Mediolanum (286–402, Western)
Ravenna (402–476, Western)
Nicomedia (286–330, Eastern)
Constantinople (330–1453, Eastern)
Syracuse (663–669, Eastern)
Latin (official until 610)
Greek (official after 610)
Regional / local languages
Before AD 380: Imperial cult-driven polytheism
From AD 380: Nicene Christianity
Mixed, functionally absolute monarchy
27 BC – AD 14
Theodosius I[n 3]
Julius Nepos[n 4]
Constantine XI[n 5]
Classical era to Late Middle Ages
Final War of the
Final East West divide
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Reconquest of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
29 May 1453
Fall of Trebizond
15 August 1461
2,750,000 km2 (1,060,000 sq mi)
5,000,000 km2 (1,900,000 sq mi)
4,400,000 km2 (1,700,000 sq mi)
25 BC est.
21/km2 (53/sq mi)
Sestertius,[n 6] Aureus, Solidus, Nomisma
Western Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire
Imperium Rōmānum, Classical
Latin: [ɪmˈpɛ.ri.ũː roːˈmaː.nũː]; Koine and Medieval
Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia tōn
Rhōmaiōn) was the post-
Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman
civilization, characterized by government headed by emperors and large
territorial holdings around the
Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa
and Asia. The city of
Rome was the largest city in the world c. 100
BC – c. AD 400, with
Constantinople (New Rome) becoming the
largest around AD 500, and the Empire's populace grew to an
estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the
world's population at the time).[n 7] The 500-year-old republic
which preceded it was severely destabilized in a series of civil wars
and political conflict, during which
Julius Caesar was appointed as
perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and
executions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's
adopted son, over
Mark Antony and
Cleopatra at the
Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium in
31 BC and the annexation of Egypt. Octavian's power was then
unassailable and in 27 BC the
Roman Senate formally granted him
overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively marking the
end of the Roman Republic.
The imperial period of
Rome lasted approximately 1,500 years compared
to the 500 years of the Republican era. The first two centuries of the
empire's existence were a period of unprecedented political stability
and prosperity known as the Pax Romana, or "Roman Peace". Following
Octavian's victory, the size of the empire was dramatically increased.
After the assassination of
Caligula in AD 41, the Senate briefly
considered restoring the republic, but the
Praetorian Guard proclaimed
Claudius emperor instead. Under Claudius, the empire invaded
Britannia, its first major expansion since Augustus. After Claudius'
successor, Nero, committed suicide in AD 68, the empire suffered a
series of brief civil wars, as well as a concurrent major rebellion in
Judea, during which four different legionary generals were proclaimed
Vespasian emerged triumphant in AD 69, establishing the
Flavian dynasty, before being succeeded by his son Titus, who opened
Colosseum shortly after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. His short
reign was followed by the long reign of his brother Domitian, who was
eventually assassinated. The Senate then appointed the first of the
Five Good Emperors. The empire reached its greatest extent under
Trajan, the second in this line.
A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of
Commodus. Commodus' assassination in 192 triggered the Year of the
Five Emperors, of which
Septimius Severus emerged victorious. The
Alexander Severus in 235 led to the Crisis of the
Third Century in which 26 men were declared emperor by the Roman
Senate over a fifty-year time span. It was not until the reign of
Diocletian that the empire was fully stabilized with the introduction
of the Tetrarchy, which saw four emperors rule the empire at once.
This arrangement was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to a civil war
that was finally ended by Constantine the Great, who defeated his
rivals and became the sole ruler of the empire in 324. Constantine
subsequently established a second capital city in Byzantium, which he
renamed Constantinople. It remained the capital of the east until its
demise. Constantine also adopted
Christianity which later became the
official state religion of the empire. Following the death of
Theodosius I in 395, the empire was permanently divided between the
West and the East. The dominion of the
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire was
gradually eroded by abuses of power, civil wars, barbarian migrations
and invasions, military reforms and economic depression. The Sack of
Rome in 410 by the Visigoths and again in 455 by the Vandals
accelerated the Western Empire's decay, while the deposition of the
emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in 476 by Odoacer, is generally accepted
to mark the end of the empire in the west. However, Augustulus was
never recognized by his Eastern colleague, and separate rule in the
Western part of the empire only ceased to exist upon the death of
Julius Nepos, in 480. The
Eastern Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire (in modern
historiography called the Byzantine Empire) endured for another
millennium as one of the leading powers in the world alongside its
arch-rival the Sassanid Empire, which had inherited a centuries-old
Roman-Persian conflict from its predecessor the Parthians. The
Byzantine Empire eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Empire was among the most powerful economic, cultural,
political and military forces in the world of its time. It was one of
the largest empires in world history. At its height under Trajan, it
covered 5 million square kilometres. It held sway over an
estimated 70 million people, at that time 21% of the world's
entire population. The longevity and vast extent of the empire ensured
the lasting influence of
Latin and Greek language, culture, religion,
inventions, architecture, philosophy, law and forms of government on
the empire's descendants. Throughout the European medieval period,
attempts were even made to establish successors to the Roman Empire,
Empire of Romania, a Crusader state; and the Holy Roman
Empire. By means of
European colonialism following the Renaissance,
and their descendant states, Greco-Roman and
was exported on a worldwide scale, playing a crucial role in the
development of the modern world.
2 Geography and demography
3.1 Local languages and linguistic legacy
4.1 Legal status
4.1.1 Women in Roman law
4.1.2 Slaves and the law
4.2 Census rank
4.2.1 Unequal justice
5 Government and military
5.1 Central government
5.3 Provincial government
5.4 Roman law
6.1 Currency and banking
6.2 Mining and metallurgy
6.3 Transportation and communication
6.4 Trade and commodities
6.5 Labour and occupations
6.6 GDP and income distribution
7 Architecture and engineering
8 Daily life
8.1 City and country
8.2 Food and dining
8.3 Recreation and spectacles
8.3.1 Personal training and play
9 The arts
9.5 Decorative arts
9.6 Performing arts
10 Literacy, books, and education
10.1 Primary education
10.2 Secondary education
10.3 Educated women
10.4 Decline of literacy
13 Political legacy
14 See also
16.2 Cited sources
17 External links
Main article: History of the Roman Empire
See also: Campaign history of the Roman military, Roman-Persian Wars,
and Roman Kingdom
Augustus of Prima Porta
1st century AD)
Tiberius Julius Sauromates II
Tiberius Julius Sauromates II (d. 210 AD), ruler of the
Bosporan Kingdom in Roman Crimea, one of Rome's client states; his
royal dynasty was partially descended from the Roman triumvir Mark
Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in
the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian
Peninsula until the 3rd century BC. Then, it was an "empire" long
before it had an emperor. The
Roman Republic was not a
nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule
themselves (though with varying degrees of independence from the Roman
Senate) and provinces administered by military commanders. It was
ruled, not by emperors, but by annually elected magistrates (Roman
Consuls above all) in conjunction with the senate. For various
1st century BC was a time of political and military
upheaval, which ultimately led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of
imperium, which literally means "command" (though typically in a
military sense). Occasionally, successful consuls were given the
honorary title imperator (commander), and this is the origin of the
word emperor (and empire) since this title (among others) was always
bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession.
Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts, conspiracies and
civil wars from the late second century BC onwards, while greatly
extending its power beyond Italy. This was the period of the Crisis of
the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius
Caesar was briefly perpetual dictator before being assassinated. The
faction of his assassins was driven from
Rome and defeated at the
Battle of Philippi
Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by
Mark Antony and Caesar's
adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman
world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated
those of Antony and
Cleopatra at the
Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium in 31 BC. In 27
BC the Senate and People of
Octavian princeps ("first
citizen") with proconsular imperium, thus beginning the Principate
(the first epoch of Roman imperial history, usually dated from 27 BC
to AD 284), and gave him the name "Augustus" ("the venerated"). Though
the old constitutional machinery remained in place,
Augustus came to
predominate it. Although the republic stood in name, contemporaries of
Augustus knew it was just a veil and that
Augustus had all meaningful
authority in Rome. Since his rule ended a century of civil wars
and began an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, he was so
loved that he came to hold the power of a monarch de facto if not de
jure. During the years of his rule, a new constitutional order emerged
(in part organically and in part by design), so that, upon his death,
this new constitutional order operated as before when
accepted as the new emperor. The 200 years that began with Augustus's
rule is traditionally regarded as the
Pax Romana ("Roman Peace").
During this period, the cohesion of the empire was furthered by a
degree of social stability and economic prosperity that
Rome had never
before experienced. Uprisings in the provinces were infrequent, but
put down "mercilessly and swiftly" when they occurred. The sixty
Jewish–Roman wars in the second half of the
1st century and
the first half of the 2nd century were exceptional in their duration
The success of
Augustus in establishing principles of dynastic
succession was limited by his outliving a number of talented potential
Julio-Claudian dynasty lasted for four more
Claudius and Nero—before it yielded
in 69 AD to the strife-torn Year of Four Emperors, from which
Vespasian emerged as victor.
Vespasian became the founder of the brief
Flavian dynasty, to be followed by the
Nerva–Antonine dynasty which
produced the "Five Good Emperors": Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus
Pius and the philosophically-inclined Marcus Aurelius. In the view of
the Greek historian Dio Cassius, a contemporary observer, the
accession of the emperor
Commodus in 180 AD marked the descent "from a
kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron"—a famous comment which
has led some historians[attribution needed], notably Edward Gibbon, to
take Commodus' reign as the beginning of the decline of the Roman
In 212, during the reign of Caracalla,
Roman citizenship was granted
to all freeborn inhabitants of the empire. But despite this gesture of
Severan dynasty was tumultuous—an emperor's reign
was ended routinely by his murder or execution—and, following its
collapse, the Roman
Empire was engulfed by the Crisis of the Third
Century, a period of invasions, civil strife, economic disorder, and
plague. In defining historical epochs, this crisis is sometimes
viewed as marking the transition from
Classical Antiquity to Late
Aurelian (reigned 270–275) brought the empire back from
the brink and stabilized it.
Diocletian completed the work of fully
restoring the empire, but declined the role of princeps and became the
first emperor to be addressed regularly as domine, "master" or
"lord". This marked the end of the Principate, and the beginning
of the Dominate. Diocletian's reign also brought the empire's most
concerted effort against the perceived threat of Christianity, the
"Great Persecution". The state of absolute monarchy that began with
Diocletian endured until the fall of the
Eastern Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire in
Diocletian divided the empire into four regions, each ruled by a
separate emperor, the Tetrarchy. Confident that he fixed the
disorders that were plaguing Rome, he abdicated along with his
co-emperor, and the
Tetrarchy soon collapsed. Order was eventually
restored by Constantine the Great, who became the first emperor to
convert to Christianity, and who established
Constantinople as the new
capital of the eastern empire. During the decades of the Constantinian
and Valentinian dynasties, the empire was divided along an east–west
axis, with dual power centres in
Constantinople and Rome. The reign of
Julian, who attempted to restore Classical Roman and Hellenistic
religion, only briefly interrupted the succession of Christian
emperors. Theodosius I, the last emperor to rule over both East and
West, died in 395 AD after making
Christianity the official religion
of the empire.
Empire by 476
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the early 5th
century as Germanic migrations and invasions overwhelmed the capacity
Empire to assimilate the migrants and fight off the
invaders. The Romans were successful in fighting off
all invaders, most famously Attila, though the empire
had assimilated so many
Germanic peoples of dubious loyalty to Rome
that the empire started to dismember itself. Most
chronologies place the end of the
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire in 476, when
Romulus Augustulus was forced to abdicate to the Germanic warlord
Odoacer.[better source needed] By placing himself under
the rule of the Eastern Emperor, rather than naming himself Emperor
(as other Germanic chiefs had done after deposing past emperors),
Odoacer ended the Western
Empire by ending the line of Western
The empire in the East—often known as the Byzantine Empire, but
referred to in its time as the Roman
Empire or by various other
names—had a different fate. It survived for almost a millennium
after the fall of its Western counterpart and became the most stable
Christian realm during the Middle Ages. During the 6th century,
Justinian I reconquered Northern Africa and Italy. But within a few
years of Justinian's death, Byzantine possessions in Italy were
greatly reduced by the
Lombards who settled in the peninsula. In
the east, partially resulting from the destructive Plague of
Justinian, the Romans were threatened by the rise of Islam, whose
followers rapidly conquered the territories of Syria, Armenia and
Egypt during the Byzantine-Arab Wars, and soon presented a direct
threat to Constantinople. In the following century, the Arabs
also captured southern Italy and Sicily. Slavic populations were
also able to penetrate deep into the Balkans.
The Roman (Byzantine)
Empire c. 1263.
The Romans, however, managed to stop further Islamic expansion into
their lands during the 8th century and, beginning in the 9th century,
reclaimed parts of the conquered lands. In 1000 AD, the
Empire was at its height:
Basil II reconquered Bulgaria and
Armenia, culture and trade flourished. However, soon after, the
expansion was abruptly stopped in 1071 with the Byzantine defeat in
the Battle of Manzikert. The aftermath of this important battle sent
the empire into a protracted period of decline. Two decades of
internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately paved the way for
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos to send a call for help to the Western
European kingdoms in 1095.
The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Sack
Constantinople by participants in the Fourth Crusade. The conquest
Constantinople in 1204 fragmented what remained of the
successor states, the ultimate victor being that of Nicaea. After
the recapture of
Constantinople by Imperial forces, the
little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. The Roman
Empire finally collapsed when
Mehmed the Conqueror
Mehmed the Conqueror conquered
Constantinople on 29 May 1453.
Geography and demography
Demography of the Roman Empire
Demography of the Roman Empire and Borders of the Roman
Further information: Classical demography
Empire was one of the largest in history, with contiguous
territories throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Latin phrase imperium sine fine ("empire without end"[n 8])
expressed the ideology that neither time nor space limited the Empire.
In Vergil's epic poem the Aeneid, limitless empire is said to be
granted to the Romans by their supreme deity
Jupiter. This claim of universal dominion was
renewed and perpetuated when the
Empire came under Christian rule in
the 4th century.[n 9]
In reality, Roman expansion was mostly accomplished under the
Republic, though parts of northern Europe were conquered in the 1st
century AD, when Roman control in Europe, Africa and Asia was
strengthened. During the reign of Augustus, a "global map of the known
world" was displayed for the first time in public at Rome, coinciding
with the composition of the most comprehensive work on political
geography that survives from antiquity, the Geography of the Pontic
Greek writer Strabo. When
Augustus died, the commemorative account
of his achievements (Res Gestae) prominently featured the geographical
cataloguing of peoples and places within the Empire. Geography,
the census, and the meticulous keeping of written records were central
concerns of Roman Imperial administration.
A segment of the ruins of
Hadrian's Wall in northern England
Empire reached its largest expanse under
98–117), encompassing an area of 5 million square kilometres.
The traditional population estimate of 55–60 million inhabitants
accounted for between one-sixth and one-fourth of the world's total
population and made it the largest population of any unified
political entity in the West until the mid-19th century. Recent
demographic studies have argued for a population peak ranging from 70
million to more than 100 million. Each of the three largest cities
in the Empire—Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch—was almost twice the
size of any European city at the beginning of the 17th century.
As the historian Christopher Kelly has described it:
Then the empire stretched from
Hadrian's Wall in drizzle-soaked
northern England to the sun-baked banks of the
Euphrates in Syria;
from the great Rhine–
Danube river system, which snaked across the
fertile, flat lands of Europe from the
Low Countries to the Black Sea,
to the rich plains of the North African coast and the luxuriant gash
Nile Valley in Egypt. The empire completely circled the
Mediterranean ... referred to by its conquerors as mare
Hadrian adopted a policy of maintaining rather than
expanding the empire. Borders (fines) were marked, and the frontiers
(limites) patrolled. The most heavily fortified borders were the
most unstable. Hadrian's Wall, which separated the Roman world
from what was perceived as an ever-present barbarian threat, is the
primary surviving monument of this effort.
This section may contain misleading parts. Please help clarify this
article according to any suggestions provided on the talk page.
Main article: Languages of the Roman Empire
The language of the Romans was Latin, which
Virgil emphasizes as a
source of Roman unity and tradition. Until the time of
Alexander Severus (reigned 222–235), the birth certificates and
wills of Roman citizens had to be written in Latin.
Latin was the
language of the law courts in the West and of the military throughout
the Empire, but was not imposed officially on peoples brought
under Roman rule. This policy contrasts with that of Alexander
the Great, who aimed to impose Greek throughout his empire as the
official language. As a consequence of Alexander's conquests,
koine Greek had become the shared language around the eastern
Mediterranean and into Asia Minor. The "linguistic frontier"
Latin West and the Greek East passed through the Balkan
A 5th-century papyrus showing a parallel Latin-Greek text of a speech
Romans who received an elite education studied Greek as a literary
language, and most men of the governing classes could speak Greek.
Claudian emperors encouraged high standards of correct Latin
(Latinitas), a linguistic movement identified in modern terms as
Classical Latin, and favoured
Latin for conducting official
Claudius tried to limit the use of Greek, and on
occasion revoked the citizenship of those who lacked Latin, but even
in the Senate he drew on his own bilingualism in communicating with
Suetonius quotes him as referring to
"our two languages".
In the Eastern empire, laws and official documents were regularly
translated into Greek from Latin. The everyday interpenetration of
the two languages is indicated by bilingual inscriptions, which
sometimes even switch back and forth between Greek and Latin.
After all freeborn inhabitants of the empire were universally
enfranchised in AD 212, a great number of Roman citizens would have
lacked Latin, though they were expected to acquire at least a token
Latin remained a marker of "Romanness."[dubious –
Among other reforms, the emperor
Diocletian (reigned 284–305) sought
to renew the authority of Latin, and the Greek expression hē kratousa
dialektos attests to the continuing status of
Latin as "the language
of power." In the early 6th century, the emperor
in a quixotic effort to reassert the status of
Latin as the language
of law, even though in his time
Latin no longer held any currency as a
living language in the East.
Local languages and linguistic legacy
Bilingual Latin-Punic inscription at the theatre in Leptis Magna,
Roman Africa (present-day Libya)
References to interpreters indicate the continuing use of local
languages other than Greek and Latin, particularly in Egypt, where
Coptic predominated, and in military settings along the
Danube. Roman jurists also show a concern for local languages such as
Punic, Gaulish, and
Aramaic in assuring the correct understanding and
application of laws and oaths. In the province of Africa,
Libyco-Berber and Punic were used in inscriptions and for legends on
coins during the time of
1st century AD). Libyco-Berber and
Punic inscriptions appear on public buildings into the 2nd century,
some bilingual with Latin. In Syria, Palmyrene soldiers even used
their dialect of
Aramaic for inscriptions, in a striking exception to
the rule that
Latin was the language of the military.
Babatha Archive is a suggestive example of multilingualism in the
Empire. These papyri, named for a Jewish woman in the province of
Arabia and dating from 93 to 132 AD, mostly employ Aramaic, the local
language, written in Greek characters with Semitic and Latin
influences; a petition to the Roman governor, however, was written in
The dominance of
Latin among the literate elite may obscure the
continuity of spoken languages, since all cultures within the Roman
Empire were predominantly oral. In the West, Latin, referred to in
its spoken form as Vulgar Latin, gradually replaced Celtic and Italic
languages that were related to it by a shared Indo-European origin.
Commonalities in syntax and vocabulary facilitated the adoption of
After the decentralization of political power in late antiquity, Latin
developed locally into branches that became the Romance languages,
such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian, and a large
number of minor languages and dialects. Today, more than 900 million
people are native speakers worldwide.
