3. Filling the Day

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We have an image of Roman citizens living in spacious villas, the floors and walls decorated with mosaics, with courtyards and fountains. In fact, the vast majority of urban people lived in cramped and dingy flats, paying rent on a daily basis to landlords who cared not a jot for their welfare, and paid scant attention to the structural integrity of their own properties.

From the morning visit to one's patrons, to the afternoon baths, how did Romans, rich and poor, spend their days? What were the working hours of the lower orders and, though there was no such thing as a weekend, what sort of free time did they have? And what did they do with it?

The Romans had interior design fads and polite dinner-parties, but were feasts and orgies as commonplace an occurrence as legend insists, and what were the dining rooms like?

And, though pretty well everyone went to the baths at some point in the day, the whole business involved a great deal more than just washing.

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30 minutes

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Sun 2 Feb 2003 13:00