Station I: pompeii

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Directions: Read the following account of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Answer the following 4 questions on your own paper.

Pliny the Younger – A Survivor of Pompeii

Read the following below.

Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE), a scholar, began his career by entering military service. However, he was also a writer, so it is for his works on natural history and science that he is known. At the time of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, he was the leader of the Roman navy that was near Pompeii. From there, Pliny had charge of the western Mediterranean. When he realized that Mt. Vesuvius posed a great danger, he turned the warships into rescue boats. Pliny the Elder died while trying to rescue people from the volcanic eruption.

Pliny the Elder had no children of his own, but he had helped with the upbringing of his nephew. His nephew, known as Pliny the Younger, also wrote. He is known for his letters (epistulae). In two of them he describes events surrounding Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, and his uncle's death.

Pliny the Younger's Letter:

The carts that we had ordered brought were moving in opposite directions, though the ground was perfectly flat, and they wouldn't stay in place even with their wheels blocked by stones. In addition, it seemed as though the sea was being sucked backwards, as if it were being pushed back by the shaking of the land. Certainly the shoreline moved outwards, and many sea creatures were left on dry sand. Behind us were frightening dark clouds, rent by lightning twisted and hurled, opening to reveal huge figures of flame. These were like lightning, but bigger. At that point the Spanish friend urged us strongly: "If your uncle is alive, he wants you to be safe. If he has perished, he wanted you to survive him. So why are you reluctant to escape?"

We responded that we would not look to our own safety as long as we were uncertain about his. Waiting no longer, he took himself off from the danger at a mad pace. It wasn't long thereafter that the cloud stretched down to the ground and covered the sea. It girdled Capri and made it vanish, it hid Misenum's promontory. Then my mother began to beg and urge and order me to flee however I might, saying that a young man could make it, that she, weighed down in years and body, would die happy if she escaped being the cause of my death. I replied that I wouldn't save myself without her, and then I took her hand and made her walk a little faster. She obeyed with difficulty, and blamed herself for delaying me.

Now came the dust, though still thinly. I look back: a dense cloud looms behind us, following us like a flood poured across the land. "Let us turn aside while we can still see, lest we be knocked over in the street and crushed by the crowd of our companions."

We had scarcely sat down when a darkness came that was not like a moonless or cloudy night, but more like the black of closed and unlighted rooms. You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. Some were calling for parents, others for children or spouses; they could only recognize them by their voices. Some bemoaned their own lot, other that of their near and dear. There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one last unending night for the world. Nor were we without people who magnified real dangers with fictitious horrors. bodies buried in ash

Some announced that one or another part of Misenum had collapsed or burned; lies, but they found believers. It grew lighter, though that seemed not a return of day, but a sign that the fire was approaching. The fire itself actually stopped some distance away, but darkness and ashes came again, a great weight of them. We stood up and shook the ash off again and again, otherwise we would have been covered with it and crushed by the weight. I might boast that no groan escaped me in such perils, no cowardly word, but that I believed that I was perishing with the world, and the world with me, which was a great consolation for death.

At last the cloud thinned out and dwindled to no more than smoke or fog. Soon there was real daylight. The sun was even shining, though with the lurid glow it has after an eclipse. The sight that met our still terrified eyes was a changed world, buried in ash like snow. We returned to Misenum and took care of our bodily needs, but spent the night dangling between hope and fear. Fear was the stronger, for the earth was still quaking and a number of people who had gone mad were mocking the evils that had happened to them and others with terrifying prognostications. We still refused to go until we heard news of my uncle, although we had felt danger and expected more.

You will read what I have written, but will not take up your pen, as the material is not the stuff of history. You have only yourself to blame if it seems not even proper stuff for a letter. Farewell.

