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Awful Ancient Positions in Life III
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  5/28/12
By: Yona Williams

During ancient times, some jobs of the past were especially harsh on the body. Some men had the limits of their strength and pain levels tested on a daily basis. In this article, you will encounter ancient jobs that involved the body – two of which centered on manual labor.

Rowing the War Ships

No engines propelled war ships across the waters towards times of ancient battle – it was the duty of a slave to row the bulk of the boats. Rowers were in charge of the ancient Greek war boats until their shoulders and arms began to ache. Unfortunately, they did not have the luxury of taking a break or having someone else relieve their spot. They were slaves who were paid with a daily meal so they didn’t have any say in their treatment while on the job. If they stopped because the pain became too unbearable to handle, they were flogged with a cat-o-nine tails. Those that passed out or simply could not continue were flayed or tossed over the vessel into the sea.

Staying a Virginal Keeper of Fire

Teenaged female virgins during ancient Roman times were sought after to hold an illustrious position of becoming a vestal virgin. You'd think that the young girl would spend her days in luxury or glory, but it was actually quite the pressure-filled job. The lovely ladies were expected to give 30 years of their life to the service of Vesta – the goddess of family. The virgins were in charge of keeping the vestal flame burning at all times. They were given the honor of being the only female priests in ancient Roman times. However, there was a penalty for not keeping the vestal flame burning. She'd expect a flogging until she bled if she let the flame go out. If the virgin lost her virginity while in the service of Vesta, she was buried alive.

Human Carriages

Transporting men and women from point A to point B, the litter carrier was a slave whose job to cart women (and later men) around in small carriages. The job was hard, dangerous, and harsh on the body. Sometimes, the carts would have to be carried up stairs. Usually, litter carriers were dressed in fine clothing and the litters would grow in elaborateness over the years as well. At first, it was traditional to have curtains to conceal the identity of the travelers, but some litters were outfitted with glass. Traveling by way of a litter was not always a pleasure. Some people suffered symptoms of seasickness after awhile. The job continued to exist into modern times – being used last in the 1980s. The last variation was called a sedia – a throne carried on the shoulders of a group of men.


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