10 harsh realities of ancient Rome associated with the upbringing of children
Life in ancient Rome was harsh, especially for children. Even if they were so lucky that they survived in the first years of their lives, they were expected by the future, full of exhausting or dangerous work for a small reward. Only a few privileged could enjoy life in its entirety.
Despite this, people persevered. They passed the way from newborns who could hardly survive, to full citizens of the Roman Empire.
1. Welcome to the family
In ancient Rome, "Pater familias" was the undisputed head of the family. He received full power both in Roman law and in accordance with the "mos maiorum" - an unwritten code from which the ancient Romans took their social norms. He was the only member of the family who was allowed to own land and represent the family in legal, economic and religious matters.
Despite the fact that "Pater familias" means "father of the family", the father did not always play this role."Pater familias" was the eldest of living men, so if the father died, his place was occupied by the eldest son. This was one of the reasons why the Romans attached great importance to the birth of sons. In addition, the adoption of boys in ancient Rome was commonplace.
Any new baby had to be recognized as "Pater familias". Traditionally, the midwife placed the newborn near his legs, and only when "Pater familias" took the child in his arms, was he officially recognized as a member of the family. The father had the right to abandon his children and sell them into slavery if they angered him. He was even allowed to kill them, although the records show that this was rare and, in the end, was forbidden by the laws of Augustus.
2. Getting a bull
Due to the high rates of infant mortality, children were not given names immediately after birth. The Romans waited a whole week before naming a child, in honor of which a celebration was held under the name "Dies lustricus" ("Day of Purification"). Much was like a modern birthday - friends and relatives came to give the child gifts and shower him with good wishes.
Male children also received a bull on this holiday.Bull called the amulet, which was supposed to drive away evil spirits and showed that the boy is a free citizen of Rome. Scientists are still arguing whether such bulls and Roman girls were given, but it is known that they had another amulet called “lunula”.
The boys had to wear their bulls before coming of age, and the girls had their amulets before the wedding day. Traditionally, the bull was made of gold, but it was available only to the rich elite of Rome. The lower classes were treated with bullae of inexpensive materials such as leather, bronze or tin.
3. Stages of children's life
Roman's childhood was divided into several clearly defined stages, both from a social and a legal point of view. The first period was known as "nfantia". It lasted from birth to seven years, for both boys and girls. This period took place mainly at home, under the supervision of parents, grandparents, guardians, older brothers and sisters. All children who were “infantiae” or “infantiae proximus” (slightly older) were considered to be “Doli incapax” in the eyes of the law - unable to answer for their actions.
Before reaching the age of 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys, children were called "impuberes" or "pubertati proximus" (the last - when they were close to the threshold age).They were still considered "Doli incapax", but they were already allowed to make small transactions with the consent of the guardian. In social terms, at this stage, children began their acquaintance with the outside world. They more often left home, spent time in the company of strangers, and even if their parents could afford it, they began to receive education outside the home.
Girls over 12 years old were considered suitable for marriage. Boys were considered to have entered a mature age from 15 years. They were granted legal rights and obligations, although up to 25 years they, according to Roman law, still had a number of restrictions.
4. Getting an education
As in many societies, education in ancient Rome was available basically only to the rich. According to rough estimates, about 20 percent of the population was literate, although this figure fluctuated at different times.
For a longer time the existence of the Roman Republic, education consisted of informal sessions with parents who passed on knowledge to their children. But after the conquest of Greece in 146 BC, the Greek educational system began to spread in the empire. The Romans began to attach greater importance to education, and caregivers became more accessible as many of them were slaves.
Children, as a rule, from the age of 7 began to go to school. Their teachers, who taught children to read, write, and basic arithmetic, were called “writers,” most often they were Greeks. At the age of 12 or 13, children who could afford to continue receiving education entered the “schools of literacy,” where they were taught “grammar”. Here they received practical knowledge necessary for everyday life, and began to study art and poetry. The highest levels of education envisioned teaching rhetoric based on works by great speakers such as Cicero and Quintillian.
The children of ancient Rome spent a lot of time playing with toys, very similar to modern ones. Babies are often entertained with rattles called "crepitaculum". They were made of wood or metal, sometimes bells were clinging to them. In addition, it is possible that the Romans also used the bull of their charges as toys.
Among girls, the most popular toys were dolls. They were made from a variety of materials, such as terracotta, wax, clay, wood, metals, and stones. Some of them might have well-defined limbs,clothing and jewelry from jewelry.
Boys preferred moving toys such as carts or horses with wheels. Wooden swords for toy battles were commonplace. Hoops, kites, balloons and spinners were ordinary toys available for children of all ages.
Board games were popular among both young and old people. There were many games with cubes, bones and pieces of stones. Other games included hide and seek, leapfrog, tic-tac-toe.
