Most people in Roman times did not have much spare time. They were too busy working. They liked games though. Soldiers often played board games with counters and dice. Counters and boards for their games have been found. Hunting was also popular. People hunted animals for fun as well as for food.
Some things the Romans did for fun were horrible. They enjoyed fights between gladiators, and fights between people and animals. These bloodthirsty shows were put on in front of crowds in large arenas called amphitheatres.
What was a Roman play like?
Romans enjoyed the theatre. Most plays were funny comedies, though there were serious tragedies as well. Actors often wore masks to show whether their character was happy or sad! They also wore wigs – an old man had a white wig, a slave had a red wig.
Roman Fun & Games
Romans had lots of different hobbies to keep them busy.
They had games to play at home, plays to go to see and public events for
thousands of people to see.
Roman children had seesaws, swings, kites, hoops and
toy houses to play with. They also played board games like checkers. The girls
had wooden dolls to play with.
The Roman games!
The two games that the Romans liked to watch the most
were chariot racing and gladiator fights. Chariot races were the most popular of
all. The Circus Maximus could have twenty-four chariot races a day.
A racing chariot was a small two-wheeled
cart, pulled by fast horses. Racing was very dangerous and riders often fell off
and were killed. There were four teams : the Reds, Blues, Greens and Whites.
People supported one team and cheered on its drivers – just like supporting a
football team today.
Gladiators were slaves or prisoners made to fight
each other, or wild animals, in front of crowds. These fights were a part of
events called “the games”. They took place in huge open-air buildings called
At the end of a
gladiator fight the emperor would often give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down”
signal. This was to show whether he wanted the loser to live or to die.
A Roman Theatre!
Roman plays were sometimes copied from
Greek ones. There were two types : tragedies and comedies. A tragedy was a play
with a sad end. A comedy had a happy ending.
The actors wore masks so that it was easy to tell who
they were playing from far away. It must have been difficult to see much from
the back seats anyway.
Snacks were on
sale at big events, they were usually different kinds of fruit or
Parties and buntieqs1
loved to have big parties and feasts. They would eat anything from three to ten
courses. They would have a first course of something like olives, mice,salad,
snails, oysters and perhaps peahens’ eggs. They would then move on to a
selection of meat and fish dishes – stuffed dormice was popular. They would like
to have something special like ostrich, flamingo, peacock or a wild boar as the
centre of their meal. They would then finish off with nuts, fruit, stuffed dates
and honey cakes. Wine was drunk all the way through the meal which could go on
The romans used to keep one
room as a vomintorium, Guests who were full and
wanted to eat more could go into this room to make themselves sick and then
rejoin the group for more food.
used to have entertainers like jugglers, acrobats and dancers to perform during
and after the meal.
Children from poor Roman families had to work hard, but they still found some time to play.
Children from rich Roman families did not have to work and had more time to play because they had slaves to do all the work in the house.
The Romans favourite toys and games were:
Children also played with their pets
Monkeys – though these were rare
Wooden sword fights
Models of people
Models of animals
Knucklebones (like Jacks