As an international language of learning and literature,
continued as an active medium of expression for diplomacy and for
intellectual developments identified with
Renaissance humanism up to
the 17th century, and for law and the Roman Catholic Church to the
Although Greek continued as the language of the Byzantine Empire,
linguistic distribution in the East was more complex. A Greek-speaking
majority lived in the
Greek peninsula and islands, western Anatolia,
major cities, and some coastal areas. Like Greek and Latin, the
Thracian language was of Indo-European origin, as were several
now-extinct languages in
Anatolia attested by Imperial-era
inscriptions. Albanian is often seen as the descendant of
Illyrian, although this hypothesis has been challenged by some
linguists, who maintain that it derives from Dacian or Thracian.
(Illyrian, Dacian, and Thracian, however, may have formed a subgroup
or a Sprachbund; see Thraco-Illyrian.) Various Afroasiatic
languages—primarily Coptic in Egypt, and
Aramaic in Syria and
Mesopotamia—were never replaced by Greek. The international use of
Greek, however, was one factor enabling the spread of Christianity, as
indicated for example by the use of Greek for the Epistles of
Further information: Ancient Roman society
A multigenerational banquet depicted on a wall painting from Pompeii
1st century AD)
Spread of Seuso at Lacus Pelso (Lake Balaton)
Empire was remarkably multicultural, with "a rather
astonishing cohesive capacity" to create a sense of shared identity
while encompassing diverse peoples within its political system over a
long span of time. The Roman attention to creating public
monuments and communal spaces open to all—such as forums,
amphitheatres, racetracks and baths—helped foster a sense of
Roman society had multiple, overlapping social hierarchies that modern
concepts of "class" in English may not represent accurately. The
two decades of civil war from which
Augustus rose to sole power left
traditional society in
Rome in a state of confusion and upheaval,
but did not effect an immediate redistribution of wealth and social
power. From the perspective of the lower classes, a peak was merely
added to the social pyramid. Personal relationships—patronage,
friendship (amicitia), family, marriage—continued to influence the
workings of politics and government, as they had in the Republic.
By the time of Nero, however, it was not unusual to find a former
slave who was richer than a freeborn citizen, or an equestrian who
exercised greater power than a senator.
The blurring or diffusion of the Republic's more rigid hierarchies led
to increased social mobility under the Empire, both upward and
downward, to an extent that exceeded that of all other well-documented
ancient societies. Women, freedmen, and slaves had opportunities
to profit and exercise influence in ways previously less available to
them. Social life in the Empire, particularly for those whose
personal resources were limited, was further fostered by a
proliferation of voluntary associations and confraternities (collegia
and sodalitates) formed for various purposes: professional and trade
guilds, veterans' groups, religious sodalities, drinking and dining
clubs, performing arts troupes, and burial societies.
Roman Egypt (Fayum mummy portrait)
Infanticide has been recorded in the Roman
Empire and may have been
Status in Roman legal system
Status in Roman legal system and Roman citizenship
According to the jurist Gaius, the essential distinction in the Roman
"law of persons" was that all human beings were either free (liberi)
or slaves (servi). The legal status of free persons might be
further defined by their citizenship. Most citizens held limited
rights (such as the ius Latinum, "
Latin right"), but were entitled to
legal protections and privileges not enjoyed by those who lacked
citizenship. Free people not considered citizens, but living within
the Roman world, held status as peregrini, non-Romans. In 212 AD,
by means of the edict known as the Constitutio Antoniniana, the
Caracalla extended citizenship to all freeborn inhabitants of
the empire. This legal egalitarianism would have required a
far-reaching revision of existing laws that had distinguished between
citizens and non-citizens.
Women in Roman law
Main article: Women in ancient Rome
Freeborn Roman women were considered citizens throughout the Republic
and Empire, but did not vote, hold political office, or serve in the
military. A mother's citizen status determined that of her children,
as indicated by the phrase ex duobus civibus Romanis natos ("children
born of two Roman citizens").[n 10] A Roman woman kept her own family
name (nomen) for life. Children most often took the father's name, but
in the Imperial period sometimes made their mother's name part of
theirs, or even used it instead.
Left image: Roman fresco of a blond maiden reading a text, Pompeian
Fourth Style (60–79 AD), Pompeii, Italy
Right image: Bronze statuette (
1st century AD) of a young woman
reading, based on a Hellenistic original
The archaic form of manus marriage in which the woman had been subject
to her husband's authority was largely abandoned by the Imperial era,
and a married woman retained ownership of any property she brought
into the marriage. Technically she remained under her father's legal
authority, even though she moved into her husband's home, but when her
father died she became legally emancipated. This arrangement was
one of the factors in the degree of independence Roman women enjoyed
relative to those of many other ancient cultures and up to the modern
period: although she had to answer to her father in legal
matters, she was free of his direct scrutiny in her daily life,
and her husband had no legal power over her. Although it was a
point of pride to be a "one-man woman" (univira) who had married only
once, there was little stigma attached to divorce, nor to speedy
remarriage after the loss of a husband through death or divorce.
Girls had equal inheritance rights with boys if their father died
without leaving a will. A Roman mother's right to own
property and to dispose of it as she saw fit, including setting the
terms of her own will, gave her enormous influence over her sons even
when they were adults.
As part of the Augustan programme to restore traditional morality and
social order, moral legislation attempted to regulate the conduct of
men and women as a means of promoting "family values". Adultery, which
had been a private family matter under the Republic, was
criminalized, and defined broadly as an illicit sex act (stuprum)
that occurred between a male citizen and a married woman, or between a
married woman and any man other than her husband.[n 11] Childbearing
was encouraged by the state: a woman who had given birth to three
children was granted symbolic honours and greater legal freedom (the
ius trium liberorum).
Because of their legal status as citizens and the degree to which they
could become emancipated, women could own property, enter contracts,
and engage in business, including shipping, manufacturing,
and lending money. Inscriptions throughout the
Empire honour women as
benefactors in funding public works, an indication they could acquire
and dispose of considerable fortunes; for instance, the
Arch of the
Sergii was funded by Salvia Postuma, a female member of the family
honoured, and the largest building in the forum at
Pompeii was funded
by Eumachia, a priestess of Venus.
Slaves and the law
Main article: Slavery in ancient Rome
At the time of Augustus, as many as 35% of the people in Italy were
Rome one of five historical "slave societies" in
which slaves constituted at least a fifth of the population and played
a major role in the economy. Slavery was a complex institution
that supported traditional Roman social structures as well as
contributing economic utility. In urban settings, slaves might be
professionals such as teachers, physicians, chefs, and accountants, in
addition to the majority of slaves who provided trained or unskilled
labour in households or workplaces. Agriculture and industry, such as
milling and mining, relied on the exploitation of slaves. Outside
Italy, slaves made up on average an estimated 10 to 20% of the
population, sparse in
Roman Egypt but more concentrated in some Greek
areas. Expanding Roman ownership of arable land and industries would
have affected preexisting practices of slavery in the
provinces. Although the institution of slavery has often
been regarded as waning in the 3rd and 4th centuries, it remained an
integral part of Roman society until the 5th century. Slavery ceased
gradually in the 6th and 7th centuries along with the decline of urban
centres in the West and the disintegration of the complex Imperial
economy that had created the demand for it.
Slave holding writing tablets for his master (relief from a
Laws pertaining to slavery were "extremely intricate". Under
Roman law, slaves were considered property and had no legal
personhood. They could be subjected to forms of corporal punishment
not normally exercised on citizens, sexual exploitation, torture, and
summary execution. A slave could not as a matter of law be raped,
since rape could be committed only against people who were free; a
slave's rapist had to be prosecuted by the owner for property damage
under the Aquilian Law. Slaves had no right to the form of
legal marriage called conubium, but their unions were sometimes
recognized, and if both were freed they could marry. Following
Servile Wars of the Republic, legislation under
Augustus and his
successors shows a driving concern for controlling the threat of
rebellions through limiting the size of work groups, and for hunting
down fugitive slaves.
Technically, a slave could not own property, but a slave who
conducted business might be given access to an individual account or
fund (peculium) that he could use as if it were his own. The terms of
this account varied depending on the degree of trust and co-operation
between owner and slave: a slave with an aptitude for business could
be given considerable leeway to generate profit, and might be allowed
to bequeath the peculium he managed to other slaves of his
household. Within a household or workplace, a hierarchy of slaves
might exist, with one slave in effect acting as the master of other
Over time slaves gained increased legal protection, including the
right to file complaints against their masters. A bill of sale might
contain a clause stipulating that the slave could not be employed for
prostitution, as prostitutes in ancient
Rome were often slaves.
The burgeoning trade in eunuch slaves in the late
1st century AD
prompted legislation that prohibited the castration of a slave against
his will "for lust or gain."
Roman slavery was not based on race. Slaves were drawn from
all over Europe and the Mediterranean, including Gaul, Hispania,
Germany, Britannia, the Balkans, Greece... Generally slaves in Italy
were indigenous Italians, with a minority of foreigners
(including both slaves and freedmen) born outside of Italy estimated
at 5% of the total in the capital at its peak, where their number was
largest. Those from outside of Europe were predominantly of Greek
descent, while the Jewish ones never fully assimilated into Roman
society, remaining an identifiable minority. These slaves (especially
the foreigners) had higher mortality rates and lower birth rates than
natives, and were sometimes even subjected to mass expulsions.
The average recorded age at death for the slaves of the city of Rome
was extraordinarily low: seventeen and a half years (17.2 for males;
17.9 for females).
During the period of Republican expansionism when slavery had become
pervasive, war captives were a main source of slaves. The range of
ethnicities among slaves to some extent reflected that of the armies
Rome defeated in war, and the conquest of Greece brought a number of
highly skilled and educated slaves into Rome. Slaves were also traded
in markets, and sometimes sold by pirates. Infant abandonment and
self-enslavement among the poor were other sources. Vernae, by
contrast, were "homegrown" slaves born to female slaves within the
urban household or on a country estate or farm. Although they had no
special legal status, an owner who mistreated or failed to care for
his vernae faced social disapproval, as they were considered part of
his familia, the family household, and in some cases might actually be
the children of free males in the family.
Talented slaves with a knack for business might accumulate a large
enough peculium to justify their freedom, or be manumitted for
Manumission had become frequent enough that in 2 BC
a law (Lex Fufia Caninia) limited the number of slaves an owner was
allowed to free in his will.
Cinerary urn for the freedman
Claudius Chryseros and two
women, probably his wife and daughter
Rome differed from
Greek city-states in allowing freed slaves to
become citizens. After manumission, a slave who had belonged to a
Roman citizen enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but
active political freedom (libertas), including the right to vote.
A slave who had acquired libertas was a libertus ("freed person,"
feminine liberta) in relation to his former master, who then became
his patron (patronus): the two parties continued to have customary and
legal obligations to each other. As a social class generally, freed
slaves were libertini, though later writers used the terms libertus
and libertinus interchangeably.
A libertinus was not entitled to hold public office or the highest
state priesthoods, but he could play a priestly role in the cult of
the emperor. He could not marry a woman from a family of senatorial
rank, nor achieve legitimate senatorial rank himself, but during the
early Empire, freedmen held key positions in the government
bureaucracy, so much so that
Hadrian limited their participation by
law. Any future children of a freedman would be born free, with
full rights of citizenship.
The rise of successful freedmen—through either political influence
in imperial service, or wealth—is a characteristic of early Imperial
society. The prosperity of a high-achieving group of freedmen is
attested by inscriptions throughout the Empire, and by their ownership
of some of the most lavish houses at Pompeii, such as the House of the
Vettii. The excesses of nouveau riche freedmen were satirized in the
Trimalchio in the
Satyricon by Petronius, who wrote in
the time of Nero. Such individuals, while exceptional, are indicative
of the upward social mobility possible in the Empire.
See also: Senate of the Roman Empire, Equestrian order, and Decurion
Latin word ordo (plural ordines) refers to a social distinction
that is translated variously into English as "class, order, rank,"
none of which is exact. One purpose of the
Roman census was to
determine the ordo to which an individual belonged. The two highest
Rome were the senatorial and equestrian. Outside Rome, the
decurions, also known as curiales (Greek bouleutai), were the top
governing ordo of an individual city.
Fragment of a sarcophagus depicting
Gordian III and senators (3rd
"Senator" was not itself an elected office in ancient Rome; an
individual gained admission to the Senate after he had been elected to
and served at least one term as an executive magistrate. A senator
also had to meet a minimum property requirement of 1 million
sestertii, as determined by the census.
Nero made large
gifts of money to a number of senators from old families who had
become too impoverished to qualify. Not all men who qualified for the
ordo senatorius chose to take a Senate seat, which required legal
domicile at Rome. Emperors often filled vacancies in the 600-member
body by appointment. A senator's son belonged to the ordo
senatorius, but he had to qualify on his own merits for admission to
the Senate itself. A senator could be removed for violating moral
standards: he was prohibited, for instance, from marrying a freedwoman
or fighting in the arena.
In the time of Nero, senators were still primarily from
Rome and other
parts of Italy, with some from the
Iberian peninsula and southern
France; men from the Greek-speaking provinces of the East began to be
added under Vespasian. The first senator from the most eastern
province, Cappadocia, was admitted under Marcus Aurelius. By the
time of the
Severan dynasty (193–235), Italians made up less than
half the Senate. During the 3rd century, domicile at
impractical, and inscriptions attest to senators who were active in
politics and munificence in their homeland (patria).
Senators had an aura of prestige and were the traditional governing
class who rose through the cursus honorum, the political career track,
but equestrians of the
Empire often possessed greater wealth and
political power. Membership in the equestrian order was based on
property; in Rome's early days, equites or knights had been
distinguished by their ability to serve as mounted warriors (the
"public horse"), but cavalry service was a separate function in the
Empire.[n 12] A census valuation of 400,000 sesterces and three
generations of free birth qualified a man as an equestrian. The
census of 28 BC uncovered large numbers of men who qualified, and in
14 AD, a thousand equestrians were registered at
Cadiz and Padua
alone.[n 13] Equestrians rose through a military career track
(tres militiae) to become highly placed prefects and procurators
within the Imperial administration.
The rise of provincial men to the senatorial and equestrian orders is
an aspect of social mobility in the first three centuries of the
Empire. Roman aristocracy was based on competition, and unlike later
European nobility, a Roman family could not maintain its position
merely through hereditary succession or having title to
lands. Admission to the higher ordines brought distinction
and privileges, but also a number of responsibilities. In antiquity, a
city depended on its leading citizens to fund public works, events,
and services (munera), rather than on tax revenues, which primarily
supported the military. Maintaining one's rank required massive
personal expenditures. Decurions were so vital for the
functioning of cities that in the later Empire, as the ranks of the
town councils became depleted, those who had risen to the Senate were
encouraged by the central government to give up their seats and return
to their hometowns, in an effort to sustain civic life.
In the later Empire, the dignitas ("worth, esteem") that attended on
senatorial or equestrian rank was refined further with titles such as
vir illustris, "illustrious man". The appellation clarissimus
(Greek lamprotatos) was used to designate the dignitas of certain
senators and their immediate family, including women. "Grades" of
equestrian status proliferated. Those in Imperial service were ranked
by pay grade (sexagenarius, 60,000 sesterces per annum; centenarius,
100,000; ducenarius, 200,000). The title eminentissimus, "most
eminent" (Greek exochôtatos) was reserved for equestrians who had
been Praetorian prefects. The higher equestrian officials in general
were perfectissimi, "most distinguished" (Greek diasêmotatoi), the
lower merely egregii, "outstanding" (Greek kratistos).
Condemned man attacked by a leopard in the arena (3rd-century mosaic
As the republican principle of citizens' equality under the law faded,
the symbolic and social privileges of the upper classes led to an
informal division of Roman society into those who had acquired greater
honours (honestiores) and those who were humbler folk (humiliores). In
general, honestiores were the members of the three higher "orders,"
along with certain military officers. The granting of
universal citizenship in 212 seems to have increased the competitive
urge among the upper classes to have their superiority over other
citizens affirmed, particularly within the justice
system. Sentencing depended on the judgement of the
presiding official as to the relative "worth" (dignitas) of the
defendant: an honestior could pay a fine when convicted of a crime for
which an humilior might receive a scourging.
Execution, which had been an infrequent legal penalty for free men
under the Republic even in a capital case, could be quick
and relatively painless for the Imperial citizen considered "more
honourable", while those deemed inferior might suffer the kinds of
torture and prolonged death previously reserved for slaves, such as
crucifixion and condemnation to the beasts as a spectacle in the
arena. In the early Empire, those who converted to Christianity
could lose their standing as honestiores, especially if they declined
to fulfil the religious aspects of their civic responsibilities, and
thus became subject to punishments that created the conditions of
Government and military
Main article: Constitution of the Roman Empire
Reconstructed statue of
Augustus as Jove, holding scepter and orb
(first half of
1st century AD). The Imperial cult of ancient Rome
identified emperors and some members of their families with the
divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. The
official offer of cultus to a living emperor acknowledged his office
and rule as divinely approved and constitutional: his Principate
should therefore demonstrate pious respect for traditional Republican
deities and mores
Jerash in present-day Jordan), with columns marking a
covered walkway (stoa) for vendor stalls, and a semicircular space for
The three major elements of the Imperial Roman state were the central
government, the military, and provincial government. The military
established control of a territory through war, but after a city or
people was brought under treaty, the military mission turned to
policing: protecting Roman citizens (after 212 AD, all freeborn
inhabitants of the Empire), the agricultural fields that fed them, and
religious sites. Without modern instruments of either mass
communication or mass destruction, the Romans lacked sufficient
manpower or resources to impose their rule through force alone.
Cooperation with local power elites was necessary to maintain order,
collect information, and extract revenue. The Romans often exploited
internal political divisions by supporting one faction over another:
in the view of Plutarch, "it was discord between factions within
cities that led to the loss of self-governance".
Communities with demonstrated loyalty to
Rome retained their own laws,
could collect their own taxes locally, and in exceptional cases were
exempt from Roman taxation. Legal privileges and relative independence
were an incentive to remain in good standing with Rome. Roman
government was thus limited, but efficient in its use of the resources
available to it.
Roman emperor and Senate of the Roman Empire
The dominance of the emperor was based on the consolidation of certain
powers from several republican offices, including the inviolability of
the tribunes of the people and the authority of the censors to
manipulate the hierarchy of Roman society. The emperor also made
himself the central religious authority as Pontifex Maximus, and
centralized the right to declare war, ratify treaties, and negotiate
with foreign leaders. While these functions were clearly defined
during the Principate, the emperor's powers over time became less
constitutional and more monarchical, culminating in the Dominate.
Antoninus Pius (reigned 138–161), wearing a toga (Hermitage Museum)
The emperor was the ultimate authority in policy- and decision-making,
but in the early
Principate he was expected to be accessible to
individuals from all walks of life, and to deal personally with
official business and petitions. A bureaucracy formed around him only
gradually. The Julio-
Claudian emperors relied on an informal body
of advisors that included not only senators and equestrians, but
trusted slaves and freedmen. After Nero, the unofficial influence
of the latter was regarded with suspicion, and the emperor's council
(consilium) became subject to official appointment for the sake of
greater transparency. Though the senate took a lead in policy
discussions until the end of the Antonine dynasty, equestrians played
an increasingly important role in the consilium. The women of the
emperor's family often intervened directly in his decisions. Plotina
exercised influence on both her husband
Trajan and his successor
Hadrian. Her influence was advertised by having her letters on
official matters published, as a sign that the emperor was reasonable
in his exercise of authority and listened to his people.
Access to the emperor by others might be gained at the daily reception
(salutatio), a development of the traditional homage a client paid to
his patron; public banquets hosted at the palace; and religious
ceremonies. The common people who lacked this access could manifest
their general approval or displeasure as a group at the games held in
large venues. By the 4th century, as urban centres decayed, the
Christian emperors became remote figureheads who issued general
rulings, no longer responding to individual petitions.
