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Old September 9th, 2014, 08:03 PM   #11

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Excellent hread, thanks for all the responses.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 11:49 PM   #12

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Excellent hread, thanks for all the responses.
Gotta say I'm enjoying this thread too
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Old September 10th, 2014, 03:52 AM   #13

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I don't think there was ever actually a high school, or any type of public schooling or education programs put in, other than who were sponsored by rich citizens or the Emperor himself. Even very rich teachers would rent a room or building and visit their pupils in the course of their duties. There was no report card ever issued, I believe it was mostly verbal. As I commented in my earlier post, the rhetor began the professional schooling from the age of 14 to 15, and these would go on to graduate to orator, lawyer, and other professions of very high esteem.
There was no system of schools as such. Those Roman kids given an education were assigned to a teacher - either a paid entrepeneur or a specialist slave, and taught where-ever convenient. It wasn't unusuual for classes to held in the street. Behaviour was rigidly enforced and sharp punishment handed out with a vine rod across the knuckles for naughty, lazy, or inattentive pupils.
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Old December 15th, 2016, 11:42 PM   #14
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Most of your questions have been answered.

Fruits keep a long time if ripened off the vine or tree, even when vine ripened they keep long enough to be shipped even from Egypt. Normally they were dried and they coated with honey. Even when not dried they will stay preserved if covered in honey. Real honey not the crap they sell as honey in American stores is a natural anti-biotic which never goes bad, though it does dry out over time. If one had the money one could also buy fresh ripe fruit shipped to you packed in snow. I may native Minnesota we bought hay for our horse in winter and I who had to feed and water it unloaded a bunch of the bails unto a snow pile. The snow was still snow in mid summer when their were only a 3-4 inches of hay left. One could have brought fruit packed in snow and covered in alphalfa (don't remember how to spell it) by either boat or ship a very long way.

If you were living in a non-villa you would of been living on the ground floor of an insula or apartment house. They could be built up to ten more floors after the first and often had small restaurants on the ground floor too. Your wife or her slave would not being doing any cooking in them though or baking.

For minor crimes one would be enslaved, for more serious crimes that did not rise to the level of being crucified one condemned to die in the games or if not good enough to be a bestarius or gladiator to be simply given to beast to kill and eat or executed by the gladiators for public amusement. If you were judged worthy enough you would be trained as a beast fighter or a gladiator and might: live; become rich and even win ones freedom.

Whores for hire were mainly chosen at the baths which were also brothels and libraries. The Romans went to them often and not just for bathing.

I'm uncertain whether or not their were separate taverns serving wine. The Romans drank wine rather than ale or beer. They preferred Greek wine and white wine to red wine.

The Romans were initially very puritanical. They were gradually corrupted by the loose sexual morals of the Greeks, as they were by Greek luxury in general. In 120 AD they would have been still divided between those following traditional Roman values and those following the corrupt Greek values of luxury and lechery. Of course Greek values won, but when Rome had become a center of corrupt oligarchs living in great luxury and sexual depravity it fell as mercenary barbarians and federates were not a substitute for actual Roman armies asd they eventually figured out what do they need the Romans for
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Old December 16th, 2016, 01:03 AM   #15

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The public service was Augustus household slaves originally.
No, that was the alternative public service introduced by Augustus under the Imperial Household. There were a number of public offices dealing with politics, law, and city management that had been in place during the Republican period of which many were active in 120ad, along with people that worked for them. Claudius introduced a wider use of freedmen as administrators.
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Old December 16th, 2016, 07:44 AM   #16
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I'm not an expert in Roman law, but generally speaking, ancient and medieval societies did not use prison as a punishment for crimes. Prison was expensive and time consuming and the state wanted to get the punishment over and done with as soon as possible. Crimes were usually punished with death, mutiliation, fines, or banishment. Jails existed, but only to hold prisoners pending trial or punishment. Executions and mutilations were public events and often scheduled far in advance so that crowds could assemble and watch. Meanwhile, the criminal had to be kept in jail. The idea that the state should represent the victim was still in the future. Roman criminal trials resembled modern day civil trials in that the victim first made his argument, then the defendant made his argument. Courts liked to impose fines because part of the fine was taken by the court as 'court costs.' This could be as much as a third of the fine and often went straight into the judge's pocket. If the defendant could not pay his fine, he could be enslaved to work off the debt. Fines often took the form of compensation paid by the perpetrator to the victim.

