Roman Culture


Ancient Roman culture was a civilization that existed for nearly 1200 years of history in what was known as Ancient Rome . The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later known as the Roman Empire , which, at its peak, covered a vast area ranging from the Lowlands of Scotland and Morocco to the Euphrates.


What was Roman culture?

Roman culture was a culture based on the exchange of civilizations developed in Greece , Mesopotamia and Egypt that help to form the culture of the Roman people , a culture that left us with a wide cultural legacy.


Characteristics of Roman culture

The main characteristics of Roman culture were the following:

  • Roman civilization has been divided into monarchy , republic and empire .
  • They practiced the exploitation of slaves .
  • They dominated the maritime fleet.
  • They were polytheists.


Many historians consider that the origin of Roman Culture was probably Indo-European, driven by the colonizing current of the tribes of eastern Europe . However, most of its inhabitants consider that the origin of the culture was thanks to Romulus and Remus , children who were abandoned and raised by a she-wolf.


The origin of the Roman culture dates from the year 753 a. C. on the banks of the Tiber River and according to stories it was founded by legendary characters, sons of Rea Silvia and the god Mars . The story goes that these two children were abandoned on the banks of the Tiber River, and that they were suckled by a she- wolf called Luperca and raised by shepherds as their own children. In the same place where they were suckled by the she-wolf, they founded a city . Romulus later killed his brother Remus over a dispute over the cost of entry to the city, which was called Rome.. What has been proven for sure is that Rome was founded progressively when Latin tribes settled in the area of ​​the seven hills , creating villages that merged.

Political and social organization of Roman culture

The social organization of the Romans was divided into patricians or elite , commoners who were the inhabitants of the town, and slaves . The people had no political or religious rights , although little by little they were conquering them. A structured socio-political system was created under a scheme that included elections in which a group of institutions formed by different kinds of assemblies were found, such as:

  • Curial : in which a group of thirty patricians elected magistrates and made decisions.
  • Centurial : it was an assembly of patricians and commoners, who in groups of one hundred represented one vote, to appoint a new consul.
  • Tribal : it was the assembly of commoners that selected the tribunes.

They also had a senate , made up of a council of elders who supervised religious services , administered financial resources , inspected magistrates, and appointed senior military chiefs . In addition, they had magistrates , who held ad honorem positions and lasted between one and five years. The consul was the highest position and was the one who led the state and the army. This position was followed by the praetor who was in charge of administering justice , in addition, the censor who supervised moral conduct.and public of the population.

The citizens enjoyed Roman rights such as suffrage , the power to run for public office, ownership of property , the ability to take action against the courts, appeal decisions of judges and also citizens could not be sentenced to death.


The economic activities of the Roman Culture enjoyed extensive human and Roman resources. The economy was based on its agriculture and commerce . The agricultural trade was based on the large estates for the cultivation of vines, cereals and olives. Work in the cities involved manufacturing , commerce , teachers, bankers, and architects. Also weavers, potters, shoemakers, blacksmiths, dyers offered their products in the same place that they were manufactured.

Agriculture and Livestock

The agriculture was one of the main activities within the Roman civilization and this profession was seen almost as a sacred activity . The main activities were based on the cultivation of the land and the raising of cattle . They were owners of large estates and their maintenance and exploitation was in the hands of slaves . They made exports of their fruits, vegetables and fresh vegetables, which were highly appreciated by the civilizations of the big cities.

Cultural manifestations of Roman culture


Constructions of architectural works such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain were elaborated . Roman architecture even extended to later times, being reflected in the Church of San Pedro , San Juan de Letrán , Plaza de España  and Plaza de Venecia . The Romans decorated their houses and buildings with frescoes and mosaics . They built roads , bridges , aqueducts , and hot springs .


Thanks to the heritage of the Etruscans and Greeks , an incredible artistic expression based on realism and portraits was developed . Many of the monuments made by the Roman culture were made in bronze or marble and others carved in friezes . The main theme for his sculptures was the portrait of gods or characters important. Among the main works we can mention Augusto de Prima Porta , bust of Antinous , portrait of Augustus , portrait of Patrick wearing masks.


The presence of ceramics in the life of Roman culture was something that occurred every day, it was considered an important tool and there were even workshops that were exclusively dedicated to it. The pottery activity also became an important part of the manufacturing industry of culture. They had various types of ceramics such as Campanian, relief or megarace, Hispanic Pompeian red slip, African, and terra sigillata.

