Talk:Culture of ancient Rome

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Writing style[edit]

I must be candid here, but the transition and flow of this article needs work. It seems very choppy and jumps from one place to another. I had a lot of trouble following along. It is informative, but would someone mind reading this article through (other than the writer himself) and see if it does need work?* Thank you Mfiedor 10:51, 17 July 20

Toilets in Ancient Rome[edit]

I was wondering where the ancient Romans disposed of their urine and feces? I've heard about public toilets where the seats were made by marble. Marble was very cold and they had to keep slaves sitting on the toilet seats to warm them up for the free people. Is there any reality to this? Could someone please add this topic to the article? cun 21:32, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Well done![edit]

Well done to everyone who worked on this - this is a great example to our critics of how Wikipedia is generally reliable. Two, three, or more heads are better than one. Charlie123 11:59, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

Info on Religions[edit]

I've got some good information on Roman religious movements in the Roman peninsula. If anyone thinks that, for some reason, it might fall out of the scope of "culture" then please feel free to say. Stephensj74 01:35, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

    • In my opinion, culture is such a term which will always have something on Religion - I feel that the relevant matter may be briefly put in the article.--Bhadani 01:29, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
      • I can do a brief article. I'll probably be able to do it Friday night and Saturday. Stephensj74 01:37, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

In the Apenine peninsula, I presume. Religion is culture by any definition, so go right ahead, as long as its your own work. Zocky 01:25, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Here's the article I've worked on for the Religion section. Tell me what you guys think about it. I not sure whether to put it under the religion heading or break it up and expand it to other sections or what, you guys tell me. So here it is:

Roman religious beliefs date back all the way to the founding of Rome, which in dates to around 1400 BC but the Roman religion commonly associated with the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire did not start forming until around 500 BC when Romans came in contact with Greek culture and adopted many of the Greek’s religious beliefs including the representation of Greek gods in the form of humans.

Many of the gods that the Roman’s worshiped were based on the gods the Greeks worshiped. The three central deities for Rome was the Roman god Jupiter (who was the god of rain, thunder, and lightning) who was called Zeus by the Greeks, the Roman god Mars (the good of warfare) who was called Ares by the Greeks, and the Roman god Quirinus (who watched over the senate house) who was one of the truly “Roman” gods who was associated with the people of Sabine and was also associated with the founder of Rome, Romulus (who was also a god).

When Rome began to expand its influence all over the Mediterranean Rome began accepting other foreign gods into their own culture, such as the Greek gods, and other religious traditions such as the Cynic and Stoic traditions. There were even attempts by many Roman and Greek philosophers to accept other gods that countered their religion such as the Jewish deity Yahweh (viewed as the only Supreme god by the Israelites) by stating that the Jews merely worshiped Jupiter but just under a different name and therefore there should be an acceptance of the Jewish culture. With the fall of the Roman Republic and the reign of the emperors which created theRoman Empire in 31 BC the Roman emperors were considered to be gods incarnate.

Two major philosophical schools of thought that derived from Greek religion and philosophy that became prominent in Rome in the 1st and 2nd century AD was Cynicism and Stoicism which, according to Cora Lutz were “fairly well merged” in the early years of the Roman Empire. Cynicism taught that civilization was corrupt and people needed to break away from it and it’s trappings and Stoicism taught that one must give up all earthly goods by remaining detached from civilization and help others. Because of their negative views on civilization and of their way of life, in where many of them just wore a dirty cloak, carried a staff, and a coin purse, and slept outdoors, they were the targets of the Roman aristocracy and of the emperor and many were persecuted by the Roman government for being “subversive.” The philosopher Lucian attacked the cynics in his book “The Philosophies for Sale” in which he mocked the cynics by stating “First...stripping you of your luxury...I will put a cloak on you...Next I will compel you to undergo pains and hardships, sleeping on the ground, drinking nothing but water...Leading this life you will say that your are happier than the Great King...Frequent the most crowded market place...and in [it] desire to be solitary and uncommunicative...”

