The family consisted of several relatives (wife and husband, children, grandparents,
in-laws, nephews and nieces) and slaves united in a "domus", a broadened term
for "house". in such a numerous group of people living under one roof, the
dominant figure was the "paterfamilias", the oldest male that decided for
everyone. From this it is obvious that women held a secondary role since rights were given
only to the men. Men had the right to decide the life or death of their children
("ius vitae necisque"), and could also decide to sell them into slavery. Men
could also freely divorce their wives.
Women remained under the control of their father until they married ("cum
manu"), being passed onto another family.
However, Roman women had more freedom than their Greek counterparts: at least they weren't
confined to the house while their husbands were gone.
Under Julius Cesar, women had more freedom and many wives were able to have love-affairs,
increasing their personal power. Many of them didn't do housework, but supervised slaves
and educated their children since there was no organized school.
Noble wives enjoyed a certain prestige and had to pay special attention to their
appearance. Of most importance was the hairstyle: researched, elaborate, always gathered
or worn up, and accented with gold or stone earrings, necklaces and cameos. The style of
dress was varied with the "tunica" theme, mixing colors and embellishments.
From texts by Soranus (around I century), we have discovered that abortion was practiced
(even in cases of danger to the child or mother) along with contraceptive methods. In
addition to the practical techniques of today women practiced contraception by: holding
their breath, drinking cold drinks, spreading honey, resin or quince oil, inserting a wad
of wool, or drinking strange mixed concoctions of wine.
> Cuisine and antique
> The men
> The houses
> Live images from Rome
through the remote control camera
> Places and
constructions as seen today and as seen during Antique Rome
In the other chapters you can find: the latest
news on excavation advancements in the Imperial Forum area, the history of Rome, sayings
and habits of the Antique Romans. Select a chapter among the four titles in the black
column on the right.