the two. A tunic was typically a sleeveless piece of garment that reached to the wearers knees and tied around the waist with a rope or belt. On the other hand, the toga was more elaborate. The toga was a loose, heavy garment worn by ancient Romans that covered the entire body. This type of clothing varied in color marking dissimilarity in age and status. Only men were allowed to wear these. Togas were most often seen in formal events such as religious ceremonies.

Did the boys of ancient Rome wear jewelry? Well, yes they did. They wore something called a bulla. A bulla was a neck chain and pouch usually made of gold for the upper-class. The bulla represented the transition from boyhood to manhood, which was rather symbolic to many.

Clothing - Women's and Girl's

Clothing for ancient Roman women and girls was much more basic than that of a man. Women simply wore a stola and/or a palla. A stola was a regular piece of linen draped over the body covering its entirety and a palla was a mantle fastened by brooches or buttons. Women, in early Rome, wore togas but that gradually went away. Female prostitutes were the only ones to wear togas. Women also may have worn a toga as punishment for committing adultery, which symbolized shame. Girls wore nothing more than a tunic that reached to the knees. However, on occasion, girls wore a longer tunic sometimes reaching the ankles or even the feet.


"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.

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

"Children." World Eras. Ed. John T. Kirby. Vol. 3: Roman Republic and Empire, 264 B.C.E.- 476 C.E. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 304-305. World History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2015

Lawall, Gilbert, Timothy S. Abney, David J. Perry, and Ronald B. Palma. Ecce Romani: A Latin Reading Program. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2009. Print.

McManus, Barbara F. "Roman Clothing, Part I." Roman Clothing, Part I. VROMA, Aug. 2003. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

Clothing in ancient Rome. (2015, September 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:34, October 10, 2015, from