  1. What is Pliny the Younger’s writing mainly about?

  2. Why is Pliny the Younger’s account of what happened at Pompeii important for historians of ancient Rome?

  3. Why did Pliny the Younger feel that fear was stronger than hope?

  4. The answer to this question is not in the above reading. The Romans did not believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius happened because of scientific reasons but rather that it happened because of religious reasons (the Romans believed that the God of fire, Vulcan, was angry at them). Which sort of explanation for big historical events is more persuasive: religious or historical explanations? Explain.

STATION II: POMPEII TODAY and Roman influences today.

Directions: Read the following story and answer the 3 questions on your own paper. Then read pg. 336-341 in your textbook. Answer questions 1, 2, 3,4,5,6, and 7 from pg. 341 on your own paper.
Pompeii today

arial photograph of an arena at pompeii

An excavated arena at Pompeii 

Many modern visitors see Pompeii as merely a collection of ruined buildings, and find it difficult to believe that in AD 79 the streets, houses, public buildings were full of life. They don't realize that many parts of the ancient town were uncovered more than two centuries ago, and that inadequate technology and debatable methods were used in the excavations, especially when the first works were carried out.

'Today the biggest danger for the old town is the increasing number of visitors ...'

They don't recognize what a miracle it is that buildings that were originally built to last for only a few decades, and that even on that basis would have required frequent upkeep, are still in existence - and able to tell us something of the life that was lived within them.

Today the biggest danger for the old town is the increasing number of visitors, who often do not understand that they are touching, creeping, walking along, an open air museum, which requires much respect and attention.

In Pompeii all is original: the tombs along the stone paved streets; the houses, with their frescoes - some with simple designs and gaudy colors, others more elegant and complex - which open onto shadowed arcades made precious by gardens in bloom and gushing fountains.

The workshops and the shops immediately suggest the busy and noisy life once so much in evidence along the streets, and the religious sanctuaries are awesome even today - with monumental columns still emphasizing the sacredness of the altars. The 'Forum', when it is crowded with people, also still reflects an image of previous times - perhaps the times of various elections, when different factions confronted each other in the square or under the large portico.

It is perhaps only in Pompeii, and the other towns buried by Vesuvius, that people of today can be in such direct contact with the ancient Roman world - it is for this reason that these places leave such an unforgettable memory on the minds of imaginative visitors.

  1. What is the biggest danger to Pompeii today?

  2. Should tourists be prevented from going to Pompeii?

  3. Some people say that tourists only go to Pompeii because they only want to learn about the misfortune of others to distract them from the problems in their own lives. Do you think this is true? Would you want to travel to Pompeii at some point in the future? Why/Why not?

STATION III: Greek and Latin Root Words:

Directions: Match the root words (green paper) with their meanings (pink paper). Once you have all the words matched, show Mrs. B. If you are correct, read pg. 342-344 in your textbook. On your own paper, brainstorm at least 2 words that we use today that have a Greek or Latin root word in it and what it means. (Example: autobiography means to write a story about yourself. You can’t use this example.) You must complete 18 of the 25 words given.


Directions: Answer questions 1 on your own paper based on the picture. Then read the passages about Roman Gladiators and answer questions 2 and 3. On the same paper, complete the “TAKE A STAND” activities (Perspectives 1, and 2 with the explanations) and the Thought Question.

The picture of the sculpture below is from Ancient Rome. Examine it!

Question 1. Examine this picture. What is happening? How does it show what Roman life is like? How would this picture support the following claim that Romans were blood-thirsty?

Gladiators of Rome

The Romans liked watching other people die. They thought that was fun, like maybe you think going to horror movies or playing violent video games is fun. They also believed that their gods liked gladiatorial fights, so that going to the fights was a sort of religious experience as well as being fun. Many Roman people went to big amphitheaters (like our football stadiums today) to see professionals fight (like boxers today).

