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Roman Culture

Updated on May 12, 2015

The Ancient Roman Empire

Explore the rich history of Ancient Roman Culture that existed for over 1,100 years. Read on to discover the operations of the Roman government, their dining etiquette, and how Roman numerals are still used today.

Including several million people, the Roman empire was one of the largest cultures of the ancient world. Following in the footsteps of the Greek and the Etruscan civilizations, the Romans have left their unique mark on society. The Romans built cities, aqueducts, baths, a colosseum and many of these structures are still standing today.

At its prime, the Roman Empire covered

over two million square miles!


Roman Government

Roman government also called a Republic, consisted of an Emperor and a Senate with two Consuls, who were the highest in charge. The Senate ruled the state and the army. The Senate consisted of men who were wealthy, owned land and agreed to a lifetime commitment. The Senate gave the Consuls advice and the Consuls would make the laws. The Consuls would have to agree or the law would not go into effect.

An Assembly of adult Roman men were sometimes asked by the Consuls to vote on certain issues. The power of the Assembly was limited since the Senate could block their votes. The Assembly was responsible for electing which members of the Senate would become Consuls. Judges were elected every two years to decide criminal punishments.

A Fascinating Way To Discover Ancient Rome

Just Imagine...

The largest arena in Rome,

the Circus Maximus could

hold 250,000 people!


Roman Art

Roman art was greatly influenced by the Etruscans until about 500 B.C.. After this period, the Romans inherited many of their styles from the Greeks.

The Romans created realistic sculptured statues of Gods and heroes. Materials progressed from terra cotta to bronze and marble. Painting was a very popular form of Roman art. Murals, frescoes and panel portraits were the most common styles. Mosaics were made from patterns of colorful marbles and stones.


Roman Baths were not only for bathing. They were used for exercising, socializing and meetings.

Roman Inventions - Still in use today!

  • Central Heating Systems
  • Aqueducts
  • Perfecting Concrete (their buildings are still standing!)
  • Hydraulic Mining
  • Roman Numerals

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Roman Food

The dining traditions of the Romans were based on their wealth. Even though most were poor, the few rich Romans would have extravagant dinners prepared by slaves. These dinners would consist of at least three courses of delicacies which may include peacock, ostrich eggs, or cheese. Olives and salad were also served.

Poor Romans often did not have cooking facilities and would eat cold food. Common items were bread, beans, vegetables, porridge (bread soaked in water) and sometimes meat if they could afford it.

Romans ate with their fingers, and depending on the dish, sometimes used a spoon.

As in the Greek culture, wine was the traditional drink. Fresh or dried fruit was served for dessert.

Upper class male Romans ate while reclining on their sides. Women and the poor sat on benches.

Roman Numerals

Dating back to the early Etruscans, Roman Numerals are still widely used today!

I = 1

V = 5

X = 10

L = 50

C = 100

D = 500

M = 1000

To read Roman Numerals:

Subtract smaller numbers before larger numbers...IX=9

Add smaller numbers after larger numbers...XIII=13

Learn More About Ancient Roman Culture

Look For Roman Numerals Here!

  • Movie Credits
  • After Men's Names
  • Clocks
  • To Number Super Bowls and Olympics
  • Prefaces of Books
  • Public Building Inscriptions
  • Pope Names

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What is Your Favorite Part of Roman Culture?

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Ancient Wonders of Rome

Love to hear your comments!

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    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I enjoyed this. I have always been fascinated by the Romans.

    • profile image

      RomeFan 3 years ago

      What a comprehensive lens about the Roman culture. In addition, I would also like to share that Romans during ancient times eat only very little food during the day and they also only eat one main meal in the entire day. They usually eat their meal at 4 in the afternoon.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Terrific lens! I took Latin in high school. The Latin Club always had a Roman style dinner. Like the togas, don't like eating in a recumbent position.

    • Glenn McCarthy profile image

      Glenn McCarthy 3 years ago

      I read lots and lots of historic military fiction and the Roman armies fascinate me. Love the lens and will check back.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Very nice lens. I was in Italy last year and got to visit a variety of antiquities, Renaissance and modern sites. Loved it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Cool stuff.

      And thanks for stopping by my place earlier! I appreciate it!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Very interesting - especially the bit on the Roman numerals and Google Earth.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Roman Architecture and Soldiers always fascinate me! :)

    • profile image

      MakeHairBows 4 years ago

      Thank you for teaching me how to read roman numerals...

    • jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 5 years ago

      Nicely done, very informative and interestng

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really am fascinate by roman culture and how they have contributed to society.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 5 years ago

      All Great Culture erode,decay and die .... and it shall be again ...

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      the rich romans are called patricians.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      @norma-holt: Thank you for your feature!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Yes, but what have the Romans ever done for us? (Sorry, couldn't resist to thrown in some Monty Python) Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      An excellent introduction to Roman culture, I love how you are able to get a whole lot of quality information in a small amount of space. I always wondered what porridge really was and so was pleased to learn that it is bread soaked in water. I think its the arts that I most enjoy about the ancient Romans, we are still in awe!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      It is interesting to me that centuries ago the Romans had an arena that seated 250,000. Our biggest football stadiums today hold around 100,000. It is truly amazing what they were able to build and create.

    • tyler70 profile image

      tyler70 6 years ago

      Taking Latin..maybe this will help me(:

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 6 years ago from USA

      This stuff is fascinating...thanks!