Role of Roman Women

3043 Words Mar 1st, 2012 13 Pages
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
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Women were expected to have as many babies as they could, because there were never sure how many of the children would reach maturity. Many women died in childbirth or because they were weakened from having too many children without reprieve, or rest (Mason). Infertility was a ground for divorce, and women would often offer a divorce, so that their husbands would have the opportunity to have children with someone else. Women really did not have any authority over their children. Husbands had the authority to decide whether a child survived, and the wife would not overrule her husband, if he decided to “expose” a child. At birth, a child was deposited at the feet of the father. He-without explanation or justification- either recognized the child as his by picking it up, or withheld his recognition by leaving it where it was. The recognized child became a member of the family; the unrecognized child was abandoned to the river or left to die by starvation.
Divorce
When or if marriages dissolved, unfortunately, women did not have many legal rights over children or property. Any man or woman, who wished to divorce, could simply send the spouse a letter or even by declaring in front of witnesses that the marriage was over. There was no such thing as joint marital property and any children of the marriage belonged to the father. If the husband initiated the divorce, he must return the full dowry (B. M. James C. Thompson). There were a number of additional
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