Life for the Average Person in Ancient Rome: Dangerous Insulae, Fast Food Joints, and Limited Access to Sanitation and Nutrition

TLDR Life for the average person in ancient Rome was characterized by living in dangerous and unsanitary apartment buildings known as Insulae, eating at local fast food joints called Thermopolia, and facing limited access to sanitation and nutrition.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The episode discusses what life was like for the average person in ancient Rome and how our knowledge of this comes from surviving writings and archaeology.
02:13 The average person in ancient Rome would have lived in apartment buildings known as Insulae, which were multi-story buildings that could be as high as nine stories tall, with conditions varying based on the rent paid and many being dangerous for poor people to live in.
04:00 Conditions in ancient Roman apartment buildings known as Insulae were often dangerous and unsanitary, with the risk of collapsing and fire, no running water or sewer, cramped living spaces, poor lighting and insulation, and public toilets with no privacy.
05:48 Lower-class Romans in ancient Rome, especially those living in insulae, often ate at local fast food joints called Thermopolia, where they would be served stew or soup, bread, low-quality olive oil, and sometimes cheese, wine, or salted fish, with little access to fruit or meat.
07:36 Poor Romans received a grain-dole of wheat, but had to take it to a miller and baker to process it, and there were no police in Rome, so safety and justice were enforced at a neighborhood level, and Romans typically wore tunics as everyday attire, with pants being considered barbaric.
09:27 Free Romans typically worked about 6 hours a day, from 6am to noon, and spent their afternoons attending games and going to the bath, which were affordable and accessible to people of all social classes.
11:18 Funeral clubs were a way for Romans to ensure they received an honorable burial, as the extremely poor were often thrown into mass graves, and life in ancient Rome was generally dirty, smelly, and lacking in sanitation and nutrition for the poor.
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