Although the senate could do little short of assassination and open
rebellion to contravene the will of the emperor, it survived the
Augustan restoration and the turbulent
Year of Four Emperors
Year of Four Emperors to retain
its symbolic political centrality during the Principate. The
senate legitimated the emperor's rule, and the emperor needed the
experience of senators as legates (legati) to serve as generals,
diplomats, and administrators. A successful career required
competence as an administrator and remaining in favour with the
emperor, or over time perhaps multiple emperors.
The practical source of an emperor's power and authority was the
military. The legionaries were paid by the Imperial treasury, and
swore an annual military oath of loyalty to the emperor
(sacramentum). The death of an emperor led to a crucial period of
uncertainty and crisis. Most emperors indicated their choice of
successor, usually a close family member or adopted heir. The new
emperor had to seek a swift acknowledgement of his status and
authority to stabilize the political landscape. No emperor could hope
to survive, much less to reign, without the allegiance and loyalty of
Praetorian Guard and of the legions. To secure their loyalty,
several emperors paid the donativum, a monetary reward. In theory, the
Senate was entitled to choose the new emperor, but did so mindful of
acclamation by the army or Praetorians.
The Roman empire under
Hadrian (ruled 117–138) showing the location
Roman legions deployed in AD 125
Imperial Roman army
Imperial Roman army and Structural history of the Roman
The soldiers of the
Imperial Roman army
Imperial Roman army were professionals who
volunteered for 20 years of active duty and five as reserves. The
transition to a professional military had begun during the late
Republic, and was one of the many profound shifts away from
republicanism, under which an army of conscripts had exercised their
responsibilities as citizens in defending the homeland in a campaign
against a specific threat. For Imperial Rome, the military was a
full-time career in itself.
The primary mission of the Roman military of the early empire was to
preserve the Pax Romana. The three major divisions of the
the garrison at Rome, which includes both the Praetorians and the
vigiles who functioned as police and firefighters;
the provincial army, comprising the
Roman legions and the auxiliaries
provided by the provinces (auxilia);
The pervasiveness of military garrisons throughout the
Empire was a
major influence in the process of cultural exchange and assimilation
known as "Romanization," particularly in regard to politics, the
economy, and religion. Knowledge of the Roman military comes from
a wide range of sources: Greek and Roman literary texts; coins with
military themes; papyri preserving military documents; monuments such
Trajan's Column and triumphal arches, which feature artistic
depictions of both fighting men and military machines; the archaeology
of military burials, battle sites, and camps; and inscriptions,
including military diplomas, epitaphs, and dedications.
Through his military reforms, which included consolidating or
disbanding units of questionable loyalty,
Augustus changed and
regularized the legion, down to the hobnail pattern on the soles of
army boots. A legion was organized into ten cohorts, each of which
comprised six centuries, with a century further made up of ten squads
(contubernia); the exact size of the Imperial legion, which is most
likely to have been determined by logistics, has been estimated to
range from 4,800 to 5,280.
Relief panel from
Trajan's Column showing the building of a fort and
the reception of a Dacian embassy
In AD 9, Germanic tribes wiped out three full legions in the Battle of
the Teutoburg Forest. This disastrous event reduced the number of the
legions to 25. The total of the legions would later be increased again
and for the next 300 years always be a little above or below 30.
The army had about 300,000 soldiers in the 1st century, and under
400,000 in the 2nd, "significantly smaller" than the collective armed
forces of the territories it conquered. No more than 2% of adult males
living in the
Empire served in the Imperial army.
Augustus also created the Praetorian Guard: nine cohorts, ostensibly
to maintain the public peace, which were garrisoned in Italy. Better
paid than the legionaries, the Praetorians served only sixteen
The auxilia were recruited from among the non-citizens. Organized in
smaller units of roughly cohort strength, they were paid less than the
legionaries, and after 25 years of service were rewarded with Roman
citizenship, also extended to their sons. According to Tacitus
there were roughly as many auxiliaries as there were legionaries. The
auxilia thus amounted to around 125,000 men, implying approximately
250 auxiliary regiments. The Roman cavalry of the earliest Empire
were primarily from Celtic, Hispanic or Germanic areas. Several
aspects of training and equipment, such as the four-horned saddle,
derived from the Celts, as noted by
Arrian and indicated by
Roman navy (Latin: classis, "fleet") not only aided in the supply
and transport of the legions, but also helped in the protection of the
frontiers along the rivers
Rhine and Danube. Another of its duties was
the protection of the crucial maritime trade routes against the threat
of pirates. It patrolled the whole of the Mediterranean, parts of the
Atlantic coasts, and the Black Sea. Nevertheless, the army was
considered the senior and more prestigious branch.
Pula Arena in Croatia is one of the largest and most intact of the
remaining Roman amphitheatres
An annexed territory became a province in a three-step process: making
a register of cities, taking a census of the population, and surveying
the land. Further government recordkeeping included births and
deaths, real estate transactions, taxes, and juridical
proceedings. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the central government
sent out around 160 officials each year to govern outside Italy.
Among these officials were the "Roman governors", as they are called
in English: either magistrates elected at
Rome who in the name of the
Roman people governed senatorial provinces; or governors, usually of
equestrian rank, who held their imperium on behalf of the emperor in
provinces excluded from senatorial control, most notably Roman
Egypt. A governor had to make himself accessible to the people he
governed, but he could delegate various duties. His staff,
however, was minimal: his official attendants (apparitores), including
lictors, heralds, messengers, scribes, and bodyguards; legates, both
civil and military, usually of equestrian rank; and friends, ranging
in age and experience, who accompanied him unofficially.
Other officials were appointed as supervisors of government
finances. Separating fiscal responsibility from justice and
administration was a reform of the Imperial era. Under the Republic,
provincial governors and tax farmers could exploit local populations
for personal gain more freely. Equestrian procurators, whose
authority was originally "extra-judicial and extra-constitutional,"
managed both state-owned property and the vast personal property of
the emperor (res privata). Because Roman government officials
were few in number, a provincial who needed help with a legal dispute
or criminal case might seek out any Roman perceived to have some
official capacity, such as a procurator or a military officer,
including centurions down to the lowly stationarii or military
Main article: Roman law
Roman portraiture frescos from Pompeii,
1st century AD, depicting two
different men wearing laurel wreaths, one holding the rotulus
(blondish figure, left), the other a volumen (brunet figure, right),
both made of papyrus
Roman courts held original jurisdiction over cases involving Roman
citizens throughout the empire, but there were too few judicial
functionaries to impose
Roman law uniformly in the provinces. Most
parts of the Eastern empire already had well-established law codes and
juridical procedures. In general, it was Roman policy to respect
the mos regionis ("regional tradition" or "law of the land") and to
regard local laws as a source of legal precedent and social
stability. The compatibility of Roman and local law was
thought to reflect an underlying ius gentium, the "law of nations" or
international law regarded as common and customary among all human
communities. If the particulars of provincial law conflicted with
Roman law or custom, Roman courts heard appeals, and the emperor held
final authority to render a decision.
In the West, law had been administered on a highly localized or tribal
basis, and private property rights may have been a novelty of the
Roman era, particularly among Celtic peoples.
Roman law facilitated
the acquisition of wealth by a pro-Roman elite who found their new
privileges as citizens to be advantageous. The extension of
universal citizenship to all free inhabitants of the
Empire in 212
required the uniform application of Roman law, replacing the local law
codes that had applied to non-citizens. Diocletian's efforts to
Empire after the
Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century included
two major compilations of law in four years, the
Codex Gregorianus and
Codex Hermogenianus, to guide provincial administrators in setting
consistent legal standards.
The pervasive exercise of
Roman law throughout Western Europe led to
its enormous influence on the Western legal tradition, reflected by
the continued use of
Latin legal terminology in modern law.
Taxation under the
Empire amounted to about 5% of the Empire's gross
product. The typical tax rate paid by individuals ranged from 2
to 5%. The tax code was "bewildering" in its complicated system
of direct and indirect taxes, some paid in cash and some in kind.
Taxes might be specific to a province, or kinds of properties such as
fisheries or salt evaporation ponds; they might be in effect for a
limited time. Tax collection was justified by the need to
maintain the military, and taxpayers sometimes got a refund
if the army captured a surplus of booty. In-kind taxes were
accepted from less-monetized areas, particularly those who could
supply grain or goods to army camps.
Personification of the River
Nile and his children, from the Temple of
1st century AD)
The primary source of direct tax revenue was individuals, who paid a
poll tax and a tax on their land, construed as a tax on its produce or
productive capacity. Supplemental forms could be filed by those
eligible for certain exemptions; for example, Egyptian farmers could
register fields as fallow and tax-exempt depending on flood patterns
of the Nile. Tax obligations were determined by the census, which
required each head of household to appear before the presiding
official and provide a head count of his household, as well as an
accounting of property he owned that was suitable for agriculture or
A major source of indirect-tax revenue was the portoria, customs and
tolls on imports and exports, including among provinces. Special
taxes were levied on the slave trade. Towards the end of his reign,
Augustus instituted a 4% tax on the sale of slaves, which Nero
shifted from the purchaser to the dealers, who responded by raising
their prices. An owner who manumitted a slave paid a "freedom
tax", calculated at 5% of value.
An inheritance tax of 5% was assessed when Roman citizens above a
certain net worth left property to anyone but members of their
immediate family. Revenues from the estate tax and from a 1% sales tax
on auctions went towards the veterans' pension fund (aerarium
Low taxes helped the Roman aristocracy increase their wealth, which
equalled or exceeded the revenues of the central government. An
emperor sometimes replenished his treasury by confiscating the estates
of the "super-rich", but in the later period, the resistance of the
wealthy to paying taxes was one of the factors contributing to the
collapse of the Empire.
Main article: Roman economy
Moses Finley was the chief proponent of the primitivist view that the
Roman economy was "underdeveloped and underachieving," characterized
by subsistence agriculture; urban centres that consumed more than they
produced in terms of trade and industry; low-status artisans; slowly
developing technology; and a "lack of economic rationality."
Current views are more complex. Territorial conquests permitted a
large-scale reorganization of land use that resulted in agricultural
surplus and specialization, particularly in north Africa. Some
cities were known for particular industries or commercial activities,
and the scale of building in urban areas indicates a significant
Papyri preserve complex accounting methods
that suggest elements of economic rationalism, and the
highly monetized. Although the means of communication and
transport were limited in antiquity, transportation in the 1st and 2nd
centuries expanded greatly, and trade routes connected regional
economies. The supply contracts for the army, which pervaded
every part of the Empire, drew on local suppliers near the base
(castrum), throughout the province, and across provincial
Empire is perhaps best thought of as a network of
regional economies, based on a form of "political capitalism" in which
the state monitored and regulated commerce to assure its own
revenues. Economic growth, though not comparable to modern
economies, was greater than that of most other societies prior to
Socially, economic dynamism opened up one of the avenues of social
mobility in the Roman Empire. Social advancement was thus not
dependent solely on birth, patronage, good luck, or even extraordinary
ability. Although aristocratic values permeated traditional elite
society, a strong tendency towards plutocracy is indicated by the
wealth requirements for census rank. Prestige could be obtained
through investing one's wealth in ways that advertised it
appropriately: grand country estates or townhouses, durable luxury
items such as jewels and silverware, public entertainments, funerary
monuments for family members or coworkers, and religious dedications
such as altars. Guilds (collegia) and corporations (corpora) provided
support for individuals to succeed through networking, sharing sound
business practices, and a willingness to work.
Currency and banking
Roman currency and Roman finance
Currency denominations
27 BC–AD 212:
1 gold aureus (1/40 lb. of gold, devalued to 1/50 lb. by
= 25 silver denarii
= 100 bronze sestertii
= 400 copper asses
1 gold aureus solidus (1/60 lb. of gold)
= 10 silver argentei
= 40 bronze folles
= 1,000 debased metal denarii
1 gold solidus (1/72 lb.)
= 24 silver siliquae
= 180 bronze folles
Empire was monetized to a near-universal extent, in the
sense of using money as a way to express prices and debts. The
sestertius (plural sestertii, English "sesterces", symbolized as HS)
was the basic unit of reckoning value into the 4th century,
though the silver denarius, worth four sesterces, was used also for
accounting beginning in the Severan dynasty. The smallest coin
commonly circulated was the bronze as (plural asses), one-fourth
Bullion and ingots seem not to have counted as
pecunia, "money," and were used only on the frontiers for transacting
business or buying property. Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries
counted coins, rather than weighing them—an indication that the coin
was valued on its face, not for its metal content. This tendency
towards fiat money led eventually to the debasement of Roman coinage,
with consequences in the later Empire. The standardization of
money throughout the
Empire promoted trade and market
integration. The high amount of metal coinage in circulation
increased the money supply for trading or saving.
Rome had no central bank, and regulation of the banking system was
minimal. Banks of classical antiquity typically kept less in reserves
than the full total of customers' deposits. A typical bank had fairly
limited capital, and often only one principal, though a bank might
have as many as six to fifteen principals. Seneca assumes that anyone
involved in commerce needs access to credit.
Solidus issued under Constantine II, and on the reverse Victoria, one
of the last deities to appear on Roman coins, gradually transforming
into an angel under Christian rule
A professional deposit banker (argentarius, coactor argentarius, or
later nummularius) received and held deposits for a fixed or
indefinite term, and lent money to third parties. The senatorial elite
were involved heavily in private lending, both as creditors and
borrowers, making loans from their personal fortunes on the basis of
social connections. The holder of a debt could use it as a
means of payment by transferring it to another party, without cash
changing hands. Although it has sometimes been thought that ancient
Rome lacked "paper" or documentary transactions, the system of banks
Empire also permitted the exchange of very large sums
without the physical transfer of coins, in part because of the risks
of moving large amounts of cash, particularly by sea. Only one serious
credit shortage is known to have occurred in the early Empire, a
credit crisis in 33 AD that put a number of senators at risk; the
central government rescued the market through a loan of 100 million HS
made by the emperor
Tiberius to the banks (mensae). Generally,
available capital exceeded the amount needed by borrowers. The
central government itself did not borrow money, and without public
debt had to fund deficits from cash reserves.
Emperors of the Antonine and Severan dynasties overall debased the
currency, particularly the denarius, under the pressures of meeting
military payrolls. Sudden inflation during the reign of Commodus
damaged the credit market. In the mid-200s, the supply of specie
contracted sharply. Conditions during the Crisis of the Third
Century—such as reductions in long-distance trade, disruption of
mining operations, and the physical transfer of gold coinage outside
the empire by invading enemies—greatly diminished the money supply
and the banking sector by the year 300. Although Roman
coinage had long been fiat money or fiduciary currency, general
economic anxieties came to a head under Aurelian, and bankers lost
confidence in coins legitimately issued by the central government.
Despite Diocletian's introduction of the gold solidus and monetary
reforms, the credit market of the
Empire never recovered its former
Mining and metallurgy
Main article: Roman metallurgy
See also: Mining in Roman Britain
Landscape resulting from the ruina montium mining technique at Las
Médulas, Spain, one of the most important gold mines in the Roman
The main mining regions of the
Empire were the Iberian Peninsula
(gold, silver, copper, tin, lead); Gaul (gold, silver, iron); Britain
(mainly iron, lead, tin), the
Danubian provinces (gold, iron);
Macedonia and Thrace (gold, silver); and Asia Minor (gold, silver,
iron, tin). Intensive large-scale mining—of alluvial deposits, and
by means of open-cast mining and underground mining—took place from
the reign of
Augustus up to the early 3rd century AD, when the
instability of the
Empire disrupted production. The gold mines of
Dacia, for instance, were no longer available for Roman exploitation
after the province was surrendered in 271. Mining seems to have
resumed to some extent during the 4th century.
Hydraulic mining, which Pliny referred to as ruina montium ("ruin of
the mountains"), allowed base and precious metals to be extracted on a
proto-industrial scale. The total annual iron output is estimated
at 82,500 tonnes. Copper was produced at an annual
rate of 15,000 t, and lead at
80,000 t, both production levels unmatched until
the Industrial Revolution;
Hispania alone had a
40% share in world lead production. The high lead output was a
by-product of extensive silver mining which reached 200 t per
annum. At its peak around the mid-2nd century AD, the Roman silver
stock is estimated at 10,000 t, five to ten times larger than the
combined silver mass of medieval Europe and the
800 AD. As an indication of the scale of Roman metal
production, lead pollution in the
Greenland ice sheet
Greenland ice sheet quadrupled over
its prehistoric levels during the Imperial era and dropped again
Transportation and communication
See also: Roman roads
Gallo-Roman relief depicting a river boat transporting wine barrels,
an invention of the Gauls that came into widespread use during the 2nd
century; above, wine is stored in the traditional amphorae, some
covered in wicker
Empire completely encircled the Mediterranean, which they
called "our sea" (mare nostrum). Roman sailing vessels navigated
Mediterranean as well as the major rivers of the Empire, including
the Guadalquivir, Ebro, Rhône, Rhine,
Tiber and Nile. Transport
by water was preferred where possible, and moving commodities by land
was more difficult. Vehicles, wheels, and ships indicate the
existence of a great number of skilled woodworkers.
Land transport utilized the advanced system of Roman roads. The
in-kind taxes paid by communities included the provision of personnel,
animals, or vehicles for the cursus publicus, the state mail and
transport service established by Augustus. Relay stations were
located along the roads every seven to twelve Roman miles, and tended
to grow into a village or trading post. A mansio (plural
mansiones) was a privately run service station franchised by the
imperial bureaucracy for the cursus publicus. The support staff at
such a facility included muleteers, secretaries, blacksmiths,
cartwrights, a veterinarian, and a few military police and couriers.
The distance between mansiones was determined by how far a wagon could
travel in a day. Mules were the animal most often used for
pulling carts, travelling about 4 mph. As an example of the
pace of communication, it took a messenger a minimum of nine days to
Rome from Mainz in the province of
Germania Superior, even
on a matter of urgency. In addition to the mansiones, some
taverns offered accommodations as well as food and drink; one recorded
tab for a stay showed charges for wine, bread, mule feed, and the
services of a prostitute.
Trade and commodities
See also: Roman commerce, Indo-Roman trade and relations, and
Pompeii Lakshmi, an ivory statuette from
India found in the ruins
Roman glass cup unearthed from an Eastern Han Dynasty
(25–220 AD) tomb in Guangxi, southern China; the earliest Roman
glassware found in China was discovered in a
Western Han tomb in
Guangzhou, dated to the early
1st century BC, and ostensibly came via
the maritime route through the South China Sea
Roman provinces traded among themselves, but trade extended outside
the frontiers to regions as far away as China and India. The main
commodity was grain. Chinese trade was mostly conducted overland
through middle men along the Silk Road; Indian trade, however, also
occurred by sea from Egyptian ports on the Red Sea. Also traded were
olive oil, various foodstuffs, garum (fish sauce), slaves, ore and
manufactured metal objects, fibres and textiles, timber, pottery,
glassware, marble, papyrus, spices and materia medica, ivory, pearls,
Though most provinces were capable of producing wine, regional
varietals were desirable and wine was a central item of trade.
Shortages of vin ordinaire were rare. The major suppliers
for the city of
Rome were the west coast of Italy, southern Gaul, the
Tarraconensis region of Hispania, and Crete. Alexandria, the
second-largest city, imported wine from Laodicea in Syria and the
Aegean. At the retail level, taverns or speciality wine shops
(vinaria) sold wine by the jug for carryout and by the drink on
premises, with price ranges reflecting quality.
