Marriage of Ancient Roman Women

  1. The marriages of Roman women were arranged by their parents, and they had no right to choose. In
  ancient Rome , the marriage was monogamous, and those who had spouses were not allowed to marry. In early Rome, fathers enjoyed supreme authority and had absolute control over their children. The “Twelve Tables Law” clearly stipulates that parents have the right to life and death over their family members. In Rome, men and women can get engaged at the age of seven. The law sets the age of marriage, which must be 14 for men and 12 for women. However, in real life, there are still a large number of women who are married before the legal marriage age. Roman fathers married off their daughters very early, and it was common for girls of twelve and thirteen to marry. Some girls are married before they even reach puberty.
  Marriage methods can be divided into civil law marriages and civil law marriages.
  Civil law marriage, also known as husband-right marriage, is the marriage method of Roman citizens and Latins. There are three types of marriage in civil law marriages: instant, business, and wheat cakes.
  1. Time limit. When a man and a woman live together continuously for more than one year, it is regarded as a formal marriage, and the woman is conveniently under the parental authority of her husband or her husband. This type of marriage is called statute of limitations. However, this type of marriage is not stable. If the wife stays out for three consecutive nights within a year, the husband will lose control over the wife, and the marriage will end. The legal basis for statute of limitations marriage is the stipulation of the statute of limitations for income stipulated in the sixth table of the “Twelve Bronze Table Law”. Anyone who has possessed another person’s movable property for a period of one year will thus obtain the ownership of the altered property. Statutory marriage did not exist for a long time, and it could be seen occasionally in the last years of the Roman Republic, but disappeared in the imperial period.
  2. Trading. In the early days of the Roman Republic, women had no status and could be bought and sold like slaves, cattle and horses. Buy-sell marriage regards marriage as a transaction between buyers and sellers. It requires the groom to buy a bride from the woman’s parents or her guardian in a “buy-to-buy” method in front of five witnesses and the scale, and the price paid by the groom is the price to avoid the woman’s family’s revenge. Given that buying and selling marriage is relatively simple, it is popular. Business marriages disappeared in the middle and late empires.
  3, wheat cake marriage. Oatmeal marriage is the oldest and most important type of marriage in Rome. 10 witnesses must be present at the wedding ceremony. The newlyweds must eat oatmeal in front of the high priest and the statue of Jupiter, so it is called this type of marriage. For the wheat cake type, also known as the common food type. The wedding must be held on an auspicious month and auspicious day. The Romans used June as the most auspicious month and May as the most fierce month, so they generally choose June, and the auspicious day is determined by divination. Wheat cake marriages ended at the end of the republic.
  Marriage by the Law of the People, also known as marriage without husband’s rights, or free marriage, was the marriage method of foreigners under Roman rule. It does not need to hold a specific ceremony, as long as both parties agree, the woman moves to her husband’s house, and the marriage is established, so it is called abbreviated marriage. The characteristics of this type of marriage are: the husband has not obtained the personal rights over the wife, so it is also called marriage without husband’s rights. The wife’s status before and after marriage has not changed, and she still belongs to her father’s family. The wife is not governed by the husband or the husband’s family, and is on an equal footing with the husband. This method of marriage does not require cumbersome ceremonies, as long as both parties agree, it is a relatively free method of marriage. After entering the imperial period, with the expansion of Roman citizenship, more and more foreigners obtained Roman citizenship, marriages with husbands gradually decreased and eventually disappeared, marriages without husbands became the mainstream, and the status of wives in the family gradually improved. . After the Edict of Caracalla was promulgated in 212 AD, all free people in the Roman Empire became Roman citizens, and there was no difference between the law of citizens and the law of the peoples.
  Under patriarchal power, it is difficult for women to have their own choice in marriage, and it is all up to the arrangement of the father. In Rome, fathers not only arranged marriages for their children, but could also force them to divorce their husbands or wives. In many cases, fathers see their daughter’s marriage as a stepping stone to their career, and their daughter’s well-being is completely ignored.
