CHW 3M 2013: Roman For a Day

TODAY, YOU ARE ROMAN!

Depiction of a Roman Emperor wearing a toga. This image is via Flickr by Mr. T in DC.

Depiction of a Roman Emperor wearing a toga. This image is via Flickr by Mr. T in DC.

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. Thus, is toga is of an unusual colour.

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?
  • A few Roman citizens have committed crimes. Let’s consult our laws, the Twelve Tables, to see what punishment we will enforce. The crimes are:
    • a dishonest merchant refuses to accompany his accuser to the magistrate
    • a young woman wants to leave her father’s house…without being married!
    • a Roman citizen has been maimed by another; what should his punishment be?
    • a plebeian has written a humorous (but insulting) song about a patrician.
    • a plebeian and a patrician have fallen in love. The horror!
    • a father has been killed by his son.
  • ‘ A pair of politicians, the Gracchus Brothers, has proposed some changes to life in Rome. Let us consider their arguments.
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