Labour and occupations
Workers at a cloth-processing shop, in a painting from the fullonica
of Veranius Hypsaeus in Pompeii
Roman hunters during the preparations, set-up of traps, and in-action
hunting near Tarraco
Inscriptions record 268 different occupations in the city of Rome, and
85 in Pompeii. Professional associations or trade guilds
(collegia) are attested for a wide range of occupations, including
fishermen (piscatores), salt merchants (salinatores), olive oil
dealers (olivarii), entertainers (scaenici), cattle dealers
(pecuarii), goldsmiths (aurifices), teamsters (asinarii or muliones),
and stonecutters (lapidarii). These are sometimes quite specialized:
one collegium at
Rome was strictly limited to craftsmen who worked in
ivory and citrus wood.
Work performed by slaves falls into five general categories: domestic,
with epitaphs recording at least 55 different household jobs; imperial
or public service; urban crafts and services; agriculture; and mining.
Convicts provided much of the labour in the mines or quarries, where
conditions were notoriously brutal. In practice, there was little
division of labour between slave and free, and most workers were
illiterate and without special skills. The greatest number of
common labourers were employed in agriculture: in the Italian system
of industrial farming (latifundia), these may have been mostly slaves,
but throughout the Empire, slave farm labour was probably less
important than other forms of dependent labour by people who were
technically not enslaved.
Textile and clothing production was a major source of employment. Both
textiles and finished garments were traded among the peoples of the
Empire, whose products were often named for them or a particular town,
rather like a fashion "label". Better ready-to-wear was exported
by businessmen (negotiatores or mercatores) who were often well-to-do
residents of the production centres. Finished garments might be
retailed by their sales agents, who travelled to potential customers,
or by vestiarii, clothing dealers who were mostly freedmen; or they
might be peddled by itinerant merchants. In Egypt, textile
producers could run prosperous small businesses employing apprentices,
free workers earning wages, and slaves. The fullers (fullones)
and dye workers (coloratores) had their own guilds. Centonarii
were guild workers who specialized in textile production and the
recycling of old clothes into pieced goods.[n 14]
GDP and income distribution
Roman economy § Gross domestic product
Economic historians vary in their calculations of the gross domestic
product of the
Roman economy during the Principate. In the sample
years of 14, 100, and 150 AD, estimates of per capita GDP range from
166 to 380 HS. The GDP per capita of Italy is estimated as 40 to
66% higher than in the rest of the Empire, due to tax transfers
from the provinces and the concentration of elite income in the
In the Scheidel–Friesen economic model, the total annual income
generated by the
Empire is placed at nearly 20 billion HS, with
about 5% extracted by central and local government. Households in the
top 1.5% of income distribution captured about 20% of income. Another
20% went to about 10% of the population who can be characterized as a
non-elite middle. The remaining "vast majority" produced more than
half of the total income, but lived near subsistence.
Architecture and engineering
Main articles: Ancient Roman architecture, Roman engineering, and
Amphitheatres of the Roman Empire
Construction on the Flavian Amphitheatre, more commonly known as the
Colosseum, began during the reign of Vespasian
The chief Roman contributions to architecture were the arch, vault and
the dome. Even after more than 2,000 years some Roman structures still
stand, due in part to sophisticated methods of making cements and
Roman roads are considered the most advanced roads
built until the early 19th century. The system of roadways facilitated
military policing, communications, and trade. The roads were resistant
to floods and other environmental hazards. Even after the collapse of
the central government, some roads remained usable for more than a
Roman bridges were among the first large and lasting bridges, built
from stone with the arch as the basic structure. Most utilized
concrete as well. The largest
Roman bridge was
Trajan's bridge over
the lower Danube, constructed by Apollodorus of Damascus, which
remained for over a millennium the longest bridge to have been built
both in terms of overall span and length.
The Romans built many dams and reservoirs for water collection, such
as the Subiaco Dams, two of which fed the Anio Novus, one of the
largest aqueducts of Rome. They built 72 dams just on
the Iberian peninsula, and many more are known across the Empire, some
still in use. Several earthen dams are known from Roman Britain,
including a well-preserved example from
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard aqueduct, which crosses the
Gardon River in southern
France, is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites
The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts. A surviving treatise by
Frontinus, who served as curator aquarum (water commissioner) under
Nerva, reflects the administrative importance placed on ensuring the
water supply. Masonry channels carried water from distant springs and
reservoirs along a precise gradient, using gravity alone. After the
water passed through the aqueduct, it was collected in tanks and fed
through pipes to public fountains, baths, toilets, or industrial
sites. The main aqueducts in the city of
Rome were the Aqua
Claudia and the Aqua Marcia. The complex system built to supply
Constantinople had its most distant supply drawn from over 120 km
away along a sinuous route of more than 336 km. Roman
aqueducts were built to remarkably fine tolerance, and to a
technological standard that was not to be equalled until modern
times. The Romans also made use of aqueducts in their extensive
mining operations across the empire, at sites such as
Las Medulas and
Dolaucothi in South Wales.
Insulated glazing (or "double glazing") was used in the construction
of public baths. Elite housing in cooler climates might have
hypocausts, a form of central heating. The Romans were the first
culture to assemble all essential components of the much later steam
engine, when Hero built the aeolipile. With the crank and connecting
rod system, all elements for constructing a steam engine (invented in
1712)—Hero's aeolipile (generating steam power), the cylinder and
piston (in metal force pumps), non-return valves (in water pumps),
gearing (in water mills and clocks)—were known in Roman times.
Main article: Culture of ancient Rome
Cityscape from the
Villa Boscoreale (60s AD)
City and country
In the ancient world, a city was viewed as a place that fostered
civilization by being "properly designed, ordered, and adorned."
Augustus undertook a vast building programme in Rome, supported public
displays of art that expressed the new imperial ideology, and
reorganized the city into neighbourhoods (vici) administered at the
local level with police and firefighting services. A focus of
Augustan monumental architecture was the Campus Martius, an open area
outside the city centre that in early times had been devoted to
equestrian sports and physical training for youth. The Altar of
Augustan Peace (
Ara Pacis Augustae) was located there, as was an
obelisk imported from Egypt that formed the pointer (gnomon) of a
horologium. With its public gardens, the Campus became one of the most
attractive places in the city to visit.
City planning and urban lifestyles had been influenced by the Greeks
from an early period, and in the eastern Empire, Roman rule
accelerated and shaped the local development of cities that already
had a strong Hellenistic character. Cities such as Athens,
Gerasa altered some aspects of city planning
and architecture to conform to imperial ideals, while also expressing
their individual identity and regional preeminence. In the
areas of the western
Empire inhabited by Celtic-speaking peoples, Rome
encouraged the development of urban centres with stone temples,
forums, monumental fountains, and amphitheatres, often on or near the
sites of the preexisting walled settlements known as
oppida.[n 15] Urbanization in Roman Africa expanded on Greek
and Punic cities along the coast.
Aquae Sulis in Bath, England: architectural features above the level
of the pillar bases are a later reconstruction
The network of cities throughout the
Empire (coloniae, municipia,
civitates or in Greek terms poleis) was a primary cohesive force
during the Pax Romana. Romans of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD
were encouraged by imperial propaganda to "inculcate the habits of
peacetime". As the classicist
Clifford Ando has noted:
Most of the cultural appurtenances popularly associated with imperial
culture—public cult and its games and civic banquets, competitions
for artists, speakers, and athletes, as well as the funding of the
great majority of public buildings and public display of art—were
financed by private individuals, whose expenditures in this regard
helped to justify their economic power and legal and provincial
Even the Christian polemicist
Tertullian declared that the world of
the late 2nd century was more orderly and well-cultivated than in
earlier times: "Everywhere there are houses, everywhere people,
everywhere the res publica, the commonwealth, everywhere life."
The decline of cities and civic life in the 4th century, when the
wealthy classes were unable or disinclined to support public works,
was one sign of the Empire's imminent dissolution.
Public toilets (latrinae) from Ostia Antica
In the city of Rome, most people lived in multistory apartment
buildings (insulae) that were often squalid firetraps. Public
facilities—such as baths (thermae), toilets that were flushed with
running water (latrinae), conveniently located basins or elaborate
fountains (nymphea) delivering fresh water, and large-scale
entertainments such as chariot races and gladiator combat—were aimed
primarily at the common people who lived in the insulae. Similar
facilities were constructed in cities throughout the Empire, and some
of the best-preserved Roman structures are in Spain, southern France,
and northern Africa.
The public baths served hygienic, social and cultural functions.
Bathing was the focus of daily socializing in the late afternoon
before dinner. Roman baths were distinguished by a series of
rooms that offered communal bathing in three temperatures, with
varying amenities that might include an exercise and weight-training
room, sauna, exfoliation spa (where oils were massaged into the skin
and scraped from the body with a strigil), ball court, or outdoor
swimming pool. Baths had hypocaust heating: the floors were suspended
over hot-air channels that circulated warmth. Mixed nude bathing
was not unusual in the early Empire, though some baths may have
offered separate facilities or hours for men and women. Public baths
were a part of urban culture throughout the provinces, but in the late
4th century, individual tubs began to replace communal bathing.
Christians were advised to go to the baths for health and cleanliness,
not pleasure, but to avoid the games (ludi), which were part of
religious festivals they considered "pagan".
Tertullian says that
otherwise Christians not only availed themselves of the baths, but
participated fully in commerce and society.
Reconstructed peristyle garden based on the House of the Vettii
Rich families from
Rome usually had two or more houses, a townhouse
(domus, plural domūs) and at least one luxury home (villa) outside
the city. The domus was a privately owned single-family house, and
might be furnished with a private bath (balneum), but it was not
a place to retreat from public life. Although some neighbourhoods
Rome show a higher concentration of well-to-do houses, the rich did
not live in segregated enclaves. Their houses were meant to be visible
and accessible. The atrium served as a reception hall in which the
paterfamilias (head of household) met with clients every morning, from
wealthy friends to poorer dependents who received charity. It was
also a centre of family religious rites, containing a shrine and the
images of family ancestors. The houses were located on busy
public roads, and ground-level spaces facing the street were often
rented out as shops (tabernae). In addition to a kitchen
garden—windowboxes might substitute in the insulae—townhouses
typically enclosed a peristyle garden that brought a tract of nature,
made orderly, within walls.
Birds and fountain within a garden setting, with oscilla (hanging
masks) above, in a painting from Pompeii
The villa by contrast was an escape from the bustle of the city, and
in literature represents a lifestyle that balances the civilized
pursuit of intellectual and artistic interests (otium) with an
appreciation of nature and the agricultural cycle. Ideally a
villa commanded a view or vista, carefully framed by the architectural
design. It might be located on a working estate, or in a "resort
town" situated on the seacoast, such as
Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The programme of urban renewal under Augustus, and the growth of
Rome's population to as many as 1 million people, was accompanied by a
nostalgia for rural life expressed in the arts. Poetry praised the
idealized lives of farmers and shepherds. The interiors of houses were
often decorated with painted gardens, fountains, landscapes,
vegetative ornament, and animals, especially birds and marine
life, rendered accurately enough that modern scholars can sometimes
identify them by species. The Augustan poet
satirized the dichotomy of urban and rural values in his fable of the
city mouse and the country mouse, which has often been retold as a
On a more practical level, the central government took an active
interest in supporting agriculture. Producing food was the top
priority of land use. Larger farms (latifundia) achieved an
economy of scale that sustained urban life and its more specialized
division of labour. Small farmers benefited from the development
of local markets in towns and trade centres. Agricultural techniques
such as crop rotation and selective breeding were disseminated
throughout the Empire, and new crops were introduced from one province
to another, such as peas and cabbage to Britain.
Maintaining an affordable food supply to the city of
Rome had become a
major political issue in the late Republic, when the state began to
provide a grain dole (annona) to citizens who registered for it.
About 200,000–250,000 adult males in
Rome received the dole,
amounting to about 33 kg. per month, for a per annum total of
about 100,000 tons of wheat primarily from Sicily, north Africa, and
Egypt. The dole cost at least 15% of state revenues, but
improved living conditions and family life among the lower
classes, and subsidized the rich by allowing workers to spend
more of their earnings on the wine and olive oil produced on the
estates of the landowning class.
Bread stall, from a Pompeiian wall painting
The grain dole also had symbolic value: it affirmed both the emperor's
position as universal benefactor, and the right of all citizens to
share in "the fruits of conquest". The annona, public facilities,
and spectacular entertainments mitigated the otherwise dreary living
conditions of lower-class Romans, and kept social unrest in check. The
satirist Juvenal, however, saw "bread and circuses" (panem et
circenses) as emblematic of the loss of republican political
The public has long since cast off its cares: the people that once
bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no
more and longs eagerly for just two things: bread and circuses.
Food and dining
Main article: Food and dining in the Roman Empire
See also: Grain supply to the city of
Rome and Ancient
Rome and wine
Most apartments in
Rome lacked kitchens, though a charcoal brazier
could be used for rudimentary cookery. Prepared food was
sold at pubs and bars, inns, and food stalls (tabernae, cauponae,
Carryout and restaurant dining were for
the lower classes; fine dining could be sought only at private dinner
parties in well-to-do houses with a chef (archimagirus) and trained
kitchen staff, or at banquets hosted by social clubs
Most people would have consumed at least 70% of their daily calories
in the form of cereals and legumes. Puls (pottage) was considered
the aboriginal food of the Romans. The basic grain pottage
could be elaborated with chopped vegetables, bits of meat, cheese, or
herbs to produce dishes similar to polenta or risotto.
An Ostian taberna for eating and drinking; the faded painting over the
counter pictured eggs, olives, fruit and radishes
Urban populations and the military preferred to consume their grain in
the form of bread. Mills and commercial ovens were usually
combined in a bakery complex. By the reign of Aurelian, the state
had begun to distribute the annona as a daily ration of bread baked in
state factories, and added olive oil, wine, and pork to the
The importance of a good diet to health was recognized by medical
writers such as
Galen (2nd century AD), whose treatises included one
On Barley Soup. Views on nutrition were influenced by schools of
thought such as humoral theory.
Roman literature focuses on the dining habits of the upper
classes, for whom the evening meal (cena) had important social
functions. Guests were entertained in a finely decorated dining
room (triclinium), often with a view of the peristyle garden. Diners
lounged on couches, leaning on the left elbow. By the late Republic,
if not earlier, women dined, reclined, and drank wine along with
The most famous description of a Roman meal is probably Trimalchio's
dinner party in the Satyricon, a fictional extravaganza that bears
little resemblance to reality even among the most wealthy. The
Martial describes serving a more plausible dinner, beginning with
the gustatio ("tasting" or "appetizer"), which was a composed salad of
mallow leaves, lettuce, chopped leeks, mint, arugula, mackerel
garnished with rue, sliced eggs, and marinated sow udder. The main
course was succulent cuts of kid, beans, greens, a chicken, and
leftover ham, followed by a dessert of fresh fruit and vintage
Latin expression for a full-course dinner was ab ovo
usque mala, "from the egg to the apples," equivalent to the English
"from soup to nuts."
Still life on a 2nd-century Roman mosaic
A book-length collection of Roman recipes is attributed to Apicius, a
name for several figures in antiquity that became synonymous with
"gourmet." Roman "foodies" indulged in wild game, fowl such as
peacock and flamingo, large fish (mullet was especially prized), and
shellfish. Luxury ingredients were brought by the fleet from the far
reaches of empire, from the Parthian frontier to the Straits of
Refined cuisine could be moralized as a sign of either civilized
progress or decadent decline. The early Imperial historian
Tacitus contrasted the indulgent luxuries of the Roman table in his
day with the simplicity of the Germanic diet of fresh wild meat,
foraged fruit, and cheese, unadulterated by imported seasonings and
elaborate sauces. Most often, because of the importance of
landowning in Roman culture, produce—cereals, legumes, vegetables,
and fruit—was considered a more civilized form of food than meat.
Mediterranean staples of bread, wine, and oil were sacralized by
Roman Christianity, while Germanic meat consumption became a mark of
paganism, as it might be the product of animal sacrifice.
Some philosophers and Christians resisted the demands of the body and
the pleasures of food, and adopted fasting as an ideal. Food
became simpler in general as urban life in the West diminished, trade
routes were disrupted, and the rich retreated to the more limited
self-sufficiency of their country estates. As an urban lifestyle came
to be associated with decadence, the Church formally discouraged
gluttony, and hunting and pastoralism were seen as simple,
virtuous ways of life.
Recreation and spectacles
See also: Ludi, Chariot racing, and Gladiator
Wall painting depicting a sports riot at the amphitheatre of Pompeii,
which led to the banning of gladiator combat in the town
Juvenal complained that the Roman people had exchanged their
political liberty for "bread and circuses", he was referring to the
state-provided grain dole and the circenses, events held in the
entertainment venue called a circus in Latin. The largest such venue
Rome was the Circus Maximus, the setting of horse races, chariot
races, the equestrian Troy Game, staged beast hunts (venationes),
athletic contests, gladiator combat, and historical re-enactments.
From earliest times, several religious festivals had featured games
(ludi), primarily horse and chariot races (ludi circenses).
Although their entertainment value tended to overshadow ritual
significance, the races remained part of archaic religious observances
that pertained to agriculture, initiation, and the cycle of birth and
Under Augustus, public entertainments were presented on 77 days of the
year; by the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the number of days had expanded
to 135. Circus games were preceded by an elaborate parade (pompa
circensis) that ended at the venue. Competitive events were held
also in smaller venues such as the amphitheatre, which became the
characteristic Roman spectacle venue, and stadium. Greek-style
athletics included footraces, boxing, wrestling, and the
pancratium. Aquatic displays, such as the mock sea battle
(naumachia) and a form of "water ballet", were presented in engineered
pools. State-supported theatrical events (ludi scaenici) took
place on temple steps or in grand stone theatres, or in the smaller
enclosed theatre called an odeum.
A victor in his four-horse chariot
Circuses were the largest structure regularly built in the Roman
world, though the
Greeks had their own architectural traditions
for the similarly purposed hippodrome. The Flavian Amphitheatre,
better known as the Colosseum, became the regular arena for blood
Rome after it opened in 80 AD. The circus races
continued to be held more frequently. The
Circus Maximus could
seat around 150,000 spectators, and the
Colosseum about 50,000 with
standing room for about 10,000 more. Many Roman amphitheatres,
circuses and theatres built in cities outside Italy are visible as
ruins today. The local ruling elite were responsible for
sponsoring spectacles and arena events, which both enhanced their
status and drained their resources.
The physical arrangement of the amphitheatre represented the order of
Roman society: the emperor presiding in his opulent box; senators and
equestrians watching from the advantageous seats reserved for them;
women seated at a remove from the action; slaves given the worst
places, and everybody else packed in-between. The crowd
could call for an outcome by booing or cheering, but the emperor had
the final say. Spectacles could quickly become sites of social and
political protest, and emperors sometimes had to deploy force to put
down crowd unrest, most notoriously at the
Nika riots in the year 532,
when troops under
Justinian slaughtered thousands.
The Zliten mosaic, from a dining room in present-day Libya, depicts a
series of arena scenes: from top, musicians playing a Roman tuba, a
water pipe organ and two horns; six pairs of gladiators with two
referees; four beast fighters; and three convicts condemned to the
The chariot teams were known by the colours they wore, with the Blues
and Greens the most popular. Fan loyalty was fierce and at times
erupted into sports riots. Racing was perilous, but
charioteers were among the most celebrated and well-compensated
athletes. One star of the sport was Diocles, from Lusitania
(present-day Portugal), who raced chariots for 24 years and had career
earnings of 35 million sesterces. Horses had their fans too,
and were commemorated in art and inscriptions, sometimes by
name. The design of Roman circuses was developed to assure
that no team had an unfair advantage and to minimize collisions
(naufragia, "shipwrecks"), which were nonetheless frequent
and spectacularly satisfying to the crowd. The races
retained a magical aura through their early association with chthonic
rituals: circus images were considered protective or lucky, curse
tablets have been found buried at the site of racetracks, and
charioteers were often suspected of sorcery.
Chariot racing continued into the Byzantine period under imperial
sponsorship, but the decline of cities in the 6th and 7th centuries
led to its eventual demise.
