The Romans loved entertainment. Indeed Emperors used entertainment deliberately in order to stop them rebelling against bad government. The theatre was fundamental to the Roman way of life.

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Question one

The Romans loved entertainment. Indeed Emperors used entertainment deliberately in order to stop them rebelling against bad government. The theatre was fundamental to the Roman way of life. There were two types of theatres, a theatre and an amphitheatre.

Towns of even modest size usually had theatres. They were horseshoe shaped with a stage at the front, seating was arranged in tiers in a semi-circle around the orchestra.

In these theatres plays were performed, political and religious speeches as well poetry were recited and occasionally, circus acts, bear bating and wrestling even took place.

In larger towns a larger version of the theatre was found, the amphitheatre. The more dramatic events were held here. The most famous amphitheatre is the Coliseum in Rome itself. The largest amphitheatres could hold in tens of thousands of people. They were oval in shape and looked similar to modern day football stadiums.

Crowds went to amphitheatres to watch chariot races; gladiator fights and bloody spectacles, like unarmed humans fighting Wild animals to the death.

Source A shows a plan of the theatre found in Verulamium. The orchestra is in the centre surrounded by a semi-circle of seating in tiers. The stage is at the front of the theatre. By using the scale provided you could determine that the diameter is 40 metres.

Source B is an extract from ‘The Romans and Their Empire’; it is all about where the idea for the Roman theatre originated. The horse shoe shape originated from the Greeks. The Romans adapted the Greek idea to make it there own; they built bigger stages and fixed backdrops with pillars, statues and entrances. They also invented a stage-curtain; spectators at Pompeii had a canvas awning stretched above them to keep the dun off. This type of awning would be necessary in Verulamium, as it would be more likely that the rain would bother the audience, not intense heat from the sun.

Question two

According to the oxford dictionary trade is ‘the exchange of goods for money or other goods.’ In Rome, barter and swapping lead to a completely new concept of currency.

        By introducing currency the Romans themselves even more sophisticated than they already were. The idea of money entirely changed the nature of Roman Labour, industry and trade. The simple innovation of money increased the amount of food and goods that were bought. Coined money was originally a Greek idea but like many other ideas was adapted by the Romans.

For all of its major accomplishments, Ancient Rome never developed a complex economy. The Roman economy was mainly concerned with feeding the vast number of citizens and soldiers who lived throughout the Mediterranean region. Therefore, agriculture and trade dominated the economy, supplemented by small-scale industry.

The farmers in Italy grew grains, olives, and grapes. Olive oil and wine were some of Italy's leading exports. However, Roman farming methods were fairly primitive and not very productive. Roman farms produced few crops and required many people to do the work. Farmers were also heavily taxed.

The emperors forced farmers to donate most of their surplus grain to the government as a tax so they could distribute it free to poor citizens. While this made the emperors popular with the masses, it left the farmers with little to sell for a profit. It also left no incentive for farmers to increase productivity, since more products equalled more taxes. As a result, farmers didn't raise enough food for all Rome's citizens, and they had little money to spend and contribute to the local economy.

The Roman Empire was very good for trade, for numerous reasons, not just the introduction of coinage. The large Roman army needed to be supplied with food, clothes, pottery and weapons. Soldiers and other people who worked for the government were paid in coins and so they wanted something to spend their newly earned wages on.

Most of the trade originated through supplying the army with what it needed. Roman merchants, called Negotiatores, organised the transport of goods to the army and they also helped the government buy grain to feed people living in Rome.

Roman citizens depended upon the large volume of trade throughout the Roman Empire. Providing enough grain for its entire people was a constant challenge that the emperor took very seriously. The leading imports were grains, because they formed the backbone of the Roman diet. Civilians and the thousands of soldiers stationed throughout the Empire needed wheat, barley, and corn.

Grains were imported from Egypt, Sicily, Tunisia and other areas around the Mediterranean. Shippers were required to take the grain directly to Ostia, the official port of Rome. Penalties for stopping along the way included deportation or even execution. In Ostia the grain was weighed, checked for quality, and then sent up the river on barges to Rome, where it would be repacked for distribution throughout the Empire.

Although foods dominated the trading industry, there was also a vast exchange of other goods from all parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. As the young Roman Empire prospered, so grew the demand for luxury items only obtainable from distant lands. Items such as silks from China, cotton and spices from India, ostrich products and ivory from Africa, and mysterious blonde slaves from Germany found their way to Rome via a vast network of trade routes.

Trade routes were established on land and sea. The roads built by the Ancient Romans are one of their lasting achievements, and many are still in use today. These ancient highways were not built with trading in mind, however. They were originally built to help swiftly transport huge numbers of soldiers in times of war. They were also intended to carry news from one region of the Empire to another as quickly as possible.

Even the best roads had to contend with bandits and poor weather. Transporting goods by land was slow and expensive. Lumbering oxen pulled large loads in wagons and carriages. Horses were faster, but they could only pull light carriages or be ridden. Caravans of camels or donkeys carried loaded baskets called panniers. Slaves, who provided cheap labour, hauled some goods. Trade by land was only profitable if goods were going short distances or if the cargo was small, expensive luxury items.

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Most heavy, bulky, large-volume goods, such as food, wine, oil, and building supplies, were shipped by water. Waterways provided cheap and easy access to all parts of the Mediterranean. Travel was fast if the winds were favourable, but they were also unpredictable and often dangerous. At times the winds stopped, stranding cargo and crew. Ship captains lacked accurate charts and navigational equipment. Therefore, they stayed close to the coastline to navigate, and many vessels were shipwrecked. Archaeologists have found many sunken ships laden with trade goods that offer valuable clues about the lives of people of the Roman Empire. ...

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