Roman Society and Culture Section 4

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Roman Society and
Culture
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Agenda
Daily Life in the Roman Empire
Roles of family members
Religion
Entertainment
Arts, Sciences, Literature and Language
Roman Society and Culture
 Rome
shared ideas between all
cultures. Brought the ancient world
together. (most important
contribution)
A Strong Empire
 To
stay together Rome needed to be
organized. Allowed conquered people
to keep their traditions (helped
prevent rebellions) but insisted on
order. Same laws for all parts of the
empire. Taxes were high to provide
security. Penalty for disobediencepainful death (crucifixion)
Trade and Transportation
 Huge
empire meant that were many
products available. Focus on trade
inside the empire. Farming was done
everywhere- but each province had
special products
 Transportation was criticalgovernment paid for and maintained
ROADS that connected the empire.
(built by the army)
The Roman Army
Now that they are an empire- they need a
permanent army. Many soldiers served a
“career” of 20 years. Forts in most citiessoldiers were very well trained and
disciplined.
 Army’s duty was to defend
the borders and keep the peacerespected and feared- their
presence was enough to stop most
problems

Life in the Empire
 Pyramid
society
 Wealthy had spacious homes (villas)
Poor lived in crowded wooden
apartment buildings (fire a huge
hazard)
 Empire was too large to feel a
“connection” like Polis. Patriotism for
Rome was strong
Slavery
Millions in Empire. Some conquered,
others for breaking laws. Slavery was
permanent and hereditary. Slaves could
buy freedom, but had no rights in society.
 Slavery was more common in the east
(Greece, Egypt etc…) where it had a long
history, than in the West and North
(Spain, Britain) where it was new.
 Slavery was not essential to the Roman
economy and slave ownership was more a
status symbol than a necessity.
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Family structure
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Family run by the Paterfamilias (father) who
controlled the family business and income. Wife
had control over the home. Men were often gone
with the army- women ran much of day to day
life.
Informal education came from parents. Fathers
taught their sons how to be good citizens.
Mothers taught their daughters how to manage a
household.
Formal education was done primarily at home
with a private tutor (for the rich). Schools were
for advanced learning, and focused on Greek
literature, debate, and rhetoric.
Religion
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Roman Republic
– Lares – ancestral spirits – Romans wanted
harmony with their ancestors.
– Vesta – god who guarded fire and the hearth.
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Roman Empire
– Polytheistic religion based on the family
traditions of the Republic.
– Purpose was to advance loyalty to the republic.
– Augustus became the chief priest.
– Rituals, ceremonies and processions were a
part of daily life.
Entertainment
Government paid for public entertainment
to keep population happy. Musician,
jugglers, acrobats could be seen most
days in the forum. (marketplace)
 Two most famous sports
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– Chariot Races (held at Circus maximus in
Rome)
– Gladiators (held at Coliseum in Rome) trained
fighters (slaves or criminals) fight to the
death. Sometimes one on one, sometimes
groups- even animals were popular.
Intellectual and cultural
achievement
 Discovery
was not important for
Rome (unlike Greece)
 Collected and used best of other
people’s ideas- added on to what had
been done (adaptors not innovators)
 Preserved and cataloged knowledge
 Learning focused on the practical and
useful.
Building/Architecture
 Loved
big public building projects.
 Borrowed Greek style, more
elaborate, less symmetrical
 Loved Arches
 Invented Concrete- buildings could
be bigger, more open and stronger
 Aqueducts and Sewers made
people’s lives better
Pont du Gard
Literature
 Again,
copied Greeks in format (Epic
poems, history, philosophy)
 Virgil: “The Aeneid” (Trojan prince
founds Rome)
 Plutarch: Historian “Parallel Lives”
(Compare Rome to other Empires)
 Cicero: Philosopher/politician “On the
Republic” (speeches on how
government should work)
Language
Latin
 Alphabet came from Etruscans (who had
borrowed idea from Greeks)
 23 letters (J, Y, W come later)
 Latin was “universal” you could use it
anywhere in the empire. Would remain
language of “education” until modern age
 Modern “Romance Languages” come from
Latin- Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese
& Romanian
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