While Roman buildings could be as high as nine or ten stories, it was seriously inconvenient to climb more than three stories' worth of stairs. Only poor people lived on the upper stories. Rents likely fell as stair count increased.

At different times, Rome alternated back and forth between decadence and strict family values. Pompei was buried during a decadent period so there were lots of brothels. About 70 CE, a new dynasty of emperors ushered in a strict family values period and brothels quickly moved from store fronts to back alleys. I don't know what was going on, brothel-wise in 120 CE.

I don't know how useful it is to think in terms of cash income. It might be more useful to think in terms of lifestyle. An urban professional in 120 CE Rome owned at least one slave, maybe more. The first slave was probably a house girl who specialized in cooking and cleaning. The second slave was probably a valet who shaved his master each day and cut his hair once a month. He also maintained his master's wardrobe - laundering and repairing his clothes, helping him choose what to wear based on the master's activities that day. The valet might also double as secretary and gatekeeper for the master. The third slave probably specialized in the wife's hair and makeup and maintaining her wardrobe. If she had extra time she probably helped the house girl with the cooking and cleaning.

A teacher, civil servant, army officer, or lawyer probably lived better than a craftsman-proprietor who made goods in the back of his shop and sold them out the front. The more successful merchants, who did not manufacture but only bought and sold, could probably be included in the list above. These merchants would engage in import-export of goods from around the Mediterranean. Physician was a less prestigious occupation than it is today. Most physicians learned through apprenticeship rather than by reading and classroom study. There were always society doctors who catered to the wealthy and could become wealthy themselves, but as a previous poster said, they were mostly Greek.

There was little, if any, public education. Children of wealthy parents went to private school with the parents paying tuition to the teacher or tutor. An urban professional could afford to educate his children. The super wealthy could pay for in-house tutoring. There were no diplomas. A sophisticated Roman could identify his own kind just by speaking to him. If a person could quote Virgil, make a litterary allusion, or perhaps compose a quick poem he was a fellow gentleman who had received a good education. The different social classes also used different manners. Gregory of Tours tells of a sixth century man who had learned some Virgil but was revealed for the imposter he was because he did not have the manners of a gentleman. Think of Mitt Romney or Donald Trump eating pizza with a fork.

Most fruits and vegetables that are in our culture were native to the New World and were unknown to Romans. Apples, olives, grapes, turnips, peas, beans, wheat, and barley were known to the Romans. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn on the cob, are all New World. When you read of Romans having corn, it's a generic word for grain.
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Old December 16th, 2016, 10:50 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
F

So I am a guy who is married to a nice woman, a great wife, she gave me three beautiful children, a son and two daughters. I live in Rome in what is now known as around 120 AD.
Firstly, commiserations on the other 7 children your wife had who didn't survive infancy.

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* How did people do marketing? Buy vegetables/fruits and especially meats. Would the seller sell my wife a live chicken in the market and then she would come home and kill the bird dead for dinner?
'Marketing' consisted of going around places where you thought customers were and shouting at them - either sitting at your market stall or going out hawking products in other places, such as the baths:

alipilum cogita tenuem et stridulam vocem quo sit notabilior subinde exprimentem nec umquam tacentem nisi dum vellit alas et alium pro se clamare cogit. iam biberari varias exclamationes et botularium et crustularium et omnes popinarum institores mercem sua quadam et insignita modulatione vendentis.

"Consider the slender armpit-hair plucker and his shrill cries, always competing to draw people's attention and never stopping, except that is when he's plucking armpits and making someone else shriek for him. Now add the mingled cries of the drink peddler and the sellers of sausages, pastries, and all the purveyors of the eating houses, each hawking his own wares with his own particular sound." - Seneca, Epistulae Morales 56.1-2

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* How were fruits and vegetables kept fresh enough from the farms to come to the city to sell to me without refrigeration (which did not come around until almost the 20th Century.
Refrigeration still is not used in many developing countries today, such as India. Most fruits don't tend to go off 'instantly', they can easily be picked just before they are fully ripe and then by the time they reach the customer they haven't yet started to go over. I suppose the transporters would have stored them in covered containers, perhaps clay pots of some kind, which would have kept them reasonably cool.

And there were also some dried fruits such as raisins and dates which lasted longer. Presumably you just had to eat whichever fruits were available if you wanted fresh fruit, and obviously if it's not in season you won't be getting it, notwithstanding certain pickled fruits: pickling juice could be either vinegar, wine, grapejuice or honey. In the 2nd Century you would benefit from the newly introduced daily food markets so you wouldn't have to worry too much about freshness.