Roman culture religion

The Roman religion had two types of cults, one was carried out in the home , and was used for the union and the public ones, which was directed to the homeland and respect for the State , later the cult of the emperor was also added. It was a religion tolerant of others, since the Romans were polytheists and welcomed Greek , Egyptian , Phrygian gods , etc. There were sanctuaries in the houses, to offer worship to the gods of the home and family for protection. The religious rites were organized by the government of Rome and the culta religion other than the empire was forbidden and condemned . The main gods were:

  • Bacchus : was the Roman god of wine and ecstasy . Son of the god Zeus and the human Semele.
  • Diana : was the hunting goddess , armed with a bow. She was the goddess of the Moon , daughter of Jupiter and Latona. She was always young and a virgin and represented chastity .
  • Feboo : he was one of the most respected gods, he was a strong , young man who carried a box with arrows or a lyre.
  • Juno : wife of Jupiter and part of the Capitoline Triad . Mother of Mars, Vulcanizo and Lucia. She was the Roman goddess of motherhood and women entrusted her with their protection.

Customs and traditions of Roman culture

Some of the main traditions and customs of Roman culture were the following:

  • They thought that the gladiators who won were men of good luck so people sought to get a few drops of the blood spilled by them.
  • Women and men waxed with waxes or special tweezers , as a matter of hygiene.
  • In order to perfume her mistress, a slave would fill her mouth with perfume and spray it on her mistress.
  • The women made their own makeup from crocodile droppings or flour and used the poisonous substance red nitrate to color their cheeks and painted their lips with rotten fruit.
  • The person who had debts happened to belong to his creditor along with his family and in this way they lost their citizenship rights , forming a class between slaves and free men.
  • When a father passed away, the eldest son closed his eyes and called him for the last time.
  • The poor families enteraban their dead in graves common .


The main languages ​​were Latin and Greek , but there were other important languages ​​as well. The mother tongue of the ancient Romans was Latin, and it was widely used by the military and courts of the West. .


The most common dishes were Palmetum , millet porridge , or peas ; porridge made from wheat flour and other cereals to which butter was sometimes added; the polenta , porridge made with barley flour. The bread was the staple food and sometimes eat eggs , cheese from sheep or goat, olives , vegetables , fruits , soups and vegetables . The meats were eaten little, but when they consumed it was chicken or pork and the wealthiest ox. The fish it was only eaten on the coast.


The costume in Ancient Rome had two types of pieces, the indutus that were the interior , and the amictus , the exterior . At the beginning the Romans only wore the tunic and on some occasions they wore another inner tunic, called subúcula , equivalent to our shirt. The upper tunic used to be girded with a belt called a cngulum and the toga was a wide woolen garment , elliptical cut , closed at the bottom and open at the top to the waist.

Generally the color of Roman clothes was white mainly in those who aspired to the magistracy . Children and magistrates wore a toga adorned with purple stripes and emperors wore the toga made entirely of purple or embroidered with gold .


Roman culture developed and was located in what we now know as the current Italian peninsula , located south of the European continent , in the Mediterranean Sea . Due to its location and the creation of a huge military army, it was able to expand throughout the region, thus forming one of the most decisive and important civilizations in world history .

Important cities of Roman culture

The main cities of Roman culture were:

  • Aosta : at the beginning it was a Roman camp and later it was divided into 16 main reticular blocks, highlighting the amphitheater and theater.
  • Ostia : important naval base and center of commercial activity.
  • Pompeii : remembered for being under the ashes of the Vesuvius volcano , remaining practically intact. It was also a very agricultural and commercial city.
  • Tarraco : capital of the Tarragona region. Its archaeological complex was declared a World Heritage Site and preserves Roman remains such as: the amphitheater, circus, local forum or the necropolis, among others.
  • Saguntum : capital of the Carthaginian region and strategic point in trade through the Mediterranean Sea.


One of the main contributions was the establishment of laws for writing , and for this reason the Roman culture made great contributions to the law in force . The Latin language became the mother of many modern languages . Its architectural vestiges , works of art were also a great legacy and it was an important Christian center in the world.

The creation of aqueducts and bridges to carry fresh water, the Julian calendar based on the length of the solar year, the construction of roads and highways, Roman numerals , concrete , basilicas , newspapers and sewers.

Leave a Comment