Role of Roman Women

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The role of women in the early Roman Empire is much different than the roles of women today. In the early Roman Empire, women were not given many rights, with Roman law not concerning women as equal to men. In the Roman Empire, women were not allowed to participate in the political areas either. Very few Roman women, mainly the wealthy and those with a high social status enjoyed the freedom on owning a business. For example, one Roman woman made lamps, while others conducted their own businesses as midwifes, hair stylists or even doctors. This research paper will speak of several aspects of the Roman woman, childhood, adulthood, marriage, housing, family life and fashion. Childhood of Roman Women

Roman children played a number of games, and their toys are known from archaeology and literary sources. Girls are depicted in Roman art as playing many of the same games as boys, such as ball, hoop-rolling, and knucklebones. Dolls are sometimes found in the tombs of those who died before adulthood. The figures are typically 15–16 cm tall (about half the height of a Barbie doll), with jointed limbs, and made of materials such as wood, terracotta, and especially bone and ivory. Girls coming of age dedicated their dolls to Diana, the goddess most concerned with girlhood, or to Venus when they were preparing for marriage. Some and perhaps many girls went to a public primary school. Children of the elite were taught Greek as well as Latin from an early age. Children of both genders learned to behave socially by attending dinner parties and other events. Girls did receive some informal education inside the home, learning to read and write. Both parents would often play the role of educator; unfortunately it was frowned upon for a girl to be too educated. Girls from the lower classes of life would receive just enough education to aid them with running small businesses, like dressmaking, or becoming a sales woman. The skills a Roman girl needed to run a household required training, and mothers probably passed on their knowledge to their daughters in a manner appropriate to their station in life, given the emphasis in Roman society on traditionalism (Pinchuk). Adulthood

Since Roman women often times married at extremely early ages, not much is said about single adulthood. Although women were considered citizens, they were not allowed to vote or hold any political offices. The only genuine control that women had was over their connections with family and friends. Women were expected to know their place, remain modest, be tireless, loyal and obedient to their families-emotionally, physically and financially. That was what Roman men were looking for in a wife (Mason). Marriage and Family Life

Marriages in Roman times did not carry any romantic undertones, as they do today. Roman women, still often very young girls, were usually married by the time they reached puberty, and unfortunately, the life expectancy was not very high, as compared to the lives of women today. In Roman times, marriages were pre-arranged between families, and most likely included a dowry, in these cases, a gift from the brides’ family for the groom. The dowry was meant to serve as the wife-to-be’s contribution to the new household. Roman marriages did not require elaborate wedding ceremonies, like today. The ceremonies were quite simple or there was no formal ceremony at all, like we have today. A person capable of declaring the power to be legally married was not necessary in Roman times. There were only four things necessary to be married: 1. both parties must be free citizens and past the age of puberty; they must intend to and consent to being husband and wife and they must have the consent of any relevant guardian. 2. The bride must then be escorted to her new husband’s home, and it is this deed that actually completed the marriage. 3. Written documentation of a wedding was not necessary and sleeping together did not make a marriage. 4....
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