What Occupations Were Common In Ancient Rome

The occupation culture of Ancient Rome can give individuals insight into the lives and
values of people during the time. Labour was divided into certain categories that
dictated skill and training. This article will give an insight into some of the
professions that were commonly encountered in Ancient Rome.

There were quite a few occupations that could be identified during the time of
Ancient Rome. One of these was known as a ‘Tribune’. These individuals were the
legal representatives of the people. They were responsible for ensuring that the
rights of the people were being respected and upheld. This was an elected position
that was held by someone who had served in the army. Tribune’s worked closely with
the Senate to ensure that laws were fair and protective of people’s rights.

The occupation known as a ‘Dolabra’ was also quite common in Ancient Rome. These
individuals were often used to help with the heavy lifting and manual labour that
was often needed for certain tasks such as building, road construction and debris
clearance. Dolabra workers used a tool known as a Dolabra, which was a large
hammer-like tool that was used to break up rocks and other materials. Dolabra
workers were usually well-trained and highly skilled in their work.

Another profession that was quite common in Ancient Rome was known as a ‘Cleric’.
The Cleric was a highly respected individual who was responsible for conducting
religious ceremonies. Clerics were educated individuals who had studied a variety
of religious texts and were knowledgeable in the laws and customs of the
religion. Clerics were often well-paid and respected throughout society.

The occupation that was responsible for keeping the city in order was known as
the ‘Prefect’. This was often a military position but was also a civilian
position. Prefects were responsible for ensuring that the laws were enforced and
the people were kept safe. Prefects were highly trained and respected individuals
who were often appointed to the position by the Senate.

The occupation known as a ‘Scribe’ was quite common in Ancient Rome. These
individuals were responsible for writing and copying books, texts and records.
They had to be well educated as they had to be able to understand the meaning
behind what they were writing. Scribes were usually also responsible for keeping
accurate records of transactions and events, which was an important task in
Ancient Rome.

The final profession that was very common in Ancient Rome was known as a
‘Merchant’. Merchants were responsible for selling goods and services to people
all over the world. These individuals had to be knowledgeable of their products
and services as well as the currency exchange rates of different countries.
Merchants were often among the wealthiest individuals in Ancient Rome.


Although not typically thought of as a profession, Agriculture was critical to the success of the Roman Empire. Almost all Roman citizens were involved in some form of agricultural activity, ranging from small farming techniques to large scale commercial operations. These individuals were responsible for growing the crops, raising animals for food, and harvesting the grains for producing grains for bread. Agriculture was essential for sustaining the population and providing a food source for both citizens and soldiers.

Agriculture in the time of the Roman Empire was highly advanced and included a range of different technologies, from irrigation systems to large scale animal husbandry. Farmers and laborers alike needed to have a degree of knowledge in order to ensure the most efficient process of cultivating the land. These individuals were highly respected for their skill in ensuring that the vast Roman Empire was not compromised by food shortages.

The impact of Agriculture on the Roman Empire was tremendous. It allowed citizens to produce enough food to sustain the huge population and provide the nutrition needed to allow the Empire to expand and thrive. Agriculture was one of the most critical factors in the success of Ancient Rome, and those involved in this industry were highly respected by the general population.

Art and Entertaintment

While life in Ancient Rome was often dominated by politics and economics, art and entertainment was also a large part of the culture. Established artists and craftsmen often created works of art for the public and private spaces in Rome. This led to highly developed works of art and sculptures which were often showcased in galleries throughout the city. In addition to fine art, music, theatre, and dance were a major part of the entertainment culture.

Theatres were a popular form of entertainment in Ancient Rome, and attracted large crowds to their performances. While comedy and satire were popular themes in these performances, they also showcased a wide variety of stories and vignettes. This included melodramas, musicals, and tragedy, which highlighted the political and social issues of the day. Famous playwrights such as Plautus and Terence wrote some of the most popular plays of the time, which are still performed today.