You went early in the morning, and paid for your ticket, and sat in your seat. Sometimes all the seats were free, if a wealthy Roman had given money to pay for the show. Other times, you had to pay, and it cost more money for the good seats than for the bad seats, so the poor people had to sit way up top where it was hard to see.

el djem
Amphitheater of El Djem, in Tunisia
(North Africa) (the second biggest in the Roman Empire, after the Colosseum in Rome)


First men in armor came out and fought against wild animals, like bears or bulls or alligators or ostriches or lions or tigers. They captured the animals in faraway places and brought them to the stadiums specially. Then the Romans treated the animals badly to make them hungry and mean so they would fight. Usually the men killed the animals, but sometimes the animals killed the men, which everyone thought was very exciting. You can still see this kind of fighting today in bullfights in Spain or Mexico.

A modern bull-fight in Mexico

Around lunchtime there would be a break, and people would eat their lunches. Some people brought picnics with them: bread and cheese and vegetables mostly. Other people bought food from the vendors who were walking around the stadium selling wine and water and stuffed pastries. While people were eating lunch, in their seats, there would be a half-time show that sometimes had singers or dancers or a little play, or sometimes had criminals being killed. Sometimes the criminals were just brought out and had their heads cut off or were stabbed, but other times they were tied to posts and the bears came and attacked them, or they were pushed off a high tower, or something "creative" like that. Because the gods loved to see justice done, they also liked to see criminals being killed.

After lunch sometimes there was another show, where men fought men. In big cities, these fights were to the death. In smaller towns, probably the men usually just fought until someone was hurt, though sometimes men did get killed. The men who were fighting were often, though not always, slaves.

Question 2. Which modern sport were gladiator fights most like? Football? Wrestling? Baseball? Something else? You have to do your own thinking for this question. Explain your answer well.

Question 3. If gladiator games existed today, do you think that people would want to go to them? Would people be bloodthirsty and want to go? Or would people be outraged and decide not to go? Explain your answer.

Take a Stand

Write the number that corresponds to how much you agree or disagree with the following perspectives about the similarities and differences between ancient Roman blood sports and modern sports in the United States.

Perspective # I

The fans of modern sports in the United States are as poorly behaved, bloodthirsty, and destructive as the spectators of ancient Roman gladiatorial games.

(Strongly Agree) I II III IV V (Strongly Disagree)


Perspective # II

Modern Americans like to believe that they are better than the ancient Romans, but in reality, they are just as unethical (evil). If, suddenly, on television, a show with actual deadly gladiator fights came on, modern Americans would watch it because they are just as bloodthirsty as the ancient Romans.

(Strongly Agree) I II III IV V (Strongly Disagree)


Perspective # III

Read the article below about Michael Vick from the New York Times. Then explain whether or not you agree with the perspective at the end.

Michael Vick was the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons until his career was derailed by his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

Mr. Vick, a first-round draft pick after a standout career at Virginia Tech, became the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and has been named to the Pro Bowl three times.

On the field, he was known for his mobility and exciting style of play. But in the spring of 2007, he became the center of a different kind of attention: a search of a property owned by Mr. Vick in Surry, Va., turned up 54 pit bulls, and a later search found graves of other dogs said to have been killed during fights by members of a group called Bad Newz Kennels. On July 18, 2007, Mr. Vick and three other men were indicted on federal felony charges. The indictment charged that Mr. Vick had sponsored illegal dog fighting, gambled on dog fights and permitted acts of cruelty against animals on his property.

On Aug. 20th, after two co-defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him, Mr. Vick accepted a plea offer from prosecutors, the judge in the case said. The National Football League promptly suspended him. In Dec. 2007, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison, more than his co-defendants in the case — and also more than the 12 to 18 months prosecutors originally suggested, as part of Vick’s plea agreement.

Almost a year later, on Nov. 25, 2008, Vick appeared in court again, this time in Surry County Circuit Court in Virginia to plead guilty to state dog fighting charges. He received a three-year suspended sentence. It was a necessary step to make him eligible for early release from prison. He's scheduled for release on July 20, 2009, and will serve three years of probation, but federal law prohibits prisoners from being released to a halfway house if there are unresolved charges pending against them.