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* What is a 2nd Century kitchen be like? To be able to cook dinner after a hard day at the office. If I drank to relieve the day's tension, what would I drink?
You certainly wouldn't be cooking dinner. Your wife might cook for you, but as a freeborn urban Roman you'd be likely to either have slaves to cook, or just buy from a popina, a kind of Roman bistro/bar which served hot food and drinks for less wealthy types (although you would also be eligible for the frumentarium, the grain dole, though you might have to bring your dough to the popina for baking if you did not have an oven). And your choice of drink is either a variety of fruit juices (e.g., defrutum, basically grapejuice) or wine. You could have water perhaps but I would not recommend it, unless you want to die of cholera.

See Apicius' 'On the Art of Cookery' for some Roman recipes: I'd advise you to stay away from the garum, the ubiquitous fermented fish condiment, it may not conform to modern health and safety standards.

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* How tall were buildings? How many stories could the ancient Roman of the 2nd century build? As in if I were a professional person who made a decent salary (let's say like $150,000 a year in NYC or $50,000 a year in most of middle America) where would I live or what could I afford?
The tallest Roman building was probably the Flavian Amphitheatre (or the Colosseum as we now call it), which is around 50m high. Apartment blocks, where the vast majority of Romans within the city walls lived, were restricted by Nero to 17m, although they may have topped out at anything up to 25m, mostly before the Great Fire of Rome. The average block would be perhaps 4 to 8 storeys, ballpark figure.

Unless you are a member of the elite, or are a plebeian with a very ancient pedigree with an ancestral 'domus' in the city, you will probably be living in a an apartment block (insula. Insulae vary somewhat in character, but generally speaking, the bottom floor is reserved for shops, the lower floors have some kind of indoor plumbing and heating and house wealthier people including the landlord, after whom the building would usually be named, and the upper floors are slums without plumbing or a water supply, whose residents would have had to use communal latrinae (and I do mean communal, there were no individual toilets, just wooden benches with a row of holes in them, with shared cleaning facilities, by which I mean a stick with some rags tied to it that was passed around) and public water fountains. Although sometimes people couldn't be bothered going to the latrines.

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* How often could people bathe? My understanding is that the people with money would go to public places to bathe.
Nearly everybody barring the actual imperial family went to the public baths, there was no real segregation between rich and poor so we can assume they didn't cost much. And the baths were not just for bathing, they were 'leisure centres' with food stalls, gambling, games, and gyms (athletes trained there, lifting lead weights), as well as other 'services' for the male customer in need of a more private experience. It seems people bathed reasonably often. The baths were one of the centres of Roman social life.

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* On the weekend, are there taverns? As in, go, have a few drinks, enjoy some live music and go home? No orgies or crazy stuff.
As mentioned above, your street would have various popinae or caupinae (sort of like an inn/hotel) where you might go nearly every day, which sold wine. Presumably there was also some music too. There were no 'weekends' as the Romans did not really recognise the concept of the 'week' before the Christian period, however there were numerous public holidays in the form of religious festivals, in addition to imperially decreed holidays and celebrations, and of course the Games.

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* What kind of alcohol would they sell? Wine I would thin? Beer? What would be the local alcohol that people would drink in bars?
Strictly wine only, since beer was for Northern barbarians and distilled drinks had not been invented yet.

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* Did people smoke marijuana then?
No, cigarette smoking was only invented in the Early Modern period and cannabis was not found in Western Europe, although smoking marijuana using a hookah pipe was practiced in the medieval Middle East. That's not to say there weren't other drugs consumed however.

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*Sanitation, what type? When someone used the toilet, what would happen to the waste? Or the waste of my wife's wonderful cooking? Where was the dump? Were there garbage men?
Rome's 'cloaca', the sewer, was the pride of the city. There were certainly dumps, such as the famous 'pot-shard mountain' for used amphoras. Anything that could be recycled or reused however was so there was not as much waste as you might expect. You must remember also that this was a time before plastic and mass-produced metal, so nearly everything was biodegradeable. Edible rubbish would have been eaten up quickly by the various animals which prowled the streets: stray dogs, stray cats, birds, etc.

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* Transportation, how would I go from one side of Rome to another. Don't want to walk 10 kilometers to somewhere. No taxis. It would limit to someone who wants to go somewhere, so I would think that someone would be limited to their neighborhood.
You'd better get used to walking. And you would not always be limited to your neighbourhood: you might have family out in the countryside and wish to visit them, very likely since many Romans were migrants from the countryside or descended from recent migrants (not sure when you'd have got the chance to do so, unless your job allowed). But you'd certainly have had to walk to places like the Colosseum and the Via Sacra for festivals and games, no matter if you lived on the other side of town.

