Roma Ailesi

CKM 2018-20 / Aziz Yardımlı



Roma Ailesi


  Roman Family and Marriage
  Fresco from Herculenaum
In the frescoes it is common to find women of high social position naked from the waist up, or partially covered by semi-transparent gauze, not only in circumstances of intimacy, but in the presence of third parties. This fashion extended to men and is typically Etruscan, although it is lost in the early years of the empire.

  Interior of Caius Martius’ House, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1907.

Sephoris, Roman Villa — Artist’s reconstruction of a villa at Sephoris. Luxury for those at the top of society — poverty for those at the bottom.

Family in ancient Rome

Family in ancient Rome (W)

"A Roman Family," Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

The Ancient Roman family was a complex social structure based mainly on the nuclear family, but could also include various combinations of other members, such as extended family members, household slaves, and freed slaves. Ancient Romans had different names to describe their concept of family, including "familia" to describe the nuclear family and "domus" which would have included all the inhabitants of the household.

The types of interactions between the different members of the family were dictated by the perceived social roles each member played. An Ancient Roman family's structure was constantly changing as a result of the low life expectancy and through marriage, divorce, and adoption.


Ancient Romans placed the father at the head of the family. One definition of the term "familia" translates to "the group of people who descend from the same pater," where pater means "father". From this definition, a father and all his children are part of his familia, as are the children of his sons. The children of his daughters, however, would become part of their father's familia. At the head of the entire familia was the paterfamilias. The paterfamilias was the oldest living male of the family. If he had living sons, even grown men with their own families, those sons would still be under the power of the paterfamilias.

In Ancient Rome, fathers were endowed with nearly limitless power over their family, especially their children. This patria potestas, or "the father's power" gave him legal rights over his children until he died or his children were emancipated. These powers included the right to arrange marriages or force divorce, expose a new born child if he did not want him/her, and even disown, sell, or kill his child.

Even though a father had these legal rights, it did not mean these acts were common. Fathers wanted their children as heirs for the continuation of their bloodlines. Ancient Romans believed the patria potestas was first dictated by Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome. Legally, if a child did not share the father's citizenship, he or she was not under his patria potestas.


A woman in Ancient Rome was under the social expectation to become a wife and mother. Despite the importance of the mother in the family structure as the bearer of the children, she had no legal control over her children. Examples of mother-child relationships in ancient sources, if discussed at all, focus on describing her as the idealized Roman Matrona. A Roman Matrona was a strong, virtuous woman dedicated to the political advancement of her family. Marcus Aurelius provides a rare insight into the affectionate relationship between mother and son in a letter describing an afternoon spent with his mother playfully arguing and gossiping. The lack of literary discussion may have resulted because so many children never knew their mothers, who often died in childbirth. It was also the case that young children often had more contact with their wet nurse or pedagogue than their mother.


Marriage in ancient Rome

Marriage in ancient Rome (W)

Marriage in ancient Rome (conubium) was a strictly monogamous institution: a Roman citizen by law could have only one spouse at a time. The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives. Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states. It is one aspect of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western culture.

Marriage had mythical precedents, starting with the abduction of the Sabine Women, which may reflect the archaic custom of bride abduction. Romulus and his band of male immigrants were rejected conubium, the legal right to intermarriage, from the Sabines. According to Livy, Romulus and his men abducted the Sabine maidens, but promised them an honorable marriage, in which they would enjoy the benefits of property, citizenship, and children. These three benefits seem to define the purpose of marriage in ancient Rome.

The word matrimonium, the root for the English word "matrimony", defines the institution's main function. Involving the mater (mother), it carries with it the implication of the man taking a woman in marriage to have children. It is the idea conventionally shared by Romans as to the purpose of marriage, which would be to produce legitimate children; citizens producing new citizens.

"Roman Girl" by Zocchi, Guglielmo (b.1874).


Consortium is a word used for the sharing of property, usually used in a technical sense for the property held by heirs, but could also be used in the context of marriage. Such usage was commonly seen in Christian writings. However, the sharing of water and fire (aquae et ignis communiciatio) was symbolically more important. It refers to the sharing of natural resources. Worldly possessions transferred automatically from the wife to the husband in archaic times, whereas the classical marriage kept the wife’s property separate.]

In order for the union of a man and woman to be legitimate, there needed to be consent legally and morally. Both parties had to be willing and intend to marry, and both needed their fathers’ consent. If all other legal conditions were met, a marriage was made.


Lawful divorce was relatively informal; the wife simply took back her dowry and left her husband’s house.
Roman men had always held the right to divorce their wives; a pater familias could order the divorce of any couple under his manus. According to the historian Valerius Maximus, divorces were taking place by 604 BCE or earlier, and the early Republican law code of the Twelve Tables provided for it. Divorce was socially acceptable if carried out within social norms (mos maiorum). By the time of Cicero and Julius Caesar, divorce was relatively common and “shame-free,” the subject of gossip rather than a social disgrace. Valerius says that Lucius Annius was disapproved of because he divorced his wife without consulting his friends; that is, he undertook the action for his own purposes and without considering its effects on his social network (amicitia and clientela). The censors of 307 BCE thus expelled him from the Senate for moral turpitude.

Elsewhere, however, it is claimed that the first divorce took place only in 230 BCE, at which time Dionysius of Halicarnassus notes that "Spurius Carvilius, a man of distinction, was the first to divorce his wife" on grounds of infertility. This was most likely the Spurius Carvilius Maximus Ruga who was consul in 234 and 228 BCE. The evidence is confused. A man could also divorce his wife for adultery, drunkenness, or making copies of the household keys. Around the 2nd century, married women gained the right to divorce their husbands.

Divorce by either party severed the lawful family alliance that had been formed through the marriage; and remarriage might create an entirely new set of economically or politically useful alliances. Among the elite, husbands and wives might remarry several times. Only one spouse's will was required for any divorce, even if the divorced party was not informed. A spouse who had entered marriage sane and healthy, but became incapable of sound judgment (insane) was not competent and could not divorce their partner; they could be divorced without their knowledge or legal notice. Divorce, like marriage, was considered a family affair. It was discussed and agreed in private, in an informal family gathering of the parties most affected; the husband, wife, and senior members of both families. No public record was kept of the proceedings. Official registration of divorce was not required until 449 CE.


📹 Ancient Rome History — Roman Family (VİDEO)

📹 Ancient Rome History — Roman Family (LINK)

In this video we examine the roman family, clan, and tribe.



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