History of Society in Ancient Rome

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: OriginsPlebeians | Communities: Rome: FacilitiesForumHomesPalaces | Death | Environment: EmpirePompeii | Family | Food | Men | MoralsPopulation: FertilityJews | Public Health | Recreation: SpectaclesThe GamesTriumphs | Sexuality | Slavery: Daily LifeEmpireLegal Status | Values: EmpireLegacy of the Augustan AgeNational Character | Wealth: Artisanal ProductsTaste | Women: Fashion

Society: Index

Society: Class

Class: Social Orders

Class: Patricians

Patricians: Orders

Patricians: Origins

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Class: Plebeians

Society: Communities

Communities: Rome

Rome: Facilities

Rome: Palaces

Rome: Forum

Rome: Homes

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Society: Death

Society: Empire

Society: Environment

Environment: Empire

Environment: Pompeii

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Society: Family

Society: Food

Society: Men

Society: Population

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Population: Fertility

Population: Jews


Society: Public Health

Society: Recreation

Recreation: Spectacles

Recreation: The Games

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Recreation: Triumphs

Society: Sexuality

Society: Slavery

Slavery: Daily Life

Slavery: Empire

Slavery: Legal Status

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Society: Values

Values: Empire

Values: Legacy of the Augustan Era

Values: National Character

Society: Wealth

Wealth: Artisanal Products

Wealth: Taste

Society: Women

Women: Fashion

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