CHW 3M: Introduction to the Romans

Today, our goal is to understand the basic principles, traditions, and values that lay at the heart of Roman society.

Some Things You Need to Know About Romans:

  • They valued reputation above all else…but it was NOT the same as vanity. Praise for a Roman reflected the  greatness of the Republic, and Romans truly loved the Republic.
  • For Romans, freedom meant the ability to succeed through competition.
  • Romans were pragmatic traditionalists. They valued old ideas, but also understand the advantages of making the most practical choice.
  • They were extremely pious and superstitious (remember the stories of Romulus and the Sybil)
  • Romans were not afraid of bloodshed. Their legions regularly wiped out every living thing in the cities they conquered. This may be an example of Roman pragmatism: ruthlessly killing an enemy made potential enemies think twice before attacking.
  • Despite all of these traits, Romans also valued humour. For example, many Roman epitaphs told jokes about the deceased. Last year, archeologists discovered a tombstone explaining that the person laying beneath was legendary for his bowel movements.
  • Rome was the centre of Roman life, but it was no Athens. It was a poorly designed city that was surrounded by shanty towns, brothels, and mass graves; even the buildings inside the city itself were hastily constructed and unsafe. On the other hand, the rich had aqueducts and sewers, stunning marvels that make life clean…at least for those who live on the Palatine.

What you will do:

  • You and your group will choose one of the topics below.
  • You will watch the video and find at least one other source about your topic.
  • You will answer whichever guiding question seems best-suited to your topic.
  • You will be assigned to a new group; in this new group, you will discuss and consolidate your findings:
Topics Guiding Questions
  •  How does this reflect class differences in Rome?
  • How does this reflect gender inequality in Rome?
  • How does this reflect the central role of the father in Rome?



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