In Ancient Rome (31 BC – 400 AD), marriage was one of the leading institutions and its main objective was to produce children who would inherit the property and the status of their parents. It did not necessarily involve love. However, it was more of a mutual agreement between the parents of the woman and man. In order to be legitimate, the new couple had to meet certain requirements. Marriagewas monogamous and between people of opposite sex, it should be understood as a desire to live together for an unlimited time.However, the decision of divorce was always an issue, this decision was first taken by the husband and then by the wife.
In Ancient Rome, A family was constituted by a man, a woman, their families, and their legitimate and adopted children. “Family life was similar to today:some marriages were happy, others not”(Kreis 1). There were two types of marriage ceremonies; the Sine Manu and the Cum Manu. In the Sine Manu, the wife did not break ties with her father’s family. This was very common during because this relationship was between freedmen and slaves. However, the Cum Manu was a ceremony based on a woman who came to join her husband's civil family, giving thehusband an authority to control and protect the wife. This type of ceremony was most common among the patricians. In order to obtain such power as having authority towards a woman, one out of the three legal acts was supposed to be performed. The Confarreatio was a ceremony which included; the sacred fire, the concurrence of the spouses, the immediate relatives and ten witnesses. The ten witnesses hadto speak a few words advising the couple of how to act after their marriage. The Coempetio was the most ancient custom of humanity which was used in order to have a wife. In this act a woman was sold to the husband; not as a slave, but as a wife. The Usus encouraged new spouses to live together for an entire year. If the couple did not want to get married after this, the woman usually spent anight at her father’s house with the consent of her husband. The marriage was void if the woman stood in her father’s house for more than three days.
On the other hand, there were certain requirements for a marriage to be legitimate. A marriage was considered to be valid only if both spouses were Roman citizens. The female had to be 12 years old and the male had to be 14 years old. “Although thelegal age for marriage among women was twelve, fourteen was more common in practice” ( Kreis, 1). The ages were very important because at this point of their lives, they had the sexual ability to procreate children. The consent of the parents was a vital element in order to have an acceptable and formal marriage. If the father of the woman disagreed to the marriage, he had to give a good reason orelse he would have to make his daughter marry. Only women of 25 years and under needed the mother or a close relative consent.
Furthermore, after marriage, the spouses had to live together in the legal house of the husband. Fidelity was an important issue between the spouses. They had to share their food, room, and have children as soon as they get married. Children and social status werefundamentals of a successful marriage. The woman was obligated to serve and support her husband forever, unless he was guilty of felony. She also acquired the name and dignity of her spouse. “The status of the woman, originally defined by her father’s status, was also defined by that of her successive husband” (Rawson, 56). On the other hand, the husband had to protect and respect her. If the husbandpracticed adultery outside of the marital home, he was not punished.. However if the woman went against moral standards, she was severely punished
Consequently, family bonding was the basic unit of Roman society. The man or “paterfamilias, who, in primitive times, had the power of life and death over his son, and could sell him as a slave, considering it his right and even more his duty to...
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