Much of the Roman practices of their religion and philosophy lasted until the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official Roman religion for the Roman Empire in 313 AD. Prior to that Christianity had spread from the Roman province of Palestine, where it was heavily influenced by Judaism, until it started to pick up many beliefs from the Greeks as it was being spread throughout the Roman Empire. Stephensj74 22:38, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Most historians of the Roman religion would mention Etruscan practice, filtered and colored by Greek, both in popular religion and in the religion of the literate class. The Roman approach to religion is well discussed in A History of Private Life : 1. From Pagan Rome to Byzantium Paul Veyne, editor,(1987). It's availablein paperback over the Internet, and reading it would give some perspective. --Wetman 19:11, 11 July 2005 (UTC)

Article or a list of links[edit]

Is this going to be a list or a real article? Stancel 21:07, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Should be an article, probably containing some lists or links to lists. olivier 10:35, May 9, 2005 (UTC)
  • In my opinion, although a "list" is ok at the initial state, ultimately COTW status and contributions should result into a complete article Culture of Ancient Rome--Bhadani 15:31, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Government and Politics[edit]

I think we should leave out stuff on Roman government and poolitics. Ancient Rome looks like it's going to be COTW next week and that kind of material probably belongs there. I understand "culture" here in the narrow sense of arts and letters, not in the broad sense of "civilization". Zocky 08:19, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

I agree. The current organizatin of topics under the heading "Political life and public institutions" is not too fortunate anyway. I would insist, though, that the information on Roman law stays on the page. That is not just because I put it in, but because Roman law (much more than Roman politics) is a cultural aspect of Europe's Roman heritage. Maybe the info on Roman law could be combined with a few paragraphs on Roman political ideas that inspired later times. I would propose the folloing structure:
Replace section "Politial life and public institutions" with the following:
==Political and legal institutions==
===The Roman republic===
Should contain information on the basic features of the republic with emphasis on the way they influennced later times: E.G. the impact of the ideals of the republic on Cola di Rienzi, the French revolution, but also on Mussolini. No detailed info on the Roman magistrates and their respective roles.
===The Empire===
As above. Sould focus on the idea of the Empire, which lived on in the byzantine Empire and in the western Holy Roman Empire.
===Roman law===
Should stay as it is now.
--Thomas Ruefner 11:07, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
      • Ok, thanks for the suggetions, I am doing the necessary changes in sections- and, as it is getting almost mid-night in India, I would place texts on sunday morning. One more request to all - I have edited a number of sections of the article, I request all concerned to go through the entire article, and effect changes/corrections, if any. Suggestions are also welcome. For a few more days, I may continue to work on this article. I desperately require open and free comments and suggestions. All suggestions, including some which I may also tender, may be placed under a separate section. By the way, I effected changes in this section of the talk page yesterday, without much thought - I thought, I was formatting this talk page. --Bhadani 19:19, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

I've been having second thoughts about government. Roman government should IMO be described here, but not chronicled in detail. Zocky 09:03, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Request to verify an external link[edit]

An external link by has been incerted on 13 May 2005. This may please be examined for relevancy by someone knowing that language. Thanks.--Bhadani 16:26, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

well, it is sort of relevant, but arguably in the wrong language ! :p
It talks about a German encyclopedia started in the 19th Century, about the "arts" (science) of classical Rome. It could be nice to translate the article, but as such, it is not very useful.
Also, it is about a work about Culture of Ancient Rome, not about Culture of Ancient Rome itself... might be better off in "reference". Rama 17:54, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Comments & Suggestions[edit]

  • Hi all, comments and suggestions are desperately requested. Thanks. --Bhadani 06:13, 15 May 2005 (UTC)
    • From today, I will take a break from this article for some days. Please comment on the article, and please contribute. Thanks.--Bhadani 09:01, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

This COTW[edit]

In few moments, this COTW shall come to an end, the article has become bigger and more informative, its size has also reached the optimum level as set by wikipedia. I did a lot of edits. I request interested editors to continue to work on the article, to incert images whereever required/copy edit/re-edit, remove and add edits - all aimed to make the article better. As stated earlier, I shall step aside from this article for the time being. Thanks to all who had placed sections, on which I could expand. --Bhadani 18:06, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

This article is a WHOLE lot better than it was.(In fact it was a pathetic list). I just wanted to say that those who edited over the course of its COTW did an excellent job. Falphin 22:18, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm new to this and am uncertain how to edit some passages in the Roman Culture entry.

In the first example, "I like cats" seems to be a mischievous assertion which can be deleted freely:

Later Ovid produced his Metamorphoses, written in dactylic hexameter verse, the meter of epic, I like cats. It was noted in classical times that Ovid's work lacked the gravitas possessed by traditional epic poetry

However, I hesitate to alter this other example, because I do not know the intent of the previous author(s):

The Arts

Literature Main article: Latin literature as the roman admired the greeks celebration of the human body,they still had less artists in their time.they bent the celebration to sport, and exposure, but kept to the lines of painting and sculpture.

