Women and the Law in the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook on Marriage, Divorce and Widowhood

By Judith Evans Grubbs | Go to book overview

SUMMATION The condition of women: rights and restrictions
The third-century legal writer Papinian declared, “In many parts of our law the condition of women is below that of men.” [D.1.5.9] Acatalog of the rights women had in Roman law, and the restrictions to which they were subject, bears out his statement:
1 In order to undertake many types of legal or business activities, a woman required the formal authorization of her tutor. [Chapter 1, Part III]
2 A woman could own property, but she could not alienate certain types of property without her tutor’s authorization. [Chapter 1, Part III]
3 A woman could contract a debt for herself, but she could not act as financial surety for the debt of another person. [Chapter 1, Part IV.D]
4 A woman could seek redress from local and imperial officials, in person or by sending a petition. She could go to court on her own behalf to pursue offenses against herself or members of her family. She could also appear as a witness in court in a case brought by someone else. But she could not represent others in court as an advocate, nor could she go to court on behalf of someone who was not a member of her family (even then, it was assumed that she would only pursue an offense against a family member if there were no male in the family available to do so). [Chapter 1, Part V]
5 A woman could loan money at interest to individuals, but she could not be a professional banker. [Chapter 1, Part VI.B]
6 A woman could express her support for political candidates, but she could not vote for them herself, nor could she hold public office at any level (except for some priesthoods). A wealthy woman was expected to use her wealth for civic obligations and expenditures, but was not expected to perform civic duties if they involved actual physical activity. [Chapter 1, Parts VI.B and C]
7 Awoman needed the consent of her paterfamilias in order to make a valid marriage. Her consent to a marriage arranged by her father was likewise

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Women and the Law in the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook on Marriage, Divorce and Widowhood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Glossary of Latin Legal Terms xvii
  • Acknowledgements xxiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Status of Women in Roman Law 16
  • 2 - Marriage in Roman Law and Society 81
  • 3 - Prohibited and Non-Legal Unions 136
  • 4 - Divorce and Its Consequences 187
  • 5 - Widows and Their Children 219
  • Summation the Condition of Women: Rights and Restrictions 270
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index of Sources 337
  • General Index 343
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