Women of Ancient Rome and China

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Marriage Pages: 5 (2043 words) Published: October 13, 2010
Women of Ancient Rome and China

Women in ancient Rome and China were very different but quite similar as for as their treatment and roles were concerned. In both cultures they were under the protection of their fathers until they married. When they married they were to stay home and be wives, they were not formally educated and learned to manage their households. They were not allowed to disgrace their families in any way and were inferior to men from the moment of birth. Chinese women whether from a noble or a poor family could not escape oppression, but it was somewhat easier for the women from Noble families. (8) Comparing the women of Ancient Rome (750BC – AD500) and the women of China (350BC – AD600), from the roles they played in society to comparing their status to the status of a man in this era; a day in the life of a woman in these ancient times that was dominated by men. In Ancient Rome the women were not allowed to have a political position or to vote. In roman culture they stressed the importance of the family and the woman was the center of the family circle. (1) Women in ancient China were expected to be house wives and to be completely obedient to their husbands. Taking care of the children was expected for the majority of women in ancient China. (8) They were expected to bear many children and most women were the pressured to bear a son. They had to do the house work which included sewing, cleaning and preparing the meals along with other duties. Life was different for Roman women as opposed to the Chinese wives; the Roman women lived more of a life of luxury. They were allowed to take part in a lot of the roman cultural events, such as sporting events, private and public baths, and so forth. They often went to the public baths these were considered a recreational activity in Rome, people of all ages, social classes, and sexes enjoyed these.(1) Most of the time there were separate baths for men and women, if not women used it in the morning and men in the afternoon. Where as the ancient Chinese women hardly ever left their homes, not even to go to town to buy food or items for the household.(6) There would be generations of a family who lived in a household together; the elders were to be greatly respected. The most respect was given to the grandmother if she outlived her husband she would then be the oldest member in the household. The teachings of Confucius was that a woman’s role was to take care of her husband and they should not have any ambitions of their own, however that a woman as a mother desired to be respected. The greatest duty of Ancient Chinese women was to have a son. (6) Roman Women were allowed to have some personal freedoms, but hardly ever they allowed any personal choice. They were always under the supervision of their fathers, male relatives, or their husbands. Drinking wine was forbidden for them, if caught they could be put to death. Because so many of the marriages were pre-arranged it was believed that if women drank wine and got drunk it could lead to adultery. Roman women were usually expected to marry much older men than them. The fathers of the two households would make an agreement for the marriage. Women were not allowed to have any money from their dowry’s it went directly to the husband. There were some exceptions though they were allowed to spend money on their sons’ education or political careers. (2) They were given legal guardians because they were not thought to be intelligent enough to make decisions on their own. If they divorced the woman’s dowry was expected to be returned unless she was an adulteress and she would not be allowed to remarry. If a woman became divorced, and was not an adulteress, she could only remarry if her father gave her permission to do so. If they divorced the women had no legal rights and for their children and usually never saw them again. If a woman was not able to bear children this was also grounds for divorce this was so the man...

Bibliography: 1.www.pbs.org “The Roman Empire in the first century”
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3.Civilizations Past and Present 10th edition, Brummett 2003 http://chalk.richmond.edu/education/projects/webunits/greecerome/index.html
4.Civilizations Past and Present 10th edition, Brummett 2003 , www.pbs.org “The Roman Empire in the first century
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