– Women and Marriage: The original form of marriage with ‘manus’ meant that all the goods of the wife passed to the ownership of the husband. A married woman was no longer permitted to possess anything in her own name. In the later form of marriage marriage ‘without manus’ only the dowry became the property of the husband. The wife remained mistress of all her other belongings and all that she might acquire
– In the home the woman was mistress and equal to her husband, joining guests at meals attending festivals etc.
– Women were allowed to go out alone and attend the theatre and gladiatorial games
Roman women were certainly restricted by many aspects o Roman Law but once they were married the enjoyed far more freedom than the Greek women did.
Roman women entered into arranged marriages. Contracts between families were drawn up at a very early age. Young girls were therefore expected to live highly morale lives. If a girl was discovered flirting this would be seen in breach of the betrothal contract. Dowries were settled according to the wealth and status of her family. A girl from a good patrician family was seen as a good political ‘catch’ benefiting the aspirations of her husband. In the home the woman was mistress and equal to her husband, joining guests at meals and attending festivals etc. Wives were expected to act with some decorum and would generally sit upright during meals rather than adopt reclining positions. The wives of Romans during the period of Empire were allowed to drink wine but never to join in drinking parties. In many households it would be the wife who would oversee the slaves, ensuring the smooth running and discipline within the household. Romans allowed married women far more freedom than the Greeks, who virtually imprisoned their wives at home. Roman wives were not expected to live secluded lives and could freely receive visitors and leave the house on visits to other households or on shopping expeditions.
... was marriage simply by mutualconsent and evidence of extended cohabitation. Roman law generally placed the woman under the control of her husband and ... formed a social, economic, and legal unity. The woman generally married into her husband’s family and came under his legal authority (or ... age of puberty and, had their father’s consent) The wife remained under her father’s potestas if he were still ...
Roman Women enjoyed a similar, if not the same education as boys in early childhood. As young men went on to learn about law and rhetoric the women were expected to learn how to run a household, play musical instruments and to study poems and literature. A Roman woman was expected to support the political aspirations of her family although she could not become directly involved.
Roles and Jobs of Roman Women
The role of the vast majority of Roman Women was as the supportive wife to her husband. However, some free Roman women did perform duties and the roles of teachers, secretaries and saleswomen. There is also evidence of female doctors. One of the most surprising of all roles or jobs undertaken by women were that of Female Gladiators.