  At the time, women’s marriages became a card in the hands of the parents, and they became the victims. Whether they are compatible with their husbands, whether they are happy or not, is ignored. In the works of the Roman dramatist Plautus in the first century AD, when a married daughter complained that her husband was having sex with her husband, her father replied: “Since you take him so closely, I You have to give him a hand and let him have a good time. You are wearing silk satin and gold and silver jewelry, he will feed you and let you be served, so don’t mess around!” Early, and it is arranged, there are many people who are not in harmony after marriage. Some husbands drink heavily and often beat their wives. According to the records of the naturalist Pliny the Elder, a man named Igmatius beat his wife to death after drinking, and the Roman court acquitted him. Another wife starved to death after her husband ordered her not to eat because she opened the drawer with the key to the wine cooler.
  2. With the development of society and economy, the status of women in the family has improved.
  Throughout the life of a Roman woman, she has always been under the guardianship of a man (father, brother, husband, son or others), and the guardian decides whether she can Getting married and owning property. But in the family, women’s life is relatively affluent, they generally do not go to the kitchen, do not do household chores, their daily work is to lead the maid spinning and weaving, managing the whole family, and educating the children. When a woman goes out, she must wear a lady’s robe, she must tell her husband, and she must be accompanied by someone. Religiously, women can serve as priestesses. They can go to theaters, courts, and religious ceremonies. On the street, pedestrians have to make way for them.
  The 1st-century agronomist Corumella described: “Up until the time of our ancestors, the housekeeper was the wife’s business, as was the case with the Greeks, and later with the Romans. The husband came home as if to get rid of the forum discussion. The annoying thing, find a place to relax.” Unlike the ancient Greek wives who had a boudoir, the ancient Roman wives did not have their own boudoir at home. They ate at the same table with their husbands, but they were absolutely not allowed to drink alcohol, otherwise they would be executed. The whole family called them ladies. Women are also educated, but mostly practical. Later, some wealthy women also received education in literature and science. Pliny the Younger, a scholar at the end of the first century AD, once praised his wife who was full of poetry and books: “She loves literature, she keeps my books carefully, reads them carefully, and even recites some passages… She can sing my poems. , and even compose them into tunes.”
  In the early days of Rome, women were economically dependent on men, and the form of marriage was dominated by sovereign marriages, where the husband dominated everything. After the 2nd century BC, marriages without husband’s rights (also known as free marriages) became more and more dominant, and women began to gain economic independence. In a husbandless marriage, she owns all her property except for her husband’s dowry. While her father was alive, she had been in front of patriarchy; if her father died, she would have autonomy. In order to manage property, women often hire guardians. They can handle their own property. After Augustus died, his wife Livia and his stepson Tiberius contributed to the construction of the Temple of Augustus. In her will, Livia gave Galba, who later became the head of state, the property of 5 million Setters. But after divorce, the children belong to the husband’s family, and the wife has no right to support them.
  With the development of the Roman economy, Roman women have higher and higher requirements for the quality of life, so they demanded the abolition of Opius, which prohibited women from wearing brightly colored clothes and prohibiting women from riding a carriage drawn by two horses in Rome. Law. During the Second Punic War, hundreds of thousands of Roman men died on the battlefield, and their wealth fell into the hands of women. With money in hand, they pursue fashionable clothes like oriental women. But conservatives such as Cato believe that women are frivolous by nature and must be under the guardianship of men, and are firmly opposed. Despite the opposition of many nobles, the women took the first steps to defend their rights.
  According to Livy, in 195 B.C. the women proposed to the consuls to abolish the laws of Opius, but the consuls refused. The next day, a large number of women escaped the interference of their husbands, went out of their homes, blocked the streets of Rome and all passages to the Roman Forum, and gave speeches in the square, forcing the government to repeal the law. After that, they can follow the latest clothing trends. In the imperial period, luxury became more and more popular, and the clothes of the court and nobles became more and more gorgeous, and the long-sleeved robes of the oriental style gradually became popular. Gold and silver ornaments and splendid embroidery make women’s attire unprecedentedly luxurious. When the royal woman Agrippina sat next to the head of state Claudius to watch the rodeo, she wore a gorgeous cloak woven with golden velvet, dazzling and dazzling everyone present. Expensive Chinese silk was especially favored by upper-class women in Rome. In AD 14, after the death of Augustus, the Senate passed a decree restricting the use of oriental silk by women. But economic life has not been changed by a single decree. According to Pliny the Elder, the Romans spent no less than 100 million Cestus on silk every year.
