17 is the age most teenagers feel they have bid their childhoods goodbye and look forward to adulthood. In ancient Rome most children did not reach this age. A child who crossed 15 was considered an adult in many ways. By 17 some would be enlisted in the army. A young girl of fifteen may already be a mother.
The girls and boys of ancient Rome lived very different lives, though. The boys had more freedom, spent more time with their fathers and could pursue a career. Girls on the other hand, had to be content with spinning, walking parks and having babies. They could not dream of a career in the Senate or the court of Law.
Ray Laurence eloquently describes the life of a young 17 year old boy in a TED-Ed video. He also documents the contrasting life of three young sisters in ancient Rome.
A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome follows a day in the life of Lucius Popidius Secundus.
In this video, we visit the four sisters all named Domitia, in accordance with the custom of naming all girl children in a family with the same name. We learn that Domitia 1 is betrothed to a nineteen-year-old. Girls in ancient Rome were betrothed when they were as young as seven years!
If you liked these videos you could try the hands on book Spend the Day in on Ancient Rome: projects and activities that bring the past to life. Feel what it is to be a Roman!