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As the Romans Did

A Sourcebook in Roman Social History

Third Edition

Author Jo-Ann Shelton and Pauline Ripat

Publication Date - 30 August 2022

ISBN: 9780190072131

624 pages
6 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

As the Romans Did provides instructors and students with the most comprehensive treatment of Roman social history. There is no other book that offers such a lucid account of Roman life in all its diversity.


As the Romans Did offers a rich, revealing look at everyday Roman life. It provides clear, lively translations of a fascinating array of documents drawn from Latin and Greek source material--from personal letters, farming manuals, medical texts, and recipes to poetry, graffiti, and tombstone inscriptions. Each selection has been translated into readable, contemporary English. Extensive annotations, abundant biographical notes, maps, appendices, cross-references to related topics, and a newly updated bibliography provide readers with the historical and cultural background material necessary to appreciate the selections. Arranged thematically into chapters on family life, housing, education, entertainment, religion, and other important topics, the translations reveal the ambitions and aspirations not only of the upper class, but of the average Roman citizen as well. They tell of the success and failure of Rome's grandiose imperialist policies and also of the pleasures and hardships of everyday life. Wide-ranging and lively, the third edition of As the Romans Did offers the most lucid account available of Roman life in all its diversity.

New to this Edition

  • 50 new literary selections expands the book's coverage of everyday Roman life. New topics include magic, witchcraft, oracles, and Roman concepts of gender.
  • The text now offers material evidence, with 38 visual sources that function in several ways
  • New co-editor Pauline Ripat (University of Winnipeg)


  • Offers a rich, revealing look at everyday Roman life-from leisure and entertainment to housing and city life to women and enslaved persons.
  • Clear, lively translations
  • Thematic organization facilitates in-depth study of a topic
  • Inclusion of material evidence sets As the Romans Did apart from other comparable introductory textbooks and sourcebooks for ancient society currently on the market, which tend to include images primarily as illustrations rather than evidence in their own right.

About the Author(s)

Jo-Ann Shelton is Professor of Classics (Emerita), University of California, Santa Barbara

Pauline Ripat is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Winnipeg (Canada)

Table of Contents


    Preface to the Third Edition
    Figures, Charts, and Maps
    About the Authors

    The Roman Ideal
    1. Horatius at the Bridge, Veturia outside the Walls

    I. The Structure of Roman Society
    Social Structure
    2. Rule by the “Best Men”
    3, 4. Definitions of Justice and Law
    5, 6. Discrimination in Assigning Penalties
    Paternalism and Patronage
    7. Patrician and Plebeian
    8. Patrons and Clients in Republican Rome
    9. Patrons and Clients in Imperial Rome
    10. Seeking a Handout
    11. Patrons and Patrons
    12. Rude Patrons
    12. Another Rude Patron
    14. No Free Lunches (or Dinners)

    II. Families
    15. Patria Potestas
    16. Horace's Father
    17. Quintilian's Sons
    18. Cicero's Grief
    Image 2.1. Marcus Cornelius Statius and His Father
    19. The Ideal
    20. Memory of a Warm Moment
    21. Maternal Tenderness
    22. A Mother's Concern
    23. An Ungrateful Son
    Blended Families
    24. Step-Parents
    Brothers and Sisters
    25. Brotherly Love
    26. Sisterly Affection
    Producing a Family
    27. Fertility
    28, 29. Birth Announcements
    30. Miscarriage
    31. Infant Deaths
    Image 2.2. Commemoration of a Child
    Birth Control
    32, 33. Contraception
    34, 35. Abortion
    36, 37. Exposure
    Encouraging Fertility
    38-40. The Legislation of Augustus
    41. An Adoption Agreement
    42. Giving Away One's Child
    Raising Children
    43. Filial Obedience
    44. Spoiled Brats
    45. Advice about Parental Severity
    46, 47. Nurses
    48. Paedagogues
    49. A Persistant Paedagogue
    50. Appointing Guardians
    51. An Appeal for Help
    Welfare Assistance
    52. Public Assistance
    Image 2.3. Trajan's Charity
    53. Private Charity