(Updated Nov. 25, 2008)

THOUGHT QUESTION: Have humans become any more ethical in the 2,000 years since ancient Roman times? Answer this question, with evidence to support your reason, on your notebook paper.


Directions: On your own paper, copy the guidelines for converting Roman Numerals. Try to complete all 16 problems and fill in all blanks. Talk it out in your group, but if you are struggling, ask Mrs. B. for help.


Only five little rules to remember…

  1. You can’t put more than 3 of the same symbols together.

  2. Smaller number that comes before a larger one means subtraction.

  3. Larger number that comes before a smaller one means addition.

  4. PLACE VALUE MEANS EVERYTHING!!! (Remember Egyptian numbers…)

  5. You can’t add and then subtract in order to write a number in a place value.

I= One XX=Twenty

II=Two XXX=_______

III=Three XL=40

IV=Four L=______

V=Five C=100

_____=Six D=500

_____=Seven M=1000

VIII=Eight (Lucky Cows Drink Milk)



Practice converting the following Roman Numerals to our number system.

  1. XIII= _________ 5. XXXII=__________

  2. LVI=________ 6. CCXXIX=_________

  3. CMXXXI=_________ 7. MMMDCCCLXXXVIII=__________

  4. MMXIV=__________ 8. MCMXCIX=______________

Practice converting our numbers to Roman Numerals.

9. 222=____________________ 13. 2000=______________________

10. 777=__________________ 14. 1606=______________________

11. 555=__________________ 15. 17=________________________

12. 999=__________________ 16. 811=_______________________

Now write 10 problems on your own and give to your partner to solve.


Station VI: Roman Slavery and the Spartacus Revolt

Directions: Read the papers titled: Roman Slavery, Gladiators, and the Spartacus Revolt and answer the following questions on your own paper.

1. What rights did slaves have during the Roman Republic?

2. Why were slaves freed [manumitted]?

3. What were the two different categories of slaves? Which category was "better?" Why?

4. How were gladiators recruited?

5. Why would a free man want to become a gladiator?

6. Why did the slaves revolt in 73 B.C.E. under the leadership of Spartacus?

7. Why did this slave revolt fail?

Roman Slavery, Gladiators,

& the Spartacus Revolt


The subjugation {total control} of the Roman slaves was a result of the territorial

conquests of the empire. As new land was acquired, the population of the area became the property of the Roman empire as well. The captives of the land joined the other slaves of the republic who had been stationed in this position by the same situation as the captured slaves, or because they had failed to enlist in the army or register in the census. Slavery was either a result of captivity or punishment for a

rejection of governmental rule. Once the slaves were acquired, they were sold at slave auctions under the jurisdiction of aediles.

Slaves with special talents were sold for higher prices, and female slaves were cheaper than males. It was cheaper to purchase new slaves than to breed more, and so the slave auctions were always highly populated and well attended.
The Roman slaves were treated as members of the family unit in the earlier days of slavery;

their punishments were mild, and they were given holidays from their regular duties on certain

occasions and festivals. On the Festival of Saturn, the slaves were allowed to wear the badge of

freedom for the day, they were given freedom of speech, a banquet where their masters served

them, and they were given the clothes of their masters to wear. Slaves were often buried in the

familial plots of their masters, and masters would be punished severely for the murder of their

slaves. Families of slaves could not be separated, but there was no legal relation between a

father and his son. The children born to a slave mother were also slaves, and slaves could hold

no property as all their possessions belonged to their master.
Runaway slaves, fugitvii, were branded on their forehead, and the later treatment of slaves

included whippings, requirement of the slaves to work in fetters, and beatings with sticks. Their

food was rationed. The manumission {freeing} of slaves was both a personal and governmental

issue. The slaves could be freed as a reward for a great feat of bravery or service, as a

punishment to the master of the slaves, or if the slave was extremely aged, as it was cheaper to

buy a new slave rather than to feed them. Slaves then joined the rest of society as their social

ranking was raised by this freedom, and they would not be at all limited or hindered because of

their previous status.

