1. A street in Pompeii. Where ordinary people lived and worked. Imagine the sidewalks and street filled with the hustle and bustle that was the lifeblood of a town.
2. The town’s busy market. A cutlery merchant has his wares spread out on a temporary table in the forum of Pompeii. The intense activity all around would be typical of a market day.
3. Merchants selling cutlery. The needs of everyday life were bought in stalls along the street or in the mercantile center (forum) of a town.
4. Vibrant religion. Ordinary men carry a bier in a religious procession at Pompeii. The protecting divinity stands in front, with the men’s carpentry profession modeled behind.
5. Consulting a corner sorceress. Many professional and amateur magicians and soothsayers were ready to meet the demand for using the supernatural to understand and control the world.
6. Religious procession. The whole population turns out to honor the Great Mother goddess Cybele at Pompeii – elites, priests, and ordinary people.
7. Slaves and ordinary free men gather animals from the hunt to ship to the city for popular arena games.
8. Prostitutes advertise their wares. Scene from the dressing room of a Pompeian bath-and-brothel show risqué acts as a perhaps playful reminder to those disrobing or robing that sexual services are available. The boxes portray clothes hampers for bathers.
9. Entertainment. Gambling was popular with ordinary men, whether with dice or other games of skill and chance. Here two men play at a table, probably in a tavern.
10. An everyday woman. The lack of jewelry and plain garment indicate that this is an ordinary woman, pensively looking out at us.
11. Another ordinary woman.
12. Nursing mother. Although wetnurses were available, many ordinary women nursed their children.
13. Midwife delivers a baby. The birthing chair was standard, as was the use of a midwife while in labor.
14. Letter in a woman’s own hand. Thermouthas writes to her mother telling her about her pregnancy, sending news, and asking about her father’s health.
15. Their daily bread. Workmen construct a wall.
16. A peasant at work. The farmer takes his local produce to market.
17. Poor fishermen with their rods.
18. A beggar with his dog at his side seeks alms from a wealthy woman.
19. Punishment of a slave. A man strikes a slave with his fist, probably enacting a scene from drama, but certainly reflecting real life.
20. A slave is beaten. Striking a slave with a rod was a common form of punishment and control.
21. Slaves serving in an urban household. In preparation for a Dionysian festival feast, a slave carries bread in a flat basket.
22. Collars such as this one were supposed to assure the quick return of a runaway slave. It is inscribed: FVGI. TENE ME. CVM REVOCAVERIS M(EO) D(OMINO) ZONINO ACCIPIS SOLIDVM (ILS 8731). I have run away. Hold me; when you will have brought me.
23. A procuress. Go-betweens, both male and female, facilitated the trade of prostitutes by supplying (mostly) women to customers, and managing those women if they were part of a brothel.
24. A brothel cubicle. The small room indicates it was intended only for the business at hand. The concrete bed presumably had a mattress and coverings of some sort. There may have been a stool or other wooden furniture as well.
25. Courtesans. High-class prostitutes of the elite were participants in elaborate entertainments in the homes of the wealthy. Here they wear typical dress, a tunic which slips easily off the shoulders, and a pallia, or cloak, of fine cloth which, too, falls away easily.
26. The Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) in Rome was the most famous venue for arena entertainments and executions. It was completed in ad 80 and seated around 50,000 people.
27. Provincial amphitheaters. There were over two hundred amphitheaters scattered throughout the empire. Some were small, some were temporary wooden structures, but many were large and elaborate, as this one at Pompeii shown in a fresco which also narrates the riots between citizens of Pompeii and Nuceria in ad 59.
28. Gladiatorial contest. The retiarius, a fighter with a net and short sword, has cast away the net to deal the final blow to his adversary, a secutor, or ‘pursuer’. Retiarius vs secutor was a specialty paring in the arena.
29. A beast hunt. A local magnate named Magerius celebrated his beast-hunt games with a grand mosaic. In the center is a slave holding a tray of prize money, rewards for the willing bestiarii (wild beast fighters).
30. Gladiators duel in these two mosaics now in Madrid. A secutor gets the best of a retiarius while the judges observe to insure the rules are followed.