Daily Life in Ancient Rome

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9780631178774: Daily Life in Ancient Rome

Florence Dupont examines the institutions, actions and rituals of day-to-day life in pre-imperial Rome. The society and culture of ancient Rome is illuminated by the character of the Roman citizen in various guises as soldier, land-owner, employer, father, priest, banqueter and elector. The book considers the divisions between the different groups in Roman society, revealing a highly divided society with legal status dependent upon wealth and honour. The freedom of the Roman citizen is contrasted with the inferiority of the slave, an inferiority which was physically and also psychologically vital to Roman society. The author also investigates Roman notions of space and time and shows that every sphere of life, be it the family, the army, politics or farm work, was imbued with religion. There was a time and place for everything, every activity having an attendant god to whom Romans would appeal for advice, backing or consent. Roman ideas about their own bodies, hygiene, clothing, food and sexuality are also considered, and, as throughout the whole book, Florence Dupont draws on a broad selection of vivid contemporary accounts to illustrate her argument.

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From the Back Cover:

This is a vivid and intimate account of everyday life in ancient Rome during the Republic, from the downfall of the kings in 509 BC to the seizure of power by Augustus in 27 BC. Drawing widely on rich contemporary sources, Florence Dupont recreates the public and private lives, rituals, actions, institutions, and religion of the Roman Republic. She shows how Roman culture and society revolved around one kind of individual, the Roman citizen, whose roles encompassed soldier, voter, estate-owner, householder and slave-master, paterfamilias, priest, party-goer, farmer and city-dweller. It was citizenship, she reveals, that shaped Roman notions of space, time, human nature and the human body.

The author describes the profound effect of Rome's increasing power and wealth. Excess, luxury and greed gradually eroded the traditional values of order, thrift, honor and liberty: citizens became transformed into subjects. 'Streets flowed with precious wines and the blood of exotic wild animals and inumerable oxen,' she writes. 'Makeshift theaters were thrown up and bedecked with gold and ivory. In a hopeless attempt to empty both its own coffers and those of the nobility, the republic endowed the city with temples, basilicas and colonnades. But the world was too rich, too vast, and Rome, at its center, choked on all its wealth.'

About the Author:

Florence Dupont is Professor of Latin at the University of Nice.

Christopher Woodall is a freelance translator and journalist.

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