Life in Rome
“Was Rome a pleasant city to live in?” Well, writers who wrote about it say that they didn’t think so. This is based on survived writings.
One big reason why life was not that good was the plan of the city. To many buildings were being built. Emperors were building too many impressive, marble temples. Then in the residential areas were the insulae. They are unplanned blocks of poorly built apartment buildings. These buildings were for the ordinary Roman. They were built very closely, and building collapse was common.
Nero made a more systematic reconstruction of the buildings. He used brick concrete instead of wood. Even though he did this, less than twenty years later half the city got on fire. This probably happened because the Romans use torches, oil lamps, and cooked on gas stoves. An hour couldnt go without a fire starting somewhere.
The streets of Rome were also very noisy especially at night. This was because Caesar said that chariots were allowed on the streets only after sunset. The streets were also very crowded. So even when the chariots werent there, the people were. Another very chaotic place was the Argiletum. This is the most known shopping center in the empire. Most Romans didnt own land. “The average Roman had little privacy and still less money.” Most Romans who lived in the city were craftsmen, shopkeepers, or general laborers.
“Trade was always conducted on a small scale.” This was because each merchant was responsible for himself. The large trading place was between the Forum and the Tiber. The tradesmen and the bankers worked together. The artisans and craftsmen had their own district. If people were in the same trade, they would join together to form a collegia.
When children were born, they were placed at the front of their fathers house, so the father could inspect the baby. The father could accept or reject the child. To accept the child, the father would pick it up. The baby is given a name eight or nine days later. Children were sent to school at about age six or seven. “The Twelve Tables decreed that a man might only sell his son three times.”
There are tree types of marriage in Rome. Parents permission was required for all marriages. One was the confarreatio, which was a religious ceremony. The bride and groom would eat cake. The second type of marriage was coemptio, which means purchase. The last type of marriage was called usus. Women could never be totally independent. If she wasnt under the authority of a husband, then she was owned by her father. “Divorces were very common.”
Rome was a very advanced city. It was also very strong. Even though it was strong and advanced, it wasnt very good to live there. They had many problems. We know this from survived writings about Rome. Writers Horace and Juvenal didnt thinkthat the city was very pleasant. Writings about Alexandria and Antioch, smaller cities, made the cities seem like a more pleasant and quieter place than Rome.