Roman Entertainment Facts

The Romans, particularly the rich, enjoyed lots of leisure time, and they spent this time in a variety of different ways.

Here are some facts about some of the forms of Roman entertainment.

Roman Baths

  • Most Romans visited the public bath house on a daily basis. Bath houses were set up like the spas or health clubs of today, and a trip to the bath house was a social occasion.
  • At the bath house Romans could exercise, get clean, meet friends, walk in the gardens and borrow books from the bath house library.
  • Follow this link to learn more facts about Roman baths.

Chariot Racing at the Stadium

  • Chariot races took place in the stadium (sometimes known as the circus). The stadium had a central platform (called the spina), and the crowd watched the chariots race around it.
  • There were eight chariot circuses in Rome. There’s also the remains of one in Colchester, England.
  • The chariots were incredibly light and travelled really quickly. Chariot racing was a dangerous sport and many injuries occurred to both the charioteers and the horses.
  • The chariots were usually driven by slaves, and were pulled by between two and four horses.

The Roman Theatre

  • The Romans loved theatre and they enjoyed watching four different types of performance: comedies, farces, tragedies and pantomimes.
  • The plays were performed in a theatre with a stage, and area for the orchestra and the auditorium (a semi-circular area where the audience sat).
  • Only men acted in Roman times and and they often played more then one role per play.
  • Simple costumes were worn to allow the audience to distinguish between different characters.

Gladiators and the Amphitheatre

  • The Roman amphitheatre was probably the key form of entertainment for the citizens of the Roman Empire.
  • Rich and poor would pile into the amphitheatres of the Empire to watch gladiators fight each other, or to watch slaves fight wild beasts, or to watch recreations of famous battles, or to watch wild beasts fight each other. The Romans were very inventive and they came up with lots of different ways in which the crowd could get their fix of combat and bloodshed.
  • To learn more about Roman gladiators, follow the link.

Roman Feasts and Dinner Parties

  • Rich Romans enjoyed entertaining at home. They took their time over their evening meal and ate a wide variety of different foods and dishes.
  • The Romans didn’t sit at chairs around a dining table as we do today. Instead, the food was placed on a low tables and the Romans sprawled on couches and most dishes with their hands.
  • Rich Romans relied on slaves to wash their hands between course and before and after the meal, and to prepare and serve the food.

Find out more facts about the Romans by visiting our resources page.