Romans, man, they lived weird lives, especially the wealthy and powerful. If you were rich you’d be up at the crack of dawn and your breakfast was not Kellogg’s Cornflakes. It would involve you chatting to your clientes – your clients. These weren’t customers of anything, really. These were people you associated with, mutually negotiating to help each other out. It’s not unlike an organised crime gang situation, except a little more civilised and less…you know…robby, stabby, shooty.
So maybe you’re a rich landowner, you have pigs and cattle and no way to distribute it, someone you know introduces you to a butcher, he’s currently selling low-grade stuff so you offer him your animals. He sells your meat, gives you a good cut of the profits and the best cuts of meat when you ask and you’ve got a good thing going. Now your butcher needs some help paying off a gambling debt so he, your cliens (client), comes to you his patronus (patron) and asks for a little help. You oblige, as is your duty and with it being a reasonable request.
So anyway, they would meet with their clientes somewhere in the region of 5am-10am. Certainly by the time midday came around you’d be done with that business for the day. But Roman business is never, truly, done. So a light lunch of some bread, oil, if you’re lucky maybe you’ve got a stuffed songbird left over, and then it’s off to the forum. The forum is a combination of a market square, a meeting room, a coffee shop and a newspaper. Here influential Romans would walk and talk with their friends – they may or may not have a client/patron relationship – but they were definitely people they would wish to be seen walking and talking with (more on this in another entry).
That takes you through to the afternoon, at which point you may entertain the idea of some exercise, or a bath, or both. Maybe you’d go with a friend, do your bathing, rub a little olive oil into each other and scrape it off with a strigil, a sort of human squeegee used for getting oil, sweat and muck off your skin. “No homo!” as the homophobic kids would say, except it was Rome so there may have been a little homo (more on this in another entry). Whether homo or not, your exercise, bathing and potentially homosexual exploits now take you to the early evening and you have plans for dinner. You’re going over to your friend Nommus Maximus’ house.
So you go home, make sure you’re well dressed, your wife puts on some make-up that will probably slowly drive her mad (a lot of weird stuff about lead in Rome) and by the time you’re ready it is close to 8pm. You make your way to Nommus’ place, have a chat, take your laying-on-your-side seat at the table (love that Romans ate this way) and he keeps your there eating fried dormice and drinking diluted wine until well over midnight.
And you need to wake up at around 5am to deal with your clients again.
Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, somebody get these guys a can of Monster, they fucking need it. Seriously, the Roman day was busy.
They made up for it, though, there were dies fasti (allowed or permitted days, when work and social business could take place) and dies festi (festival days, or holy days when official business was literally profane). At some points in Roman history there was over 100 dies festi – yup, a third of the year off work, for every Roman citizen. So maybe they didn’t need Red Bull because they knew how to take time off. Of all the things we inherit from Rome this is not one of them. For shame.