The Romans were the people living inside the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. There were other traditions that all Romans shared. Whatever their individual circumstances, all Romans observed certain practices at dinner time, the main meal of the day. Although they might eat very different food, they ate it in roughly the same way. Romans had different names depending on what region or cities they came from:
And Romans of all classes made a point of visiting the baths after work each day. There they would mix freely with their fellow citizens, exercising, washing and chatting. To citizens, the baths made them feel superior to the rest of the world – they made them feel Roman.
For wealthy Romans, life was good. They lived in beautiful houses – often on the hills outside Rome, away from the noise and the smell. They enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle with luxurious furnishings, surrounded by servants and slaves to cater to their every desire. Many would hold exclusive dinner parties and serve their guests the exotic dishes of the day.
Poorer Romans, however, could only dream of such a life. Sweating it out in the city, they lived in shabby, squalid houses that could collapse or burn at any moment. If times were hard, they might abandon newborn babies to the streets, hoping that someone else would take them in as a servant or slave. Poor in wealth but strong in numbers, they were the Roman mob, who relaxed in front of the popular entertainment of the time – chariot races between opposing teams, or gladiators fighting for their life, fame and fortune.
Although their lives may have been different, they did have some things in common. In any Roman family life, the head of the household was a man. Although his wife looked after the household, he controlled it. He alone could own property. Only he decided the fate of his children and who they would marry.