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Lecture 2

Week 2: Marriage, Sex, Motherhood, and Death Detailed notes on this week's topic, including a list of relevant testable terms (according to terms highlighted during the course as taught last year). Listened to lecture recordings and took extra notes in a


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA219H1
Professor
Melanie Racette- Campbell
Lecture
2

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September 23, 2010
CLA219 Lecture 2 :
Marriage, Sex, Motherhood, and Death
*Decent translations The perseus Project (online)
Questions from last class:
Methodology?
Resistant reader…refusing to accept that dominant perspective
in text is the only perspective (ie: reading between the lines to
get information that would otherwise be obscure or inaccessible)
Most information on wealthy women and (their) slaves…not
necessarily on poor women—where was the interest?
Exposure of girls (widespread?)
Evidence for lower numbers of women
» P. 103 of Leftowitz and Fant
Naming Conventions
Greek women (and men) usually only have one name
Often taken from character traits (ie: Agape = love)
Often have an additional identifier after (ex: Agape daughter of…)
Athenian women often weren’t refered to by their own name (seen
as disrespectful), but were referred to as ‘daughter of…’
Slaves also only had one name
Roman women also usually had one name
Gotten in a different way…
Roman men got their names by…
Have at least 2 names (first name—limited number of them—and
a family name)
Some men also had a 3rd name, often used to differentiate
different branches of (most ly aristocratic) families
Roman names
Gaius (first name) Julius (family name) Caesar (additional name)
His daughter is named Julia (feminine form of father’s family
name)
» If there were more than one daughter, often they were
numbered, and often had family nicknames
» There are cases when the daughter does not get their name
from her father
His freed slave is named Julia (feminine form of her former
master’s family name)
» Agape (Greek name that she had as a slave)

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» Roman slaves often had one name only, that indicated their
ethnic origin, or sometimes were ‘joke names’
Roman women kept their fathers’ names, and did not take on their
husbands’ names
won’t be tested on how Greek and Roman names work…just
useful to know
Guardianship and Legal Status of Women
All children born who were acknowledged fell under the
guardianship of someone
Usually father; if father died young they get another
Boys eventually attain adulthood and don’t need a guardian
anymore; women never reach legal adulthood—guardianship
passed onto male relatives, husband…etc
Women required permission of guardian to do anything, make
large purchases, make wills…etc
Later in Roman history, free women were rewarded by being freed
from their guardians after giving birth to 3-4 children (about first
century…)
Even these women were not full citizens, like male members of
their family
No right to vote, no right to hold court of law—there were some
religious offices that were held by women…
Marriage
Women married young
Early/mid teens (first marriage)
Men usually married in late 20’s or early 30’s
Women expected to be virgins at the time of their first marriage—
chastity very important
Expected to be faithful to their husbands
Could be killed/divorced if they weren’t
Women’s infidelity would call legitimacy of their children into
question
Men weren’t expected to be faithful, but were expected to honour
their wives
Couldn’t bring anyone else into their homes to rival their wives
Could be with prostitutes of either sex without being considered
adulterers…
Problems only arose if they had sex with a virgin—their chastity
was the property of her guardian…
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Purpose of Marriage
Married for almost anything but for love
Marriage could end if couple were unable to have children—major
purpose for marriage
Necessary to pass on property, to honour fathers’ graves
Hesiod Theogony 603-612
“whoever avoids marriage…and this evil cannot be healed”
another potential reason to marry would be the woman’s dowry
dowry essentially remains attached to woman…goes with her if
she remarries, but while married to her the husband could use it
in event of her death, it would go back to her family/father
Dowry is an inalienable part of the wife (even if she’s unable to
use the money, property…etc.)
Could also be used to keep property within families…
Could create a bond between families (especially between men)
Marriage contracted between fathers of partners, or between
father of bride and the husband
Women couldn’t rebel against marriage
Familial bonds could also take the form of political support (ie:
Caesar married his daughter, Julia, to his chief rival, Pompeii)
Marriage wasn’t a religious matter (unlike now..)
Ceremony was held at home and didn’t have to be officiated by a
priest
Most important part of marriage was the contract between parties
agreeing to be married
Respect offered to gods of home..etc.
No necessity to officially register marriage
Divorce wasn’t a religious matter—not considered a moral problem
(unless adultery was involved)
Could get remarried, complicated once divorce came into the
picture
Concubines
Generally acceptable as long as men already fulfilled obligation
to have children by real wife..
Generally from groups that were less legitimate to be married
(slaves, freed persons..)
Generally subject to same limitations as a wife
If a man committed adultery with another man’s concubine,
considered serious
A lot more vulnerable to abandonment…
A man who had a wife wasn’t ‘supposed’ to have a concubine…
Won’t be tested on fragmentary lines of poetry…
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