Daily Life in Ancient Rome: A Four-Part Course with Livia Galante

Daily Life in Ancient Rome: A Four-Part Course with Livia Galante


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The history and culture of ancient Rome are fascinating, vast, and rather overwhelming at times. While stories of rulers, gods, and goddesses are well known, this four-part course aims to introduce us to lesser-known aspects of the daily life of the ancient Roman people.

What was life really like for the everyday Roman beyond the dramatic stories of emperors and gladiators? Over the course of four lectures, we will delve into the personal aspects of daily life, including body care, makeup, hairstyles, clothing, entertainment, food, society, and family. Led by an expert in archaeology and ancient Roman topography, Livia Galante, this interactive course will focus on several often overlooked aspects of daily life in ancient Rome. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased comprehension of the ancient Roman culture and society.

 

Lecture 1: Beauty

This first lecture will focus on the variety of cosmetics and hairstyles the Romans were fond of. From recipes for makeup and facial creams to tools to curl the hair and jewels, we will learn how these aspects changed through the centuries in ancient Rome. We will investigate the different types of clothing and how much the same garment changed its style over the course of time. We’ll even go as deep as analyzing the evolution of the hairstyle of an ancient Roman and how archaeologists can precisely date portraits as a result.

Lecture 2: Entertainment

Romans loved games and theatrical plays so much that the satirical poet Juvenal complained that the Romans were only fond of “panem et circenses” (“bread and circuses”) - to be fed and entertained. This lecture explores the different types of buildings used ancient Roman entertainment: the Circus Maximus (mainly used for chariot races), the Stadium of Domitian (for athletic competitions), the Colosseum (the arena for gladiatorial games), the “Odeion” (for music), and an artificial lake for mock naval battles. We’ll learn that entertainment stretched much beyond the Colosseum.

Lecture 3: Food

In lecture three, we’ll explore various aspects of gastronomy. We’ll study food and the supply chain as we delve into infrastructures, logistics, and distribution. We’ll analyze what common ancient Romans ate and how these meals were prepared. From pans to casseroles to cake molds, archaeologists have made a variety of intriguing finds to understand more about ancient Roman food and mealtime customs.

Lecture 4: Society

During our last lecture, we will explore the classes of Roman society. We’ll encounter the slaves, the slave-traders, and the aristocrats. We’ll examine the role of the family and the daily life of women and children. And finally, we’ll learn about the political carriers, the magistrates, and those who administered the civil law of the land.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic about sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

 

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in Roman history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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