How was Roman familia different from the modern family?

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The pater familias of a roman family had absolute power over all members of his household, even the power of putting them to death. Even male children remained subject to their father in this way until his death. Daughters, even if adult, would pass under the control of the nearest male relative if their father died.

    This power was gradually diminished over time by legal devices adn ruses and by the assertiveness of some women interested in managing their own concerns. A guardian was required when a woman performed legal transactions.

    A law passed by the Emperor Augustsus said that a woman could free herself from any formal supervision by a male guardian by having three children if she was a freeborn woman, or four if she was a freedwoman (i.e. a woman who had been a slave but was now free).

    I think this shows there was quite a big difference between roman families and modern families, since today women are not under the power of a paterfamilias, nor do they have to have a guardian if they are adult.

    Upper class women usually got married quite young, and a lot of them would have died in childbirth, which was a hazardous occupation in those days. Another happy way in which our own families would differ from theirs is that far fewer mothers die in childbirth, and far fewer children as well. Also we don't tend to have infanticide. A roman law required men to raise all boys born to the family, but only the first-born female, i.e. other daughters could be abandoned and left to die if the father felt like it.

    Divorce was often because the woman could not have children, or sometimes for adultery (by the woman).

    Source(s): 'Goddeses, Whores, Wives and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity' by Sarah B. Pomeroy
  • 4 years ago

    Roman Familia

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    For one thing, women had far fewer rights. The man was the ultimate master and could literally do as he wished. This may seem politicallty incorrect, but I would say that if you looked at Muslim families across the world, amongst other third world societies, you will find many similiarities to the Roman Familia.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Roman familia included not just the immediate family, but also slaves. The patriarch did indeed have full power - including life or death - over his family. He could have someone killed without fear of retribution (in many time periods).

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