The Romans thought gladiator contests had originated with funeral
games and sacrifices in which select captive warriors were forced to
fight to expiate the deaths of noble Romans. Some of the earliest
styles of gladiator fighting had ethnic designations such as
"Thracian" or "Gallic". The staged combats were
considered munera, "services, offerings, benefactions", initially
distinct from the festival games (ludi).
Throughout his 40-year reign,
Augustus presented eight gladiator shows
in which a total of 10,000 men fought, as well as 26 staged beast
hunts that resulted in the deaths of 3,500 animals. To
mark the opening of the Colosseum, the emperor
Titus presented 100
days of arena events, with 3,000 gladiators competing on a single
day. Roman fascination with gladiators is indicated by
how widely they are depicted on mosaics, wall paintings, lamps, and
even graffiti drawings.
Gladiators were trained combatants who might be slaves, convicts, or
free volunteers. Death was not a necessary or even desirable
outcome in matches between these highly skilled fighters, whose
training represented a costly and time-consuming
investment. By contrast, noxii were convicts sentenced
to the arena with little or no training, often unarmed, and with no
expectation of survival. Physical suffering and humiliation were
considered appropriate retributive justice for the crimes they had
committed. These executions were sometimes staged or ritualized
as re-enactments of myths, and amphitheatres were equipped with
elaborate stage machinery to create special effects.
Tertullian considered deaths in the arena to be nothing more than a
dressed-up form of human sacrifice.
Modern scholars have found the pleasure Romans took in the "theatre of
life and death" to be one of the more difficult aspects of their
civilization to understand and explain. The younger Pliny
rationalized gladiator spectacles as good for the people, a way "to
inspire them to face honourable wounds and despise death, by
exhibiting love of glory and desire for victory even in the bodies of
slaves and criminals". Some Romans such as Seneca were
critical of the brutal spectacles, but found virtue in the courage and
dignity of the defeated fighter rather than in victory—an
attitude that finds its fullest expression with the Christians
martyred in the arena. Even martyr literature, however, offers
"detailed, indeed luxuriant, descriptions of bodily suffering",
and became a popular genre at times indistinguishable from
Personal training and play
Boys and girls playing ball games (2nd century relief from the Louvre)
In the plural, ludi almost always refers to the large-scale spectator
games. The singular ludus, "play, game, sport, training," had a wide
range of meanings such as "word play," "theatrical performance,"
"board game," "primary school," and even "gladiator training school"
(as in Ludus Magnus, the largest such training camp at
Activities for children and young people included hoop rolling and
knucklebones (astragali or "jacks"). The sarcophagi of children often
show them playing games. Girls had dolls, typically 15–16 cm
tall with jointed limbs, made of materials such as wood, terracotta,
and especially bone and ivory. Ball games include trigon, which
required dexterity, and harpastum, a rougher sport. Pets appear
often on children's memorials and in literature, including birds,
dogs, cats, goats, sheep, rabbits and geese.
So-called "bikini girls" mosaic from the Villa del Casale, Roman
Sicily, 4th century
After adolescence, most physical training for males was of a military
Campus Martius originally was an exercise field where
young men developed the skills of horsemanship and warfare. Hunting
was also considered an appropriate pastime. According to Plutarch,
conservative Romans disapproved of Greek-style athletics that promoted
a fine body for its own sake, and condemned Nero's efforts to
encourage gymnastic games in the Greek manner.
Some women trained as gymnasts and dancers, and a rare few as female
gladiators. The famous "bikini girls" mosaic shows young women
engaging in apparatus routines that might be compared to rhythmic
gymnastics.[n 17] Women in general were encouraged to maintain
their health through activities such as playing ball, swimming,
walking, reading aloud (as a breathing exercise), riding in vehicles,
Stone game board from Aphrodisias: boards could also be made of wood,
with deluxe versions in costly materials such as ivory; game pieces or
counters were bone, glass, or polished stone, and might be coloured or
have markings or images
People of all ages played board games pitting two players against each
other, including latrunculi ("Raiders"), a game of strategy in which
opponents coordinated the movements and capture of multiple game
pieces, and XII scripta ("Twelve Marks"), involving dice and arranging
pieces on a grid of letters or words. A game referred to as alea
(dice) or tabula (the board), to which the emperor
notoriously addicted, may have been similar to backgammon, using a
dice-cup (pyrgus). Playing with dice as a form of gambling was
disapproved of, but was a popular pastime during the December festival
Saturnalia with its carnival, norms-overturned atmosphere.
Main article: Clothing in ancient Rome
In a status-conscious society like that of the Romans, clothing and
personal adornment gave immediate visual clues about the etiquette of
interacting with the wearer. Wearing the correct clothing was
supposed to reflect a society in good order. The toga was the
distinctive national garment of the Roman male citizen, but it was
heavy and impractical, worn mainly for conducting political business
and religious rites, and for going to court. The clothing
Romans wore ordinarily was dark or colourful, and the most common male
attire seen daily throughout the provinces would have been tunics,
cloaks, and in some regions trousers. The study of how Romans
dressed in daily life is complicated by a lack of direct evidence,
since portraiture may show the subject in clothing with symbolic
value, and surviving textiles from the period are rare.
Women from the wall painting at the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii
The basic garment for all Romans, regardless of gender or wealth, was
the simple sleeved tunic. The length differed by wearer: a man's
reached mid-calf, but a soldier's was somewhat shorter; a woman's fell
to her feet, and a child's to its knees. The tunics of poor
people and labouring slaves were made from coarse wool in natural,
dull shades, with the length determined by the type of work they did.
Finer tunics were made of lightweight wool or linen. A man who
belonged to the senatorial or equestrian order wore a tunic with two
purple stripes (clavi) woven vertically into the fabric: the wider the
stripe, the higher the wearer's status. Other garments could be
layered over the tunic.
The Imperial toga was a "vast expanse" of semi-circular white wool
that could not be put on and draped correctly without assistance.
In his work on oratory,
Quintilian describes in detail how the public
speaker ought to orchestrate his gestures in relation to his
toga. In art, the toga is shown with the long end
dipping between the feet, a deep curved fold in front, and a bulbous
flap at the midsection. The drapery became more intricate and
structured over time, with the cloth forming a tight roll across the
chest in later periods. The toga praetexta, with a purple or
purplish-red stripe representing inviolability, was worn by children
who had not come of age, curule magistrates, and state priests. Only
the emperor could wear an all-purple toga (toga picta).
Claudius wearing an early Imperial toga (see a later, more structured
toga above), and the pallium as worn by a priest of Serapis,
sometimes identified as the emperor Julian
In the 2nd century, emperors and men of status are often portrayed
wearing the pallium, an originally Greek mantle (himation) folded
tightly around the body. Women are also portrayed in the pallium.
Tertullian considered the pallium an appropriate garment both for
Christians, in contrast to the toga, and for educated people, since it
was associated with philosophers. By the 4th century,
the toga had been more or less replaced by the pallium as a garment
that embodied social unity.
Roman clothing styles changed over time, though not as rapidly as
fashions today. In the Dominate, clothing worn by both soldiers
and government bureaucrats became highly decorated, with woven or
embroidered stripes (clavi) and circular roundels (orbiculi) applied
to tunics and cloaks. These decorative elements consisted of
geometrical patterns, stylized plant motifs, and in more elaborate
examples, human or animal figures. The use of silk increased, and
courtiers of the later
Empire wore elaborate silk robes. The
militarization of Roman society, and the waning of cultural life based
on urban ideals, affected habits of dress: heavy military-style belts
were worn by bureaucrats as well as soldiers, and the toga was
Main article: Roman art
The Wedding of
Chloris (54–68 AD, Pompeian Fourth
Style) within painted architectural panels from the Casa del Naviglio
People visiting or living in
Rome or the cities throughout the Empire
would have seen art in a range of styles and media on a daily basis.
Public or official art—including sculpture, monuments such as
victory columns or triumphal arches, and the iconography on coins—is
often analysed for its historical significance or as an expression of
imperial ideology. At Imperial public baths, a person of
humble means could view wall paintings, mosaics, statues, and interior
decoration often of high quality. In the private sphere, objects
made for religious dedications, funerary commemoration, domestic use,
and commerce can show varying degrees of aesthetic quality and
artistic skill. A wealthy person might advertise his appreciation
of culture through painting, sculpture, and decorative arts at his
home—though some efforts strike modern viewers and some ancient
connoisseurs as strenuous rather than tasteful. Greek art had a
profound influence on the Roman tradition, and some of the most famous
examples of Greek statues are known only from Roman Imperial versions
and the occasional description in a Greek or
Despite the high value placed on works of art, even famous artists
were of low social status among the
Greeks and Romans, who regarded
artists, artisans, and craftsmen alike as manual labourers. At the
same time, the level of skill required to produce quality work was
recognized, and even considered a divine gift.
Main article: Roman portraiture
Two portraits circa 130 AD: the empress
Vibia Sabina (left); and the
Antinous Mondragone, one of the abundant likenesses of Hadrian's
famously beautiful male companion Antinous
Portraiture, which survives mainly in the medium of sculpture, was the
most copious form of imperial art. Portraits during the Augustan
period utilize youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into
a mixture of realism and idealism. Republican portraits had been
characterized by a "warts and all" verism, but as early as the 2nd
century BC, the Greek convention of heroic nudity was adopted
sometimes for portraying conquering generals. Imperial portrait
sculptures may model the head as mature, even craggy, atop a nude or
seminude body that is smooth and youthful with perfect musculature; a
portrait head might even be added to a body created for another
purpose. Clothed in the toga or military regalia, the body
communicates rank or sphere of activity, not the characteristics of
Women of the emperor's family were often depicted dressed as goddesses
or divine personifications such as Pax ("Peace"). Portraiture in
painting is represented primarily by the Fayum mummy portraits, which
evoke Egyptian and Roman traditions of commemorating the dead with the
realistic painting techniques of the Empire. Marble portrait sculpture
would have been painted, and while traces of paint have only rarely
survived the centuries, the Fayum portraits indicate why ancient
literary sources marvelled at how lifelike artistic representations
The bronze Drunken Satyr, excavated at
Herculaneum and exhibited in
the 18th century, inspired an interest among later sculptors in
similar "carefree" subjects
Main article: Roman sculpture
Roman sculpture survive abundantly, though often in
damaged or fragmentary condition, including freestanding statues and
statuettes in marble, bronze and terracotta, and reliefs from public
buildings, temples, and monuments such as the Ara Pacis, Trajan's
Column, and the
Arch of Titus. Niches in amphitheatres such as the
Colosseum were originally filled with statues, and no formal
garden was complete without statuary.
Temples housed the cult images of deities, often by famed
sculptors. The religiosity of the Romans encouraged the
production of decorated altars, small representations of deities for
the household shrine or votive offerings, and other pieces for
dedicating at temples. Divine and mythological figures were also given
secular, humorous, and even obscene depictions.
On the Ludovisi sarcophagus, an example of the battle scenes favoured
during the Crisis of the Third Century, the "writhing and highly
emotive" Romans and
Goths fill the surface in a packed, anti-classical
Main article: Ancient Roman sarcophagi
Elaborately carved marble and limestone sarcophagi are characteristic
of the 2nd to the 4th centuries with at least 10,000 examples
surviving. Although mythological scenes have been most widely
studied, sarcophagus relief has been called the "richest single
source of Roman iconography," and may also depict the deceased's
occupation or life course, military scenes, and other subject matter.
The same workshops produced sarcophagi with Jewish or Christian
The Primavera of Stabiae, perhaps the goddess Flora
Much of what is known of Roman painting is based on the interior
decoration of private homes, particularly as preserved at
Herculaneum by the eruption of
Vesuvius in 79 AD. In addition to
decorative borders and panels with geometric or vegetative motifs,
wall painting depicts scenes from mythology and the theatre,
landscapes and gardens, recreation and spectacles, work and everyday
life, and frank pornography. Birds, animals, and marine life are often
depicted with careful attention to realistic detail.[citation
A unique source for Jewish figurative painting under the
Empire is the
Dura-Europos synagogue, dubbed "the
Pompeii of the Syrian Desert,"[n
18] buried and preserved in the mid-3rd century after the city was
destroyed by Persians.
Main article: Roman mosaic
The Triumph of Neptune floor mosaic from Africa Proconsularis
(present-day Tunisia), celebrating agricultural success with
allegories of the Seasons, vegetation, workers and animals viewable
from multiple perspectives in the room (latter 2nd century)
Mosaics are among the most enduring of Roman decorative arts, and are
found on the surfaces of floors and other architectural features such
as walls, vaulted ceilings, and columns. The most common form is the
tessellated mosaic, formed from uniform pieces (tesserae) of materials
such as stone and glass. Mosaics were usually crafted on site,
but sometimes assembled and shipped as ready-made panels. A mosaic
workshop was led by the master artist (pictor) who worked with two
grades of assistants.
Figurative mosaics share many themes with painting, and in some cases
portray subject matter in almost identical compositions. Although
geometric patterns and mythological scenes occur throughout the
Empire, regional preferences also find expression. In North Africa, a
particularly rich source of mosaics, homeowners often chose scenes of
life on their estates, hunting, agriculture, and local wildlife.
Plentiful and major examples of Roman mosaics come also from
present-day Turkey, Italy, southern France, Spain, and Portugal. More
Antioch mosaics from the 3rd century are known.[citation
Opus sectile is a related technique in which flat stone, usually
coloured marble, is cut precisely into shapes from which geometric or
figurative patterns are formed. This more difficult technique was
highly prized, and became especially popular for luxury surfaces in
the 4th century, an abundant example of which is the Basilica of
Ancient Roman pottery
Ancient Roman pottery and Roman glass
Decorative arts for luxury consumers included fine pottery, silver and
bronze vessels and implements, and glassware. The manufacture of
pottery in a wide range of quality was important to trade and
employment, as were the glass and metalworking industries. Imports
stimulated new regional centres of production. Southern Gaul became a
leading producer of the finer red-gloss pottery (terra sigillata) that
was a major item of trade in 1st-century Europe.
regarded by the Romans as originating in Syria in the
1st century BC,
and by the 3rd century Egypt and the
Rhineland had become noted for
Silver cup, from the Boscoreale treasure (early
1st century AD)
Figural bronze oil lamps from
Nova Zagora in Roman-era Bulgaria
Finely decorated Gallo-Roman terra sigillata bowl
Gold earrings with gemstones, 3rd century
Glass cage cup from the Rhineland, latter 4th century
Seuso plate (detail)
Main articles: Theatre of ancient
Rome and Music of ancient Rome
In Roman tradition, borrowed from the Greeks, literary theatre was
performed by all-male troupes that used face masks with exaggerated
facial expressions that allowed audiences to "see" how a character was
feeling. Such masks were occasionally also specific to a particular
role, and an actor could then play multiple roles merely by switching
masks. Female roles were played by men in drag (travesti). Roman
literary theatre tradition is particularly well represented in Latin
literature by the tragedies of Seneca. The circumstances under which
Seneca's tragedies were performed are however unclear; scholarly
conjectures range from minimally staged readings to full production
pageants. More popular than literary theatre was the genre-defying
mimus theatre, which featured scripted scenarios with free
improvisation, risqué language and jokes, sex scenes, action
sequences, and political satire, along with dance numbers, juggling,
acrobatics, tightrope walking, striptease, and dancing
bears. Unlike literary theatre, mimus was played
without masks, and encouraged stylistic realism in acting. Female
roles were performed by women, not by men. Mimus was related to
the genre called pantomimus, an early form of story ballet that
contained no spoken dialogue. Pantomimus combined expressive dancing,
instrumental music and a sung libretto, often mythological, that could
be either tragic or comic.
All-male theatrical troupe preparing for a masked performance, on a
mosaic from the House of the Tragic Poet
Although sometimes regarded as foreign elements in Roman culture,
music and dance had existed in
Rome from earliest times. Music
was customary at funerals, and the tibia (Greek aulos), a woodwind
instrument, was played at sacrifices to ward off ill influences.
Song (carmen) was an integral part of almost every social occasion.
The Secular Ode of Horace, commissioned by Augustus, was performed
publicly in 17 BC by a mixed children's choir. Music was thought to
reflect the orderliness of the cosmos, and was associated particularly
with mathematics and knowledge.
Various woodwinds and "brass" instruments were played, as were
stringed instruments such as the cithara, and percussion. The
cornu, a long tubular metal wind instrument that curved around the
musician's body, was used for military signals and on parade.
These instruments are found in parts of the
Empire where they did not
originate, and indicate that music was among the aspects of Roman
culture that spread throughout the provinces. Instruments are widely
depicted in Roman art.
The hydraulic pipe organ (hydraulis) was "one of the most significant
technical and musical achievements of antiquity", and accompanied
gladiator games and events in the amphitheatre, as well as stage
performances. It was among the instruments that the emperor Nero
Although certain forms of dance were disapproved of at times as
non-Roman or unmanly, dancing was embedded in religious rituals of
archaic Rome, such as those of the dancing armed Salian priests and of
the Arval Brothers, priesthoods which underwent a revival during the
Principate. Ecstatic dancing was a feature of the international
mystery religions, particularly the cult of
Cybele as practised by her
eunuch priests the Galli and of Isis. In the secular realm,
dancing girls from Syria and
Cadiz were extremely popular.
Like gladiators, entertainers were infames in the eyes of the law,
little better than slaves even if they were technically free. "Stars",
however, could enjoy considerable wealth and celebrity, and mingled
socially and often sexually with the upper classes, including
emperors. Performers supported each other by forming guilds, and
several memorials for members of the theatre community survive.
Theatre and dance were often condemned by Christian polemicists in the
later Empire, and Christians who integrated dance traditions and
music into their worship practices were regarded by the Church Fathers
as shockingly "pagan."
St. Augustine is supposed to have said
that bringing clowns, actors, and dancers into a house was like
inviting in a gang of unclean spirits.
Literacy, books, and education
This article is incomplete. This is because the use of papyrus or
parchment scrolls, which were very common before the invention of the
codex, is missing. Please help to improve it, or discuss the issue on
the talk page. (April 2017)
Main article: Education in ancient Rome
Pride in literacy was displayed in portraiture through emblems of
reading and writing, as in this example of a couple from Pompeii
(Portrait of Paquius Proculo)
Estimates of the average literacy rate in the
Empire range from 5 to
30% or higher, depending in part on the definition of
"literacy". The Roman obsession with documents and
public inscriptions indicates the high value placed on the written
word. The Imperial bureaucracy was so
dependent on writing that the
Babylonian Talmud declared "if all seas
were ink, all reeds were pen, all skies parchment, and all men
scribes, they would be unable to set down the full scope of the Roman
government's concerns." Laws and edicts were posted in writing as
well as read out. Illiterate Roman subjects would have someone such as
a government scribe (scriba) read or write their official documents
Public art and religious ceremonies were ways to
communicate imperial ideology regardless of ability to read.
Although the Romans were not a "People of the Book", they had an
extensive priestly archive, and inscriptions appear throughout the
Empire in connection with statues and small votives dedicated by
ordinary people to divinities, as well as on binding tablets and other
"magic spells", with hundreds of examples collected in the Greek
Magical Papyri. The military produced a vast
amount of written reports and service records, and literacy in
the army was "strikingly high". Urban graffiti, which include
literary quotations, and low-quality inscriptions with misspellings
and solecisms indicate casual literacy among non-elites.[n
19] In addition, numeracy was necessary for any form of
commerce. Slaves were numerate and literate in significant
numbers, and some were highly educated.