    III. Marriage
    The Age of Marriage Partners
    54. Child Brides
    Arranged Marriages
    55. Matchmakers
    56. A Wedding Song
    57. A Marriage Contract
    58. Expectations of Marriage
    Image 3.1. Harmonious Marriage
    59. The Duties of a Wife
    60. A Perfect Marriage
    61, 62. Calpurnia, Pliny's Wife
    63. Quintilian's Wife
    64. Love for a Wife
    65, Image 3.2. A Good Wife
    66. Battered Wives
    67. Wife-Beating
    68. Love for a Husband
    69, 70. Family Intervention
    71. A Divorce Agreement
    72. Response to Divorce
    73. Where to Meet
    74. Deceiving One's Husband
    75. Poems to a Mistress
    76. Another Perspective
    77. Laws to Control Adultery
    78. Augustus's Own Behavior

    IV. Housing and City Life
    Single-Family Houses in the City
    79. Designs for City Houses
    Image 4.1. A House at Pompeii
    80. Complaints from an Apartment Dweller
    81. A Dingy Apartment
    Images 4.2, 4.3 Apartment Buildings
    82. A Landlord's Problems
    House Prices
    83. The High Cost of Living in Rome
    Rental Advertisements
    84, 85. Shops and Apartments for Rent
    Homeowner's Insurance
    86. Fire Insurance
    The Benefits of City Life
    87. Aqueducts
    88. Roads, Sewers, and the Campus Martius
    Image 4.4. The Streets of Herculaneum
    89. Toilets
    90, 91. Roads
    The Problems of City Life
    92. Crowds, Traffic, and Muggers
    93. Noise
    94. Theft
    95. Burglary
    96. Neighbors
    Housing in Rural Areas
    97. Farm Houses
    98. Vacation Villas

    V. Domestic and Personal Concerns
    Images 5.1, 5.2. Bread, the Staff of Life
    99. A Peasant's Dinner
    100. A Modest Dinner
    Image 5.3. Dinner at Home
    101. A Dinner Invitation
    102. A Rejected Host
    103. Recipe for Fish Sauce
    104. Numidian Chicken
    105. Rabbit with Fruit Sauce
    106. Liver Sausage
    107. Anchovy Delight without the Anchovies
    108. Sweet and Sour Pork
    109. Dysentery
    110. Asthma
    Medical Treatments
    111. Jaundice
    112. Broken Bones
    113. Strains and Bruises
    114. Medical Training
    115, 116. Change of Profession
    117. Distrust of Doctors
    Image 5.4. Medical Professions
    118. Midwives
    Life Expectancy
    119. Lutatia Secundina
    120. Magnilla
    121. Mercurius
    122. Firminus
    123. Death Notices
    124. Cicero's Grief
    125. Condolences
    Funerary Laws and Funerals
    126. Funerary Laws
    127. Curses on Tomb Violators
    128. Funerals
    129. A Funeral Club
    130. Final Words: An Epitaph
    Personal Messages
    131-133. The Walls of Pompeii

    VI. Education
    The Roman Ideal
    134. A Traditional Education
    A Child's Early Years
    135. The Role of the Parents
    Image 6.1. A Parent's Hopes
    Teachers and Schools
    136. Private Tutors
    137. Orbilius, the Schoolteacher
    138. Corporal Punishment
    139. A Schoolteacher's Hours
    140. A Schoolteacher's Salary
    141. Incentives for Learning
    142. Book Awards
    143. An Endowment for a School
    144. A Letter Home
    The Litterator
    145. A Day in the Life of a Schoolboy
    Image 6.2. Writing Equipment
    146. Morals and Memorization
    147. An Arithmetic Lesson
    148. Enough Education for the Average Man
    Vocational Training
    149. Apprenticeship to a Weaver
    150. Career Choice
    151. Girls at Work
    The Grammaticus
    152. Curriculum
    Image 5.3. School of the Grammaticus
    The Rhetor
    153. The Good Old Days
    154, 155. Classroom Exercises
    156. Pity the Teacher
    157. Criticism of the Rhetor's Exercises
    158. Criticism of the “New Style”
    159. The Ideal Orator
    A Year Abroad
    160. Studying in Athens

