How did the Roman familia become a source of both solidarity and competition within the Republic?

I'm trying to figure out the historical significance.

2 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The pater familias was the most senior living male relative in the family – usually the father, but sometimes a grandfather or an uncle. He had patria potestas (absolute power) over his children (biological and adoptive), his slaves, and in some cases, his wife, all of whom were considered to be in his manus (under his hand of power) until his death. This included adult male children as well.

    The pater familias had the power of life and death over any member of his family, and the power to sell his children into slavery at his will. In fact, according to the Twelve Tables, the pater familias was required by law to expose a deformed child. Studies have shown, however, that exposed children were often picked up by slave traders and may not have necessarily died.

    Another role of the pater familias was to act as the patron in a system of duties/responsibilities to clients (lower-class Romans), known as patronage.

    The Mater Familias

    The wife of the family was known as the mater familias (or matrona). She looked after the affairs of the household, and it was her duty to support her husband’s interests even if they interfered with her own. The ideal matrona in Roman society was to be modest, chaste, obedient, and loyal. She was also expected to demonstrate pietas, spin wool, and look after her children.

    Roman women generally had more rights than women in other ancient societies. They were, in some cases, able to own their own property, work outside of the home, and freely divorce their husbands (depending on the type of marriage ceremony).

    Children in the Roman Family

    Marriages in ancient Rome were rarely based on love, although some examples do exist. The major purpose of marriage, then, was to produce children so that property could be passed on from father to son. As such, children were very common in the Roman familia, but there were extremely high infant mortality rates. It is estimated that up to 50% of children died before age 10. This is primarily because of disease and other ailments, malnutrition, and lack of medical care.

    Because divorce was common and adults died much younger than they do today, some Roman families also included step-parents and step- and half-siblings.

    Extended Relatives in Rome

    In some cases, grandparents remained a part of the familia until they passed away, which often occurred between the ages of 40 and 60. It was rarer for uncles, aunts, and cousins to be included in the familia, but certainly not unheard of. Sometimes in-laws were part of the familia as well.

    Slaves in the Roman Family

    The final component of the Roman familia was the household slaves. Slavery was extremely common throughout the ancient world and even the poorest Romans could usually afford at least one slave. Slaves were provided with food, clothing, and shelter by their masters, none of which were guaranteed for all free citizens.

    Slavery was not merely an economic relationship. In many ways, the relationships between slaves and other members of the familia were very much familial. Slaves commonly played a large part in raising children (especially in wealthy households) and in educating them from a very young age. Moreover, there were loving relationships between masters and slaves. It was not uncommon for slaves to be given gifts, and there are countless examples of tombs and monuments that were set up for slaves, freedmen, and descendants of slaves. ------------------ The Roman familia was part of a larger unit of social organization that developed very early in Roman history. This unit, which we would call a "clan" the Romans called a gens. Every male citizen's name included his family "clan" name (nomen or nomen gentilicium) which usually fell second in the appellation (and always ended in "ius"): e.g.

    Marcus Tullius Cicero / Gaius Julius Caesar / Gaius Marius.More.........

  • bodman
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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