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Ancient Rome

Life in the Country

History >> Ancient Rome

When we think of Ancient Rome, we often think of the cities of Rome filled with people, large buildings, and senators walking around in togas. However, most of the population of the Roman Empire lived in the countryside. Life in the countryside was very different from that in the city.

What did the people do in the country?

Most of the people who lived in the countryside were farmers. They worked very hard. They got up early in the morning and worked the fields or did chores until dusk. Some people had other more skilled jobs like blacksmiths, carpenters, innkeepers, and bakers.

Producing Goods

The countryside played an important role in the economy of the Roman Empire. Different kinds of food was grown in different areas and then shipped throughout the empire. One of the most important crops was grains. A lot of grains were grown in Egypt and then shipped to large cities such as Rome. Other major crops of the Roman Empire included grapes (mostly for making wine) and olives (for olive oil).

Small Farms and Big Estates

The Roman countryside was made up of farms of all different sizes. Some farms were large estates run by wealthy Romans who often had a house in the city and a large villa in the country. These farms were usually managed by servants and the fields were worked by slaves. There were smaller farms, too, which were worked by poorer farmers. Small farmers often worked the fields themselves, sometimes with the help of a few slaves.


There were many small villages in the countryside throughout the Roman Empire. Families often lived in a village near their farm. The village provided some security as well as local craftsmen. Villages were very different in different parts of the empire. Many of the people living on small farms and in villages knew little of the Roman Empire and the city of Rome.


Farmhouses were different depending on where they were in the empire. They were typically very small huts made from the local materials. Most homes had only one or two rooms. Often farm animals lived in the huts with the farmers in order to keep them safe. Wealthier farmers might have a separate building for the kitchen, workshop, or even a bath house.


Wealthy Romans had large country homes called villas. These homes were much larger than the homes they had in the city. They had multiple rooms, servants' quarters, pools, and gardens. Romans often visited their villas to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Roman Legions

The army of Rome, the Roman legions, were usually stationed somewhere out of the city and in the countryside. They lived in forts and helped to maintain the peace or conquer new lands. When the soldiers retired, they were often given a small farm as part of their retirement. This helped to keep the soldiers happy and also kept former Roman soldiers living in lands throughout the Roman Empire.

Interesting Facts About Life in the Ancient Roman Countryside
Activities For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
Julius Caesar
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Spartacus the Gladiator
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Rome

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