  In 195 BC, women made their first appearance by influencing Roman legislation and showing their presence. But we must see that during the republican period, their influence on politics was limited, and they were more influenced by their husbands within the family. They cannot participate in the Citizens’ Assembly and have no right to vote. Women are not included in the 5-yearly census of citizens. Relatively speaking, the status and power of married women are higher than those of unmarried women. By the end of the 2nd century BC, there had been “women’s councils” of married women in Rome, permanent bodies representing women’s interests. It is similar to today’s Women’s Federation and has no actual power. Seneca Jr., a first-century scholar, wrote: “A woman came into the street dressed in full dress, and another woman was seen with respect, and I, a poor fellow, were met with at a women’s assembly. Contempt.” Folvia, the wife of Antony, one of Rome’s “last three heads”, was a woman with strong political aspirations, and Antony ordered silver coins with her portrait to be minted and allowed her to “rule the ruler, command the commander.” . Cato, the Roman censor, joked: “Men of foreign nations rule over their wives, we rule over these men, and we are ruled by our wives.”

  3. The bold pursuit of love by ancient Roman women and the prevalence of extramarital affairs, adultery, and prostitution Although
  Roman marriages were arranged, there were also many happy marriages. In some families, the husband and wife are in harmony. The wife manages the housework, supports the husband and educates the children, and shares weal and woe with the husband. Some wives are educated and knowledgeable, and they have greatly helped their husbands in their careers.
  A surviving republican inscription describes a good wife: “A few words, may anyone who travels the world stop and read. A beautiful woman is buried here. Her parents named her Claudia, and she loved her husband. Unswerving. Two sons were born, only one son survived, and the other son died in Huangquan before her death. She spoke amiably, walked elegantly, managed housework, spun thread and weaving cloth. I have said all that, you can leave Go.” Another inscription erected by a husband to his wife in the imperial period said: “…she is the patron saint of my family, the person I rely on for my spirit, and the only person I love. She thinks what I think, and abandons me. , she was always open to me, and she was honest with me. She was diligent in weaving, frugal in food and clothing, but she was very loving to her husband.” A sarcophagus that has survived is engraved with: “Marcus’s wife, Emimon, rests here/ She was of good character, kind-hearted, and industrious, / was a careful housewife, thrifty and neat, / was well-behaved, pious and unpretentious.”
  Although women’s social life was limited, there were opportunities for them to get out of the house. . Faced with the unfortunate marriage, many women pin their hopes on extramarital affairs. Women can take part in public entertainment. According to Ovid, a famous erotic poet in the early years of the empire, the arena where performances are held is an excellent place to find beautiful women. Claudius, a tribune in the mid-1st century BC, approached Caesar’s wife Pompeia on a public religious festival dressed as a woman. They fell in love at first sight and became lovers. Caesar was angry and divorced her, and the Senate also investigated the blasphemy case.
  The Romans were a pragmatic people, but also a romantic people. Ovid can be said to be the love teacher of the Romans, and his long poem “Kamasutra” specifically teaches people how to love. The poem says: “If there is a person in our country who doesn’t know the art of love, he only needs to read this poem, he will pay attention to it when he reads it, and he will love.” In order to attract the attention of men, women do everything possible to beautify and beautify Make-up came into being. Some women refuse to have children in order to maintain their physique. If you are already pregnant, do not hesitate to have an abortion, because pregnancy and childbirth will make the abdomen loose and wrinkled. The development of Roman gynecology medicine also provides convenience for women to pursue love freedom. Two uterine dilators unearthed in Pompeii were used by doctors to perform abortions. In June 2004, one of them was exhibited at the “Ancient Roman Civilization Exhibition” held at the National Museum of China in Beijing. The Roman physician Soranus had a monograph on gynecology, in which he described the perfection of uterine surgery with a hysteroscope and a midwifery chair. He also recommends 50 contraceptive methods.
