Discovering the Roman Family: Studies in Roman Social History

Discovering the Roman Family: Studies in Roman Social History

Discovering the Roman Family: Studies in Roman Social History

Discovering the Roman Family: Studies in Roman Social History

Synopsis

These essays on various aspects of family life in ancient Rome offer an especially timely and provocative new characterization of how this most elementary component of Roman society was structured. Recognizing that a traditional nuclear model is necessary for a basic understanding of Romanfamily organization, Keith R. Bradley argues that a broader, more extensive context must be established if this structure is to be fully appreciated. Examining the roles of slaves, servants, and other surrogates in the upbringing and socialization of children, and concentrating on the parts playedby wet-nurses and male childerminders, his book molds an entirely new framework for the study of the Roman family. He investigates the extent of serial marriage, especially among the upper-classes, and the effects of the widespread familial dislocation that resulted, and for the first timeconsiders the prevalence of child labor in the Roman world, contrasting the experiences of upper-class and lower-class children. Bringing these themes together in a lively final section through a fresh, thorough examination of Cicero's correspondence, Bradley portrays the life of an actual Romanfamily. A seminal contribution to Roman social history, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the family worked and lived in classical times.

Excerpt

This book brings together a series of individual studies intended, as a collection, to make a positive contribution to the fast-developing field of Roman family history. Each study is a unit in itself and can be read independently of the others, but a continuity of theme will be evident throughout. I hope that historians of Roman society and social relations will find something of merit both in the parts and in the whole.

The studies were severally written over a period of five years. During that interval I received help of many kinds, and it is a pleasure at this juncture to be able to acknowledge it publicly. A succession of awards from the Research and Travel Fund at the University of Victoria and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada greatly facilitated basic research; I am grateful to both institutions. Three of the studies (Chapters 3, 5, and 6) were previously published in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques [12 (1985): 485-523; 12 (1985): 311- 30; 14 (1987): 33-62]; and although they have now been completely revised and, in some aspects, augmented, I must nonetheless thank Stanley K. Johannesen for permission to reuse material that first appeared in the journal he edits. Those earlier versions benefited from the critical attention of Samuel E. Scully, Peter L. Smith, and Susan M. Treggiari; to all three scholars I should like to renew my appreciation of their advice. Three of the studies (Chapters 2, 6, and 7) began life as conference papers. I am indebted therefore to Sarah B. Pomeroy for asking me to speak at the Seventh Berkshire Conference on the History of Women at Wellesley College in June 1987; to William V. Harris for suggesting that . . .

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