What Do You Mean “what Was Roman Daily Life Like”?

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What Do You Mean “what Was Roman Daily Life Like”?

The Romans are alive and well… sipping espressos and nibbling pastries in the piazzas.

Roman daily life?

It’s quite funny if you do an English search for “Roman daily life” on your favourite search engine you will get results for: Roman chariot races, circus maximus, gladiators and the ancient Roman Colosseum. Now do the same search in Italian and you will have results like shopping for handbags or how to use the Metro or other public transport in Rome!

The point is that to the Italians “Romans” are the people living in Rome Italy right now! They are alive and well and if you ask an Italian what WAS Roman daily life like they will raise an eyebrow and ask you “What do you mean WAS?”, most likely their eyes will light up and they will exclaim “Aahh, gli Antichi Romani” – aahhh, you mean the Ancient Romans!

In fact not much has changed in the last two thousand years. There are still Roman chariot races (albeit informal) through the streets of Rome Italy, but the vehicles are more expensive, heavier and perhaps less reliable. There are roads and bridges but none last as long as they used to, even the masses of tourists is nothing new, tourists have been traveling long distances to get to Rome for thousands of years. We even thought we invented light weight concrete, but we only re-invented it when we discovered that the dome of the Roman Pantheon was built using light weight stones!

So it becomes abundantly clear that the gap of 2000 years between ancient Roman life and moldern daily life is not that much of a stretch..

And sometimes I wonder what the ancient Romans would think about the new Rome and “improvements” of the 21st century. Would they marvel at the warmth and  convenience of our new homes, considering that they already had plumbing, underfloor heating, and examples of double glazing have been found in Ostia Antica. Would they be impressed with our new sports and stadias that seat thousands of fans, when the ancient Roman Colosseum could seat up to 70 000 fans and they could also fill it with water and stage mock sea battles.
They would have to be impressed with our new “chariot races” where speedy thoroughbred race horses dazzle the masses of well dresses spectators?! But then again the Circus Maximus did hold 380 000 fans and entrance was free!

Hmmm, after the ancient Romans sniffed the air and heard the noise pollution of modern cities, and felt the hustle and bustle of life in modern Rome (and continued corruption in politics) and compared it to ancient Roman daily life with its average 100 festive days a year, I have an idea which version they preferred.

Marcus Ruhl is living Roman Daily life in Rome Italy and is alive and well. He enjoys writing articles on Italian culture and customs and spends what little free time he has working on his website; a guide on Roman daily life in Rome Italy.

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