Books were expensive, since each copy had to be written out
individually on a roll of papyrus (volumen) by scribes who had
apprenticed to the trade. The codex—a book with pages bound to
a spine—was still a novelty in the time of the poet
century AD), but by the end of the 3rd century was replacing
the volumen and was the regular form for books with
Christian content. Commercial production of books had been
established by the late Republic, and by the
1st century AD
certain neighbourhoods of
Rome were known for their bookshops
(tabernae librariae), which were found also in Western provincial
cities such as
Lugdunum (present-day Lyon, France). The
quality of editing varied wildly, and some ancient authors complain
about error-ridden copies, as well as plagiarism or forgery,
since there was no copyright law. A skilled slave copyist (servus
litteratus) could be valued as highly as 100,000 sesterces.
Reconstruction of a writing tablet: the stylus was used to inscribe
letters into the wax surface for drafts, casual letterwriting, and
schoolwork, while texts meant to be permanent were copied onto papyrus
Collectors amassed personal libraries, such as that of the Villa
Papyri in Herculaneum, and a fine library was part of the
cultivated leisure (otium) associated with the villa lifestyle.
Significant collections might attract "in-house" scholars; Lucian
mocked mercenary Greek intellectuals who attached themselves to
philistine Roman patrons. An individual benefactor might endow a
community with a library:
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger gave the city of
library valued at 1 million sesterces, along with another 100,000 to
maintain it. Imperial libraries housed in state buildings
were open to users as a privilege on a limited basis, and represented
a literary canon from which disreputable writers could be
excluded. Books considered subversive might be publicly
Domitian crucified copyists for reproducing works
Literary texts were often shared aloud at meals or with reading
groups. Scholars such as
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder engaged in
"multitasking" by having works read aloud to them while they dined,
bathed or travelled, times during which they might also dictate drafts
or notes to their secretaries. The multivolume Attic Nights of
Aulus Gellius is an extended exploration of how Romans constructed
their literary culture. The reading public expanded from the 1st
through the 3rd century, and while those who read for pleasure
remained a minority, they were no longer confined to a sophisticated
ruling elite, reflecting the social fluidity of the
Empire as a whole
and giving rise to "consumer literature" meant for entertainment.
Illustrated books, including erotica, were popular, but are poorly
represented by extant fragments.
A teacher with two students, as a third arrives with his loculus, a
writing case that would contain pens, ink pot, and a sponge to correct
Traditional Roman education was moral and practical. Stories about
great men and women, or cautionary tales about individual failures,
were meant to instil Roman values (mores maiorum). Parents and family
members were expected to act as role models, and parents who worked
for a living passed their skills on to their children, who might also
enter apprenticeships for more advanced training in crafts or
trades. Formal education was available only to children from
families who could pay for it, and the lack of state intervention in
access to education contributed to the low rate of literacy.
Young children were attended by a pedagogus, or less frequently a
female pedagoga, usually a Greek slave or former slave. The
pedagogue kept the child safe, taught self-discipline and public
behaviour, attended class and helped with tutoring. The emperor
Julian recalled his pedagogue Mardonius, a eunuch slave who reared him
from the age of 7 to 15, with affection and gratitude. Usually,
however, pedagogues received little respect.
Primary education in reading, writing, and arithmetic might take place
at home for privileged children whose parents hired or bought a
teacher. Others attended a school that was "public," though not
state-supported, organized by an individual schoolmaster
(ludimagister) who accepted fees from multiple parents. Vernae
(homeborn slave children) might share in home- or
public-schooling. Schools became more numerous during the Empire,
and increased the opportunities for children to acquire an
education. School could be held regularly in a rented space, or
in any available public niche, even outdoors. Boys and girls received
primary education generally from ages 7 to 12, but classes were not
segregated by grade or age. For the socially ambitious, bilingual
education in Greek as well as
Latin was a must.
Quintilian provides the most extensive theory of primary education in
Latin literature. According to Quintilian, each child has in-born
ingenium, a talent for learning or linguistic intelligence that is
ready to be cultivated and sharpened, as evidenced by the young
child's ability to memorize and imitate. The child incapable of
learning was rare. To Quintilian, ingenium represented a potential
best realized in the social setting of school, and he argued against
homeschooling. He also recognized the importance of play in child
development,[n 20] and disapproved of corporal punishment because it
discouraged love of learning—in contrast to the practice in most
Roman primary schools of routinely striking children with a cane
(ferula) or birch rod for being slow or disruptive.
Pompeii depicting the Academy of Plato
At the age of 14, upperclass males made their rite of passage into
adulthood, and began to learn leadership roles in political,
religious, and military life through mentoring from a senior member of
their family or a family friend. Higher education was provided by
grammatici or rhetores. The grammaticus or "grammarian" taught
mainly Greek and
Latin literature, with history, geography, philosophy
or mathematics treated as explications of the text. With the rise
of Augustus, contemporary
Latin authors such as
became part of the curriculum. The rhetor was a teacher of
oratory or public speaking. The art of speaking (ars dicendi) was
highly prized as a marker of social and intellectual superiority, and
eloquentia ("speaking ability, eloquence") was considered the "glue"
of a civilized society. Rhetoric was not so much a body of
knowledge (though it required a command of references to the literary
canon) as it was a mode of expression and decorum that
distinguished those who held social power. The ancient model of
rhetorical training—"restraint, coolness under pressure, modesty,
and good humour"—endured into the 18th century as a Western
In Latin, illiteratus (Greek agrammatos) could mean both "unable to
read and write" and "lacking in cultural awareness or
sophistication." Higher education promoted career advancement,
particularly for an equestrian in Imperial service: "eloquence and
learning were considered marks of a well-bred man and worthy of
reward". The poet Horace, for instance, was given a top-notch
education by his father, a prosperous former slave.
Urban elites throughout the
Empire shared a literary culture embued
with Greek educational ideals (paideia). Hellenistic cities
sponsored schools of higher learning as an expression of cultural
achievement. Young men from
Rome who wished to pursue the highest
levels of education often went abroad to study rhetoric and
philosophy, mostly to one of several Greek schools in Athens. The
curriculum in the East was more likely to include music and physical
training along with literacy and numeracy. On the Hellenistic
Vespasian endowed chairs of grammar,
Latin and Greek rhetoric,
and philosophy at Rome, and gave teachers special exemptions from
taxes and legal penalties, though primary schoolmasters did not
receive these benefits.
Quintilian held the first chair of
grammar. In the eastern empire,
Berytus (present-day Beirut)
was unusual in offering a
Latin education, and became famous for its
school of Roman law. The cultural movement known as the Second
Sophistic (1st–3rd century AD) promoted the assimilation of Greek
and Roman social, educational, and aesthetic values, and the Greek
proclivities for which
Nero had been criticized were regarded from the
Hadrian onward as integral to Imperial culture.
Portrait of a literary woman from
Pompeii (ca. 50 AD)
Literate women ranged from cultured aristocrats to girls trained to be
calligraphers and scribes. The "girlfriends" addressed in
Augustan love poetry, although fictional, represent an ideal that a
desirable woman should be educated, well-versed in the arts, and
independent to a frustrating degree. Education seems to have
been standard for daughters of the senatorial and equestrian orders
during the Empire. A highly educated wife was an asset for the
socially ambitious household, but one that
Martial regards as an
The woman who achieved the greatest prominence in the ancient world
for her learning was Hypatia of Alexandria, who educated young men in
mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy, and advised the Roman prefect
of Egypt on politics. Her influence put her into conflict with the
bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, who may have been implicated in her
violent death in 415 at the hands of a Christian mob.
Decline of literacy
Literacy began to decline, perhaps dramatically, during the
socio-political Crisis of the Third Century. Although the Church
Fathers were well-educated, they regarded Classical literature as
dangerous, if valuable, and reconstrued it through moralizing and
allegorical readings. Julian, the only emperor after the conversion of
Constantine to reject Christianity, banned Christians from teaching
the Classical curriculum, on the grounds that they might corrupt the
minds of youth.
While the book roll had emphasized the continuity of the text, the
codex format encouraged a "piecemeal" approach to reading by means of
citation, fragmented interpretation, and the extraction of
maxims. In the 5th and 6th centuries, reading became rarer even
for those within the Church hierarchy.
See also: Roman historiography, Church Fathers, and
Statue in Constanța, Romania (the ancient colony Tomis),
commemorating Ovid's exile
In the traditional literary canon, literature under Augustus, along
with that of the late Republic, has been viewed as the "Golden Age" of
Latin literature, embodying the classical ideals of "unity of the
whole, the proportion of the parts, and the careful articulation of an
apparently seamless composition." The three most influential
Latin poets—Vergil, Horace, and Ovid—belong to this
Vergil wrote the Aeneid, creating a national epic for
the manner of the
Homeric epics of Greece.
Horace perfected the use of
Greek lyric metres in
Latin verse. Ovid's erotic poetry was enormously
popular, but ran afoul of the Augustan moral programme; it was one of
the ostensible causes for which the emperor exiled him to Tomis
(present-day Constanța, Romania), where he remained to the end of his
Metamorphoses was a continuous poem of fifteen books
Greco-Roman mythology from the creation of the
universe to the deification of Julius Caesar. Ovid's versions of Greek
myths became one of the primary sources of later classical mythology,
and his work was so influential in the
Middle Ages that the 12th and
13th centuries have been called the "Age of Ovid."
Latin prose author of the Augustan age is the historian
Livy, whose account of Rome's founding and early history became the
most familiar version in modern-era literature. Vitruvius's book De
Architectura, the only complete work on architecture to survive from
antiquity, also belongs to this period.
Latin writers were immersed in the Greek literary tradition, and
adapted its forms and much of its content, but Romans regarded satire
as a genre in which they surpassed the Greeks.
Horace wrote verse
satires before fashioning himself as an Augustan court poet, and the
Principate also produced the satirists
Persius and Juvenal. The
Juvenal offers a lively curmudgeon's perspective on urban
The period from the mid-
1st century through the mid-2nd century has
conventionally been called the "Silver Age" of
Latin literature. Under
Nero, disillusioned writers reacted to Augustanism. The three
leading writers—Seneca the philosopher, dramatist, and tutor of
Nero; Lucan, his nephew, who turned
Caesar's civil war
Caesar's civil war into an epic
poem; and the novelist
Petronius (Satyricon)—all committed suicide
after incurring the emperor's displeasure. Seneca and
Lucan were from
Hispania, as was the later epigrammatist and keen social observer
Martial, who expressed his pride in his Celtiberian heritage.
Martial and the epic poet Statius, whose poetry collection
a far-reaching influence on
Renaissance literature, wrote during
the reign of Domitian.
The so-called "Silver Age" produced several distinguished writers,
including the encyclopedist Pliny the Elder; his nephew, known as
Pliny the Younger; and the historian Tacitus. The Natural History of
the elder Pliny, who died during disaster relief efforts in the wake
of the eruption of Vesuvius, is a vast collection on flora and fauna,
gems and minerals, climate, medicine, freaks of nature, works of art,
and antiquarian lore. Tacitus's reputation as a literary artist
matches or exceeds his value as a historian; his stylistic
experimentation produced "one of the most powerful of
The Twelve Caesars
The Twelve Caesars by his contemporary
Suetonius is one
of the primary sources for imperial biography.
Among Imperial historians who wrote in Greek are Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, the Jewish historian Josephus, and the senator Cassius
Dio. Other major Greek authors of the
Empire include the biographer
and antiquarian Plutarch, the geographer Strabo, and the rhetorician
and satirist Lucian. Popular Greek romance novels were part of the
development of long-form fiction works, represented in
Latin by the
The Golden Ass
The Golden Ass of Apuleius.
From the 2nd to the 4th centuries, the Christian authors who would
Church Fathers were in active dialogue with the
Classical tradition, within which they had been educated. Tertullian,
a convert to
Christianity from Roman Africa, was the contemporary of
Apuleius and one of the earliest prose authors to establish a
distinctly Christian voice. After the conversion of Constantine, Latin
literature is dominated by the Christian perspective. When the
orator Symmachus argued for the preservation of Rome's religious
traditions, he was effectively opposed by Ambrose, the bishop of Milan
and future saint—a debate preserved by their missives.
Brescia Casket, an ivory box with Biblical imagery (late 4th century)
In the late 4th century,
Jerome produced the
Latin translation of the
Bible that became authoritative as the Vulgate. Augustine, another of
Church Fathers from the province of Africa, has been called "one
of the most influential writers of western culture", and his
Confessions is sometimes considered the first autobiography of Western
literature. In The City of God against the Pagans,
Augustine builds a
vision of an eternal, spiritual Rome, a new imperium sine fine that
will outlast the collapsing Empire.
In contrast to the unity of Classical Latin, the literary aesthetic of
late antiquity has a tessellated quality that has been compared to the
mosaics characteristic of the period. A continuing interest in
the religious traditions of
Rome prior to Christian dominion is found
into the 5th century, with the
Macrobius and The
Marriage of Philology and Mercury of Martianus Capella. Prominent
Latin poets of late antiquity include Ausonius, Prudentius, Claudian,
Ausonius (d. ca. 394), the Bordelaise tutor of the
emperor Gratian, was at least nominally a Christian, though throughout
his occasionally obscene mixed-genre poems, he retains a literary
interest in the Greco-Roman gods and even druidism. The imperial
Claudian (d. 404) was a vir illustris who appears never to
Prudentius (d. ca. 413), born in Hispania
Tarraconensis and a fervent Christian, was thoroughly versed in the
poets of the Classical tradition, and transforms their vision of
poetry as a monument of immortality into an expression of the poet's
quest for eternal life culminating in Christian salvation.
Sidonius (d. 486), a native of Lugdunum, was a Roman senator and
bishop of Clermont who cultivated a traditional villa lifestyle as he
watched the Western empire succumb to barbarian incursions. His poetry
and collected letters offer a unique view of life in late Roman Gaul
from the perspective of a man who "survived the end of his
A Roman priest, his head ritually covered with a fold of his toga,
extends a patera in a gesture of libation (2nd–3rd century)
Main articles: Religion in ancient
Rome and Imperial cult (ancient
See also: History of the Jews in the Roman Empire, Early Christianity,
and Religious persecution in the Roman Empire
The Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem, from a Western religious
Religion in the Roman
Empire encompassed the practices and beliefs the
Romans regarded as their own, as well as the many cults imported to
Rome or practised by peoples throughout the provinces. The Romans
thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their
success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in
maintaining good relations with the gods (pax deorum). The archaic
religion believed to have been handed down from the earliest kings of
Rome was the foundation of the mos maiorum, "the way of the ancestors"
or "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity. There was no
principle analogous to "separation of church and state". The
priesthoods of the state religion were filled from the same social
pool of men who held public office, and in the Imperial era, the
Pontifex Maximus was the emperor.
Roman religion was practical and contractual, based on the principle
of do ut des, "I give that you might give." Religion depended on
knowledge and the correct practice of prayer, ritual, and sacrifice,
not on faith or dogma, although
Latin literature preserves learned
speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human
affairs. For ordinary Romans, religion was a part of daily life.
Each home had a household shrine at which prayers and libations to the
family's domestic deities were offered. Neighbourhood shrines and
sacred places such as springs and groves dotted the city. Apuleius
(2nd century) described the everyday quality of religion in observing
how people who passed a cult place might make a vow or a fruit
offering, or merely sit for a while. The
Roman calendar was
structured around religious observances. In the Imperial era, as many
as 135 days of the year were devoted to religious festivals and games
(ludi). Women, slaves, and children all participated in a range
of religious activities.
In the wake of the Republic's collapse, state religion had adapted to
support the new regime of the emperors. As the first Roman emperor,
Augustus justified the novelty of one-man rule with a vast programme
of religious revivalism and reform. Public vows formerly made for the
security of the republic now were directed at the wellbeing of the
emperor. So-called "emperor worship" expanded on a grand scale the
traditional Roman veneration of the ancestral dead and of the Genius,
the divine tutelary of every individual. Upon death, an emperor could
be made a state divinity (divus) by vote of the Senate. Imperial cult,
influenced by Hellenistic ruler cult, became one of the major ways
Rome advertised its presence in the provinces and cultivated shared
cultural identity and loyalty throughout the Empire. Cultural
precedent in the Eastern provinces facilitated a rapid dissemination
of Imperial cult, extending as far as the Augustan military settlement
at Najran, in present-day Saudi Arabia. Rejection of the state
religion became tantamount to treason against the emperor. This was
the context for Rome's conflict with Christianity, which Romans
variously regarded as a form of atheism and novel superstitio.
Statuettes representing Roman and Gallic deities, for personal
devotion at private shrines
The Romans are known for the great number of deities they honoured, a
capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists.[n 21]
As the Romans extended their dominance throughout the Mediterranean
world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of
other peoples rather than try to eradicate them.[n 22] One way that
Rome promoted stability among diverse peoples was by supporting their
religious heritage, building temples to local deities that framed
their theology within the hierarchy of Roman religion. Inscriptions
Empire record the side-by-side worship of local and
Roman deities, including dedications made by Romans to local
gods. By the height of the Empire, numerous cults
of pseudo-foreign gods (Roman reinventions of foreign gods) were
Rome and in the provinces, among them cults of Cybele,
Isis, Epona, and of solar gods such as
Mithras and Sol Invictus, found
as far north as Roman Britain. Because Romans had never been obligated
to cultivate one god or one cult only, religious tolerance was not an
issue in the sense that it is for competing monotheistic systems.
Mystery religions, which offered initiates salvation in the afterlife,
were a matter of personal choice for an individual, practised in
addition to carrying on one's family rites and participating in public
religion. The mysteries, however, involved exclusive oaths and
secrecy, conditions that conservative Romans viewed with suspicion as
characteristic of "magic", conspiracy (coniuratio), and subversive
activity. Sporadic and sometimes brutal attempts were made to suppress
religionists who seemed to threaten traditional morality and unity. In
Gaul, the power of the druids was checked, first by forbidding Roman
citizens to belong to the order, and then by banning druidism
altogether. At the same time, however, Celtic traditions were
reinterpreted (interpretatio romana) within the context of Imperial
theology, and a new
Gallo-Roman religion coalesced, with its capital
Sanctuary of the Three Gauls
Sanctuary of the Three Gauls in
Lugdunum (present-day Lyon,
France). The sanctuary established precedent for Western cult as a
form of Roman-provincial identity.
This funerary stele from the 3rd century is among the earliest
Christian inscriptions, written in both Greek and Latin: the
abbreviation D.M. at the top refers to the Di Manes, the traditional
Roman spirits of the dead, but accompanies Christian fish symbolism.
Relief from the
Rome depicting a menorah and other
spoils from the Temple of Jerusalem carried in Roman triumph.
The monotheistic rigour of
Judaism posed difficulties for Roman policy
that led at times to compromise and the granting of special
Tertullian noted that the Jewish religion, unlike that of
the Christians, was considered a religio licita, "legitimate
religion." Wars between the Romans and the Jews occurred when
conflict, political as well as religious, became intractable. When
Caligula wanted to place a golden statue of his deified self in the
Temple in Jerusalem, the potential sacrilege and likely war were
prevented only by his timely death. The Siege of Jerusalem in 70
AD led to the sacking of the temple and the dispersal of Jewish
political power (see Jewish diaspora).
Christianity emerged in Roman Judea as a Jewish religious sect in the
1st century AD. The religion gradually spread out of Jerusalem,
initially establishing major bases in first Antioch, then Alexandria,
and over time throughout the
Empire as well as beyond. Imperially
authorized persecutions were limited and sporadic, with martyrdoms
occurring most often under the authority of local
The first persecution by an emperor occurred under Nero, and was
confined to the city of Rome.
Tacitus reports that after the Great
Rome in AD 64, some among the population held Nero
responsible and that the emperor attempted to deflect blame onto the
Christians. After Nero, a major persecution occurred under the
emperor Domitian and a persecution in 177 took place at
Lugdunum, the Gallo-Roman religious capital. A surviving letter from
Pliny the Younger, governor of Bythinia, to the emperor Trajan
describes his persecution and executions of Christians. The
Decian persecution of 246–251 was a serious threat to the Church,
but ultimately strengthened Christian defiance. Diocletian
undertook what was to be the most severe persecution of Christians,
lasting from 303 to 311.
