History of Society in Ancient Rome
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The history of society in ancient Rome derives from its sense of shared identity among diverse peoples within its political system over a long span of time. From this, the proliferation of public monuments and communal spaces in forums, gladiatorial combats, amphitheaters, racetracks and baths helped foster this Roman identity.
The chronic civil war that brought Augustus to power sowed confusion and upheaval, but did not result in an immediate redistribution of wealth and social power. But personal relationships in patronage, friendship, family, and marriage continued to prevail in the exercise of power, as they had in the Republic. And, by the time of Nero’s reign, it was possible to find freed slaves who were richer than free-born citizens, and lesser nobility that wielded more power than senators.
This disintegration of rigid hierarchies and social obstacles during the Empire led to greater opportunity than under previous ancient societies. With that, women, freedmen, and slaves all were able to engage in commerce and exert influence in ways unavailable to them in the Republic. Social life in the Empire was facilitated by civic associations and fraternities formed for professional and trade groups, veterans’ associations, religious cults, drinking and feasting clubs, troupes for the performing arts troupes, burial societies, and more.
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Society Index | Class: Social Orders: Patricians: Origins • Plebeians | Communities: Rome: Facilities • Forum • Homes • Palaces | Death | Environment: Empire • Pompeii | Family | Food | Men | Morals • Population: Fertility • Jews | Public Health | Recreation: Spectacles • The Games • Triumphs | Sexuality | Slavery: Daily Life • Empire • Legal Status | Values: Empire • Legacy of the Augustan Age • National Character | Wealth: Artisanal Products • Taste | Women: Fashion
Class: Social Orders
Society: Public Health
Recreation: The Games
Slavery: Daily Life
Slavery: Legal Status
Values: Legacy of the Augustan Era
Values: National Character
Wealth: Artisanal Products