Although some information survives to us about Roman slavery, and due to archaeological

conquests, a great deal of knowledge can be gathered about the general slave system, little is

known about the everyday lives of slaves. However, enough is known to give a general

overview of the slaves’ lives. It is understood that slaves performed a wide variety of different

jobs, ranging from economic to field labor roles, to being forced into gladiatorial combat like

Spartacus. (The latter, of course, could bring a comfortable life if the gladiator was skilled

enough, lucky enough, and wise enough with his finances. On the other hand, an unfortunate

gladiator could end up being eaten by lions!) With this span of employment also came great

differences in living conditions. Before delving into this topic, it is important to divide slaves into

two categories: field slaves and domestic slaves. This will become vital, for there was a strict

hierarchy that was understood by both slaves and their owners, and was directly reflected in the

way that they were treated. This division was one of vital status as it was considered

punishment or degradation for a house slave to be sent to the fields.
Slaves in Roman society were given tasks that we today may think of as strange. Many were

able to purchase things in the names of their masters, to navigate their master's ships,

etc...Making up the largest percentage of the slave population were the field hands who

constituted the major work force on the large agricultural and mining farms of the Roman

aristocracy. On one estate alone, as many as 40,000 slaves could be kept, forced to work in

extreme conditions. As a result of this, however, field slaves provided Rome with its greatest

source of economic wealth. This was especially crucial in the later republic as expansion

became less and less profitable. For at least two reasons, the life of a field slave was a very strenuous and difficult one. First, because aristocratic owners rarely visited their estates, and only spoke with their paid men when they did, the common field slave almost never came into contact with his owner. As a

result of this, these slaves were not given the opportunity to befriend their masters as house

slaves were, which made the possibility of a better job or manumission much less likely. There

were, however, chances for a slave to advance in his rural station to a more prominent and,

consequently, beneficial situation. The majority of positions for rural slaves were in the fields,

the most stressful that could be obtained. There were some however, such as a diaetorius, or

valet, who was present solely to attend to the master's materialistic needs.

Secondly, rural slaves were forced to do work that was both physically and emotionally

straining. Field hands were given a life expectancy of about ten years due to the physical

exhaustion they encountered on a daily basis. Among the jobs they were expected to perform

were as ploughmen, hunters, ditchers and forester. Slaves were expected to work all day on

very little food and water, and were whipped or beaten when they did not. The extreme nature of

the environment in which rural slaves lived is best exemplified by the number of slave revolts

which resulted from rural area as opposed to urban areas. Urban slaves had very little to

complain about, as will be discussed later, and revolt only would have led to their execution,

whereas for rural slaves death was the outcome no matter which route they chose to exercise.

If one was to be a slave, to work in the household of an upper-class aristocrat was ideal. Under

many circumstances, the oldest and most trusted slaves were considered to be a part of the

family. Furthermore, urban slaves were given better food and clothing in addition to their daily

tasks being much less demanding. Urban slaves were chosen for several reasons, but many for

their skills such as sculpture or cobbling. There were, however, slaves, especially young boys,

who were employed only for their looks as it was considered a symbol of wealth and status to

keep beautiful children as slaves. There were, of course, many other jobs for domestic slaves

such as cook and footman. Some households were known to have as many as fifty different

types of slaves, who would perform duties sometimes as specific as servant in charge of purple

From all stand points, house slaves were given many more opportunities than those of the field

capacity. Cooks were allowed to take home leftovers from their master's table, children were

given clothing made of fine materials, etc...simply because house slaves were considered, for

the most part, to be a reflection of the master himself, and offered a prime avenue to further

display his status. All urban slaves, however, did not experience the surroundings of luxury that the fortunate were able to enjoy. Many slaves that lived in urban areas were the property of the government, kept to aid in the erection of public buildings and roads. The atmosphere in which these slaves were kept rivaled that of rural slaves in work expectancy and living conditions.

