Life in Ancient Rome

Rome was a society represented by social extremes. The wealthy, the powerful, and the extravagant existed alongside poverty, degradation, and misery. Across the Roman Empire, social status mattered--it determined what food you would be given, who you would marry, and what you would wear. But beyond the social stratification of Ancient Rome, it is important to learn how exactly the early Romans lived.

Towards the end of the first century AC, Pliny the Younger (renowned poet and writer) observed that food and wine were offered in different quality at the same dinner party. The hosts recognized the social distinction of guests by the food and beverages served to them. This shows that who you were greatly affected how you were treated, and how you were required to treat others.

Legally, there were only two distinctions: the free and the slaves. All the inhabitants in the Roman Empire were either free to do what they wanted, or in servitude. Slaves can be born into slavery, or forced into service through a defeat in war. Slaves were possessions of their masters and their masters had the power to give life or death to them. But the slaves need not stay forever as slaves, because they could be granted freedom.

Other resources that will help you understand life in Ancient Rome include:

General Information

Centre for Ancient Studies

About Ancient History

MrDonn Ancient History

Language & Literature

The Roman Army

Greek and Roman Reading

Classics Collection

Roman Board Games

Daily Life

BBC Ancient History: Romans

Roman Empire


Forum Romanum

The Roman Army in Britain

BBC Religions and Ethics

Related Links

Capitolium: Official Website of Imperial Forums

The Christian Catacombs of Rome

Pompeii Forum Project
Roman EmperorsArena: Gladiatorial ShadesUVM Classic DepartmentRoman Law ResourcesRoman Empire Timeline