CHW 3M 2012: Roman For a Day


Step 1: Change your name

Official Roman names could be incredibly complex, thanks to given names, family names, tribal affiliations, and several other options. Today, we will simply do the following:

  1. ‘        males will add “us” to the end of their first and last names, removing the last syllable if necessary.
  2. ‘        females will add “a” to the end of their first and last names, removing the last syllable if necessary
  3. ‘        each student may add another name that describes his/her character, and add the appropriate suffix. (Maximus works well)

Step 2: Preparing your toga

Despite what popular culture suggests, Roman togas were not made from bed sheets.  They were large, made from wool, and somewhat impractical; eventually, they were used only on official occasions. On such occasions, the colours of the toga were crucial.  Purple trim was used to indicate special political status in Rome; purple togas were reserved for military leaders who had brought glory to Rome.

Usually, Jamus Pedrechus wears part of a toga candida, the white togas reserved for those running for political office. Unfortunately, he used his toga to make a map. Sorry.

Step 3: Dividing the Populace

  • We may all be Roman, but we are not equal.  Some of you will be Patricians, members of the noble ruling families of Rome. Many of you will be Plebeians, the lower classes.
  •  Again, Roman life was more complicated than our re-enactment will suggest. Though Rome was built on a series of seven hills, we are only interested in two: the Palatine and the Aventine.

We will discuss the following:

 (please note that in Rome, these debates did not occur at the same time. We have put them together to give you some insight into Roman life).

  • ‘Rome is a Republic, borrowing heavily from Greek political traditions. What other ideas should Rome “steal”  from Sparta and/or Athens?
  • ‘We have created a series of laws, called the Twelve Tables. Let us consider our laws; whom do the laws favour?
  • ‘ A pair of politicians, the Gracchus Brothers, has proposed some changes to life in Rome. Let us consider their arguments.
  • ‘Earlier this week, we watched as Cicero rose to greatness. His success, however, indicates a serious problem in Rome: the corruption he fought against is rampant. Sulla has used his dirty tactics and his Lists to eliminate all threats, and generals are itching to use their armies for their personal gain.  Should we continue as a Republic, or do we need a strong, central leader to provide stability?

Key Terms:

  • honestas
  • Mare Nostrum

What Makes You Roman?

  • You value reputation above all else…but it is NOT the same as vanity. Praise for you  reflects the  greatness of the Republic, and you truly love the Republic.
  • You value competition. For you, freedom means the ability to succeed through competition.
  • You are pragmatic traditionalist. You value old ideas, but also understand the advantages of making the most practical choice.
  • You are extremely pious.
  • You are not afraid of bloodshed. Your legions regularly wipe out every living thing in the cities they conquer. This may be an example of Roman pragmatism: ruthlessly killing an enemy makes potential enemies think twice before attacking.
  • You love Rome, but Rome is no Athens. It is a poorly designed city that is surrounded by shanty towns; even the buildings inside the city itself are hastily constructed and unsafe. On the other hand, you have aqueducts and sewers, stunning marvels that make life clean…at least for those who live on the Palatine.

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