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  • Today, we're going to look at the world of Rome

  • through the eyes of a young girl.

  • Here she is, drawing a picture of herself

  • in the atrium of her father's enormous house.

  • Her name is Domitia,

  • and she is just 5 years old.

  • She has an older brother who is fourteen,

  • Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus,

  • named after her dad.

  • Girls don't get these long names that boys have.

  • What is worse is that Dad insists

  • on calling all his daughters Domitia.

  • "Domitia!"

  • His call to Domitia drawing on the column,

  • Domitia III.

  • She has an older sister, Domitia II, who is 7 years old.

  • And then there's Domitia I, who is ten.

  • There would have been a Domitia IV,

  • but mom died trying to give birth to her three years ago.

  • Confused?

  • The Romans were too.

  • They could work out ancestry through the male line

  • with the nice, tripartite names

  • such as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus.

  • But they got in a real mess

  • over which Domitia was married to whom

  • and was either the great aunt

  • or the great stepmother and so on to whom

  • when they came to write it down.

  • Domitia III is not just drawing on the pillar,

  • she's also watching the action.

  • You see, it's early,

  • in the time of day when all her dad's clients and friends

  • come to see him at home to pay their respects.

  • Lucius Popidius Secundus, a 17 year old,

  • he wants to marry Domitia II

  • within the next five to seven years,

  • has come as well.

  • He seems to be wooing not his future wife,

  • but her dad.

  • Poor Lucius, he does not know that Domitia's dad

  • thinks he and his family are wealthy

  • but still scumbags from the Subura.

  • Afterall, it is the part of Rome

  • full of barbers and prostitutes.

  • Suddenly, all the men are leaving with Dad.

  • It's the second hour

  • and time for him to be in court

  • with a sturdy audience of clients

  • to applaud his rhetoric

  • and hiss at his opponent.

  • The house is now quieter.

  • The men won't return for seven hours,

  • not until dinner time.

  • But what happens in the house for those seven hours?

  • What do Domitia, Domitia, and Domitia do all day?

  • Not an easy question!

  • Everything written down by the Romans

  • that we have today was written by men.

  • This makes constructing the lives of women difficult.

  • However, we can't have a history of just Roman men,

  • so here it goes.

  • We can begin in the atrium.

  • There is a massive loom,

  • on which Dad's latest wife is working on a new toga.

  • Domitia, Domitia, and Domitia are tasked

  • with spinning the wool

  • that will be used to weave this mighty garment,

  • 30 or more feet long and elliptical in shape.

  • Romans loved the idea

  • that their wives work wool.

  • We know that because it's written

  • on the gravestones of so many Roman women.

  • Unlike women in Greece,

  • Roman women go out the house

  • and move about the city.

  • They go to the baths in the morning to avoid the men

  • or to separate baths that are for women only.

  • Some do go in for the latest fad of the AD 70s:

  • nude bathing with men present.

  • Where they have no place

  • is where the men are:

  • in the Forum,

  • in the Law Court,

  • or in the Senate House.

  • Their place in public is in the porticos

  • with gardens,

  • with sculpture,

  • and with pathways for walking in.

  • When Domitia, Domitia, and Domitia want

  • to leave the house to go somewhere,

  • like the Portico of Livia,

  • they must get ready.

  • Domitia II and Domitia III are ready,

  • but Domitia I, who is betrothed to be married

  • in two years to darling Philatus,

  • isn't ready.

  • She's not slow, she just has more to do.

  • Being betrothed means she wears the insignia of betrothal:

  • engagement rings

  • and all the gifts Pilatus has given her -

  • jewels,

  • earrings,

  • necklaces,

  • and the pendants.

  • She may even wear her myrtle crown.

  • All this bling shouts,

  • "I'm getting married to that 19 year old

  • who gave me all this stuff I'm wearing!"

  • While as they wait, Domitia II and Domitia III play with their dolls

  • that mirror the image of their sister

  • decked out to be married.

  • One day, these dolls will be dedicated

  • to the household gods on the day of their wedding.

  • Okay, we're ready.

  • The girls step into litters carried by some burly slaves.

  • They also have a chaperone with them

  • and will be meeting an aunt at the Porticus of Livia.

  • Carried high on the shoulders of these slaves,

  • the girls look out through the curtains

  • to see the crowded streets below them.

  • They traverse the city, pass the Coliseum,

  • but then turn off to climb up the hill

  • to the Porticus of Livia.

  • It was built by Livia, the wife of the first emperor Augustus,

  • on the site of the house of Vedius Pollio.

  • He wasn't such a great guy.

  • He once tried to feed a slave

  • to the eels in his fish pond

  • for simply dropping a dish.

  • Luckily, the emperor was at the dinner

  • and tamed his temper.

  • The litters are placed on the ground

  • and the girls get out

  • and arm in arm, two by two,

  • they ascend the steps

  • into the enclosed garden with many columns.

  • Domitia III shot off and is drawing on a column.

  • Domitia II joins her

  • but seeks to read the graffiti higher up on the column.

  • She spots a drawing of gladiators

  • and tries to imagine seeing them fighting,

  • something she will never be permitted to do,

  • except from the very rear of the Coliseum.

  • From there, she will have a good view

  • of the 50,000 spectators

  • but will see little by way of blood and gore.

  • If she really wanted a decent view,

  • she could become a vestal virgin

  • and would sit right down the front.

  • But a career tending the sacred flame of Vesta

  • is not to everybody's taste.

  • Domitia I has met another ten year old

  • also decked out in the insignia of betrothal.

  • Home time.

  • When they get there after the eighth hour,

  • something is up.

  • A smashed dish lies on the floor.

  • All the slaves are being gathered together in the atrium

  • and await the arrival of their master.

  • Dad is going to go mad.

  • He will not hit his children,

  • but like many other Romans,

  • he believes that slaves have to be punished.

  • The whip lies ready for his arrival.

  • No one knows who smashed the dish,

  • but Dad will call the undertaker

  • to torture it out of them, if he must.

  • The doorkeeper opens the front door to the house.

  • A hush comes over the anxious slaves.

  • In walks not their master

  • but, instead, a pregnant teenager.

  • It is the master's eldest daughter, age 15,

  • who is already a veteran of marriage and child birth.

  • Guess what her name is.

  • There is a five to ten percent chance

  • she won't survive giving birth to her child,

  • but, for now, she has come to dinner with her family.

  • As a teenage mother,

  • she has proved that she is a successful wife

  • by bringing children and descendants for her husband,

  • who will carry on his name in the future.

  • The family head off to the dining room

  • and are served dinner.

  • It would seem Dad has had an invite to dinner elsewhere.

  • With dinner concluded, the girls crossed the atrium

  • to bid farewell to their older sister

  • who is carried home in a litter,

  • escorted by some of Dad's bodyguards.

  • Returning to the house,

  • the girls cross the atrium.

  • The slaves, young and old,

  • male and female,

  • await the return of their owner.

  • When he returns, he may exact vengeance,

  • ensuring his power over the slaves

  • is maintained through violence and terror,

  • to which any slave could be subjected.

  • But, for the girls, they head upstairs for the night,

  • ready for bed.

Today, we're going to look at the world of Rome

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【TED-Ed】Four sisters in Ancient Rome - Ray Laurence

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/07/18
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