Daily Life of Women in the Roman Empire

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A Fresco from a family villia in the Roman town of Pompeii of the husband of the house and his wife.

In the Roman Empire, women didnt have a lot of rigths and were often treated poorly. When a young woman married in the early years of the Roman Republic she left her childhood home and the authority of her father and entered not only the home of her husband but his power and control as well. In law her status was not very different from that of her husband’s daughter. "If a divorce was achieved by both parties under Roman law the children of the couple legally belonged to the father or nearest male relative if he was no longer living. They could not attend, speak in, or vote at political assemblies and they could not hold any position of political responsibility." Ancient History Encyclopedia 


This painting depicts the Jewish heroine Rebecca, who had been confined in the castle of Front de Boeuf and is carried off by two Saracen slaves commanded by the covetous Christian knight Bois-Guilbert.

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Painting depicting the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves by raping and abducting women from the neighboring Sabine families. 

Roman culture has revealed much about attitudes to women and one of the most significant events is the Rape of the Sabine women. "The first settlers of Rome abducted women from neighbouring tribes, taking them as their wives. These tribes sought to reclaim their women and so declared a state of war. The abducted women actually tried to intervene at this stage to prevent bloodshed. The story echoes the important role women played in linking families in Roman society - their family of birth and then of marriage." Ancient History Encyclopedia

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Roman Empress Agrippina the Younger, who reigned from 49 AD to 54 AD

Some Roman women did rise above the limited role of family and household guardian that society prescribed and reached positions of real influence. One of these women was empress Agrippina the Younger. Agrippina married to an emperor considered a weaker and less qualified by those around him, naturally she took power into her own hands, after they got married. "Agrippina acted as Emperor Nero's regent and was a powerful controlling influence on him even after he had reached the age of eighteen and could govern in his own right. For the first time in Roman history, a woman was given the title of AVGVSTA, meaning "empress", and her portrait appeared on coins. Up until that time, women of the imperial household had only been portrayed on coins after they had died." Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors 

Daily Life of Women in the Roman Empire