A Look at Ancient Rome

How exactly do people know about the early Romans since there is no written evidence? There are three main ways that historians have found out many facts about the early Roman people. The main ways were to look at the many traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation, by studying the ancient language that was spoken by the Romans, and most importantly through the archeological findings. The religion, values, and ideas of the early Romans have changed many times. The religion that they had was based, at first, on mythology.

The Romans had no real mythology of their own, only that in which they had borrowed from the Greeks. These mythologies dealt with many gods, which served their own different, but special purposes. Since the Rcertain acts have power in thy selves to control nature” (200). There was a belief in a numerous amount of spirits, that came along with magic, had lacked personalities, were limited to certain places, in which they were found to ensure that a persons prayers and offerings, could be in one way, secured. This form of magic was known by the Romans as religion and continued until the uprising of Augustus as emperor. “As this change took place, the switch from oligarchy to monarchy , brought many changes to the official religion of the Roman people. Then the religion fell into the hands of the emperor” (Garnsey and Saller 164). After this switch to monarchy, the religion of the Roman empire came to its official downfall.

There are many reasons why the Roman religion had failed. For one, the gods that the Romans believed in had so many powers that it reduced the unrealistic gods almost down to a human level, because of this, there was no man who had the interest in making their religion, a real power. Second, since there was no moral teachings, life after death did not exist. Finally, “There was little emotional content to religion. There was little more emotion in the regular ritual of the later religion, and it aroused men’s emotions without satisfying them” (Geer 217). Years after the downfall, the Romans turned to the religion of Christianity, and to this day it is still practiced in many Roman countries. The values that the Romans had within their marriages were based purely on humanistic laws.

A Roman marriage had many expectations. The marriage was supposed to be a union between two equal partners. This meant that the rich will marry amongst the rich and the poor amongst the poor. “ No specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage, only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly” (Gardner 47). The brides back then were usually in there early teens. After the girls had went through the ceremony of marriage, they were no longer considered “little girls” but as a wife and a women. The only real responsibilities of the wife was to take care of the children and to housekeep. This was because, “Monogamous marriages were dominated by the husband. The patria potestas, the father’s authority, ruled the whole life of the Roman family” (Kiefer 8). Though the marriages were supposed to be monogamous, free sexual relationships co-existed. After these relations went on, marriage still went on because divorce did not exist in the early Roman years. After a marriage took place the next thing that the couple valued was having and rearing children.

There were many events that had taken place when a women had a new born. Women usually had the babies on their own. This was because there were no such things at hospitals or doctors. Childbirth back then was extremely dangerous. Many women often died during childbirth, because the medical field was so under developed. After the woman had given birth and the baby was cleaned off. The baby was then placed between the fathers feet and if he picked the baby up, he had officially accepted the baby into the family. The baby was not named until nine days after birth, in which a ceremony was held and the baby was given a charm in hopes that evil spirits would stay away from this small child. Many children died when they were really small. If the child was a boy and lived to see his fourteenth birthday, he was recognized as an adult and a special ceremony was given to him, to enter him into his adult hood. The next thing that the Romans valued was the events that took place in the amphitheatres.

There were many events that took place in the Roman amphitheatres. They were the place that public executions took place. The most popular thing that took place in these amphitheatres was gladiator games. Gladiators were usually recruited from criminals, slaves, fugitives, and prisoners of war. They had no choice of becoming a gladiator. The games that were held, even though most turned out to be funerals, were seen by the Romans as a great source of entertainment. Not only were there gladiators fighting, but there was also an orchestra near the pit, that provided music for the people who were attending the games. More gladiators died than lived. “These games lessened the chance for survival, perhaps owing to the development of a taste for death and the revival and increased popularity. Nevertheless it is certain that many of the gladiators that survived the arena to freedom and to retirement.” (Futrell 86). The ideas of law in the ancient Roman times had much cruelty to them.

When a law was broken, there was only one conclusion to the breaking of the laws, which was death. The breakers of these laws died in 2 frequent ways; public execution and crucifixion. “By death of the criminal is eradicated from the community whose laws he did not observe. That is the fundamental purpose of the death penalty” (Kiefer 80). The person who disobeyed the law was executed publicly. “At these executions the condemned man’s hands were bound behind his back. He was chained to a post, stripped, and flogged; then he was laid on the ground and beheaded with an axe”(81). This kind of execution was performed if the criminal killed a sacrificial animal. Crucifixion did not deal with being nailed to a cross and dying a slow death, but it dealt with being flogged to death. “The criminal was stripped, his head was covered up and a fork was laid on his neck”(81). A fork was a piece of wood that was laid over the shoulders of the criminal, so that his head would fit through the fork while his hands were tied to the prong pieces. Crucifixion was performed if you were guilty of murdering a family member or if you were a runaway slave. The ideas the Romans had on slaves existed in the earliest times in Rome.

The slaves of the Romans came from many places, had many duties, and because of the low price they were sold frequently. Even though there were very few slaves, they were often enslaved citizens for debt or those that were captured in local wars. “There slaves were many men of good education and man more who were skilled in various trades and crafts” (Geer 176). These slaves were often used as teach so that the younger Romans could have a good education. There were also the slaves who worked side by side on farms taking care of the crops, and some that worked inside to aide in the housework that need to be done. “Because of the almost unlimited supply, the price of common slaves was low” (178). The slaves were sold between fifty and seventy five dollars depending on the skills that the slave had. The more skills one had, the greater the price of the slave. The Romans thought they had a good idea on religion, values, and the many ideas they had.

The Romans had a lifestyle that is in some ways like the way we live today and there are also those that are nothing like the way we live today. Many of the things that occurred during the ancient Roman times, in a way, foreshadowed what was to come in the next centuries. I believe that some of the religion, values, and ideas could have possibly gave us some of the background, in the what we believe in today’s society.omans believed in many gods, they were considered to practice the religion of oligarchy. The Romans had taken many of the Greek gods and had given them Roman names. For example, the Roman god known as Cupid, which was the god of love, the Greek god, Eros, served the same purpose as did Cupid. “These gods were given lifelike human forms, had statues representing them, and were housed in temples” (Geer 200). Even though these gods were faceless and formless, it made them no less powerful. The only thing that did exist in the religion of the Romans was a long and confusing history.
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