Roman House & Family Living Sarah Guarascio Period 3
Familia • Thetypical familia of ancient Rome was not so much a family, as we today think of the concept of family, but more of a household. • It consisted of the married pair, the domus (townhouse), holdings of land and properties, children, married sons and the son’s children, daughters-in-law, slaves, and clients. • It was not so much a group of relatives, but a group of persons and property which belonged to the dominant male.
Paterfamilias • He was the head of Roman family life, the oldest living male in a family, and the absolute ruler of the household. • Over his children, he had the power of life and death. Those who displeased him could be disowned or sold to slavery. His offspring did not become independent until his death. • He held absolute power over the slaves of the household and all female relatives, including his wife. • Everything- people and property, rights and power, were manicipia, held in his hand.
Potestas • Potestas was a Roman concept central in expressing relationships within the household. • It was endowed upon the paterfamilias. By giving the paterfamilias virtually absolute authority and power over all the members of the household up until the time of his death, potestas excluded any possibility that the paterfamilia’s capacity to manage the family might be challenged. • Potestas was not a constitutional power, but rather refers to social relationships. • The potestas of a paterfamilias over his family was unquestionable.
Materfamilias • She was usually much younger than the husband due to the fact that Roman women generally married in their early teens, and men waited till their mid-twenties. • The wife oversaw the management of the household, and in higher classes, was expected to behave modestly, move gracefully, and to conduct herself in a manner which would reflect well on her husband and her family. • Her household chores included spinning, weaving, cooking, ordering the slaves, and teaching the children during their first few years. • The materfamilias could increase her status in society by having more children.
Matrimonium • The purpose of marriage was to carry on the family line by having children and so the spirits of the dead could be honored. • The marriage itself was a custom to prove the couple’s intention to live together- affectio maritalis. • A true Roman marriage could not take place unless both bride and groom were Roman citizens, or had been granted conubium, permission to enter into a Roman marriage. • Marriages were arranged between the bride’s father and her husband to be. The father had the power to end it in divorce. • For the Romans, a successful marriage was one that produced children.
Usus • One of the three types of marriage in ancient Rome, literally meaning “cohabition.” • Marriage by usus always required the woman to be married with manus. In a marriage involving manus, the father of the bride abandons his control over his daughter to the new husband. • Usus also required that the woman remain and stay in her husband’s house for a year, living together with him, assuming the position of daughter in the family.
Confarreatio • A second type of Roman marriage, involving a religious ceremony. • This type of marriage was usually reserved for the wealthy, being that religious wedding ceremonies were expensive and included difficult rituals. • A woman in this situation was married with manus, which after Augustus was a formal requirement only, but was still required for the ceremony.
Coemptia • Third type of Roman marriage, which symbolically was a “purchase” of a woman by her new husband from her father. • She did not become a slave to her new husband. But he had complete control over her- she was his property. • In coemptia, the wife carried a gift, or a dowry, into the marriage, but was ceremoniously bought by her husband in front of at least five witnesses.
Proles • The proles, literally meaning the “descendants”, or “offspring”, were the children of the familia. • Sons were preferred over daughters. Girls did not have their own names, instead, they had the feminine form of their father’s name followed by the rest of the father’s name in the genitive case showing possession. • After the birth of a child, it was laid at its father’s feet and if the father took it in its arms, it was his and became part of the family. Otherwise the child would be disowned and left on the street. • The training of children was conducted by their parents, with emphasis on moral rather than intellectual development. The most important virtues for a child to acquire were reverence for the gods, respect for the law, unquestioning and instant obedience to authority, truthfulness, and self-reliance.
Proprietas • The property or ownership that the paterfamilias was in charge of. • Part of the proprietas of rich families was a domus, which was a town house where they lived. • Many of them also had a country house called a villa. • But most people living in towns and cities rented an apartment called a cenaculum.