Thesis

Romans on Vacation during the Late Republic

In accordance with university regulations, the following is an abstract of my culminating experience project, which serves as the final requirement towards the completion of a Master of Arts Degree in History. While the following abstract summarizes my project's scholarly contribution, research questions, methods, and conclusions, the final project is archived in the Department of History at California State University, Northridge. This analysis explores how Romans spent their leisure time, especially when they were on vacation. The research primarily focuses on the aristocratic class, but does include some insight into the experiences of the average citizen. The areas discussed include who could partake, where, when, and why they would travel, and how they reached their destinations. In addition, there is an examination into the accommodations and activities that ancient Romans engaged in. A brief examination of the common way for Romans to vacation and its evolution over the years is also presented. Every Roman citizen who could afford it went on vacation, and it was not an activity exclusive to the ultra-wealthy. They could travel to many destinations including Greece and Egypt. The most common destination, however, was the Bay of Naples, in particular Baiae. Although Romans traveled for many reasons, most did so to take a break and relax. More specifically, they sought out better weather, tranquility, status, opportunities for entertainment, and escape from political turmoil. Romans mostly vacationed in spring and summer. They traveled by boat and by roads. The places that they would stay en route and while on vacation ranged from tents to villas. The leisure activities depended on the participants. The people wanting to engage in debauchery could eat, drink, sing, and have sex to their heart's content. Those seeking tranquility engaged in more reserved activities like boating, walking, swimming, fishing, hunting, reading, and napping. There were the basic commonalities all Romans shared. Regardless of their social status, they vacationed around the same time. Most stayed on the Italian peninsula, and traveled mainly by road. In addition, most escaped the everyday business of their lives. Things did change for the Romans over the years because they were able to travel to more places, more safely. Another development was a reduction in the desire for Romans to travel in order to see foreign artifacts, and the villas became more extravagant. This topic is worth examining because it provides insight into the Romans' personal life and helps to illuminate many individual nuances. In addition, there is disagreement over the extent of villa use and time frame for the vacations amongst some sources.

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