The daily life of Pompeii and Herculaneum

In these chapters, under the title of daily life, we will analyze uses them and customs of the Roman society in Pompeii and Herculaneum. We're going to find the elements of this civilization of Campania: the young, his birth, the life within the family and society, all confronted with urban institutions dictated by Rome to the Colonies Campanes.


Ch.1 - child Roman

(A) La birth...

Wreaths of flowers laid at the doors of the House, announced that the family has grown to an enfancon (Filiolo me auctum scito). As a boy, he is greeted with joy: the family will live. Also the proud father lift (attollere, suscipere) to mark that it recognizes. Woe to the child who is not raised, and which is not taken into the arms of his father.  It is exposed in the Forum or on the public highway; the law of XII Tables on births, ordered to remove weak or deformed children, and this cruel legislation will be abolished by the Christian emperors.
The 9th day after the day of birth (dies natalis) (the 8th for girls), stands the day lustral (dies lustricus). A ceremony of purification, the child is given a name: he'll wear it all his life and, until at the end of childhood, will have no other name. Already, a name was unique and personal

(b) the name and divinity...

Every Roman citizen has three distinct names:
the Praenomen , which means the person within the family;
the Nomen (gentilicum) , which means the people together of families from the same ancestor (pater) and celebrating the same worship (sacra gentilicia);
the Cognomen that designates the family within the people.
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, for example, belongs to the Aemilia (name gentilice) people, to the family of the Scauri (nickname), and his name is Marcus.
These three names was sometimes added the Agnomen, a personal title or track of an adoption. Thus, the Victor of Carthage was named P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus; on his side, the Emperor Augustus, son of Marcus Octavius, but adopted by Jules César, called C. Iulius Caesar Octavianus (3 names of the adoptive father + a shot agnomen of the real father's name, suffix - anus). It should be noted that the Agnomen is always a single name, while the cognomen passes from generation to generation: for example a Marcus ipotetique who has a nice little foot, yet be called clubfoot in latin scaurus his life; We also find Longus Naso, Barbatus, Ahenobarbus, iron, Cicero...). The fact is even more typical that, in common usage, it referred to a man by his first name and his cognomen: Mr. (Tullius) Cicero, c. (Iulius) Caesar, Ti. (Sempronius) Gracchus, l. (Cornelius) Sulla (l)...

Finally, carrying a patrician people name was not of itself, a sign of nobility; There were playing the effects of postage and adoption: so, Cicero was certainly not a descendant of the old Royal then Tullia people.
The name of the girls was simpler; they received the name in honor of the people: Aemilia, Iulia, included... and in order of age, Aemilia, Minor Aemilia tertia, quarto, or Major Aemilia.
At the end of the ceremony of the lustricus dies, Quintus suspended around the neck of his son Marcus a gold bubble, bulla aurea ; among the poor, it's leather, the bulla scortea. Most of the time, it contains a talisman or good luck charm: superstition inherited from the Etruscans.
A host of deities, names the most evocators, will look after the toddler: Cuba, Goddess of sleep, Fabulinus, God the word, Potina and Educa, goddesses of drinking and eating, time and Adeona, goddesses of the first not ; Iterduca will protect him in the streets and Domiduca bring him back home.

(c) the education first

Once out of the swaddling clothes, the Roman child will wear the pretext toga praetexta lined with purple, like that of the senators.
Before the Punic wars and the Greek influence, the young child is raised directly by his mother, then, at the age of 7, taken in charge by his father: it is he who will teach the child the physical exercises and the letters, it is he who, later on, will introduce him to public life; without the interference of the State, which does not deal with education, without any intermediary (slave, pedagogue). This first education is turned entirely towards the formation of character: virtus romana, made of physical resistance, temperance, courage and self-control.
Under Greek influence, the sense of disinterested intellectual culture appears, just as the practice of home pedagogy is developing: long and incessant wars take the father out of the home and force him to resort to the services of a specialized specialist. This one will want to make the teenager, not only a good soldier and a good politician, but a man trained in all his faculties. Schools are multiplying to fill the gaps in the family initiative, but they remain totally independent of the state.
Little by little, the new ideas (the Res Novae) blur the respect of ancestral custom (the Mos maiorum): the intellectual formation gains there, not the moral value. For their part, parents too often lose interest in the education of their children.
Note that girls received the same training as boys: should not they ever be able to educate their sons?

(d) toys and games

What could the Roman children play? Texts, paintings, mosaics, figurines reveal us some of their hobbies.
The same day where the father gives the child a name, he offers her a first toy, to which will be added to others, according to birthdays or holidays of new year: Pulcinella articulated horse on wheels and all kinds of beasts, living together, the other metal, wooden or clay.
Once crossed the stage of early childhood, the young Romans like - and indeed all children - to mimic the gestures and attitudes of their elders. Also, the girls play with dolls; they have all a miniature household furniture and utensils and are introduced to the various tasks of a good Matrona (mother). Our child, Roman, first felt a soul Warrior and, next to the cradles of dolls, he lined up his legionaries of lead. More grown up, he has a passion for the real little war with friends; but since that one day he came back with a black eye, he finally opted for the judiciary. Wearing of the Toga to purple (praetexta)band, he plays the role of lender (judge) and chairs an improvised tribunal where the poor accused is seen invariably defended by clumsy lawyers, and brutally imprisoned by the lictors, under the gaze ruthless of the praetor.

The boys are still playing all kinds of games similar to ours: hide and seek, swing, stilt, scooter and diabolo. The wealthy sometimes have at their disposal a small chariot with two wheels (a biga), coupled with a goat or a dog: enough to organize a race or a triumph! It is not uncommon to find, in the recesses of the Forum, schoolboys who, by dice (aleae) or ossicles (tali), risk all the fortune of their piggy bank. But, most of them play the ball (pila), the spinning top (turbo), the hoop (trochus), the balls. These last ones are only nuts (nuces); hence the term "Nuces Relinquere", which means "out of childhood".
When this time comes for this child, he will offer his marbles and other toys to the gods lares (domestic gods). In the same way, on the eve of their marriage, her sisters will abandon their doll to Venus or to Diane.
Of all this little world of dreams, only a few figurines, touching vestiges of family solicitude and affection, have survived in children's graves.

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