04 September, 2012

Modern Life and Rome

Roman neighborhood street and sidewalks
How modern ancient Rome was!

Or, perhaps, as Solomon reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun and we are just continuing what has been during the more prosperous times of history.

The following are some things modern life has in common with ancient Rome.

Romans enjoyed  hot and cold running water in  homes and if there was no plumbing in the house, one could find hot water at the public baths. 
Bathroom sinks and toilets were much like ours today. Sinks were on the wall and had hot and cold taps (faucets).

Bathrooms sported flush toilets and there were public toilets for travelers.

Fast food restaurants lined the streets. You could buy sweets,  fruit, bread, soup, stew all piping hot to eat there or take home with  you.
There were kosher inns and restaurants also. Rome was very cosmopolitan and had something for everyone.

Graffiti was popular with young folks who left their mark on public walls in the form of  criticism, compliments and barbs at famous people, favorite singers , actors and gladiators who had the popularity of modern sports heroes and rock stars.
Graffiti was also illegal then too.
Graffiti of the day was not much different than today though I think a bit more crude.

"We two dear men, friends forever, were here.  If you want to know our names, they are Gaius and Aulus."
"Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera."
"Epaphra, you are bald!"
"The city block of the Arrii Pollii in the possession of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius is available to rent from July 1st.  There are shops on the first floor, upper stories, high-class rooms and a house.  A person interested in renting this property should contact Primus, the slave of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius."

Can you translate the picture (graffiti) to the left?
I can... roughly it tells us that the boss(Dominus) isn't worth a rat's behind.
That saying is with  us today  "I dont give a rat's a--."
Some graffiti was pretty raw  just as it is today.

Jars and containers of the day had the names of the manufacturer and advertizements telling you the quality and characteristics of what was inside. Just like today.

Garum was a fermented fish sauce used on many foods as a condiment. There was kosher garum and non kosher garum and it's praises and character was listed on the jar.
One jar advertizes the contents as Castum (Kosher) Garum" made only from fish with fins and scales.
And Garum is still available today.

Villas were heated with underground furnaces that blew hot air into rooms through duct work.   They were called Hypocausts.

They built apartment houses and high rises (high for the day) just like we do today. People could rent or buy into condos and associations as well.

There were straight, flat highways built for heavy traffic and trade. They knew that a good well kept road system was one part of what made Rome strong.     Strong infrastructure was known to be a backbone of a strong nation.

Spectator sports were all the rage as were health club memberships and working out. They spent time at health resorts, retreats, spas and sea side vacation towns. Games and shows drew huge crowds.
Summer saw Romans heading to the seashore or the mountains for relaxation.
Children were sent to camp in the Alps and other mountain ranges.

Building and the arts were subsidized by the government to keep them going.
Stringent building codes were in place in Rome but ghetto high rises were poorly constructed and inspectors paid off to get a pass on code violations.

Urban development lead to problems of gridlock and  traffic congestion, noise pollution, rising rental fees, ghettos and urban blight, unemployment, racial tension, increase in crime and an ever increasing cost of living.

Unrest due to political challenges lead to riots, demonstrations and even fires during their 'long hot summers'.

Rome began to crumble under the twin burdens of inflation and increased taxation.As well as unbridled immigration.
As a trade deficit developed and jobs 'moved overseas' Romans found themselves increasingly hard pressed to make a  proper living.
Immigrants replaced Romans at an extremely high rate as well. Everyone wanted to take advantage of the Roman system.

The Empire imported far more than it was producing and the result was a crushing blow to the economy.
War became an industry as Rome insisted that Pax Romana could only be secured through perpetual war.

Just like today.


  1. Was this after they brought the Jewish refugees from the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash? IOWS was this due to Jewish brains ... Again!?

    1. Before the destruction.
      Rome was tolerant of other religion early on and Rome had a large Jewish population.

  2. Rome was impressive, but civilizations are usually brought down by their strengths rather than by their weaknesses. It's civilizational hyperthyroidism.

  3. Whereis the source of this?

    1. History, archaeological journals , scientific journals, etc.

  4. Passer by9:02 AM

    They also "printed money" (decreased the amount of silver in roman coins)..then tried to battle the resulting inflation with price controls, and failed..

    1. Frank Antonnelli1:53 PM

      It was just like today.

  5. Anonymous3:58 AM

    thanks for posting.