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The Roman Family: Center of Roman Society

Uploaded by badgercat on Mar 25, 2002

The Roman family after the advent of Christianity has been widely discussed in Roman History. Different historians have looked at the topic in different ways. There are two articles at hand, which deal with this very topic. Brent Shaw, The family in Late Antiquity: The Experience of Augustine and Douglas O’Roark, Parenthood in Late Antiquity. Both historians are looking at the family in late antiquity, after the time that Christianity was introduced to the Roman society. Through an analysis of the two essays and references to the classical period it can be seen that: The Roman family has always been an important institution in their society, it’s composition, roles and the functions changed little after the advent of Christianity.

The Essays

Each of the historians has a solid central argument, and their essays are laid out well. Shaw seeks to show the structure and the functions of the Roman family in late antiquity. He also seeks to clear up misconceptions of the Roman family. O’Roark’s argument seeks to show the closeness of the parents and children in the Roman family. The important thing to realize is that both of these essays are looking at the Roman family in the same period, late antiquity, after the advent of Christianity. Also important to note is both of these essays to not specifically talk about the impact of Christianity on the family. The essays can be used to reference against each other and against the Roman family in the Classical period. Information on the Classical period is given in G. Nathan’s article: Two Traditions. With the three essays one can come to a good conclusion about the impact of Christianity on the Roman family.

In interest of paper length the essays have been narrowed down to include only central topics. First looking at similarities, then differences.


This is the first main aspect of the family that both historians look at. The first point Shaw brings up is that main purpose of childbearing. This was for the wife to produce a heir for the husband . The father organized the whole house around this, in preparation a son to take everything over when he died . O’Roark states that a major factor in having children was to love and to care for them . He however cannot deny that before this the realization is that the father must have children to pass everything on to . In...

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Uploaded by:   badgercat

Date:   03/25/2002

Category:   Ancient Rome

Length:   15 pages (3,274 words)

Views:   2733

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