Urban Living.docx

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 1000
Kelly Olson

U RBAN L IVING Reading: Angela pp. 76-110, 157-178, 236-241. Population of Rome • 1 million inhabitants; 7sq. miles • Steady growth of empire had changed the way the city looked • Insula (pl insulae) the apartment-block • Poorest had no fixed address • Rome was walled and bounded by gardens; buildings had to go UP Insulae • Between 2-7 storeys • At first wooden; later concrete added for more solidity • Within the same building different sized apartments available • Best apartments on the ground floor: airy spacious • Worst on the top floor: small, dark, hot in summer, cold in winter. • By the 4th century CE: 44, 300 insulae in the city of Rome (all but a few residence lived in them). Annoyances and Dangers of Urban Living • Privacy in the Insula • One or more families to a room in poor insulae • Poor ventilation, flimsy walls, no cookstoves or private latrines • Neighbors and noise • Windows only covered by a cloth • Traffic congestion, narrow streets, processions, crowds of people. • Public toilet sponge on a stick Dangers in The Insulae • Collapse of the building itself • Rich tended to site their house on hills • Insulae built in valleys close to the tiber; more likely to collapse • Poor workmanship, shoddy foundations, and poor materials. Fires • No cookstoves: braziers used instead for cooking and warmth. • Most dangerous for those on upper floors (no fire escapes). • Fires most often occurred in the dense areas of the city. • Construction features of insulae: shoddy construction, party walls, narrow streets, high building (falling debris) Crime • narrow streets had no street lighting. • burglaries, brawls, muggings frequent. • Vignette of street life • Full chamberpots flung from the windows of insulae. Waste-Disposal • Seriously deficient • Sewers: noxious gases backups, flooding • Vermin lived in the sewer system • “Pike caught between two bridges’ • I.e., near the mouth of the Cloac
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