Gladiators were usually recruited from criminals, slaves (especially captured fugitives), and prisoners of war. Criminals, having lost their citizen rights and slaves and prisoners of war having none, had no choice about becoming a gladiator, if they had the physical and emotional make-up

necessary for the profession. Some free-born men, however, although they had not lost their citizen rights, voluntarily chose the profession and bound themselves body and soul to the

owner of a gladiatorial troupe (lanista) by swearing an oath "to endure branding, chains, flogging

or death by the sword" and to do whatever the master ordered. It has been estimated that by the

end of the Republic, about half of the gladiators were volunteers (auctorati), who took on the

status of a slave for an agreed-upon period of time.
But why would a free man want to become a gladiator? When he took the gladiator’s oath, he

agreed to be treated as a slave and suffered the ultimate social disgrace (infamia). Seneca

describes the oath as "most shameful". As unattractive as this may sound to us,

there were advantages. The candidate's life took on new meaning. He became a member of a

cohesive group that was known for its courage, good morale, and absolute fidelity to its master

to the point of death. His life became a model of military discipline and through courageous

behavior he was also now capable of achieving honor similar to that enjoyed by Roman soldiers

on the battlefield. There were other advantages. For example, an aristocrat who had suffered a

great financial setback in a lawsuit or who had squandered his inheritance would find it

extremely difficult to make a living. After all, he had spent his life living on inherited wealth and

was not used to working for a living. He could enter the army or become a school teacher, or

take up a life of crime as a bandit. In comparison with these occupations, a career as a gladiator

might seem more attractive. He would not fight more than 2 or 3 times a year and would have a

chance at fame and wealth (with which they could buy their freedom), employing those military

skills that were appropriate to the citizen-soldier. In the arena, the volunteer gladiator could

indulge his fantasy of military glory and fame before an admiring crowd. As a

gladiator, he could achieve the kind of public adulation that modern athletes enjoy today.

Spartacus was born in Thrace (an ancient country, now part of Greece and

Turkey.) When he was young he worked in the fields of his homeland.

Somehow, he ended up serving as a Roman auxiliary in the legions. There is

no clear evidence but it is believed that he deserted the Roman army and as a

result of that was sold into slavery.

Slavery became an important part of Roman life. As nobles became richer and lazier they began

using slaves as gladiators for entertainment. Gladiators were trained slaves who were forced to

fight wild animals and other slaves in huge arenas in front of thousands of people. It was a

brutal and ugly sport and it was becoming very popular. While being enrolled in a training school

in Capua in 73 B.C.E., Spartacus led a group of several other gladiators and fled the gladiatorial

college capturing Mount Vesuvius. When other slaves heard about Spartacus they were

motivated by his courage and readily joined him in the fight against the Roman nobility.

Spartacus hoped that in search for freedom his soldiers would attempt to cross the Alps, after

which they could seek their own homelands. However, his plan didn't materialize as they

preferred to plunder the rich Italian countryside. Within the space of two years they defeated no

fewer than four Roman armies. With his huge army of 70,000 Spartacus' force overran much of

Campania and Lucania defeating all the Roman opposition. Inside, however, Spartacus knew

that if Romans really decided to make an effort his army stood no chance because "the well equipped

and numerous Roman legions would easily suppress his ragtag band."

By 72 B.C.E., the Senate realized that Spartacus and his army were an internal threat to

security and ordered the consuls to crush the slave revolt. It turned out to be harder than they

thought. Surprisingly the Roman army was defeated three times. On numerous occasions

Spartacus tried to persuade his men to leave Italy and move northward towards Gaul but they

refused. Eventually, he decided to turn southward and go to Sicily. However, that was a turning

point of the slave war. The Senate placed Crassus, an able and competent general, in

command of six legions. Although his initial attempt to crush the revolt failed, at Brundisium

(now Brindisi) in 71 B.C.E., his army defeated the slaves and gladiators. Spartacus was killed in

the battle and 6,000 captured slaves were crucified. That was the end of the last of the series of

slave wars extending back to the previous century
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