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View Poll Results: Most livable part of the Roman world?
Egypt 11 18.64%
Italy 28 47.46%
Asia Minor 11 18.64%
Gaul 2 3.39%
Hispania 3 5.08%
Britannia 1 1.69%
Syria 3 5.08%
Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

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Old October 28th, 2015, 10:31 AM   #11

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Btw, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ius_Italicum

Also, living in Italy could open up really nice career paths and such.

Last edited by History Craft; October 28th, 2015 at 10:34 AM.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 12:24 PM   #12

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valens View Post
In this case, all factors combined should be taken into consideration. Italy was rich and it enjoyed all of the advances of Roman civilization, yet it was subjected to political instability from time to time, and civil wars were not that uncommon, even prior to the III century.
Common citizens had probably been relatively safe from political upheavals in Rome, still we must consider also the position of the upper classes.
Considering I would've more likely been a pleb than an equistarian, I'd say it's still the best I'll get, since most of the political intrigues concerned the upper classes.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 05:24 PM   #13

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I reckon Italy would be the place to live from the end of the Second Punic War till the Crises of the Third Century. It was the center of the growing Roman Republic and then of the Roman Empire. After that, Carthage or some region close by, as it was probably one of the least touched place by the decline of roman power. After the fall of that city Constantinople I suppose.

Of course, arguably just like today, more important then where you lived is how much money you had. If you had to be poor, I'd probably live in Spain, as it was isolatated and very romanized.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 05:27 PM   #14

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Double post. Mods can delete this if they so wish.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 06:17 PM   #15

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Originally Posted by Valens View Post
We are speaking about general safety, living conditions, development both economic and cultural as well as perceived effectiveness of administration, though the last one might be hard to speculate about.

To sum it up, where could a Roman citizen enjoy a relatively peaceful, stable atmosphere, with access to most or all advancements of Greco-Roman civilization?

I will include a poll.

PS I think it would be interesting to analyze each of the provinces in the poll from the perspective of categories I've included, I will also try to provide an insight regarding this question.
I would think that it depends on the part of each part. You could expect good living conditions if you were a citizen of a polis/civitates inside the empire. Most of such cities were either in Italy or Aegean/Asia Minor. Hence, most of the middle class of the Roman Empire were from these two regions as were most of the surviving works from writers/philosophers/scientists.

Alexandria was a very good city but outside of it conditions in the small towns and villages in Roman Egypt appear to be rather poor relative to Italy/North Africa/Aegean/Asia Minor: daily wages for manual workers there were 1.2 grams of silver per day while a Roman legionary made 1,000 grams of silver per year, equivalent to about 4 grams of silver a day, considering they worked about 250 days a year. While that would mean that a Praetorian guard made 12 grams of silver a day in Rome, which would be close to the unskilled daily wages in Rome.

The median size of the first floor of houses dug in Egyptian villages was about 60 square meters while it was in the order of 180 square meters for Pompeii and Herculaneum. To give an idea of the discrepancy in living between Italian cities and Egyptian villages.

So, overall, it appears from archaeology that living conditions were the best in the cities around the mediterranean. Where these people had civil rights from being citizens of poleis/civitates.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 06:23 PM   #16

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Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
I came to tell that, the area called Africa Proconsularis, with Carthage, was one of the most developed centres of the Empire.

In the poll, I voted for Asia Minor. The province of Asia, comprehending western Anatolia, could be even more developed than Italy.
Basically the regions with highest density of city states.

These maps have some of the urban centers of the Roman empire, each urban center was essentially a city state with it's own laws and citizen body but without political independence (like Hong Kong today essentially):

Eastern parts:
Click the image to open in full size.

European parts:
Click the image to open in full size.

I don't have a picture of North Africa though.

By the way, the wealthiest parts of the Roman Empire were senatorial provinces while the poorest were imperial provinces:

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by Guaporense; October 28th, 2015 at 07:05 PM.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 06:39 PM   #17

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Originally Posted by jalidi View Post
If I was rich, in Roman Italy, if I was poor, in Roman Egypt. Since I'm more likely to be poor, I chose Egypt.

Both areas had good security and were relatively peaceful for centuries through much of the Imperial period. All roads did lead to Rome, but Alexandria in Egypt was quite important. Being as advanced and multicultural as Rome, it was ably administrated by the Emperors (not Caracalla) who treated the province like a private fiefdom which wasn't subject to the Senate. As an Imperial city it would've received many of the same goods that could also be obtained in Rome. Food was certainly plentiful, much more so than Rome, which was dependent on food imports just to sustain its population and suffered the occasional famine.
Roman Egypt inherited a political/social structure from the Ptolemies where all resources of the country were under the control of a political class. In essence it was a massive slave farm. As result Egypt generated a huge amount of tax revenues (hence, it was "rich") but the common population lived in poverty (at least if compared to the cities of the Empire).

I would think Egypt would be perhaps the single worst place to live as a commoner in the Roman Empire. Although living in the Greek cities of Egypt would be better, as a citizen of the city, of course. Like Alexandria, which had 180,000 citizens in the 1st century AD, was one of the largest city states inside the Roman Empire.

Still I personally wouldn't like to live in a large city like Rome, Carthage or Alexandria because hundreds of thousands of people increase the probability of infectious diseases. I would perhaps like to like in a small, ca. 10,000 people, Hellenic poleis in a relatively colder part of the Mediterranean, since a colder climate would reduce the transmission of diseases and increase life expectancy. Also I would like that town to be relatively isolated since contact with the trade routes would increase the chances of plagues as well.

Some estimate that life expectancy in the Roman Empire might have been very low due to the constant transmission of infectious diseases from the massive volume of sea trade and travel in the Mediterranean combined with the high rates of urbanization. Although I might think that modern observers understate the effects of Roman standards of sanitation on reducing the mortality rates in cities. It's because they think that Roman cities were like 18th century European cities like Paris, which was 600,000 people living cramped together with a small water supply so the whole city was like a nest for infectious diseases and Paris in fact needed like 5,000 immigrants from the countryside per year just to maintain it's population stable.
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Old October 28th, 2015, 06:47 PM   #18

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Originally Posted by Valens View Post
In this case, all factors combined should be taken into consideration. Italy was rich and it enjoyed all of the advances of Roman civilization, yet it was subjected to political instability from time to time, and civil wars were not that uncommon, even prior to the III century.
For the 210 years from 30 BC to 180 AD there was I think only one civil war in the Empire. Not counting rebellions in provinces.
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Old October 29th, 2015, 04:37 AM   #19

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Africa, especially Africa Proconsularis, during most of the early Empire, a prosperous Latin stronghold with plenty of connections to Italy. In the Republic, wherever in Italy one could receive full citizenship.
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Old October 29th, 2015, 07:50 AM   #20

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I voted for Syria. Antioch was a bastion of trade, commerce, and was wealthy. Syria had access to Mediterranean trade and the trade routes to Mesopotamia. The Romans invested quite heavily in creating roads, temples, and amphitheaters on top of the existing infrastructure made by the other empires, such as the Assyrians, Persians, and Seleucids.
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