Ancient Roman Jobs

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History, Facts and Information about Ancient Roman Jobs

Jobs in Ancient Rome were similar to those needed in an ancient towns and countries. The jobs that differed vastly were those in  political areas and the military which were specific to Roman society and their vast empire. The obvious other difference was the Romans dependence on slaves.

The majority of Roman slaves were placed in positions where they had to undertake the most menial, arduous and unpleasant tasks, however slaves with suitable backgrounds were given the roles such as teachers and artists. The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about life in Ancient Rome including Ancient Roman Jobs. 

Categories of Ancient Roman Jobs
Ancient Roman Jobs fell into various categories:

  • Political
  • Administration
  • Military
  • Farming
  • Trades
  • Merchants
  • Construction
  • Religious
  • Entertainment
  • Artists
  • Lawyers
  • Teachers

Ancient Roman Jobs - Politicians
The politicians of Ancient Rome held the power and at first consisted of only Patricians. As time went by the Plebeians were also allowed to take political office. Some of the jobs included the following:

  • Senators who sat on the Chief Council of Rome. There were about 600 members who reported directly to the emperor
  • Provincial Governors
  • Magistrates
    • Quaestor
    • Aedile
    • Praetor
    • Consul
    • Equites also known as 'knights' and had control over administration and finance
    • Censor - maintain the census of citizens and senators and collected taxes

The above links and the article on Roman Government provides additional facts, descriptions and information about these political jobs.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Administrators, Lawyers and Teachers
Many administrators were required to maintain the Government of Ancient Rome, some of them are detailed as follows:

  • Procurator - An agent who could hold a variety of posts and jobs from finance to administration
  • Publicanus - A tax collector
  • Notarii - Clerks who kept the minutes of meetings
  • Rationalis - A high ranking administrator in the finance office

There were also jobs for the lawyers, the police, the firemen and the law enforces such as jailors, torturers and executioners! Teachers were required. Some of these were well educated slaves but others assumed these positions. One of the educational jobs was that of a Rhetor a teacher who was a master of public speaking.

Ancient Roman Jobs - The Military
It took a lot of soldiers and a lot of military expertise to control the lands, provinces and countries held by the Roman Empire. The Roman army was a well oiled fighting machine, but the soldiers were also expected to build roads and forts. There were numerous ranks in the Roman Army, some such as General can be compared to the modern day. Other ranks included Centurion, Tribune and Legionaries. There were also craftsmen who supplied services to the military such as blacksmiths and metal workers.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Farming
Farming jobs were necessary to feed the Roman people. The jobs were similar to those required in modern day farms such as planting, sowing, reaping and harvesting. There were also the jobs associated with mills and granaries. Much of the grain was imported from different parts of the Empire notably Egypt. The workers and slaves in the rural communities were essential to the life of the towns.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Religious
Priests were expected to conduct many religious ceremonies, which included animal sacrifices. Predictions of the future were made by studying the entrails of animals. Important roles in the priesthood could only be assumed by Patricians. Roles and jobs in the priesthood included:

  • The Augurs who were priests who interpreted the will of the gods by studying the flight of the birds which was known as "taking the auspices."
  • A flamen was a priest assigned to a state-supported god or goddess in Roman religion
  • Haruspex (plural haruspices) was a man trained to practice a form of divination involving the inspection of the entrails of sacrificed animals

  • Vestal Virgins were the virgin female priests of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth who maintained the sacred fire of Vesta

Ancient Roman Jobs - Trades
The tradesmen of Ancient Rome included jobs for blacksmiths, weapon and shield makers, toolmakes, expert builders, barbers and hairdressers.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Merchants
The role of merchants increased with the size of the Roman Empire and the number of goods that they were able to import. There were many important trade centres, one of which was Capua which was near to Rome and where the rich went on shopping expeditions. Other merchants included bakers, fishmongers and butchers and other food vendors.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Construction Workers
Many slaves were used to undertake the hard menial labour but skilled Romans such as engineers and architects were necessary to build and maintain the aqueducts, temples, basilicas, villas and houses in Rome and the provinces.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Entertainment
Keeping the people of Rome was important especially in Rome which, due to the high number of slaves, led to the majority of Plebeians being unemployed and supported by the state. The Plebeians demanded entertainment. The jobs surrounding the entertainment industry included the oldest profession, prostitution. The theatre played a large part in entertaining the masses with plays and mimes. Chariot racing was a highly lucrative profession. And of course there were the gladiators. Many gladiators were slaves but some some Romans chose this as a profession (ex-soldiers looking for fame and glory. The chariot racing and gladiator combats also gave way to another favorite - gambling. Just as today gambling played a huge role in the leisure and entertainment industry.

Ancient Roman Jobs - Artists
Artists were required to create sculptures, frescoes and the fabulous Roman mosaics.

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