In the early 4th century,
Constantine I became the first emperor to
convert to Christianity. During the rest of the fourth century
Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. The emperor
Julian made a short-lived attempt to revive traditional and
Hellenistic religion and to affirm the special status of Judaism, but
in 380 (Edict of Thessalonica), under
the official state church of the Roman Empire, to the exclusion of all
others. From the 2nd century onward, the
Church Fathers had begun to
condemn the diverse religions practised throughout the Empire
collectively as "pagan." Pleas for religious tolerance from
traditionalists such as the senator Symmachus (d. 402) were rejected,
and Christian monotheism became a feature of Imperial domination.
Christian heretics as well as non-Christians were subject to exclusion
from public life or persecution, but Rome's original religious
hierarchy and many aspects of its ritual influenced Christian
forms, and many pre-Christian beliefs and practices survived
in Christian festivals and local traditions.
Main article: Legacy of the Roman Empire
Several states claimed to be the Roman Empire's successors after the
fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire, an attempt to
Empire in the West, was established in 800 when Pope
Leo III crowned Frankish King
Roman Emperor on
Christmas Day, though the empire and the imperial office did not
become formalized for some decades. After the fall of Constantinople,
the Russian Tsardom, as inheritor of the Byzantine Empire's Orthodox
Christian tradition, counted itself the Third
having been the second). These concepts are known as Translatio
When the Ottomans, who based their state on the Byzantine model, took
Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II established his capital there
and claimed to sit on the throne of the Roman Empire. He even
went so far as to launch an invasion of Italy with the purpose of
Empire and invited European artists to his capital,
including Gentile Bellini.
In the medieval West, "Roman" came to mean the church and the Pope of
Rome. The Greek form
Romaioi remained attached to the Greek-speaking
Christian population of the Eastern Roman Empire, and is still used by
Greeks in addition to their common appellation.
The Roman Empire's territorial legacy of controlling the Italian
peninsula would influence
Italian nationalism and the unification of
Italy (Risorgimento) in 1861.
Virginia State Capitol
Virginia State Capitol (left), built in the late 1700s, was
modelled after the Maison Carrée, a Gallo-Roman temple built around
16 BC under Augustus
In the United States, the founders were educated in the classical
tradition, and used classical models for landmarks and buildings
in Washington, D.C., to avoid the feudal and religious connotations of
European architecture such as castles and
cathedrals. In forming their theory
of the mixed constitution, the founders looked to Athenian democracy
and Roman republicanism for models, but regarded the
Roman emperor as
a figure of tyranny. They nonetheless adopted Roman Imperial
forms such as the dome, as represented by the US Capitol and numerous
state capitol buildings, to express classical ideals through
Thomas Jefferson saw the
Empire as a negative
political lesson, but was a chief proponent of its architectural
models. Jefferson's design for the Virginia State Capitol, for
instance, is modelled directly from the Maison Carrée, a Gallo-Roman
temple built under Augustus. The renovations
National Mall at the beginning of the 20th century have been
viewed as expressing a more overt imperialist kinship with
Classical Civilisation portal
Ancient Near East portal
Daqin ("Great Qin"), the ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire;
see also Sino-Roman relations
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
^ Other ways of referring to the "Roman Empire" among the Romans and
Greeks themselves included
Res publica Romana or
(also in Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων – Basileía
tôn Rhōmaíōn – ["Dominion (Literally 'kingdom' but also
interpreted as 'empire') of the Romans"]) and Romania. Res publica
means Roman "commonwealth" and can refer to both the Republican and
the Imperial eras.
Imperium Romanum (or "Romanorum") refers to the
territorial extent of Roman authority. Populus Romanus ("the Roman
people") was/is often used to indicate the Roman state in matters
involving other nations. The term Romania, initially a colloquial term
for the empire's territory as well as a collective name for its
inhabitants, appears in Greek and
Latin sources from the 4th century
onward and was eventually carried over to the Eastern Roman Empire
(see R. L. Wolff, "Romania: The
Latin Empire of Constantinople" in
Speculum 23 (1948), pp. 1–34 and especially pp. 2–3).
^ Between 1204 and 1261 there was an interregnum when the
divided into the
Empire of Nicaea, the
Empire of Trebizond
Empire of Trebizond and the
Despotate of Epirus, which were all contenders for rule of the Empire.
Empire of Nicaea
Empire of Nicaea is considered the legitimate continuation of the
Empire because it managed to re-take Constantinople.
^ The final emperor to rule over all of the Roman Empire's territories
before its conversion to a diarchy.
^ Officially the final emperor of the Western empire.
^ Last emperor of the Eastern (Byzantine) empire.
^ Abbreviated "HS". Prices and values are usually expressed in
sesterces; see #Currency and banking for currency denominations by
^ An average of figures from different sources as listed at the US
Census Bureau's Historical Estimates of World Population Archived
2013-10-13 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Translated as "power without end" in Southern
Prudentius (348–413) in particular Christianizes the theme in his
poetry, as noted by Marc Mastrangelo, The Roman Self in Late
Prudentius and the Poetics of the Soul (Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2008), pp. 73, 203. St. Augustine, however,
distinguished between the secular and eternal "Rome" in The City of
God. See also J. Rufus Fears, "The Cult of Jupiter and Roman Imperial
Ideology," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.17.1 (1981),
p. 136, on how Classical Roman ideology influenced Christian Imperial
doctrine; Bang, Peter Fibiger (2011) "The King of Kings: Universal
Hegemony, Imperial Power, and a New Comparative History of Rome," in
Empire in Context: Historical and Comparative Perspectives.
John Wiley & Sons; and the Greek concept of globalism
^ The civis ("citizen") stands in explicit contrast to a peregrina, a
foreign or non-Roman woman:
A.N. Sherwin-White (1979) Roman
Citizenship. Oxford University Press. pp. 211 and 268; Frier, pp.
31–32, 457. In the form of legal marriage called conubium, the
father's legal status determined the child's, but conubium required
that both spouses be free citizens. A soldier, for instance, was
banned from marrying while in service, but if he formed a long-term
union with a local woman while stationed in the provinces, he could
marry her legally after he was discharged, and any children they had
would be considered the offspring of citizens—in effect granting the
woman retroactive citizenship. The ban was in place from the time of
Augustus until it was rescinded by
Septimius Severus in 197 AD. See
Sara Elise Phang, The Marriage of Roman Soldiers (13 B.C.–A.D. 235):
Law and Family in the Imperial Army (Brill, 2001), p. 2, and Pat
Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History (Oxford
University Press, 2006), p. 144.
^ That is, a double standard was in place: a married woman could have
sex only with her husband, but a married man did not commit adultery
if he had sex with a prostitute, slave, or person of marginalized
status. See McGinn, Thomas A. J. (1991). "Concubinage and the Lex
Iulia on Adultery". Transactions of the American Philological
Association (1974–). 121: 335–375 (342). doi:10.2307/284457.
JSTOR 284457. ;
Martha C. Nussbaum
Martha C. Nussbaum (2002) "The Incomplete
Feminism of Musonius Rufus, Platonist, Stoic, and Roman," in The Sleep
of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and
Rome. University of Chicago Press. p. 305, noting that custom "allowed
much latitude for personal negotiation and gradual social change";
Elaine Fantham, "Stuprum: Public Attitudes and Penalties for Sexual
Offences in Republican Rome," in Roman Readings: Roman Response to
Greek Literature from
Quintilian (Walter de
Gruyter, 2011), p. 124, citing Papinian, De adulteriis I and
Modestinus, Liber Regularum I. Eva Cantarella, Bisexuality in the
Ancient World (Yale University Press, 1992, 2002, originally published
1988 in Italian), p. 104; Edwards, pp. 34–35.
^ The relation of the equestrian order to the "public horse" and Roman
cavalry parades and demonstrations (such as the Lusus Troiae) is
complex, but those who participated in the latter seem, for instance,
to have been the equites who were accorded the high-status (and quite
limited) seating at the theatre by the Lex Roscia theatralis. Senators
could not possess the "public horse." See Wiseman, pp. 78–79.
^ Ancient Gades, in Roman Spain, and Patavium, in the Celtic north of
Italy, were atypically wealthy cities, and having 500 equestrians in
one city was unusual.
Strabo 3.169, 5.213
^ Vout, p. 212. The college of centonarii is an elusive topic in
scholarship, since they are also widely attested as urban
firefighters; see Jinyu Liu (2009) Collegia Centonariorum: The Guilds
of Textile Dealers in the Roman West. Brill. Liu sees them as
"primarily tradesmen and/or manufacturers engaged in the production
and distribution of low- or medium-quality woolen textiles and
clothing, including felt and its products."
Julius Caesar first applied the
Latin word oppidum to this type of
settlement, and even called
Avaricum (Bourges, France), a center of
the Bituriges, an urbs, "city." Archaeology indicates that oppida were
centers of religion, trade (including import/export), and industrial
production, walled for the purposes of defense, but they may not have
been inhabited by concentrated populations year-round: see Harding,
D.W. (2007) The Archaeology of Celtic Art. Routledge. pp. 211–212.
ISBN 113426464X; Collis, John (2000) "'Celtic' Oppida," in A
Comparative Study of Thirty City-state Cultures. Danske Videnskabernes
Selskab. pp. 229–238; Celtic Chiefdom, Celtic State: The Evolution
of Complex Social Systems. Cambridge University Press, 1995, 1999, p.
^ Such as the
Consualia and the
October Horse sacrifice: Humphrey, pp.
544, 558; Auguste Bouché-Leclercq, Manuel des Institutions Romaines
(Hachette, 1886), p. 549; "Purificazione," in Thesaurus Cultus et
Rituum Antiquorum (LIMC, 2004), p. 83.
^ Scholars are divided in their relative emphasis on the athletic and
dance elements of these exercises: Lee, H. (1984). "Athletics and the
Bikini Girls from Piazza Armerina". Stadion. 10: 45–75. sees
them as gymnasts, while M. Torelli, "Piazza Armerina: Note di
iconologia", in La Villa romana del Casale di Piazza Armerina, edited
by G. Rizza (Catania, 1988), p. 152, thinks they are dancers at the
^ By Michael Rostovtzeff, as noted by Robin M. Jensen (1999) "The
Dura-Europos Synagogue, Early-Christian Art and Religious Life in Dura
Europos," in Jews, Christians and Polytheists in the Ancient
Synagogue: Cultural Interaction during the Greco-Roman Period.
Routledge. p. 154.
^ Political slogans and obscenities are widely preserved as graffiti
in Pompeii: Antonio Varone, Erotica Pompeiana: Love Inscriptions on
the Walls of
Pompeii ("L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 2002). Soldiers
sometimes inscribed sling bullets with aggressive messages: Phang,
"Military Documents, Languages, and Literacy," p. 300.
^ Bloomer, W. Martin (2011) The School of Rome:
Latin Studies and the
Origins of Liberal Education (University of California Press, 2011),
pp. 93–99; Morgan, Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman
Worlds, p. 250.
Quintilian uses the metaphor acuere ingenium, "to
sharpen talent," as well as agricultural metaphors.
^ For an overview of the representation of Roman religion in early
Christian authors, see R.P.C. Hanson, "The Christian Attitude to Pagan
Religions up to the Time of Constantine the Great," and Carlos A.
Contreras, "Christian Views of Paganism," in Aufstieg und Niedergang
der römischen Welt II.23.1 (1980) 871–1022.
^ "This mentality," notes John T. Koch, "lay at the core of the genius
of cultural assimilation which made the Roman
Empire possible"; entry
on "Interpretatio romana," in Celtic Culture: A Historical
Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio, 2006), p. 974.
^ Bennett, Julian (1997). Trajan: Optimus Princeps : a Life and
Times. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16524-2. . Fig. 1. Regions
east of the
Euphrates river were held only in the years 116–117.
^ a b c d Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires:
Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D". Social Science History.
Duke University Press. 3 (3/4): 125. doi:10.2307/1170959.
^ Durand, John D. (1977). "Historical Estimates of World Population:
An Evaluation". Population and Development Review. 3 (3): 253.
doi:10.2307/1971891. JSTOR 1971891.
^ a b Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (2006).
"East-West Orientation of Historical Empires" (PDF). Journal of
world-systems research. 12 (2): 222. ISSN 1076-156X. Retrieved 6
^ Morris, Ian (October 2010) Social Development. Stanford University
^ Morris, Ian (2010) Why the West Rules—For Now, New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-29002-3.
^ Kremer, M. (1993). "Population Growth and Technological Change: One
Million B.C. To 1990" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 108
(3): 681–716. doi:10.2307/2118405. JSTOR 2118405.
^ Stillman, Norman A. (1979) The Jews of Arab Lands. Jewish
Publication Society. p. 22. ISBN 0827611552
^ Breasted, J.H. Ancient Times a History of the Early World.
Рипол Классик. p. 675. ISBN 117400312X
^ Sullivan (1990), pp. 323–325.
^ Mommsen (2005), pp. 312–314, 314 footnote 1
^ Huzar (1978), pp. 230–231
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North-West Spain, II: Workings on the Rio Duerna". Journal of Roman
Studies. 62: 59. doi:10.2307/298927. JSTOR 298927.
^ Ritti, Tullia; Grewe, Klaus; Kessener, Paul (2007). "A
Relief of a
Water-powered Stone Saw Mill on a
Sarcophagus at Hierapolis and its
Implications". Journal of Roman Archaeology. 20: 138–163 (156, fn.
^ a b Potter (2009), p. 192.
^ a b c Rehak, Paul (2006)
Imperium and Cosmos:
Augustus and the
Northern Campus Martius. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 4–8.
^ Stambaugh, pp. 23ff. and 244
^ Raja, Rubina (2012) Urban Development and Regional Identity in the
Eastern Roman Provinces 50 BC–AD 250. Museum Tusculanum Press. pp.
^ Sperber, Daniel (1998) The City in Roman Palestine. Oxford
^ Stambaugh, pp. 252–253
^ a b Longfellow, Brenda (2011) Roman Imperialism and Civic Patronage:
Form, Meaning and Ideology in Monumental Fountain Complexes. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0521194938
^ Millar, p. 79.
^ Potter (2009), pp. 185–186.
^ Tertullian, De anima 30.3 (ubique domus, ubique populus, ubique
respublica, ubique uita), as cited and framed in Potter (2009), p.
^ Millar, pp. 76ff.
^ Jones, Mark Wilson (2000) Principles of Roman Architecture. New
Haven: Yale University Press.
^ Evans, Harry B. (1994) Water Distribution in Ancient Rome,
University of Michigan Press. pp. 9–10.
^ Peachin, p. 366.
^ a b Fagan, Garrett G. (2001). "The Genesis of the Roman Public Bath:
Recent Approaches and Future Directions" (PDF). American Journal of
Archaeology. 105 (3): 403. doi:10.2307/507363.
^ Ward, Roy Bowen (1992). "Women in Roman Baths". Harvard Theological
Review. 85 (2): 125–147. doi:10.1017/S0017816000028820.
^ Clarke, pp. 1–2.
^ Clarke, pp. 11–12.
^ Clarke, p. 2.
^ Stambaugh, pp. 144, 147
^ Clarke, pp. 12, 17, 22ff.
^ Taylor, Rabun (2005). "Roman Oscilla: An Assessment". Res:
Anthropology and aesthetics. 48: 83–105.
doi:10.1086/RESv48n1ms20167679. JSTOR 20167679.
^ Gazda, Elaine K. (1991) "Introduction", in Roman Art in the Private
Sphere: Architecture and Décor of the Domus, Villa, and Insula.
University of Michigan Press. p. 9. ISBN 047210196X.
^ a b Clarke, p. 19.
^ Jashemski, Wilhelmina Feemster; Meyer, Frederick G. (2002). The
Natural History of Pompeii. Cambridge University Press.
^ Horace, Satire 2.6
^ Holzberg, Niklas (2002) The Ancient Fable: An Introduction. Indiana
University Press. p. 35
^ Bovie, Smith Palmer (2002) Introduction to Horace. Satires and
Epistles. University of Chicago Press. pp. 92–93.
^ a b c d e f g Morris, p. 191.
^ Boardman, p. 679.
^ Morris, pp. 195–196.
^ Morris, p. 191, reckoning that the surplus of wheat from the
province of Egypt alone could meet and exceed the needs of the city of
Rome and the provincial armies.
^ Wiseman, T. P. (2012). "The Census in the First Century B.C".
Journal of Roman Studies. 59: 59. doi:10.2307/299848.
^ Keane, Catherine (2006) Figuring Genre in Roman Satire. Oxford
University Press. p. 36
^ Köhne, Eckhart (2000) "Bread and Circuses: The Politics of
Entertainment," in Gladiators and Caesars: The Power of Spectacle in
Ancient Rome. University of California Press. p. 8.
^ Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81.
^ Stambaugh, pp. 144, 178
^ Hinds, Kathryn (2010) Everyday Life in the Roman Empire. Marshall
Cavendish. p. 90.
^ Holleran, p. 136ff.
^ Gagarin, p. 299.
^ Faas, Patrick (1994, 2005) Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting
in Ancient Rome. University of Chicago Press. p. 29.
^ a b Boardman, p. 681.
^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History 19.83–84; Emily Gowers, The
Loaded Table: Representation of Food in Roman Literature (Oxford
University Press, 1993, 2003), p. 17
^ Gagarin, p. 198.
^ Stambaugh, p. 144.
^ Holleran, pp. 136–137.
^ Holleran, pp. 134–135.
^ Stambaugh, p. 146
^ Holleran, p. 134.
^ Grant, Mark (2000)
Galen on Food and Diet. Routledge. pp. 7, 11.
^ Potter (2009), p. 354.
^ Potter (2009), p. 356.
^ Roller, Matthew B. (2006) Dining Posture in Ancient Rome. Princeton
University Press. p. 96ff.
^ Potter (2009), p. 359.
^ Alcock, Joan P. (2006) Food in the Ancient World. Greenwood Press.
^ Donahue, John (2004) The Roman Community at Table during the
Principate. University of Michigan Press. p. 9.
^ Cathy K. Kaufman, "Remembrance of Meals Past: Cooking by Apicius'
Book," in Food and the Memory: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on
Food and Cooker p. 125ff.
^ Suetonius, Life of Vitellius 13.2; Gowers, The Loaded Table, p. 20.
^ Gagarin, p. 201.
Germania 23; Gowers, The Loaded Table, p. 18.
^ a b c Flandrin, Jean Louis; Montanari, Massimo (1999). Food: A
Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present. Columbia University
Press. pp. 165–167. ISBN 978-0-231-11154-6.
^ Potter (2009), pp. 365–366.
^ Bowersock, p. 455
^ Franklin, James L. Jr. (2001) Pompeis Difficile Est: Studies in the
Political Life of Imperial Pompeii. University of Michigan Press. p.
^ Laurence, Ray (2007) Roman Pompeii: Space and Society. Routledge. p.
173; recounted by Tacitus, Annals 14.17.
^ Mary Beard, J.A. North, and S.R.F. Price, Religions of Rome: A
History (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 66.
^ Dyson, p. 240.
^ Versnel, H.S. (1971) Triumphus: An Inquiry into the Origin,
Development and Meaning of the Roman Triumph. Brill. pp. 96–97.
^ Potter (1999), p. 242.
^ Potter (1999), pp. 235–236.
^ Potter (1999), pp. 223–224.
^ a b Potter (1999), p. 303.
^ a b c Humphrey, pp. 1–3.
^ Edmondson, p. 112.
^ Dyson, pp. 237, 239.
