Lets say this is you, a proud Roman senator with a house just a short walk from the Forum on the Palatine Hill. You probably own multiple properties, but lets discuss the one you call home first.

Firstly, if you were a senator from the patrician class and you knew a thing or two about finance, it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary for you to have value of around 13,000,000 sesterces, about 78 million USD today. You would've been barred from engaging in foreign trade as part of senatorial rules, but that would not have stopped you from backroom wheeling-and-dealing your way to success, utilizing your slaves as front-men in the process (we'll talk about slaves in a bit). 13 million sestersces wasn't even a HUGE amount of money, but it was enough for you to be allowed to hold a seat in the senate (a measley 400,000 sesterces or 2.4 million USD before Augustus increased the requirement to 1.2 million sesterces or 14.4 million USD). A huge amount of money would be something like the net worth of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the so-called richest man in Rome, who altogether possessed something like 200 million sesterces, or 1.2 billion USD (enough to afford a private army, which Crassus did indeed possess). Debt was also very common, and you would've likely been overloaded with it - but no worries, you have wined and dined enough Numidian bankers to cover you from them coming to collect all at once.


Now, you're tucking yourself into your goose-down bed at night in your cubiculo, the traditional private meeting and sleeping room that any Roman senator would absolutely need to have, pondering the beauty of your center-city mansion when you think about your neighbors. Not far from you is Cicero, a guy who laughs at his own jokes more than anyone else does, and nearby is Choldia, the notoriously wealthy, get-around girlfriend of both Mark Antony and Brutus (as well as a few other neighbors of yours including Julius, who never cracks a smile). Not far from them, closer up the hill, would be the homes of the aforementioned Marcus Crassus, the demolished property of the populist upstart Catalinus (demolished as part of the traditional punitive measures taken against the family of any such upstart who would dare rouse the poors to action), and the gaudy mansion of Scaurus, purchased by Clodius (brother of Antony's lady friend), which boasted often-scorned Lucillian marble columns that sent the house's value to an absurd 15 million sesterces (90 million USD). You'd also have a number of elite bathhouses, a popular brothel, and of course, the Forum, all within walking distance.


You think about the fact that you really hate your neighbors. They're rich assholes just like you. And do you know what rich assholes like? To be impressed by other rich assholes. When you house was designed, this was the primary feature in mind. You trace your steps out of your house, to the street, and then back in again; getting a sense of the format of the house. As you stand outside, you see a large, covered walkway between the fronts of two shops (both of which you likely own and have your slaves operate). You go through the covered walkway and into the large front door, which is almost always kept open (save for when the storms are kicking) because its sends a message to the people that you're easily accessible.

You enter the great hall, the atrium, which is decked to the nines in the finest decorations, and probably having an open ceiling that shows off the beautiful sun and sky over Rome. This is the main room where you entertain most of your guests, but not all! For the most part, you designed this great hall to reflect your character. You've got some lovely paintings of famous moments in Roman history, a status of the Muses (to signify that you, the owner of the house, are a man who reflects great intelligence and patience), and maybe a little tasteful erotica too. Of course, the centerpiece is your illustrious wall of death-masks, a whole family tree of your ancestors accompanied with masks casted after their deaths along with a list of accomplishments below their names. As the petitioners, clients, and other subordinates enter (and go no further than) the atrium, they kiss your feet as a sign of respect before asking for gibs.


After you have finished being groveled to by every merchant, peasant, and ex-slave this side of the Tyrrhenian, you get a visit from your friend Lucius (a rich and powerful banker and senator who you have been planning on meeting with in private to discuss matters of the failing Republic). You certainly wouldn't want to be meeting with him in the atrium, where all of your slaves and workers pass through, so you direct him to the more private locations. You pass several entertainment rooms, the dining room, more covered walkways, an indoor garden (because you're balling out), the parlor, and other standard rooms (all decorated with colorful stuccoes, sculptures of deities that reflect the purpose of the rooms, and maybe even some war booty from your days in the legion.


You enter the bedroom, again the most private room in the house, to discuss your business with Lucius. You and him are planning on who exactly you want to pay off your debts to, Pompey or Julius, when the time finally comes for one of them to collect (after they are finished bonking one another militarily, of course). You figure you might also want to flee to one of your foreign properties in case the going gets rough - which will be easily done, as a man of your wealth probably possesses 13-15 properties spanning the Italian peninsula. Everything from rest-stops to your larger homes in Tusculum and Naples, to a few tenements and other seedy operations. You scratch your head, wondering how many of your slaves you can spare to take with you in case you do have to flee.


You've probably got anywhere from 10-15 personal slaves; that is, slaves who work for you directly or in your home in Rome. In reality, a man of your capacity has something like 200 slaves. Which would sound like a lot if it wasn't for the fact that, at this time, 20 percent of the population of Rome was enslaved. And these slaves range from all different sorts of functions. You aren't a mining magnate or a farmer, who treats their slaves brutally and like work-animals, but rather a wheeler-and-dealer, maybe an investor. So you retain at least one secretary, maybe a few accountants, a half dozen message-runners, a cook, a manservant, a few clerks, and some readers (possessing beautiful voices and reading out your innumerable contracts to you as a matter of convenience). You're probably forgetting some of your slaves, but a man of your elite caliber really has no time to number the vast amount of slaves you have (you let your secretary handle that). After you're finished with your meeting, you usher Lucius out of the house, gripping his forearm in the traditional gesture of bond.

You return from your mental trip back into your bed, your eyes re-opening as one of your slaves drives a dagger into your chest. Lets be honest, you had it coming.