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Lecture 3

CLA233 Lecture 3 Notes

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Michael J.Dewar

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CLA233 Lecture 3 Notes Family Life - patriarchy – rule of the fathers in Rome - father – pater - in practice – Romans did not really live up to their ideals – fathers in practice, owned their children – only the father really counted in the Roman household – however not completely true – more an ideal than a reality - pater familia – head of the family, the father – head of immediate family, slaves, etc. - father could execute his children if he feels it is justified - over the centuries the Romans brought in laws to limit paternal legal control - state of Rome tended not to intervene too much in ordinary life – left to the fathers - in some cases, the state handed over the son for the father to properly bring to justice - patria protestas – ability and legal right of the father to control the children - limited over time because of the immigration of foreigners of other cultures – different ideals – emperors responded to the changes and to the people’s needs - ancient Romans never used a census in the way modern society does – no details of Roman family life - however some details are quite rich – other sources – graves – tell the average age of death of the population – gravestone markers told the name, age of death, and often what the person did for a living - regular for child mortality to occur – many women also died in childbirth - other aspects unknown however – like how many people in Roman society remarried - by the age of 41, only about 6% chance that the father was still alive – alleviates the patria protestas - common for people to die in their 20s and 30s - not enough data to truly see what life was like – must piece together evidence - what was said on the tombstones by convention was a generalized glorification of the person – all wives considered to be “most sweet and most dear” – Romans were sensitive to what they were supposed to say – expected of them to speak kindly of those deceased - even the most hated spouse was spoken of in this manner - structure of the Roman house – archaeology allows insight into the way people lived – perfectly preserved cities (Pompeii) – as well as literature and art - ideal house is atrial house - atrium – called thusly because it is black – atrium was where the hearth was - point out differences between Romans and Greeks – women’s quarters were separate from the men’s in Greek society – Romans did not have a special area for the women - men and women in Roman society shared the house/space – especially the atrium – however it is unclear how they shared the space – i.e. man used it in the morning for business and when he went out, the woman entertained; or they may have received guests together at the same time – unclear how the atrium worked - traditionally the responsibility of the women was to weave – hypothesized that the women did this in the atrium - family’s pater familias – acts as the family’s chief priest - large gap between the ideal of patria protestas and what is true – varied in the degree of severity, which depended on the pater familia – most common that the wife in fact controlled the household - special system to ensure that the wives remained under the patria protestas of her father – this was to prevent too much power of the husband over the wife – woman received protection in this way – if her husband was cruel the father had the power to remove his daughter from the household - man who abuses his wife in public – loses dignity and loses face - however the father could symbolically “sell” her to her husband using a ritual ceremony in which weights were used to pass patria protestas over her to the husband and thereby giving up control over his daughter - what women thought of Roman society is unclear – most Roman sources were written by aristocratic men – rare that female works survived - even a regularly beaten and abused woman could not by convention refuse to attend his funeral and must still write kind words on his tombstone The Legal Ideal - Romans loved stories about their ancestors - Dionysus – originally a foreigner – first thing that he noted was that fathers in Roma culture has an power unparalleled in other societies - Roman women expected to be in public – appear at mealtimes to eat with the family - in Greek culture – women lived separate lives and were not a part of public life – ate in separate rooms when husband was entertaining Severity of Ancients - women not allowed to drink wine – considered unable to control themselves - once women start drinking – lose all virtue - allusion to virtue = manliness – mixed message – by drinking wine they lose the ability to act manly - writings by Valerius Maximus – used to defend clients in court – Memorable Deeds and Words – handbook of moral stories of the ancients - in reality, the stories were considered harsh – too strict – no one who killed
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