Romans were literate—prostitutes read and wrote. Soldiers did. Slaves did. Roman mothers were the elementary teachers in their own houses, for reading and math. Roman fathers took over the boys as kids grew older, taking them to work every day. Roman children played AFTER work hours, thank you. Otherwise they assisted their fathers or mothers all day long, then got their time to play, as the day wound down, or somewhat during siesta. The boys made friends of other boys in the care of fathers who came and went to THEIR father’s business. Even senatorial kids were to sit outside the senate and listen to the debates. Occasionally the marshal had to go out and tell them to pipe down out there.
And because they wrote—there is a WEALTH of graffiti—poignant stuff, some of it. When you read the one about the bread, recall that one of the things they found in Pompeii was the ovens, with the day’s baking in progress, before Vesuvius blew. There are things from bars, from public latrines, from alleys and thoroughfares. It’s a window on the common folk. Mind, it is pretty racy. Roman Graffiti from Pompeii