In addition to theatre, music played an important role in Ancient Rome. Musicians and composers wrote songs that both celebrated and criticized life in the Roman Empire. The most popular form of music was the lyre, which was a stringed instrument that was played in the streets. Musicians would often compose songs about current events in order to both entertain and critique life in the Roman Empire.

Art and entertainment was an integral part of life in Ancient Rome, and it was often used to reflect the values and culture of the time. Through music, theatre, and art, individuals were able to express their feelings and view of the world around them. This encouraged creativity and allowed the Roman Empire to develop not only a unique culture, but also a strong political and social foundation.

Law and Education

The Romans were well known for their strong legal systems and the laws they created to protect their citizens. One of the main occupations during this time period was related to law and education. In Ancient Rome, the start of an individual’s legal education began from a young age. Students learned not only the law itself but also the various legal practices of the time.

As students progressed in their education, they typically focused on becoming a legal professional of some sort. This could mean anything from becoming a lawyer, a judge, or even a law professor. These individuals had to be well versed in the legal system of Ancient Rome, and had to pass a test in order to qualify as a legitimate legal professional. This ensured that only the most knowledgeable individuals were able to practice law.

In addition to the legal system of Ancient Rome, the education sector was also vast. Several schools and universities were created in order to teach students the technical skills, political knowledge, literature, and philosophy of the time. Many of the great thinkers of Ancient Rome, such as Cicero and Seneca, had studied at some of these schools. This contributed to the overall knowledge base of the time period and helped to create the foundation for modern day education.

Overall, the occupation culture of Ancient Rome was highly diverse and included many different occupations. The roles of Tribune, Dolabra worker, Cleric, Prefect, Scribe, and Merchant were all quite common during this time. In addition to these, agriculture, art and entertainment, and the legal and educational systems were also cornerstones of the occupation culture of Ancient Rome.

Trade and Commerce

The Roman Empire was highly successful in its commerce and trading activities. This allowed them to acquire large amounts of wealth, which made them one of the wealthiest societies of the ancient world. Trade and commerce was also an important part of the Roman lifestyle and was critical to the success of the Roman economy.

Merchants were a major part of the Roman economy, and their expertise in trade allowed them to bring in goods from all over the world. They would often travel to other parts of the Empire or even to other countries to acquire the goods. Records indicate that merchants brought in everything from precious metals to spices and fabrics, providing the Roman citizens with a global market.

The trade sector in Ancient Rome was so successful that the Roman government even invented the first coins as a way to trade and conduct transactions. This helped to ensure that the transactions could be completed in a fair and equitable manner. Coins were also used to pay taxes and to purchase goods and services. Through these efforts, the Roman Empire was able to accumulate a large amount of wealth and resources.

Trade and commerce was often seen as a necessity in Ancient Rome, and was essential to the success of the Empire. Merchants, traders, and financiers were all vital to the success of the Roman economy and provided a way for citizens to acquire the goods and services they needed to thrive. The Romans relied heavily on trade and commerce and it was often seen as one of the key factors in their success.


The Roman Empire was renowned for its military power and strength, and it was thanks to the professional soldiers that they were able to extend their rule across much of Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. The Roman army was highly trained and consisted of both public and private soldiers that all had to be in peak physical condition.

Military personnel were responsible for defending the Empire and often had to take part in battles to do so. This required soldiers to be equipped with the proper tools and armour to ensure they were prepared for combat. In addition to battle, Roman soldiers were also responsible for other tasks such as building roads, constructing fortifications, and maintaining security on the borders of the Empire.

Military service was seen as honourable and highly prestigious in Ancient Rome, and those that served in the military were often rewarded for their dedication. Military personnel were seen as heroes and were revered in society. This not only gave individuals an incentive to serve in the military, but it also provided a source of motivation for those already in service.

The Roman military was an essential part of the success of the Empire and those involved in it were seen as a critical factor. Without their training and dedication, the Roman Empire would not have been able to expand and remain a powerful force throughout much of Europe. The respect and honor that was associated with the military undoubtedly gave potential soldiers the motivation they needed to serve.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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