    VII. Occupations
    The Day's Activities
    161. Dividing Up the Day
    162. City Life
    Working for a Living
    163. Scorn for the Working Class
    164. Tradesmen and Craftsmen
    Image 7.1. A Produce Seller
    165. Workers
    166. Pride of Workmanship
    167. Temporary Employment
    168. Wage and Price Control
    Image 7.2. A Butcher's Shop
    169. The Grain Dole
    Business and Investments
    170. The Roman Attitude toward Profit
    171. Traders
    172. Rome, The Center of Trade
    173. Moneylending
    174. Loan Companies
    175. War Bonds
    176. Cato's Financial Activities
    177. A Real Estate Speculator
    178. A Government Construction Contract
    179. A Government Contract for Military Provisions
    180. Contract Fraud
    181, 182. Government Contracts for Tax Collection
    183. Money lending in the Provinces
    184. Kingmakers
    Activities of the Senatorial Class
    185. Pliny's Investments
    186. Pliny's Activities
    187. An Attempt at Land Reform
    Image 7.3. A Farmer's Toil
    188. Tillers of the Field
    189. Tenant Farmers
    190. Sharecroppers
    191. A Farmer's Life
    192. Shepherds
    193. Harassment of Shepherds
    194. Farmers and Heroes
    195. Retreat from Reality
    196. The Romantic Vision
    197. The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

    VIII. Enslaved Persons
    198. Captives of War
    Image 8.1: Enslaving People
    Selling Slaves
    199. Regulations
    Buying Slaves
    200. A Contract for the Sale of a Slave
    201. A Friend's Advice
    Renting Slaves
    202. A Contract for the Rental of a Slave
    Slaves in the City and on the Farm
    203. Household Slaves
    204. Adjusting to Enslavement
    Image 8.2 Duties of the Enslaved
    205. State-Owned Slaves
    206. Choosing Slaves for the Farm
    207. Farm Slaves and a Frugal Owner
    208. Managing Slaves
    Slaves in the Mines
    209. Spanish Silver Mines
    Slaves in a Mill
    210. A Flour Mill
    Cruelty to Slaves
    211. Flogging
    212. Sadism
    213. Brutality
    214. Cruel Laws
    Image 8.3, 215, 216. Slave Collars
    217. A Search for a Fugitive Slave
    Slave Revolts
    218. Revolt within the Household
    219. A Widespread Revolt
    Gentler Treatment
    220. Benevolence
    221. A Stoic View of Slavery
    222. Laws to Curb Cruelty
    223. Hadrian's Legislation
    224. Reiteration
    225. Humane Interpretation of the Laws
    226. Enslaved Families

    IX. Freedmen and Freedwomen
    Reasons for Manumission
    227. Recognition of Talent
    228. Recognition of Intelligence
    229. Freeing Possible Witnesses
    230. Adoption
    231. Marriage
    232. Criticism of the Manumission Process
    Roman Attitudes toward Freedmen and Freedwomen
    233. The Stereotype of the Wealthy Freedman
    234. Resentment
    235. Prejudice against Foreigners
    Freedpersons and the Job Market
    236. Construction Work
    237. Herald
    238. Teacher
    239. Slaughterer
    240. Maid
    Freedpersons and Their Patrons
    241. Legal Obligations
    242. The Ideal Freedman
    243. A Troubled Relationship
    244. A Generous Patron
    245. Another Kind Patron
    246. Selective Kindness
    Private and Social Life
    247. A Life Story
    248. Friendship between Freedpersons
    Image 9.1. Freedpersons and Family
    249. Mother and Daughter
    250. Seeking Respectability
    Image 9.2. Self-Presentation