  In Rome, most of the actors were slaves, many of whom were handsome young men. They became the objects of women’s tossing hydrangea. In public entertainment, many women fell in love with handsome actors and volunteered to be their mistresses. This has caused unease among conservative rulers. When Augustus knew that a lady had recruited a male dramatist to satisfy her lust, he ordered him to be beaten with thorns around the three theaters and exiled. In AD 52, in order to prevent women from marrying male actors, the Roman Senate ruled that any woman who married a slave would be reduced to slavery or released from slavery. In addition to marrying an actor, fornication is also one of their choices. In addition, there is no lack of women and male domestic slaves fornication phenomenon. In 72 AD, Wei Boxiang, the head of state, issued an order: All women who have sex with slaves are also regarded as slaves.
  It was also a peculiar phenomenon in the ancient world that women of Roman noble families voluntarily fell into brothels for sexual freedom. In Rome, prostitution of women is legal, but must go through legal procedures and apply for registration with the foreman. At that time, prostitutes were mostly female slaves or female slaves. The government is cautious about prostitution of noble women. At the end of the 4th century BC, the Roman government stipulated that if a lady from a noble family volunteered to be a prostitute, she had to pay a fine. During the Hannibal Wars, ladies who were prostitutes were expelled from Rome. Although the government has repeatedly banned the prostitution of ladies, it is still difficult to stop it. In AD 17, Vestilia, a woman from a chief executive’s family, went to the construction officer to apply for public prostitution. Given that she was from a noble family, the construction officials did not dare to call the shots and referred the issue to the Senate. After discussion, the Senate passed a stern decree. In addition to reaffirming that noble women should not be prostitution, they also expanded the scope of the prohibition. All women whose fathers, grandfathers or husbands were Roman knights were not allowed to prostitution. Vestilia herself was exiled to a deserted island by the Senate. Under the circumstance that the freedom of sex is restricted by law, in order to avoid legal sanctions, some ladies voluntarily gave up their status as ladies and publicly declared themselves prostitutes. To these women, Tiberius exiled them all as an example. But that didn’t stop the trend. In AD 64, when the head of state Nero visited a brothel, he found that there were girls and adult women from the most noble family in Rome. The reason why these women of noble birth and economic superiority went to become prostitutes who were discriminated against by the government was entirely for the sake of sexual freedom, which was fundamentally different from the fact that later generations were reduced to brothels for a living. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain their behavior. And in their life circle, others will not despise them because of this.
  Fourth, the divorce
  of early days of ancient Rome, divorce cases were rare. The classical historian Dionysius said that Rome never had a divorce for 520 years, until a man named Spius Cavilius in 230 BC reconciled because his wife was barren. until she gets divorced. But in fact, in the “Twelve Tables Law” passed in 451 BC, there is already a provision on divorce, which stipulates that a wife may not abandon her husband; but if a wife poisons her children, imitates her husband’s key, or commits adultery , the husband may divorce his wife.
  Divorce is mostly initiated by the husband, among which the case of infertility due to the wife’s infertility occupies the first place. This was mostly the case in the early days, when Roman citizens placed great importance on succession. If there are no children, husbands mostly think it’s the wife’s fault rather than theirs. Sempronia, the sister of the famous reformer Tiberius Gracchus in the 2nd century BC, was divorced by her husband Scipio Emilianus because of infertility.
  A second reason for a husband to divorce his wife is his wife’s old age, although there is no legal basis for this. When women are out of puberty, they are easily abandoned by their husbands. This was common in Roman society. The famous allegorical poet Giovina sings in the poem: “You will find that he loves beauty, not the wife herself/But wrinkles creep up on her forehead/Time blurs her lustrous skin/Her teeth are black, and her cheeks are thin now / you will hear the snobbish freedmen shouting / ‘Roll up your clutter, ma’am and go / And, hurry up, hurry up, you are not welcome here.'”
