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Philosophy of Leisure in Ancient Rome: Roman Villas as a Retreat from Affluence and Stress of Urban Life - Essay Example

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Philosophy of Leisure in Ancient Rome: Roman Villas as a Retreat from Affluence and Stress of Urban Life

Really, leisure is one of the few popular concepts that are excessively difficult to define. Despite the way it affected and redirected social progress, leisure never had a single, universal definition. Simultaneously, leisure exemplified one of the foundational elements of social life in Ancient Rome. Swimming, wrestling, board games, and baths created an atmosphere of creativity and difference from monotonous work. Much has been written and said about Roman villas, their architectural and structural elements. However, the Roman Villa was not merely a product of construction; rather, it reflected the philosophy of leisure and pastime in Ancient Rome. For a wealthy Roman, villa was an effective retreat from the stresses and affluence of public life in the city: Roman villas fulfilled a number of functions, from socialization to philosophic contemplation, providing their owners with a unique opportunity to isolate themselves from the pressuring realities of urban life. This paper lays out a general picture of leisure in Ancient Rome, its philosophy and practical implications, and discusses the way Roman villas served the needs of wealthy Romans through the prism of ancient leisure philosophies. Leisure and philosophy of leisure in Ancient Rome Leisure can be viewed as a set of activities different and separated from work. This is something people do for their own pleasure and for the purpose of physical and emotional relaxation. In the ancient life, as well as the ancient ethics and philosophy, what constitutes happiness was one of the central questions (Annas 1993). However, Aristotle is believed to be the main source of philosophic ideas about leisure in Ancient Rome. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (1984) suggests that happiness is the best humans can achieve. Happiness reflects and reveals the best of human nature (Aristotle 1984). Leisure is where the function, form, and excellence create an ideal combination (Aristotle 1984). Intellectual and moral excellences are essential ingredients of personal happiness (Aristotle 1984). Leisure is the best way to achieve and retain these excellences, through friendship, music, gymnastics, and other leisure activities (Aristotle 1984). Without these activities, no happiness is possible (Aristotle 1984). Aristotle (1984) treats happiness as the ultimate goal of life, since good life cannot be limited to reason and knowledge. A good life is that in which individuals understand every situation, choose the right activity for the right place, and do it in right way to achieve the desired feeling (Aristotle 1984). Aristotle (1984) believes that work limits individual opportunities to achieve happiness, and leisure can compensate for the lack of happiness and self-fulfillment. According to Aristotle (1984), leisure benefits everyone, since it enables individuals to take and make the best of themselves. In Politics, Aristotle writes that the citizens of Athens must be educated and prepared to spend their lives in noble pleasure (Hunnicutt 1990). Eventually, the entire human happiness depends on leisure (Aristotle 1984). It is no wonder that Aristotelian ideas about leisure inspired Ancient Romans, especially wealthy ones, to spend their lives in affluence and entertainment. Leisure was considered an essential ingredient of daily lives among wealthy, which did not merely entertain but expanded wealthy Romans’ mental and emotional potential (Pike & Price 2008). The wealthier the Roman was the more opportunities he had to devote himself to ...Show more


PHILOSOPHY OF LEISURE IN ANCIENT ROME: ROMAN VILLAS AS A RETREAT FROM AFFLUENCE AND STRESS OF URBAN LIFE by [Author’s Name] 2011 Philosophy of Leisure in Ancient Rome: Roman Villas as a Retreat from Affluence and Stress of Urban Life Introduction What is leisure?…
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