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* So, if I were in Rome and I wanted to go to the sea with my gorgeous Italian wife (Kathrine Narducci - IMDb, with my three kids to the beach, how would I get there?
Along the road to Ostia, or Portus. And if ancient Ostia was anything like modern Ostia, you'd better keep a close eye on your valuables, I had my camera stolen there.

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* Were there resorts in Ancient Rome? Some think that Pompeii was a resort town.
Certainly, the whole bay of Naples area was a big resort, although it was mainly for the wealthy.

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* What was education like? Did the parents pay money to send their children to school? With the usual report cards, off season, etc? Probably not, but was there an Augustus Caesar High School? For the children destined for the professional class, when is the start of the training?
Students of parents who could afford it were generally taught by private tutors, usually educated Greek or sometimes Italian slaves. Lessons consisted of grammar, rhetoric, Greek, some maths, all mainly using the famous sources we know today: Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, Aristotle, Euclid, Homer, etc. Basically, rote learning, with copious amounts of beating (not dissimilar from my own Latin lessons in fact :P).

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* What would be some luxuries of the truly rich?
Dormouse for dinner, some of the more exotic Asian spices, various other exotic edible goods and clothes/fabrics/jewelry, and for women, outlandish hair and makeup products, including hair extensions/wigs: the most prized ones were from Germanic tribeswomen with naturally light blonde hair, which soldiers would bring back from the wars to sell. If they couldn't get hold of these they simply dyed their hair blonde, which, given the dodgy substances used, often resulted in all their hair falling out, as related by Ovid in a well-known poem. In fact, read any of Ovid's poems, e.g. 'the Art of Beauty' for some interesting anecdotes and lists in this vein.

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*What sports did people play? Can't help thinking they played a variation of soccer. A field, two goals. What else would they play? When the few went to "the games" (which would have been for the wealthy, what did they see? Not Christians eaten by animals)
The games were not just for the wealthy, their main purpose after all was to entertain the masses to distract them from the injustices inflicted on them. It's true that a large proportion of the seating was reserved for the elites, but there were also plenty of seats for freeborn men and attendance was always free of charge. There was also some seating for women and slaves.

I guess that during some of the really long stretches of games (sources speak of instances of 100 days in a row), most people in Rome would have gone to them at least once. They saw gladiators, beast fighters, various circus-type performers, executions of criminals, various theatrical-type mythology-themed performances involving trained animals, and other things: sea battles, if they were lucky.

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* In the famous Colisseum in Rome, which I can see as a picture on this website, I notice walls and a maze in the playing field, what game were they playing?
As has been said above, this is simply the 'backstage' area, it would have been covered by the arena floor and simply housed all the gladiators, animals, and machine operators waiting to go on.

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*Were there prisons in ancient Rome, or were people just executed if they did something bad enough, which we would call a felony today? Two drunks in a barfight, someone stealing a bag of wheat, minor things, was there a jail?
No, there was not really a 'jail'. Roman citizens were not allowed to be executed, they were exiled if they did something very bad. Others were executed, or perhaps mutilated or flogged. I'd imagine there was quite a lot of 'community justice' too.

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* How "diverse" was Rome in 120 AD? Would I see a variety of people from all over or basically white Italians like myself?
Pretty diverse. Slaves especially might be Britons, Gauls, Germans, Iberians, North Africans, Greeks, Syrians, the odd Egyptian, perhaps on very rare occasions you might see a Persian or even an Indian. There were also Subsaharan Africans from places like Nubia. But mostly Italians I guess.

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* Has an ancient Chinese or Japanese been to Rome? Or a white Brit? To someone from the provinces, would Rome be seen as a "WOW" showplace to them, or an overcrowded place of squalor?
Britain was part of the Empire by 120 remember, there would have been a fair number of British slaves. Rome would be the most amazing thing that a peasant from the back of beyond had ever seen, despite the squalor (not unlike modern cities). I guess it depends on the person: some people love cities, others hate them, it was the same in the old days.

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* Were those tunics so much more comfortable than pants? That is the one thing I envy, is the clothes. At least the wealthy wore what seems to me to be comfortable clothes. I would love a return to togas. 2000 years (well, I would say 1500) come back. My testicles need a rest!
Full togas were mostly for special occasions by this time, iirc. They were anything but comfortable in the heat of an Italian Summer. Trousers were seen as barbarian garments, however they did eventually creep into Roman fashion (I believe that in the later period a law was passed against wearing them).