  The third of husband-wife divorce One reason is that the wife committed adultery. In republican times, the husband could kill her or choose to divorce her. In order to prevent his wife from cheating, the husband keeps her at home like a prisoner. If they have no children, the husband’s supervision is even stricter. The laws of the Roman monarchy stipulated that women should abide by women’s ethics and maintain chastity. The Roman “Twelve Tables” clearly stipulated that if an adult woman was frivolous by nature, she could be warded. In Rome, to warn women against adultery, priests had adulterers stand in the street with their hands outstretched and whipped them with sheepskin belts. During the republican period, if a wife committed adultery, if caught on the spot, the husband could whip or castrate the adulterer, or hand over the wife to servants and domestic slaves for rape. But the Roman Republic had no adultery laws, and it wasn’t until Augustus 18 BC that the first anti-adult laws were enacted.
  There are strict regulations on the conduct, laws and morals of wives, but there are no requirements on husbands. Cato once pointed out: “If you catch your wife on the spot for committing adultery, you can execute her at will without trial. But if you commit adultery, or another woman commits adultery with you, your wife has no right Touch your hair.” During Cato’s time, a female slave sighed after seeing her master and his mistress meet: “Alas, I hope that husband and wife can abide by the same rules… If the husband is found guilty of adultery, he should If a dissolute wife gets the same treatment as she gets divorced after being discovered for adultery, I believe there will be more lonely men than there are women today.”
  After the late republic, husbandless marriage became the mainstream, and divorce became simple and common. Among Roman celebrities, Sulla married 5 times, Pompey 5 times, Augustus 3 times, Augustus’s wife Livia 3 times, Caligula 3 times, Tiberius 3 times, the poet Ovid 3 times. Divorce is possible as long as the husband and wife declare an agreement. This has produced many rash consequences. Roman historians have recorded such an incident: a couple quarreled because their wife went to watch a competition without telling their husband, and they divorced in a fit of rage.
  Having the freedom to divorce can be a relief for women in unhappy marriages. But some women have become very casual about marriage, frequently divorced and married. Seneca, a scholar in the first century AD, once said: “Some ladies calculate their age not by the consuls who are elected every year, but by their own marriages. Divorce is for marriage, and the result is for rebirth. Divorce, of course they won’t blush because of divorce!” The allegorical poet Juvina sarcastically said to a woman: “She is like a queen in this family, but she soon / abandons the king, changes the family, and becomes a bride again. / When she came back to her old home, the bed was still hot. / When she left, the door was decorated with garlands, / The awning in front of the window was open. / She came back, and the garland was not yet withered. / Married in five spring and autumn Eight husbands, / This achievement cannot be underestimated, it should be engraved on her tombstone!”
  Augustus also specially established a permanent court for the trial of adultery cases, whether women are married or not, as long as they are suspected of adultery, they can be tried. The new law allows fathers to kill their daughters and their adulterers under certain circumstances. Likewise, an insulted husband can kill his wife’s lover. But husbands can’t kill their wives themselves, a change from republican-era law. If the husband or the father files a charge of adultery, and the adulterer is convicted, he is exiled to the island and has half of his property confiscated. The woman also loses the right to marry a free man, half of her dowry and one-third of her dowry. One’s property shall be confiscated. Augustus also restricted women’s viewing of gladiatorial games and Greek sports.
  But the Giulian law aroused fierce opposition in Roman society, forcing Augustus to give in and promulgating the Barbius-Popius law in AD 9, which relaxed the restrictions on the time of remarriage and put the The time limit was extended to 3 years. The new law also encourages women to have children, mothers with many children enjoy many concessions in matters such as the disposal of their own property, and fathers also take care of their promotions. But Augustus’ adjustment of marital relations and other aspects only touched a small part of the wealthy class of the Roman population, and they could also evade legal sanctions by means of fake marriages and adoptions. The effect of these laws was not obvious, and the famous Roman historian Tacitus, who lived in the first century AD, pointed out: “It did not make people interested in marriage and starting a family, and it was still fashionable to not have children.” By AD 4 At the beginning of the century under Constantine the Great, Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. Christianity discriminated against women, and the early Christian theologian Paul publicly declared: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Because the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the whole church. As the church submits to Christ, so the wife should submit to her husband.” Under the dominance of Christianity, the Augustan marriage law became a fetter. Emperor Constantine announced the abolition of the Augustan Law of Marriage, leaving only the prohibition against consanguineous marriages. After that, it became illegal for women to remarry. Justinian also stipulated that if a wife is found to have committed adultery, both she and the adulterer will be executed.