Domestic Life


- The family was a strong social unit in Roman civilization.

- In early centuries, the head of the family (paterfamilias) exercised total control over the whole family

- Children were taught to respect the gods, their country, and their parents, in that order.

- By Julius Caesar's time, Roman women could own property and even influence politics.

- Girls and boys were educated, and some women received a higher education.

The Home

- The house was the center of family life and the evening meal was the family gathering

- The wife usually sat in a chair while the husband reclined on a couch and children stood nearby.

- The main foods were cereals and vegetables.

- The wealthy enjoyed cheese, eggs, fish, olives, poultry, mushrooms, and nuts.

- Most lived in many storied apartment houses with no heat and no place for cooking

- Bread (circular flat cakes) and relish (whatever was cheap) were their staple foods

- The poor also ate fish, goat's cheese, cabbage, onions, radishes, and especially garlic.


- The wealthy began to build lavish villas (AHD- A sometimes large and luxurious country estate).

- The Villa was usually rectangular, built around a garden court and an Atrium (roofless party room)

- There were numerous heated (brazier) bedrooms, two dining rooms (summer & winter), a bath with a steam room and a swimming pool, and a kitchen with an open hearth (AHD- The floor of a fireplace, usually extending into a room).