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Life as a Roman child

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Initial post: Aug 31, 2012 12:38:02 PM PDT
Were the daily lives of Roman children just as it is described in books? The boys, as they neared adolescency, had to be brought to school by a paedogogue, thanks to men in the streets with obsessions for boys, and girls sometimes went to public schools, but they were usually taught at home by a tutor, as were some boys. Poor children really couldn't look forward to an education like this.
Children were not allowed to be lazy or slothful. They exercised in the gymnasium, read books, and tried to please their elders. Most of all, they imitated their parents and other older peers.
Children were thought to be a blessing, but don't you think they were sometimes ignored?
It probably wouldn't be much fun to be a Roman child, would it?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012 12:59:34 PM PDT
If you were born into a noble family, with good relations with those in the senate ,I would say it was much better than those living outside of that construct

Posted on Aug 31, 2012 1:02:52 PM PDT
In no culture has it ever been better to be poor than rich.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012 1:07:44 PM PDT
Nothing but TRUTH in that. You're absolutely right.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012 2:07:29 PM PDT

all history is bunk and propaganda

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2012 8:26:07 AM PDT
freedom4all says:
andthehorseirodeinontoo? says:
all history is bunk and propaganda

f4a: That includes the Bible, right?

Posted on Sep 1, 2012 10:05:20 PM PDT
1874Sharps says:
did you see the HBO series "Rome" a couple of years back. As seems to be in all history, the poor children were poorly used and even the rich families would prostitute out their children for political or business favors. The world is a hard place esp for the little ones.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2012 10:08:37 PM PDT
the bible is not history it si truth

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2012 3:37:38 PM PDT
S. Kessler says:
HBO's Rome was pure fiction. Please don't take it as any kind of accurate depiction of Roman life.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2012 7:16:48 PM PDT
freedom4all says:
"So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. "This is what you are to do," they said. "Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin." Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan." --- Judges 21:10-24 NLT

Nice truth indeed.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2012 8:38:35 AM PDT
As I just replied to another post of yours, you may be interested in reading Alberto Angela's book "A day in the life of ancient Rome," Europa Editions (2009) A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities . which provides a fascinating description of what life was like in Rome in 115 CE. On pp. 15-16, the author writes: "During my many years of shooting television shows among the ruins of ancient Rome and Roman archaeological sites thoughout the Mediterranean, I've happened upon an extraordinary number of stories and details, forgotten for centuries and rediscoverd by archaeologists, about life in the time of imperial Rome. These site visits have put me in touch with the habits and practices of everyday life; with the customs and social rules of a world that no longer exists."

Posted on Sep 8, 2012 5:00:41 AM PDT
Thank you for the book recommendation. I really appreciate it and will order in in just a minute.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 5:11:35 AM PDT
Ms. Cherry, just a note.

Standard wisdom is that childhood as we see it today in the West, as a special, nurturing time, was invented as a concept during the Victorian era (and only for the middle classes and above.)

Your description of Roman childhood is what I also understand to be true, again for the educated classes. The description is derived from contemporary accounts from adults. I do not think we have surviving, contemporary accounts from a child's pov. Adults tend to distort their memories of childhood, so who knows?

For most of history it hasn't been a pleasant experience to be a child, from the outside looking in and using today's perspectives. OTOH, children tend to accept their lots and find some happiness no matter how horrible their lives may be in actuality.

As a longtime foster and adoptive mother to poor American children, I know this to be true.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 4:25:31 PM PST
Steelers fan says:
RE "Nice truth indeed."

If you don't believe the Bible to be true, then why are you citing it as historical fact?

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 4:59:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2012 6:07:02 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Children wore an amulet called a bulla. Boys wore it until their coming of age ceremony occurred around the age of sixteen; girls wore it until they were married. The Romans were a superstitious people. In "I Claudius", Germanicus' wife Agrippina (mother of the monstrous Caligula) feels comforted by the green jasper charm of Hecate. Everyday wear was a belted tunic; a boy from a wealthy family would wear, for formal occasions, the toga praetexta, similar to that of senators, with, possibly, purple coloring. On becoming a man, he would don the toga virilis (or toga pura, or toga libera); it was all-white. Only Roman citizens were permitted to wear the toga. The basic female dress was the stola, a long tunic reaching to the ground.
In all classes, from highest to lowest, several generations of Roman families all lived together in the same household. This could make for no end of problems, of course. The Romans loved sex; it was everywhere, and a child would have learned about it early on.
One sure path to advancement for boys was the military. As in other historical periods, the most important decision in a girl's life was that of who she would marry; this was not usually her own to make. One interesting alternate career for high-born girls was that of Vestal virgin; the ruins of their house are still present in Rome. Vesta was the goddess of the hearth; every Roman home constantly kept a fire burning. The Vestals were charged with important duties; they kept the Imperial wills, for example. A Vestal was committed before puberty, at between six and ten years of age. Her vows only committed her for thirty years, after which she was free to marry, but if she broke them during her term of service, the designated punishment was to be buried alive (her blood could not be spilled).
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  Aug 31, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 14, 2012

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