A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome
Video created by Ray Laurence
Welcome to the world of Lucius Popidius Secundus, a 17-year old living in Rome in 73 AD. His life is a typical one of arranged marriages, coming-of-age festivals, and communal baths. Take a look at this exquisitely detailed lesson on life of a typical Roman teenager two thousand years ago.
Excerpt: It’s March the 17th in A.D. 73. We’re visiting ancient Rome to watch the Liberalia, an annual festival that celebrates the liberty of Rome’s citizens. We’re looking in at a 17-year-old named Lucius Popidius Secundus. He’s not from a poor family, but he lives in the region known as the Subura, a poorer neighborhood in Rome, yet close to the center of the city.
The tenants of these apartments are crammed in, which poses considerable risk. Fires are frequent and the smell of ash and smoke in the morning is not uncommon. Lucius, who awoke at dawn, has family duties to perform today. His 15-year-old brother is coming of age. Half the children in ancient Rome die before they reach adulthood, so this is a particularly important milestone. Lucius watches his brother stand in his new toga before the household shrine with its protective deities as he places his bulla, a protective amulet, in the shrine with a prayer of thanks. The bulla had worked. It had protected him. Unlike many others, he had survived to become an adult.
See also: Four sisters in Ancient Rome