Fflefever (talk) 03:31, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Social structure[edit]

Is there any direct authority (from historical sources) for the assertions that plebeians did not exist from a legal point of view in the times of the Roman kings? Even if there is, I think that there is much too much informqation on the earliest times (of which so little is known to us) and too little on the republican and later times (of which we know quite a lot). The article as it stands now gives the impression that plebeians were legal non-entities for most of Rome's existence. --Thomas Ruefner 16:50, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

What is our isn't "culture"?[edit]

Although there's a heck of a lot of good information here, the main problem with this article is that it's extremely vague, very close to being as vague as the top article of the Rome series, Ancient Rome. And considering how deficient Ancient Rome is in many respects, it almost seems like this argument is lowering the quality of the main Rome article by not integrating with it and having a somewhat arbitrary distinction between "culture" and "non-culture". People won't know what to come here to look for, and lots of the information that's here and not in Ancient Rome will never be found by people looking for it. So, we should be absolutely clear and what is and isn't Rome's "culture". Above all else, I'd say that the following things are certainly "cultural": art, music, literature, theatre, religion, language, and to a lesser extent, clothing, sports, etc. However, I'm not so sure that the following things are especially "cultural": social structure (I'd group that under "Society of ancient Rome", not "Culture" per se), political and legal institutions (would fit under "Government of ancient Rome" and possibly "Society" again, but really not so "cultural"), and Roman economy (again, if you're going for a vague and ill-defined concept, "social" fits much better here than "cultural").

In a lot of ways, though, it almost seems like this article is so generic that it won't help the readers who are actually searching for all this specific information, and could develop into a POV fork; that seems a shame, considering how much great work went into this article. It's very slightly tempting to consider merging this article into Ancient Rome just to make all the info and formating consistent and integrate a lot of redundant information, and then to re-summarize and compact it by making new sub-articles for more specific topics (like "Roman family", "Roman sports", "Roman clothing"). It just seems like a single "hub" would be much more efficient and ensure stability and comprehensiveness. I certainly won't take any drastic action, but I'd love to hear what others think about this. -Silence 02:58, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

Traces in the cultures of Romance countries?[edit]

I think it would be a good idea if there were a paragraph or two about common traits that were pasted down to the cultures of Romance speaking countries from Ancient Roman culture.


Is there an expert out there who can perhaps add a section on the "morality" of Ancient Rome since I believe this is an interesting topic? I have read in bits and pieces from various sources about the vast differences between the pre-Christian moral concepts compared to our moral concepts. For example, the ancient Romans tended to see "compassion" as a defect of character instead valuing courage and, to some extent "ruthlessness" (albeit not necessarily dishonesty).

Anyway, I'm not an expert in these matters but it seems an important aspect of the culture. --Mcorazao 16:54, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Good request. Tough to do. I would, however, point to clementia, important to both Julius Caesar and Seneca, contra your remark about compassion, though clementia is more like "mercy" or rather restraining yourself from being vindictive; "ruthlessness" would probably be more severitas or such, which meant being stern. As Mary Beard pointed out in a recent book, tradition held that the Romans of the early to mid-Republic were a stern lot, not given to a lot of schoolboy giggling. I think it was the father or grandfather of the famous Crassus who was supposed to have laughed out loud only once in his life — and then at his own joke. It was a pretty feeble joke, too, so a certain cluelessness and lack of wit seems indicated. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:06, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

November 14[edit]

The IP needs to stop and discuss. Or at least read Religion in ancient Rome before you say something this uninformed: Roman religion was largely a continuation of various religious beliefs from ancient Greece. It borrowed both from the state religion of Greece that was very cold, abstract, and formal; and it borrowed from the more passionate and emotional religious practices of the Greek East that would help to formulate the ideals of Christianity. Less-sophisticated Romans were known to be superstitious, partly due to encouragement of superstition by the Roman state religion and by various self-proclaimed prophets, oracles, and diviners. This is not the best source on ancient Roman religion. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:08, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

And all the edits are coming from this single book. This is not the way to build a balanced article: see WP:UNDUE. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:16, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
And the preface to that book states its purpose: The conviction behind this book is that the Roman mind is still at work, profoundly influencing, in ways we are not always aware of, our politics, our diplomacy, our art and literature, our religious and philosophical attitudes... In short, it's a treatise on modern Westen culture, with a thesie about our essential nature; it's also a fifty year old polemic.
Unsurprisingly, it cannot be relied upon as a source for this article. Such claims as it makes about Rome are in service to its thesis; they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Errors produced by this excessive reliance on a man writing out of his field range from the date of the Gallic attack (391 BC) to the claim that the Romans were devoted to one-man executives in a way that the Greeks (with their Hellenistic kingship) and the Persians (under the Great King) were not. In fact, what marks Rome is an absense of one-man executives: even the heads of state were two consuls, advised by a Senate. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:06, 15 November 2011 (UTC)