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There were a set of core values that were important to the ancient Romans. These values differed drastically from what we would value today. It is because of this that it is important to know just how different the Roman people were in their societal value system.
The Romans valued 3 things above all else. First, spirituality which would increase the amount of dignitas a Roman would have which led to an increase in auctoritas. Second, the ancient Romans loved money and growing wealth while also being exceptionally frugal. Third, civic service was a vital component to the Roman value system and gave several large benefits.
These 3 things were at the core of the Roman value system. Today the average Roman would appear to be exceptionally self driven and industrious while also giving back to society.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 things that were important to the ancient Romans.
One Of The Main Things That Was Important To The Ancient Romans Was Spirituality
One of the main things that was important to the ancient Romans was their state sanctioned religion.
The Roman people would worship several gods and goddesses. Each god would represent a facet of Roman society. One of the most important things to the ancient Romans was to be seen as a devout follower of the state religion.
This was because if you were perceived as a devout follower you were demonstrating several core values of the Roman virtue system. These were the values of dignitas, fides, humanitas, and honestas.
By demonstrating these virtues an ancient Roman would also increase their auctoritas within society. This would directly impact their overall social standing within Roman society.
As such a Roman would place high importance upon practicing the Roman religion publicly. This is one of the main reasons that across the city of Rome several statues and temples would be constructed.
While just practicing the religion would increase overall social standing. If you had enough money to construct a temple then your social status would increase tremendously.
This is one of the main reasons that large ‘public’ buildings designed for worship would bear the name of the person who donated the building to the public. A prime example of this can be seen in the Roman Pantheon.
The Roman Pantheon was built as a public temple for the Roman people. On the front of the entrance of the temple there is an inscription which reads “Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, three times consul, built this.” This inscription demonstrates how important spirituality was to the ancient Roman people.
As such one of the 3 main things that was important to the ancient Romans was spirituality and being perceived as a devout follower of the Roman religion.
One Of The Most Important Things To The Ancient Romans Was Frugality And Growing Wealth
One of the 3 most important things to the ancient Romans was growing and preserving wealth.
In the Roman virtue system there was an entire deity and virtue dedicated to being as frugal/cheap as possible. This was the Roman virtue of frugalitas which translates to roughly ‘not wanting more than one can get.’
Frugalitas would dictate that the Roman people would live within their means. Overtime families would responsibly grow wealth. This was often through the form of land acquisition along with the growth of a sizable workforce to extract the wealth from the land.
This virtue was one of the less followed ones as archeological evidence has demonstrated. From the middle Republic up to the end of the Empire one of the most important things for the ancient Romans was to simply become as wealthy as possible.
As the Roman Republic/Empire grew in land mass so did the amount of available resources under its control. Romans across the provinces would embark on increasingly risky ventures to build excess wealth.
Examples of this can be seen in the grain trade of the Roman Empire. The poorest of Rome such as the peasantry and freedmen would save up to buy a portable market stall and sell grain to armies and buy looted booty from plundered cities. These ancient Roman entrepreneurs were called mercatores.
The ultimate goal of every ancient Roman was to buy their own land. Becoming a land holder would open up an ancient Roman to a whole wealth of economic opportunities.
The elite of Roman society cared about growing and preserving their wealth as well. We can see several examples of ‘land redistribution’ policies over the course of the late Roman Republic causing considerable unrest among the Roman elite. A good example of this can be seen in the events of the Gracchi brothers.
As such one of the 3 main things that were important to the ancient Romans was the growth and preservation of wealth.
Civic Service Remained One Of The Most Important Things To The Ancient Romans
One of the most important things to the ancient Romans was civic service.
Across the Roman Republic and Empire families would strive to have members enter into political office or serve the Roman state in some way. The reason behind this is because civic service was one of the few ways that Romans could move up with Roman society.
Civic service in particular was a great way for many unknown Romans to drastically increase their social status within the Roman state. The city of Rome was the center of Roman politics and would attract people from around the provinces who wanted more out of their life.
One such example of this is none other than the famous Roman statesman Cicero. Cicero was born outside the city of Rome to a ‘middle class’ Roman family. After being educated Cicero would then travel to Rome to start his life as a lawyer. Eventually by holding several political offices Cicero would work his way up to become the consul of Rome, the highest office in the Republican government.
If a Roman could not enter into civic service then the next best option for them was the military. This option would be opened up to all Romans after the reforms of Gaius Marius. Romans would begin to swell the ranks of the Roman army and eventually retire to having land. Thus moving them up in Roman society.
As such the 3rd thing that was important to the ancient Romans was civic service.
There you have it; an entire article on the 3 things that were important to the ancient Romans.
The study of the Roman value system is incredibly important to the understanding of Roman history. Any historian who attempts to portray a modern value system upon the Roman people is simply writing false history. The ancient Romans valued things completely differently than we do today.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.
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