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Lecture 8

Lecture 8: Roman Family

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Glenn Wilkinson

Roman Family Marriage  Marriage was not a personal relationship but an economic arrangement between the groom and bride’s father  It was transfer of the bride from father’s house/control (potestas) to the groom’s  The ultimate goal of this arrangement was for the groom to expand their line and produce heirs  The seal/guarantee of this arrangement was a dowry, bride’s family provided to sustain her  A dowry was for husband to use as he saw fit – but to be returned to the bride’s family if the marriage ended (unless the reason for separation was perceived to be the bride’s fault)  The woman never owned anything – anything that transferred was from father to husband  Later on, this changed – early on however women legally could not own anything  Men married late 20s, whereas women shortly after puberty  Women in a sense were treated as children  Men allowed to have sex with male/female slaves as well as any free women who were not married  Women were not allowed sexual freedom, they were expected to be a virgin and was not to have sexual relations with any man other than her husband  Husband and wives built close personal bonds however, and there was evidence for strong marital affection Children  A man’s power over his children, patria potestas, was complete control over their direct descendants, including their life and death  Children could not legally own property, their father controlled everything  People who held the patria potestas were known as the pater familias  When son reached a certain age they could be emancipated, allowed to gain their own patria potestas and their own property, similar to manum
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