The Ancient city of Pompeii is most famously known for the massive eruption that took place in the year 79 A
The Ancient city of Pompeii is most famously known for the massive eruption that took place in the year 79 A.D, but the people living there at the time are rarely talked about when mentioning the ancient Roman city. The lifestyle of the people living at the peak of Pompeii is fascinating from their ways of entertaining people, their standards of beauty and how they dressed, to their distinctive cuisine/dinning.
The people of ancient Pompeii found many different ways to entertain themselves including; coordinated violence, sports/games, and baths. The main stage for the violence and sports was the amphitheater as what took place here was the most popular form of entertainment in Pompeii. Pompeii’s amphitheater was built sometime after 80 BC, making it the oldest known example of its kind in the Roman world. The contests Pompeiians enjoyed were ultra-violent fights, ranging from gladiator versus gladiator combat to fights that pitted men against various dangerous animals. Some of the sporting events that occurred in Pompeii include boxing, wrestling, running, discus, javelin, and swimming. They were highly publicized and well attended, not only by the citizens of Pompeii but also by people from neighboring towns, and the arena accommodated all social classes, demonstrating the popularity of the games. Besides violence and sporting events, another main way for Pompeiians to be entertained, was by unwinding in the three baths found in Pompeii. This was an everyday ritual for many in Pompeii
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as they would go to the baths after a long day of work and entertain themselves by socializing with each other. The three main baths in in Pompeii were, the stabian baths, the forum baths, and the central baths. Each of these baths differed from one another as all three had some unique characteristics of their own. The Sabian bath complex consisted of a large area including a gymnasium, open air pool, a bathing suite divided into two sections for men and woman (two sexes were not allowed to bathe together), changing rooms, and warm/hot/cold rooms. The second bath in Pompeii was called the central thermal baths. Just like the sabian bath, the central thermal bath was equipped with a large gymnasium and numerus bathing rooms but unlike the sabian bath, this complex was much bigger as the architectural design was to be more spacious than the previous bath and has better lighting by including more windows. The division of male and female sections was also not present in the thermal baths. The last bath the Pompeiians used was forum thermal baths. The heating and cooling systems in the rooms of the forum baths were achieved by running pipes through the wall and all the rooms are more elegantly decorated (specifically the men’s area) than previous baths. There were also very few private baths which were limited to the most well-off families and like the sabian baths, the buildings were divided into two sections one for men, and the other for woman. From the daily bathing rituals to the violence and games they enjoyed, these Pompeiians had a vast amount of ways they could entertain themselves at the time ancient Pompeii was at its peak.
In ancient Pompeii not only did entertainment play a major role in the way they lived their lives but, much of what we know about these Pompeiians concerns their appearance. Society back then manly judged a person not by intellectual or emotional qualities but by the way they presented themselves aesthetically. The standards and methods used are drastically
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different for men and woman. The ideal for woman was a white pale face, bright red lips and very dark eyes. To achieve this look, women used foundation creams and face powder made from white lead or powdered chalk and animal fat. Lipstick was made from ochre or molluscs, and eyeliner from soot or antimony powder. To achieve this desired look, woman would use creams and face powder and would often use ass’s milk on the skin to prevent wrinkles. For the male body, beauty standards are not far off from what they are today as the ideal male body in Pompeii is slim and athletic, with sharply defined muscles. A major part of the ancient Pompeian appearance was their body hair. Body hair was extremely important for the appearance of a person living in Pompeii as they removed hair to create smooth contours, and eyebrows plucked to pencil-line arches. Among the many instruments of beautification that have been found, there are numerous tweezers and forceps used to pluck and manage their hair to impress. The beauty industry was a big business in Pompeii as they had very high beauty standards for both men and woman and they would go to great lengths to alter their appearance.
Entertainment and beauty were two major elements of the lifestyle of a person living in Pompeii but arguably one of the most important part of their day, is their cuisine and how they dinned/prepared their meals. The diet of a person living in Pompeii varies drastically depending on the wealth of your family. Wealthy families enjoyed such luxury’s as bread with honey for breakfast, some bread and meat (such as sausages) for lunch, and for dinner having six or seven courses ranging from fish too even sea urchin and Giraffe with plenty of wine. For a poor family,
simple porridge of barley of whatever was to hand for breakfast, for lunch some coarse bread with salted fish or a soup of lentils/chickpeas, and for dinner more cereal made into a porridge or soup, served with foods that did not need cooking. The way they prepared there meals is
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different than today standards as the kitchen is usually is a central feature in a household as that is where gather with friends and eat but not in ancient Pompeii. Kitchens used in Pompeii were small, poorly lit rooms, usually tucked away at the back of the house and some houses even had
a small oven, much like a modern wood fired pizza oven. The diet of both poor and rich families in Pompeii are drastically different from one another as well as the kitchens compared to today’s standards.
By analyzing how these people from ancient times lived their lives from the violence they had for entertainment, to their beauty standards, and diet/cuisine we can further understand how these people enjoyed and lived their lives. Far from what we would consider the norm in today’s standards, the lives these people lived was full of violence, unique standards of beauty, and a cuisine ranging from hard bread to giraffe.