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* How old were people when they were first married? How did these marriages come about? Were they arranged or did people meet each other and hook up? Sort of goes back to bars and meeting places, did people meet there? Did people meet at their jobs? Yes, this was 2000 years ago, so maybe we do not know.
Marriages were nearly always arranged, as in traditional societies today. 'Hookups' were not very common, I would imagine, at least not compared with today, since there was an element of 'purdah' (separation of the sexes, as in Muslim countries).

Last edited by Copperknickers; December 16th, 2016 at 10:55 AM.
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Old December 17th, 2016, 04:16 AM   #18

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IIRC...

coins were basically bits of metal with some seal or logo stamped on. they were mostly gold or silver or copper with occasional variations (electrum, a gold/silver combination).
the value was based on metal/content and weight; a one-ounce gold coin would have a certain value, and might be Roman current Emperor, Roman previous Emperor, or some other nation/state. this is paralleled in Olympic medals (gold, silver, bronze) and to this day we have copper pennies and silver-colored dimes quarters etc.
metal content is known as 'intrinsic value', as opposed to 'face value', such as the government printing a piece of paper and proclaiming it as being worth X number of dollars (pounds, francs, rubles, lira, etc.)

over time Rome started cheating and reducing precious metal content in its coins, with resulting inflation.

minted coins indicated a certain weight and quality and facilitated transactions as vendors would recognize coins but would be less certain of bars or ingots (also used).
not surprisingly, there was counterfeiting even then.

Last edited by sailorsam; December 17th, 2016 at 04:25 AM. Reason: add info
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Old December 20th, 2016, 01:00 PM   #19
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Not sure how to edit posts, so here's a small correction to my post above: defrutum (grape juice) was not drunk on its own, it was usually added to wine, or used as a cooking ingredient.
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Old December 28th, 2016, 02:52 AM   #20

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You could have water perhaps but I would not recommend it, unless you want to die of cholera.

Fresh water was always a concern of human habitation and the Romans employed aqueducts to feed fountains and household plumbing (not available for the majority of Romans in Rome who lived in jerry built tenement blocks called insulae ‘Islands’). There were some risks involving water but the worst was contamination from standing water, not fresh supplies. There has been for a long time the view that the extensive lead piping used to channel water was essentially poisonous (Lead did indeed cause senility in Romans times – the Romans were well aware of that aspect of growing old). However, the movement of water through lead pipes is not as dangerous to health as might be imagined. The risks of poisoning are much worse from cooking with lead pots and so forth.

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See Apicius' 'On the Art of Cookery' for some Roman recipes: I'd advise you to stay away from the garum, the ubiquitous fermented fish condiment, it may not conform to modern health and safety standards.

It is ghastly stuff, but the Romans consumed vast quantities of it and always enjoyed strong flavours, even those we wouldn’t tolerate today.

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Nearly everybody barring the actual imperial family went to the public baths, there was no real segregation between rich and poor so we can assume they didn't cost much. And the baths were not just for bathing, they were 'leisure centres' with food stalls, gambling, games, and gyms (athletes trained there, lifting lead weights), as well as other 'services' for the male customer in need of a more private experience.
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It seems people bathed reasonably often. The baths were one of the centres of Roman social life.

There was no legal barrier to using the baths but everyone? It is highly unusual for human societies to mix completely across social scales and there is at least one anecdote that suggests the poorest did not usually go to the baths. One suspects personal hygiene wasn’t their greatest priority, but Hadrian Caesar once visited the baths and saw a man on his own (how odd?) rubbing his back on the wall. When asked why, the man replied he could not afford a slave to clean his back. Hadrian sighed and clicked his fingers – here’s some gold – go buy yourself a slave (and the next day the baths were full of single men rubbing their backs on the walls). It’s amusing but notice that Hadrian – a known and enthusiastic bath-goer – seems quite unprepared for the sight of poverty there.

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* Were there resorts in Ancient Rome? Some think that Pompeii was a resort town.

Certainly, the whole bay of Naples area was a big resort, although it was mainly for the wealthy.

Herculaneum is a surviving example.

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Students of parents who could afford it were generally taught by private tutors, usually educated Greek or sometimes Italian slaves. Lessons consisted of grammar, rhetoric, Greek, some maths, all mainly using the famous sources we know today: Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, Aristotle, Euclid, Homer, etc. Basically, rote learning, with copious amounts of beating (not dissimilar from my own Latin lessons in fact :P).