    X. Government and Politics
    The Assemblies
    251. The Comitia
    252. Comitia and Concilium: Some Differences
    253. Lex and Plebiscitum
    254. Contio
    255. The Functions of the Magistrates
    256. The Titles of the Magistrates
    251. The Development of the Magistracies
    Image 10.1. Monarchical Power and Republican Magistrates
    258. The Duties of the Consuls
    259. The Responsibilities of a Magistrate
    260. Friends in Power
    261. Abuse of Power
    Political Campaigns
    262. Planning a Campaign
    263. Campaign Literature
    Image 10.2. Election Endorsements
    The Senate
    264. The Senate in the Republican Period
    265. The Senate and the People
    266. The Senate and the Equestrians
    Government in the Early Imperial Period
    267. The Powers of Augustus
    268. The Prefect of the City
    269, 270. Careers in the Government
    271. The End of Popular Elections
    272, 273. Freedom of Speech
    274. The Emperor and the Senate
    275, 276. The Benefits of Imperial Rule
    277. Roman Self-Styling
    278. Sources of Legislation
    279-281. Categories
    282. Definitions
    283-289. Equity
    290. The Force of Custom

    XI. The Roman Army
    The Army during the Republican Period
    291. The Army before Marius's Reforms
    292. A Good Republican Soldier
    293. A Triumph
    The Army during the Imperial Period
    294. Reasons for the Army's Success
    295. Enlistment
    296. Training
    297-299. Discipline
    300. Pay Records
    301. Supply and Service Troops
    302, Image 11.1. A Letter Home
    303. A Letter of Recommendation
    304. How to Advance Quickly
    305. Soldiers and the Emperor
    306. A Mutiny
    307, 308. The Height of Recruits
    309. Avoiding the Draft
    310. Soldiers and Civilians
    311. Requisitions
    312. Military Justice
    313. Life on the Frontier
    314. Retirement in the Provinces
    Image 11.2. Life and Death of a Veteran
    315. The Danube Frontier
    316. Roman Families in Britain

    XII. Provincial Administration
    Provincial Administration
    Image 12.1. Provincial Resources and Roman Perceptions
    Image 12.2. Grain for Rome
    317. The Theory of Provincial Administration
    318. The Publican Problem
    319. Cicero as Governor
    320. The Noble Brutus
    321. A Most Unscrupulous Governor
    322. Fear of Rebellion
    323. Hatred of Roman Rule
    324. The Benefits of Roman Rule
    Image 12.3. Roman Shoes at the Edge of the Empire

    XIII. Women in Roman Society
    325. Little Women
    Image 13.1. Toys for Girls
    326. Single Women
    Life Expectancy
    327. A Brief Life
    Image 13.2. Commemorating an Untimely Death
    328. Death in Childbirth
    329. Femicide
    Praiseworthy Behavior
    330. The Virtues of Women
    331. An Outstanding example of Pietas
    332. Emotional Control
    333. Loyalty
    334. Patience
    Image 13.3. Tidy Appearance
    Unacceptable Behavior
    335. Scandalous Conduct
    336. Women and Politics
    337. Women and Too Much Education
    338. Women and Luxuries
    339. Women and Theatrical Performances
    340. Women and Vanity
    341. Symptoms
    342. Causes and Cures
    Women at Work
    343. A Dressmaker
    344. A Hairdresser
    345. A Fishmonger
    346. Farm Women
    347. Companions to Shepherds

