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Defining the Consumer Discretionary Sector in the Roman Empire

The consumer discretionary sector provides an outlook on how consumers go about their daily lives, as this sector embodies products that show how people spend their time through hobbies or passions outside of the workforce. Examples of goods and services in the consumer discretionary sector include venues of entertainment (TV providers, movie theaters, media), leisure activities (sports, toys, casinos & gaming, hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc), household durables, and retail goods (high-end fashion, luxury, textiles). Today, we are going to explore the consumer discretionary sector of Ancient Rome's economy in order to get a sense of what everyday life was like in the empire.

Entertainment and leisure activities were well documented in the study of Roman history because of their vast influence over society. Two broad categories were established by the government with regard to fun and entertainment. The first category was defined as munera, or spectacles. Many Romans found entertainment in the amphitheater, where men fought and killed animals. The structure in Rome that provided this venue was the Circus Maximus, which was built around 100 B.C. Aside from murdering and having animals perform tricks, the Romans also provided races in places such as the Circus Maximus for crowds that could reach a capacity of nearly 250,000 spectators. Rare animals such as hippopotamuses, camels, lions, and giraffes were brought to the amphitheaters to engage in entertainment for the people. Other blood sports were very indicative of what the average Roman sought for entertainment. Criminals were regularly tied to stakes and exposed to animals hungry for flesh. Gladiator contests date well before the existence of the Roman Republic, let alone the empire.

The second category for entertainment was ludi, including theatrical performances, chariot races, and dances. The theatre of ancient Rome contained many well established themes in the industry such as Roman tragedies and comedies. Chariot races were also the passion of all social classes, unifying both poor and wealthy people to engage in watching and participating in the activity. Races also attracted subsidiary industries, such as sports betting/gambling and luxury goods.

Although Ancient Rome was nearly 2000 years ago, the people that inhibited their empire shared many of the same hobbies as the citizens of Earth today. The recent advancement of technology has shifted these passions, such as sports and theatrical performances, to become more accessible to nearly everyone in society.


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