Roman Entertainment

Roman Entertainment

"Bathing, wine, and Venus wear out the
soul but are the real stuff of life." (Proverb in Sparta, A History of

Private Life from Pagan Rome to Byzantium, 183) Civilizations of

Ancient Rome and modern day are similar because entertainment is an important
part of life. In Ancient Rome, the rich and the poor could enjoy
entertainment and relaxation. Men and women spent many hours of their
day participating in entertainment activities. Ancient Romans enjoyed
many types of entertainment, but the most popular were bathing, bloody
spectacles, and banquets.

A gong sounded every morning to open the
public baths to the lines of people waiting. Public baths were not
only used to get clean but as a place to gossip, meet people, and show
off. They could be compared to modern day beaches. The sexes
were separated into two different areas; the men had the larger rooms.

The society levels at the baths were nonexistent, and gladiators, slaves,
men, and women were treated equal. Every town was expected to have
at least one public bath, which each person was visited two to three times
per week by a person.

The procedure followed at the baths seemed
very relaxing. Citizens would first go to the unctuarium where oil was
rubbed onto the skin, and they would exercise. Then they would enter
the tepidarium or the "warm" room, with heated floors and walls.

Here, they would lie around chatting and gossiping. The last step
was the caldarium, which was similar to a Turkish bath, hot and steamy.

Romans would sit and perspire, and their skin was scraped with a curved
metal tool called a strigil. They were served drinks and snacks in
the hot bath, or calidarium. Finally they would take a quick
dip in the cold bath, the frigidarium. After this lengthy process,
men and women would enjoy massages where oils and perfumes were rubbed
into their skin.

Many Roman citizens attended bloody spectacles
at the famous colosseum. The colosseum opened in A.D.80 and hosted

100 spectacles a year. 50,000 available seats were divided into social
classes. Women and poor people were seated on the fourth tier.

The most popular show featured at the colosseum was the gladiators.

They would show in the late afternoon and were often attended after the
public baths.

The gladiators easily entertained and won
over the crowd. The gladiators were slaves, condemned criminals,
prisoners of war, and often they were idols of young girls. They
would fight battles with animals or other opponents until death.

These bloody shows would entertain the citizens for hours. Despite
laws setting limits on earnings, many gladiators earned large sums and
could buy freedom.

Banquets were attended for an exciting
night of entertainment. Banquets were a ceremony of civility, occasions
for private men to savor their accomplishments and show off to peers.

Many people were invited; even the lower class was invited and treated
equal. The food was spicy and served medieval style, people sat around
lounging couches on pedestal tables.

Many different types of entertainment went
on at banquets. The guests were expected to express views on general
topics and noble subjects. The host would hire professionals to provide
music, dancing, and singing. The longest time of the night was set
aside for drinking. It was tradition for them to never drink when
they ate. Men were expected to consume large amounts of alcohol.

Ancient Romans believed that entertainment
was a very important part of civilization. They would spend mornings
socializing at baths, afternoons at the colosseum, and drink and eat all
night at banquets. Romans enjoyed being entertained similar to today
society. "To everything there was a season, and pleasure was no less
legitimate than virtue." (Paul Veyne, A History of Private Life from Pagan

Rome to Byzantium, 183)