Like us, the ancient Romans loved animals, many families kept one or more pets. Cats and various monkeys of the Old World, such as magots, were traditional pets. It seems that even in ancient times people were amused by the antics of our monkey relatives.
Snakes were also kept as pets, although they were more like religious symbols, and it is unlikely that they could be found in the house of the average citizen. Many rich families preferred to keep the birds, because they served as an indicator of their status (the maintenance of the birds was not affordable for a typical Roman family).
Apparently, even in the times of ancient Rome, dogs were man's best friends. They were by far the most popular of the domestic animals of the ancient Romans and figured in literature, in pottery, paintings and bas-reliefs. Unlike other domestic animals, keeping dogs was also of practical importance: they helped in hunting and were used for protection. Excavations in Pompeii showed that some Roman houses had the inscription "Cave canem" - "Caution, dog."
7. Job search
The social status of the boy’s family usually determined what job he could apply for when he became a teenager. The most prestigious positions were in politics, but they were usually reserved for the elite and demanded a good education.
Just below were administrative positions within the empire: tax collectors, notaries, clerks, lawyers, teachers, and so on. Again, these jobs were usually available to young people with a good education, although some of these positions were also accessible to educated slaves, especially the Greeks.
The most affordable choice for most of the free Roman youths was to join the army.Being an empire of conquerors, Rome almost constantly fought, and he always had a need for soldiers. For members of the lower classes, it was also a good way to secure a stable income and even get land allotment at the end of 25 years of service.
As the empire grew, more and more new jobs appeared. Soon enough, the Roman teenager could already choose whether to become a merchant, artist, artist, or merchant. However, these positions were usually passed from father to son. For their part, the family was also interested in transferring the secrets of the art to their child.
Male boys were little concerned with the idea of marriage, since men married, as a rule, around the age of 25 years. However, the girls got married much younger, from the age of 12. Since most girls did not need to get as extensive an education as young men, there was no point in keeping them at home after they reached childbearing age.
Girls from rich families, as a rule, got married earlier than girls from working families. Their marriage was seen as a rare opportunity to climb the social ladder.
Most girls knew little about their future husbands. Like most decisions in their lives, it all depended on Pater Familia. He was looking for potential candidates for husbands and was negotiating with the groom's family.
Weddings were accompanied by the execution of numerous customs that have developed over the centuries, some of them have survived to this day. Among them - a white dress and the transfer of the bride over the threshold.
9. Housing searches
During the heyday, Ancient Rome was inhabited by more than a million people, this never happened again in Europe until the very epoch of the industrial heyday of London. The ever-growing population forced the government to come up with such impressive innovations as water supply and sewage systems. It also meant that Rome was one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
In the city were widely distributed two types of houses. Wealthy people could afford large houses with several rooms, a courtyard, and in some cases, shops that were attached outside and were called “taverns”. The very rich also had villas away from the hustle and bustle of Rome.
However, most of the population lived in overcrowded apartment buildings called “Insulae”. As construction technologies improved, the height of these buildings also increased.Some "Insulae" could reach eight or nine floors. Third century records show that in Rome there were about 44,000 Insulae. Often the whole family lived in a single room.
Residential floor was often inversely proportional to social status. The ground floor was occupied by "taverns" and workshops. A couple of the next floors were occupied by more spacious and more expensive apartments. On each next floor of the apartment became not only more and more cramped, but also more dangerous. Fires were commonplace in Rome, and tenants living on the upper floors often were caught in a fire trap. Under Augustus, the maximum height of apartment buildings was legally limited to 70 Roman feet (20.7 meters), and Nero, after the Great Fire, reduced it even more to 60 Roman feet (17.7 meters).
10. Becoming a man
The achievement of puberty was an important stage in the life of Roman adolescents. The girls had to remain virgins before the wedding. They did not have extensive rituals associated with maturation, and the only ceremony was, as a rule, their first wedding night.
Boys were considered to have reached puberty when they were 15-16 years old.Besides the fact that they parted with their bulls, their clothes changed: toga "praetexta" followed the toga "virilis" - a simple white toga that was worn by adult men.
The Romans celebrated the growing up of young people during "Liberalia" - a celebration with food, wine, songs and dances. In fact, "Liberalia" comes from an even older and more riotous feast of Bacchanalia, dedicated to the god of wine and fertility of Bacchus. After the Senate made an effort to suppress the Bacchanalia, the similarities between the two holidays made them unite.
A sixteen-year-old Roman man could have sex before marriage. A man from a rich family, most likely, had sex with slaves, while commoners visited prostitutes. Both of these types of relationships were recognized as acceptable to men even after their marriage. Adultery was considered, as a rule, the relationship between a married man and a Roman wife or his unmarried daughter.