^ Edmondson, pp. 73–74, 106
^ Auguet, p. 54
^ McClelland, John (2007) Body and Mind: Sport in Europe from the
Empire to the Renaissance. Routledge. p. 67.
^ Dyson, pp. 238–239
^ a b Gagarin, p. 85
^ Humphrey, p. 461
^ McClelland, John (2007) Body and Mind: Sport in Europe from the
Empire to the Renaissance. Routledge. p. 61.
^ Thomas Wiedemann, Emperors and Gladiators (Routledge, 1992, 1995),
^ Humphrey, pp. 459, 461, 512, 630–631
^ Dyson, p. 237
^ Dyson, p. 238.
^ Potter (1999), p. 296
^ a b Dyson, pp. 238–239.
^ Humphrey, p. 238
^ Potter (1999), p. 299.
^ Humphrey, pp. 18–21
^ Gagarin, p. 84.
^ Auguet, pp. 131–132
^ Potter (1999), p. 237.
^ Auguet, p. 144
^ Dickie, Matthew (2001) Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World.
Routledge. pp. 282–287
^ Eva D'Ambra, "Racing with Death: Circus Sarcophagi and the
Commemoration of Children in Roman Italy" in Constructions of
Childhood in Ancient Greece and Italy (American School of Classical
Studies at Athens, 2007), pp. 348–349
^ Rüpke, p. 289.
^ Potter (2009), p. 354
^ a b Edwards, p. 59
^ a b Potter (1999), p. 305.
^ Cassio Dio 54.2.2;
Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Res Gestae Divi Augusti 22.1, 3
^ Edwards, p. 49
^ Edmondson, p. 70.
Cassius Dio 66.25
^ a b Edwards, p. 55
^ Edwards, p. 49.
^ Edwards, p. 50.
^ Potter (1999), p. 307
^ McClelland, Body and Mind, p. 66, citing also Marcus Junkelmann.
^ Edmondson, p. 73.
^ Tertullian, De spectaculis 12
^ Edwards, pp. 59–60
^ Potter (1999), p. 224.
^ McDonald, Marianne and Walton, J. Michael (2007) Introduction to The
Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre. Cambridge University
Press. p. 8.
^ Kyle, Donald G. (1998) Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome.
Routledge. p. 81
^ Edwards, p. 63.
^ Edwards, p. 52.
^ Edwards, pp. 66–67, 72.
^ Edwards, p. 212.
^ Bowersock, G.W. (1995) Martyrdom and Rome. Cambridge University
Press. pp. 25–26
^ Cavallo, p. 79
^ Huber-Rebenich, Gerlinde (1999) "Hagiographic Fiction as
Latin Fiction: The
Latin Novel in Context.
Routlege. pp. 158–178
^ Llewelyn, S.R. and Nobbs, A.M. (2002) "The Earliest Dated Reference
to Sunday in the Papyri," in New Documents Illustrating Early
Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 109
^ Hildebrandt, Henrik (2006) "Early
Christianity in Roman
Pannonia—Fact or Fiction?" in Studia Patristica: Papers Presented at
the Fourteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held in
Oxford 2003. Peeters. pp. 59–64
^ Ando, p. 382.
Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982, 1985
reprint), pp. 1048–1049
^ Habinek (2005), pp. 5, 143.
^ Rawson (2003), p. 128.
^ McDaniel, Walton Brooks (1906). "Some Passages concerning
Ball-Games". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological
Association. 37: 121. doi:10.2307/282704. JSTOR 282704.
^ Rawson (2003), pp. 129–130.
^ Eyben, Emiel (1977) Restless Youth in Ancient Rome. Routledge, pp.
^ Dunbabin, Katherine M.D. (1999) Mosaics of the Greek and Roman
World. Cambridge University Press. p. 133. ISBN 0521002303.
^ Hanson, Ann Ellis (1991) "The Restructuring of Female Physiology at
Rome," in Les écoles médicales à Rome. Université de Nantes. pp.
260, 264, particularly citing the Gynecology of Soranus.
^ a b Austin, R. G. (2009). "Roman Board Games. II". Greece and Rome.
4 (11): 76. doi:10.1017/S0017383500003119. JSTOR 640979.
^ Austin, R. G. (1934). "Roman Board Games. I". Greece and Rome. 4
(10): 24–34. doi:10.1017/s0017383500002941. JSTOR 641231.
^ Gagarin, p. 230.
^ a b c Coon, Lynda L. (1997) Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and
Hagiography in Late Antiquity. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp.
^ a b Vout, p. 216
^ a b c d e Bieber, Margarete (1959). "Roman Men in Greek Himation
(Romani Palliati) a Contribution to the History of Copying".
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 103 (3): 374–417.
^ Vout, p. 218.
^ Vout, pp. 204–220, especially pp. 206, 211
^ Métraux, Guy P.R. (2008) "Prudery and Chic in Late Antique
Clothing," in Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture. University
of Toronto Press. p. 286.
^ a b Gagarin, p. 231.
^ Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 11.3.137–149
^ Métraux, Guy P.R. (2008) "Prudery and Chic in Late Antique
Clothing," in Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture. University
of Toronto Press. pp. 282–283.
^ Cleland, Liza (2007) Greek and Roman Dress from A to Z. Routledge.
^ Modern copy of a 2nd-century original, from the Louvre.
^ Tertullian, De Pallio 5.2
^ Vout, p. 217.
^ Gagarin, p. 232.
^ D'Amato, Raffaele (2005) Roman Military Clothing (3) AD 400 to
640. Osprey. pp. 7–9. ISBN 184176843X.
^ Wickham, Chris (2009) The Inheritance of Rome. Penguin Books. p.
106. ISBN 978-0-670-02098-0
^ Kousser, p. 1
^ Potter (2009), pp. 75–76.
^ Potter (2009), pp. 82–83.
^ Gazda, Elaine K. (1991) "Introduction", in Roman Art in the Private
Sphere: Architecture and Décor of the Domus, Villa, and Insula.
University of Michigan Press. pp. 1–3. ISBN 047210196X.
^ Paul Zanker, Pompeii: Public and Private Life, translated by Deborah
Lucas Schneider (Harvard University Press, 1998, originally published
1995 in German), p. 189.
^ Kousser, pp. 4–5, 8.
^ Gagarin, pp. 312–313.
^ Toynbee, J. M. C. (December 1971). "Roman Art". The Classical
Review. 21 (3): 439–442. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00221331.
^ Zanker, Paul (1988) The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus.
University of Michigan Press. p. 5ff.
^ Gagarin, p. 451.
^ Fejfer, Jane (2008) Roman Portraits in Context. Walter de Gruyter.
^ Gagarin, p. 453.
^ Mattusch, Carol C. (2005) The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum: Life
and Afterlife of a Sculpture Collection. Getty Publications. p. 322.
^ Kousser, p. 13
^ Strong, Donald (1976, 1988) Roman Art. Yale University Press. 2nd
ed., p. 11.
^ Gagarin, pp. 274–275.
^ Gagarin, p. 242.
^ Kleiner, Fred S. (2007) A History of Roman Art. Wadsworth. p. 272.
^ Newby, Zahra (2011) "Myth and Death: Roman Mythological Sarcophagi,"
in A Companion to Greek Mythology. Blackwell. p. 301.
^ Elsner, p. 1.
^ Elsner, p. 12.
^ Elsner, p. 14.
^ Elsner, pp. 1, 9.
^ Strong, D. E. (1972). "Review of Roman Painting". The Classical
Review. 22 (2): 259–261.
^ Hachlili, Rachel (1998) Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the
Diaspora. Brill. pp. 96ff.
^ Schreckenberg, Heinz and Schubert, Kurt (1991) Jewish Historiography
and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity. Fortress Press.
^ a b Gagarin, p. 463.
^ Gagarin, p. 459.
^ Gagarin, pp. 459–460.
^ Dunbabin, Katherine M.D. (1999) Mosaics of the Greek and Roman
World. Cambridge University Press. p. 254ff. ISBN 0521002303.
^ Gagarin, p. 202.
^ Butcher, Kevin (2003)
Roman Syria and the Near East. Getty
Publications. p. 201ff. ISBN 0892367156.
^ Bowman, p. 421.
^ Fantham, R. Elaine (1989). "Mime: The Missing Link in Roman Literary
History". The Classical World. 82 (3): 153. doi:10.2307/4350348.
^ Slater, William J. (2002). "Mime Problems:
Cicero Ad fam. 7.1 and
Martial 9.38". Phoenix. 56 (3/4): 315. doi:10.2307/1192603.
^ Potter (1999), p. 257.
Gian Biagio Conte (1994)
Latin Literature: A History. Johns Hopkins
University Press. p. 128.
^ Franklin, James L. (1987). "Pantomimists at Pompeii: Actius Anicetus
and His Troupe". The American Journal of Philology. 108: 95.
doi:10.2307/294916. JSTOR 294916.
^ Starks, John H. Jr. (2008) "Pantomime Actresses in Latin
Inscriptions," in New Directions in Ancient Pantomime. Oxford
University Press. p. 95; p. 14ff.
^ a b Naerebout, p. 146.
^ a b c d Ginsberg‐Klar, Maria E. (2010). "The archaeology of
musical instruments in Germany during the Roman period". World
Archaeology. 12 (3): 313. doi:10.1080/00438243.1981.9979806.
^ Habinek (2005), p. 90ff.
^ Naerebout, pp. 146ff.
^ Naerebout, pp. 154, 157.
^ Naerebout, pp. 156–157.
^ Richlin, Amy (1993). "Not before Homosexuality: The Materiality of
the cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men". Journal of
the History of Sexuality. 3 (4): 539–540. JSTOR 3704392.
^ Csapo, Eric and Slater, William J. (1994) The Context of Ancient
Drama. University of Michigan Press. p. 377.
^ MacMullen, Ramsay (1984) Christianizing the Roman Empire: (A. D.
100–400). Yale University Press. pp. 74–75, 84.
^ As quoted by Alcuin, Epistula 175 (Nescit homo, qui histriones et
mimos et saltatores introduct in domum suam, quam magna eos immundorum
sequitur turba spiritum)
^ Hen, Yitzhak (1995) Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, AD
481–751. Brill. p. 230.
^ Harris, p. 5
^ Johnson (2009), pp. 3–4
^ a b Kraus, T.J. (2000). "(Il)literacy in Non-Literary
Graeco-Roman Egypt: Further Aspects of the Educational Ideal in
Ancient Literary Sources and Modern Times". Mnemosyme. 53 (3):
322–342 (325–327). doi:10.1163/156852500510633.
^ Peachin, pp. 89, 97–98.
^ Mattern, Susan P. (1999)
Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in
the Principate. University of California Press. p. 197
^ a b Morgan, Teresa (1998) Literate Education in the Hellenistic and
Roman Worlds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–2
^ Johnson (2009), pp. 46ff.
^ Peachin, p. 97.
Clifford Ando poses the question as "what good would 'posted edicts'
do in a world of low literacy?' in Ando, p. 101 (see also p. 87 on
"the government's obsessive documentation").
^ Ando, pp. 86–87.
^ Ando, p. 101
^ Ando, pp. 152, 210.
^ Beard, Mary (1991) "Ancient Literacy and the Written Word in Roman
Religion," in Literacy in the Roman World. University of Michigan
Press. p. 59ff
^ Dickie, Matthew (2001) Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World.
Routledge. pp. pp. 94–95, 181–182, and 196
^ Potter (2009), p. 555
^ Harris, pp. 29, 218–219.
^ Phang, Sara Elise (2011) "Military Documents, Languages, and
Literacy," in A Companion to the Roman Army. Blackwell. pp. 286–301.
Rome and the Enemy, p. 197, citing Harris, pp. 253–255.
^ Harris, pp. 9, 48, 215, 248, 258–269
^ Johnson (2009), pp. 47, 54, 290ff.
Rome and the Enemy, p. 197
^ Gagarin, pp. 19–20.
^ a b Johnson (2010), pp. 17–18.
^ Martial, Epigrams 1.2 and 14.184–92, as cited by Johnson (2010),
^ Cavallo, pp. 83–84.
^ Cavallo, pp. 84–85.
^ Cavallo, p. 84.
^ a b c Marshall, p. 253.
^ Cavallo, p. 71
^ Marshall, p. 253, citing on the book trade in the provinces Pliny
the Younger, Epistulae 9.11.2; Martial, Epigrams 7.88; Horace, Carmina
2.20.13f. and Ars Poetica 345; Ovid, Tristia 4.9.21 and 4.10.128;
Pliny the Elder, Natural History 35.2.11; Sidonius, Epistulae 9.7.1.
Strabo 13.1.54, 50.13.419; Martial, Epigrams 2.8; Lucian, Adversus
^ According to Seneca, Epistulae 27.6f.
^ Marshall, p. 254.
^ Marshall, pp. 252–264.
^ Cavallo, pp. 67–68.
^ Marshall, pp. 257, 260.
^ Pliny, Epistulae 1.8.2; CIL 5.5262 (= ILS 2927)
^ Marshall, p. 255.
^ Marshall, 261–262
^ Cavallo, p. 70.
^ Tacitus, Agricola 2.1 and Annales 4.35 and 14.50; Pliny the Younger,
Epistulae 7.19.6; Suetonius,
Tiberius 61.3, and Caligula
Domitian 10; Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 9.2.65
^ Marshall, p. 263.
^ Johnson (2009), pp. 114ff., pp. 186ff.
^ Potter (2009), p. 372.
^ Johnson (2010) p. 14.
^ Johnson (2009), pp. 320ff.
^ Cavallo, pp. 68–69, 78–79.
^ Cavallo, pp. 81–82.
^ Peachin, p. 95.
^ Peachin, pp. 84–85.
^ Laes, p. 108
^ a b c Peachin, p. 89.
^ Laes, pp. 113–116.
^ Peachin, pp. 90, 92
^ Laes, pp. 116–121.
^ Peachin, pp. 87–89.
^ Laes, p. 122.
^ a b Peachin, p. 90.
^ Laes, pp. 107–108, 132.
^ Peachin, pp. 93–94.
^ Peachin, pp. 88, 106
^ Laes, p. 109.
^ Laes, p. 132.
^ Potter (2009), pp. 439, 442.
^ Peachin, pp. 102–103, 105.
^ Peachin, pp. 104–105.
^ Peachin, pp. 103, 106.
^ Peachin, p. 110.
^ Peachin, p. 107.
^ Harris, p. 5.
^ Saller, R. P. (2012). "Promotion and Patronage in Equestrian
Careers". Journal of Roman Studies. 70: 44. doi:10.2307/299555.
^ Armstron, David (2010) "The Biographical and Social Foundations of
Horace's Poetic Voice," in A Companion to Horace. Blackwell. p. 11
^ Lyne, R.O.A.M. (1995) Horace: Beyond the Public Poetry. Yale
University Press. pp. 2–3
^ Peachin, p. 94.
^ Potter (2009), p. 598.
^ Laes, pp. 109–110.
^ Peachin, p. 88.
^ Laes, p. 110
^ a b Gagarin, p. 19.
^ Gagarin, p. 18.
^ The wide-ranging 21st-century scholarship on the Second Sophistic
includes Being Greek under Rome: Cultural Identity, the Second
Sophistic and the Development of Empire, edited by Simon Goldhill
(Cambridge University Press, 2001); Paideia: The World of the Second
Sophistic, edited by Barbara E. Borg (De Gruyter, 2004); and Tim
Second Sophistic (Oxford University Press, 2005).
^ a b Habinek, Thomas N. (1998) The Politics of
Writing, Identity, and
Empire in Ancient Rome. Princeton University
Press. pp. 122–123
^ Rawson (2003), p. 80.
^ James, Sharon L. (2003) Learned Girls and Male Persuasion: Gender
and Reading in Roman Love Elegy. University of California Press. pp.
^ Johnson, W.R. "Propertius," pp. 42–43, and Sharon L. James, "Elegy
and New Comedy," p. 262, both in A Companion to Roman Love Elegy.
^ Gagarin, p. 20.
^ Harris, p. 3.
^ Cavallo, pp. 87–89.
^ Cavallo, p. 86.
^ Roberts, p. 3.
^ Aetas Ovidiana; Charles McNelis, "Ovidian Strategies in Early
Imperial Literature," in A Companion to
Ovid (Blackwell, 2007), p.
^ Roberts, p. 8.
^ van Dam, Harm-Jan (2008) "Wandering Woods Again: From Poliziano to
Grotius," in The Poetry of Statius. Brill. p. 45ff.
^ Jonathan Master, "The Histories," in A Companion to Tacitus
(Blackwell, 2012), p. 88.
^ Sage, Michael M. (1990) "Tacitus' Historical Works: A Survey and
Appraisal," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.33.2, p.
^ Albrecht, p. 1294.
^ Albrecht, p. 1443.
^ a b Roberts, p. 70.
^ Albrecht, p. 1359ff.
^ "Not since
Vergil had there been a Roman poet so effective at
establishing a master narrative for his people": Marc Mastrangelo, The
Roman Self in Late Antiquity:
Prudentius and the Poetics of the Soul
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), p. 3.
^ Bowersock, p. 694
^ a b Rüpke, p. 4.
^ Apuleius, Florides 1.1
^ Rüpke, p. 279.
^ Matthew Bunson, A Dictionary of the Roman
Empire (Oxford University
Press, 1995), p. 246.
^ The caesareum at Najaran was possibly known later as the "Kaaba of
Najran": جواد علي, المفصل في تاريخ العرب
قبل الإسلام (Jawad Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh Al-'Arab Qabl
Al-Islam; "Commentary on the History of the Arabs Before Islam"),
Baghdad, 1955–1983; P. Harland, "Imperial Cults within Local
Cultural Life: Associations in Roman Asia", originally published in
Ancient History Bulletin / Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 17 (2003)
^ Isaac, Benjamin H. (2004) The Invention of Racism in Classical
Antiquity. Princeton University Press. p. 449
^ Frend, W.H.C. (1967) Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church:
A Study of Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus. Doubleday. p. 106
^ Huskinson, Janet (2000) Experiencing Rome: Culture, Identity and
Power in the Roman Empire. Routledge. p. 261. See, for instance, the
altar dedicated by a Roman citizen and depicting a sacrifice conducted
in the Roman manner for the Germanic goddess
Vagdavercustis in the 2nd
^ Momigliano, Arnaldo (1986). "The Disadvantages of
Monotheism for a
Universal State". Classical Philology. 81 (4): 285–297.
doi:10.1086/367003. JSTOR 269977.
^ Fishwick, Duncan (1991). The Imperial Cult in the
Studies in the Ruler Cult of the Western Provinces of the Roman
Empire, Vol. 1, Brill. pp. 97–149. ISBN 90-04-07179-2.
^ Ben-Sasson, H.H. (1976) A History of the Jewish People, Harvard
University Press. pp. 254–256. ISBN 0-674-39731-2
^ Bowman, p. 616
^ Frend, W.H.C. (2006) "Persecutions: Genesis and Legacy," Cambridge
History of Christianity: Origins to Constantine. Cambridge University
Press. Vol. 1, p. 510. ISBN 0521812399.
^ Barnes, T. D. (2012). "Legislation against the Christians". Journal
of Roman Studies. 58: 32. doi:10.2307/299693. JSTOR 299693.
^ Sainte-Croix, G.E.M de (1963). "Why Were the Early Christians
Persecuted?". Past & Present. 26: 6–38.
^ Musurillo, Herbert (1972) The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. pp. lviii–lxii
^ Sherwin-White, A. N. (1952). "The Early Persecutions and Roman Law
Again". The Journal of Theological Studies (2): 199.
doi:10.1093/jts/III.2.199. JSTOR 23952852.
^ Tacitus, Annals XV.44
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea (425). Church History.
^ Smallwood, E.M. (1956). "'Domitian's attitude towards the Jews and
Judaism". Classical Philology. 51: 1–13. doi:10.1086/363978.
^ Pliny, Epistle to
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