• Did the Romans have free time?

    Most people in Roman times did not have much spare time. They were too busy working. They liked games though. Soldiers often played board games with counters and dice. Counters and boards for their games have been found. Archaeologists aren't always sure of the rules!

    Hunting was also popular. People hunted animals for fun as well as for food. The Romans introduced fallow deer to Britain, just for hunting.

    Some things the Romans did for fun were horrible. They enjoyed fights between gladiators, and fights between people and animals. These bloodthirsty shows were put on in front of crowds in large arenas called amphitheatres.

    Roman emperors paid for free shows at theatres and amphitheatres. It was a good way to make themselves popular.

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  • What did gladiators do?

    Gladiators fought one another, usually in pairs. They also fought wild animals such as lions or bears. When a gladiator was beaten (but still alive), the audience would wave scarves or put their thumbs out if they wanted him killed. If he'd fought well, and they wanted him to live, they would close their thumbs onto their fingers. Different types of gladiators used different weapons. For example, a man with a sword and shield might fight a man with a three-pronged spear or trident, and a big net.

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  • What was a Roman play like?

    Romans enjoyed the theatre. Most plays were funny comedies, though there were serious tragedies as well. Actors often wore masks to show whether their character was happy or sad! They also wore wigs - an old man had a white wig, a slave had a red wig.

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  • Why did Romans like baths so much?

    Roman baths were like leisure centres. You went there to relax, not just to get clean. The baths were open to everyone, and a good place to keep fit, meet people and do business.

    When you went to the baths, you took off your outdoor clothes and warmed up with some exercises. Then, after a swim in the pool, you went into a series of heated rooms. You got hotter and hotter, to sweat out the dirt. You'd chat with friends while you sweated, and perhaps have a massage and rub down with perfumed oil. Then you (or a slave) would scrape off the dirt, sweat and oil with a metal scraper called a strigil. Finally, a plunge into a cold pool. Very refreshing! The best preserved Roman baths in Britain are in the city of Bath.

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  • What happened in a chariot race?

    In Rome there was a huge stadium called the Circus Maximus, used for chariot races. Chariot races were held in Britain too. These were thrilling, but very dangerous. Chariots were small two-wheeled carts, driven by one man and pulled by four galloping horses. They raced around an oval track. There were often smashes during the seven-lap races.

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Fun Facts
  • If a gladiator lived long enough to retire, he was given a wooden sword as a present.

  • Big amphitheatres were sometimes flooded to stage spectacular water shows with real boats and even crocodiles.

  • Many Roman actors 'over-acted', waving their arms and shouting. They had to attract the audience's attention because plays often went on for hours.

  • There were four teams of chariot racers in Rome. People supported them like we follow football teams and wore the team's colours.

  • Martial, a famous Roman writer, wrote that the most annoying noises from the baths were the yells of the sausage-sellers calls and the shrieks of customers having their hair plucked out!

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Jump to: A-D | E-G | H-L | M-O | P-Z

A to D

Acropolis [a-CROP-olis]
The Acropolis is a large hill in the centre of Athens. On top of it were many temples and other buildings, the remains of which can be seen today.
A place like a stadium, where Romans went to watch animals and people fighting.
A system of pipes and channels used to bring water into towns.
archaeological site
A place such as a ruined fort studied by archaeologists.
People who study the past by looking at old things, often found underground.
Studying the past by looking at old things, often found underground.
Aristophanes [aris-TOF-a-neez]
Lived in Athens in the 5th century BC. He wrote comedies for the theatre in Athens.
Aspasia [as-PAY-zia]
Was a woman to taught public speaking in Athens. She was the partner of the famous general Perikles. Aspasia had much more independence than most women in Athens.
A person who lived outside the Roman Empire, seen by Romans as violent and uncivilized.
A large building where town business was carried out (like a modern Town Hall).
The Assembly was the public meeting of the giovernment of the city. All citizens could take part and vote there.
The patron goddess of Athens. A huge statue of Athena stood outside the Parthenon.
Attica [A-tik-a]
The region around Athens.
aulos [OW-los]
A wind instrument with a reed similar to a modern oboe.
capital city
Main city of a country, the centre of government.
A machine that threw rocks or burning tar at the enemies. In Latin it was called an onager.
Soldiers who fight on horseback.
Cart with two wheels pulled by horses. Romans raced chariots, and Celtic warriors rode into battle on them.
People who lived in Europe, including Britain, and who fought the Romans.
An officer commanding about 80 legionaries.
Person with special rights such as the right to vote and own property in the Roman Empire. Only men could be full Roman citizens.
There were ten cohorts in a legion.
Weapon like a bow and arrow, only the string is pulled back by turning a handle and the bow is fired by releasing a trigger. In Latin it was called a ballista
The priests of the old Celtic religion.

E to G

Process where people vote to choose the people they want to be in charge.
A large area with many people ruled by one strong leader, called an emperor.
An open space in the middle of a town for markets and meeting people (like a market square). It was the centre of Roman town life.
A building with walls to keep out enemies, used by soldiers.
Firm base for a road or building.
leader of an army, the soldier giving the orders to everyone else.
A person trained to fight other gladiators or animals in amphitheatres.
The ruler of Roman Britain, who worked for the Roman Emperor.

H to L

Roman central heating. Hot air from a furnace (fire) flowed through gaps between walls and flooring
The language spoken and written by the Romans
The officer commanding a whole legion.
The main battle unit of the Roman army, its soldiers were called legionaries. There were between 4,000 and 6,000 legionaries in a legion.
A story made up about people in the past

M to O

A pattern made from coloured pieces of stones and pottery.
A made-up story, often about gods and spirits, told to explain things such as why the sun rises and sets every day.

P to Z

Money paid to a retired worker or soldier.
people who lived in Scotland
A country without a king, queen or emperor. The Roman republic was ruled by the elected Senate. Most countries today are republics.
Something that is believed to be holy and to have a special connection with a god or gods.
Roman book, written on a long strip of paper rolled around a stick.
The Roman government, made up of senators.
A person elected to the Roman Senate who helped run the government. Some countries today, like the U.S.A., have senators.
Dirty water and toilet waste which flows into sewers from drains and toilets.
Pipes or tunnels that carry away sewage.
Someone who can be sold to another person to work for nothing. A slave is not free and has no rights.
Weapon for throwing stones, made from a long strip of leather and whirled around by the thrower.
Roman army emblem, a pole with special decorations (such as a metal eagle) carried by a soldier. Each legion had its own standards.
the metal holder for a rider's foot. Attached to a horse's saddle by a leather strap.
A metal object used in Roman baths to scrape sweat, dirt and excess oil off.
A metal pen for scratching words into soft wax on wooden tablets.
Money or items taken by the government from people, to pay for things like the army, wars, emperor's palaces and building roads.
Thatched roofs
Roofs of buildings made from bundles of straw or reeds.
Machine like a big wheel inside which slaves walked round, to turn the machine.
A group of people who live in one part of a country and are ruled by a chief.
A teacher who gives lessons to a student at home.
A gloomy place where Romans believed your soul went after you died.
A large house in the country. Some Roman villas were farmhouses and some were like palaces.
A trained soldier, someone used to fighting in wars.
A ring or crown made of leaves or flowers.