How did the poor live in ancient rome?

Although ancient Rome was famous for its great wealth and power, not everyone in Roman society enjoyed a life of luxury. The poor in ancient Rome were, for the most part, invisible to history. They were the nameless, faceless masses who toiled in the fields, worked in the shops and businesses, and built the magnificent buildings and roads for which Rome is so famous. Life for the poor in ancient Rome was harsh and difficult. Poverty was a way of life for most people in the Roman Empire.

The ancient Roman poor lived primarily in insulae, which were small apartments with few or no windows. Many of the poor were also slaves. Slaves in ancient Rome were typically owned by the wealthy and worked in their homes, on their farms, or in their businesses.

What did poor people in Rome live in?

In Rome, poor people lived in blocks of flats called insulae. Most were at least five stories high. However, they were often badly built, and their walls sometimes cracked and roofs caved in. Most people lived in just one or two rooms.

The poor people in ancient Rome generally worked as unskilled laborers, hired on a daily basis to do a variety of menial jobs. They were known as mercenarii, the modern equivalent word being ‘mercenaries’, meaning someone who works for money. While some of the wealthier citizens of Rome would occasionally hire them for manual labor or other services, they were mostly looked down upon by society and considered to be of a lower class.

How did the rich and poor live in Roman times

If you were richer, you would live in a larger single home called a domus. These usually had many rooms off an atrium which was a room in the centre of the house with an open roof. Poor Romans who lived in the countryside would live in shacks or cottages while rich Romans would live in large, sprawling villas.

Most people in Roman times did not have much spare time, they were too busy working. They liked board games. We know this because archaeologists have found counters and dice in the ground. The Romans enjoyed watching fights between gladiators, and fights between people and animals.

What were poor Roman homes like?

The poor Romans lived in simple flats which were called insulae. They often only contained one or two rooms and there was no running water.

The poor in Ancient Rome did not receive a formal education, but many still learned to read and write. Children from rich families were well schooled and were taught by a private tutor at home or went to what we would recognise as schools.

What did poor Romans do for work?


Most of the Romans who lived in the countryside were farmers. The most common crop was wheat which was used to make bread.


The Roman Army was large and needed soldiers. The army was a way for the poorer class to earn a regular wage and to gain some valuable land at the end of their service.

A plebeian is a member of the general citizenry in ancient Rome as opposed to the privileged patrician class. The term is also spelled “plebian” and comes from the Latin word “plebs,” meaning the common people. Plebeians made up the majority of the population in Rome and were often looked down upon by the patricians. However, some plebeians managed to rise to power and become successful.

How did the Romans deal with homelessness

The homeless of Rome have long been a problem. Many of them sleep under the stairs of insulae, apartment blocks that can rise to 70 feet, the maximum height allowed by an Augustus decree. Some slept between the columns of porticoes or along the Tiber. The problem has gotten worse in recent years, as the number of homeless people has increased. The city has been trying to find ways to help them, but it is a difficult problem to solve.

These poor children would have a hard life. They would have to work hard and wouldn’t have much time to play. They also wouldn’t have access to education and would only be able to learn if their parents took the time to teach them.

What was the poor class in Rome?

Plebeians were the lower class, often farmers, in Rome who mostly worked the land owned by the Patricians. Some plebeians owned small plots of land, but this was rare until the second century BC.

The poor in medieval times mainly ate a porridge called “puls.” Puls was made by mixing ground wheat and water. Sometimes they might get some vegetables or fruit to eat with their puls. The poor ate very little meat. The wealthy ate much better than the poor.

What kind of food served to the poor Romans

Those who couldn’t afford bread mostly ate a simple porridge known as puls, made from boiled grains (spelt, millet, or wheat), which could be livened up with herbs and vegetables.

The concept of bread and circuses is a simple one: keep the masses fed and entertained and they will be content. This Was Used by the ruling class to keep the plebeians happy and docile in ancient Rome. Free grain and controlled food prices ensured that the people would not starve, while free entertainment in the form of chariot races, gladiators, and the circus kept them occupied and distracted from thoughts of rebellion. This system worked for a time, but ultimately proved to be unsustainable. The ruling class could not continue to give away free bread and entertainment forever, and eventually the people became restless and began to demand more from their government.

Did ancient Rome have slums?

In ancient Rome, insulae were shoddy apartment buildings built for the urban poor. Often, these buildings would have 6 or 7 units inside, and they were typically three stories tall. Because of the poor quality of these buildings, they were often referred to as slums. Despite the negative connotations that came with living in an insula, many of the urban poor had no other choice but to reside in these buildings.

Most poor Romans lived in one-room apartments called insulae. Some of these were seven or more storeys in height and catered to persons of a wide variety of socio-economic status.

Warp Up

There is no one answer to this question as the poor in ancient Rome would have lived in a variety of ways depending on their circumstances. Some may have been able to find work and support themselves, while others may have been forced to rely on the charity of others. Some may have lived in squalid conditions, while others may have been able to find shelter and food. Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the individual’s situation.

The ancient Romans were a complex people and their lifestyles varied greatly depending on their social class. The poor in ancient Rome were often forced to live in cramped, dirty, and dangerous conditions. Many of the poor were forced to work long hours in dangerous jobs for little to no pay. Others were lucky enough to find work as servants or laborers in wealthy households. Despite the challenges, the poor in ancient Rome found ways to survive and even thrive.

Ellen Hunter is a passionate historian who specializes in the history of Rome. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe to explore its ancient sites and monuments, seeking to uncover their hidden secrets.

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