Whilst there was value in learning – it paved the way for legal or political careers – the sources young students were expected to study were generally limited to four, and the teachers worked toward a position where they would say to one pupil – “Speak of the rights of the mule driver in the style of Virgil. Begin!”

[quote]*What sports did people play? Can't help thinking they played a variation of soccer. A field, two goals. What else would they play? When the few went to "the games" (which would have been for the wealthy, what did they see? Not Christians eaten by animals)[/quote]
Ball games are known of – Caesar in his youth was a frequent player with his friends. Wrestling too.

What would see at the arena? It varied according to the ambition and purse of the sponsor, but essentially any event must have at least twenty pairs of fighters for a public event (private events at people’s homes were much more modest). These were professional bouts with referees and standard classes. Executions of criminals might take place, sometimes having wild beats set upon them (there’s a description of a man tied to a post while a bear mangles him alive) and sometimes the fight between two crooks with only one armed with a knife. Whoever won had to hand the knife to the next crook pushed into the arena.

Wild beast hunts were entertaining for the crowd who didn’t normally see such activity. Hunts had a clear religious aspect (Female hunters were acting the role of Diane, the goddess of the hunt). Beast fights were another matter – setting an unarmed man against a big cat, bull, or a bear was a big thrill (there’s an account of one man who killed his bear opponent by ramming his arm down the animals throat – Rather him than me).

There might also be spectaculars – the big climactic recreation of battles or trick events. Can you get elephants to walk a tightrope? (yes, that was mentioned in the roman sources though no-one mentions any success)

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The games were not just for the wealthy, their main purpose after all was to entertain the masses to distract them from the injustices inflicted on them. It's true that a large proportion of the seating was reserved for the elites, but there were also plenty of seats for freeborn men and attendance was always free of charge. There was also some seating for women and slaves.

Seating became strictly segregated. Women and slaves were highest/furthest away. Sitting in the wrong area was a punishable offence.

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No, there was not really a 'jail'. Roman citizens were not allowed to be executed, they were exiled if they did something very bad.

Not true – it depended on your social status. Honestiores – the upper class – were let off with exile whereas humiliores – the lower classes – would be executed for serious offences.There were prisons but like any pre-victorian society, these were holding places until a punishment was exacted.
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Britain was part of the Empire by 120 remember, there would have been a fair number of British slaves.

Parts of Britain were, but the supply of slaves from Britain had been going on for a long time before Caesar decided to risk venturing there in 54BC. Tribes had been selling off slaves for export for centuries, and with the increasing contact with continental society, so did the trade increase.
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How old were people when they were first married? How did these marriages come about? Were they arranged or did people meet each other and hook up? Sort of goes back to bars and meeting places, did people meet there? Did people meet at their jobs? Yes, this was 2000 years ago, so maybe we do not know.

Ovid suggested meeting at public places and also that the man should be tactile and forward to impress the lady. People generally met through social functions, public events, or just by chance in the street. Marriages took place at a young age - it was not unusual to be a grandfather at the age of 35. Girls as young as 12 are known to have been married off by their families. Sometimes slave owners freed their slaves with a view to marrying them (such as Barates, a Palmyran merchant living in Britain)
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Marriages were nearly always arranged, as in traditional societies today. 'Hookups' were not very common, I would imagine, at least not compared with today, since there was an element of 'purdah' (separation of the sexes, as in Muslim countries).

In imperial Rome there were two forms of marriage. The first was the formal arranged matter, the second an informal bonding which was far easier to withdraw from (as the sources indicate, divorce was commonplace). The separation of sexes was not quite so apparent though single woman were subject to oversight from parents, siblings, guardians, partners, and so forth. Independent women emerged in Augustan Rome though this was more a chance affair than by design, according to circumstance. Previously, in the very late republic, a woman called Sempronia scandalised Rome with her behaviour when such was merely a matter of gossip within a generation or two.
The widespread availability of sex via slaves or cheap prostitutes mitigated against social pressure to some degree. It was expected that a man would exercise his virility. It was expected that a woman should remain aloof from such things (as you might expect, this wasn’t always the case). Bar maids and prostitutes had to tolerate sexual advances. There was a court case where a young man of good family had been prosecuted for raping a prostitute. That was her trade, and she had no right to complain if a man took her, but the young man had been drunk and had broken through her front door to get at her – and that got him sentenced.
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