    XIV. Leisure and Entertainment
    Leisure Activities
    348, 349. The Pleasures of Life
    350. Gambling and Gaming
    351. Athletic Activities
    352. The Good Old Days
    353. Living Above a Public Bath Building
    354. The Design of a Bath Building
    Dinner Parties
    355. Fishing for a Dinner Invitation
    356. An Early Dinner Guest
    357. A Thrifty Man
    358. Roman Doggy Bags
    359. A Shameless Guest
    360. A Napkin Thief
    361. A Rude Host
    362. House of the Moralist
    363. The Persistent Poet
    364. The Popularity of Recitations
    365. A Recitation at Pliny's House
    Hunting and Literary Studies
    366. Pliny's Hunting Expedition
    367. A Day in the Country
    368. Along the Appian Way
    369. Hotel Sign
    370. Hotel Bars
    371. Dishonest Innkeepers
    372. Hotel Prostitutes
    373. Homesickness
    374. Loneliness
    375. No Trespassing
    376. The Ancient Jet Set
    377. Caesar's Games
    378. Nero's Games
    379. Political Wisdom
    380. The Road to Decadence
    Circus Events
    381. A Driver's Winning Techniques
    Image 14.1. A Chariot Race
    382. A Day at the Races
    383. Fanatical Fans
    384. A Successful Driver
    385. Cursing One's Opponent
    386. A Young Driver
    387. A Family of Drivers
    388. A Famous Driver
    Theater Events
    389. The Problems of a Playwright
    390. Pantomime
    Arena Events
    391, 392. Advertising Amphitheater Events
    393. Fight Statistics
    Image 14.2. A Combat of Gladiators
    394. Fans
    395. An Unsympathetic Point of View
    396. A More Enlightened View
    397. Rounding Up the Animals
    398. The Harmful Results of Spectacles
    399. Escaping the Tortures of the Arena
    400. The Victim's Perspective
    401. Fascination and Addiction

    XV. Religion and Philosophy
    Religion and Society
    402. Roman Religiosity
    403. Religion and Roman Social Cohesion
    404. Religion and Imperial Success
    405. 1. “Major” Deities of Roman Public Religion
    406, 407. Epithets
    408. 2. Minor Deities with Specific Powers
    409, 410. 3. Deities of the Environment
    411. 4. Household Deities
    Image 15.1. A Lararium
    412. Worship on the Farm
    413. 5. Ancestral Deities
    414, 415. 6. Imported Deities
    416. Welcoming the Gods of the Enemy
    417. 7. Deities in the Provinces
    8. Emperors as Deities
    418, 419. Tiberius' Resistance to Emperor Worship
    420, 421. Words and Actions
    422. Prayer and Sacrifice
    423, 424. Acceptable Victims
    425. Ritual for Purification
    426. Ambarvalia
    Image 15.2. A suovetaurilia
    427, 428. Vows
    429. Oaths
    430, 431, 432. Curses
    433. Pontifices
    434, 435. Vestal Virgins
    436. Fratres Arvales
    437. Augury and the Augures
    438. A Cautionary Tale
    439. Extispicy and the Haruspices
    440, 441. The Sibylline Books and the Quindecimviri Sacris Faciundis
    442, 443. Private Divination
    Religious Space
    The Roman Calendar
    444. Naming the Days
    445. Lupercalia
    446. Saturnalia
    447. Saturnalia Gifts
    448. Hannibal in Italy
    449. Civil War
    Religions from the East
    450. Suppression of the Bacchanalia
    451. The Edict of the Senate
    452. Worship of the Goddess
    453. Christian Skepticism
    Encounters with Monotheism
    454. The Jewish Community in Rome and the Emperor Tiberius
    455. The Jewish Community and the Emperors Augustus and Caligula
    456. The Jewish Community in Alexandria and the Emperor Claudius
    457. The Promises of Christianity
    458, 459. Christians in the First Century A.D.
    460. Imperial Advice about Dealing with Christians
    461. Christian Reaction to Trajan's Rescriptum
    462. Misconceptions about Christianity
    463. A Christian's Reply to the Accusations
    464. Martyrs
    465. Systematic Persecution
    466. Toleration
    467. Resistance to Intolerance
    468. Christian Intolerance
    469. The Reasons for Studying Philosophy
    470. The First Principal
    471. The Second Principal
    472. Proof of the Existence of Atoms
    473. Void
    474. Life and Death
    475. The Promise of Philosophy
    476. Stoic Definition of Happiness
    477. Fate and Free Will
    478. Emotions
    479. The Invulnerability of the Wise Man
    480. Death as True Freedom
    481. Training and Preparation
    482. Self-Discipline and Steadfastness

    Genealogy Charts
    Appendix I: Sources
    Appendix II: Roman Money
    Appendix III: Important Dates and Events
    Suggestions for Further Reading
    Thematic Questions