This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Was The Power Of Fathers Over Wives, Children And Slaves Absolute?

2446 words - 10 pages

Was the power of fathers over wives, children and slaves absolute?

A Roman father would be given the title of pater familias, meaning head of household and family. This title, given to any male Roman citizen who was “sui iuris”1, 'under his own power,' gave the pater familias certain legal powers over his familias, a word which “covered every member of the household subject to the power of the father...children, slaves and...the wife”2. With respect to these legal rights, the word 'absolute' can be defined as unrestricted or unlimited3. It is, however, important to bear in mind that, according to Plautus, “laws are subordinate to custom”4. The role of the pater familias was a long ...view middle of the document...

A Roman marriage could be cum or sine manus . Traditionally during the ceremony for a cum manus marriage, a woman would ask her husband, “Do you wish to be my paterfamilias?”8 This signified the wife being placed under the legal control of the husband and his patria potestas as she legally became a member of his family. A woman in a cum manus marriage had the title of mater familias. Although the title is parrallel to its male counterpart, the similarity ends there. The title gave no added power to the wife and by the Empire, the word was synomonous with wife9. The wife was subject to her husband's power of life and death and all her property and inheritance would belong to him. He only had to return her dowry in the event of a divorce10. Moreover, a woman could not instigate a divorce. In this way, a cum manus marriage gave the pater familias complete control over his wife and her financial assets.

In a sine manus marriage, however, the wife legally remained a member of her father's family, staying under his potestas. Consequently she remained independent from her husband and retained her hereditary rights11. Therefore the husband's power over his wife was severly limited. Although a sine manus marriage meant the wife was still under the power of her father, this was less burdensome as it was likely her father would die sooner than her husband, leaving her independent earlier than in a cum manus marriage.
Whatever the marriage, however, the customs of Roman society proved to be a limiting factor in how much power the husband had over his wife. By the late Republic, regardless of what kind of marriage a woman had, an upper-class Roman matron enjoyed a fair amount of independence and often kept control of her own property12. These changes in society made a husband exercising absolute power over his wife unusual and applied peer pressure, encouraging men to give their wives the independence that was becoming the norm.

From birth, a child fell under the potestas of the pater. The extent of a father's power over his offspring can be seen in the ius vitae necisque. This law gave a father the power to decide whether his child lived or died. The power of life or death was an established legal right, as can be seen by the use of the word “ius” and its inclusion in the Twelve Tables13. If the pater familias decided to exercise his power of life and death over his children, even his wife “was powerless to protest the infantcide” even “of a legitimate and healthy child”14. Consequently, the father's power was so great that he could decide the fate of his children.Yet although the pater had the legal right to exercise capital punishment, it appears that by late Antiquity this right was considered obsolete. Custom limited the father's power, dictating that it was proper to verbally scold disobedient children, or at most, give a beating15. Furthermore, the decision to kill one of his children was not made solely by the pater. Before the child could...

Other Papers Like Was The Power Of Fathers Over Wives, Children And Slaves Absolute?

The French Revolution- "The Terror Was The Triumph Of Violence Over Ideals"

1226 words - 5 pages Democracy- to be achieved by destroying the absolute power and control of the monarchy.In attempting to achieve this however, the CPS enabled Robespierre to rise to somewhat of a despot himself, and the level of violence to increase to such an unnecessary level that violence triumphed over the ideals of the Revolution.Under Robespierre's rule many of the ideals of the revolution were bypassed or indeed crushed as he searched for his ideal France. As

John Stuart Mill: On Liberty The Nature And Limits Of The Power Which Can Be Legitimately Exercised By Society Over The Individual

1553 words - 7 pages and constitutional checks in which the community had some power over important acts. Mill then indicates that people progressed to a point where they wanted their leaders to be their servants. They also wanted them to reflect their interests and will. Although, limiting the ruler's power seemed efficient, it was not necessary, since the ruler was accountable to the people and there was no fear of the people tyrannizing himself.Mill then talks

The End of at&T's Absolute Advantage in Iphone Sales

634 words - 3 pages to Verizon Wireless customers beginning in 2011. With large numbers of customers wanting an iPhone but choosing not to sign with AT&T, competition from other smartphones manufacturers, such as the BlackBerry and Droid, and Apple’s search for new areas of growth, an end to AT&T’s absolute advantage in iPhone sales appears to be on the horizon. For years, AT&T has had an absolute advantage over Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile

Using These Four Passages and Your Own Knowledge, Assess the View That the Main Purpose of the so-Called ‘Alfredian Renaissance’ Was to Strengthen Royal Power

1969 words - 8 pages . Wallace-Hadrill claims that the contacts that Alfred’s dynasty had with the Carolingian Empire was too coincidental for such an educational and learning incline to suddenly occur. In my opinion, I agree that Alfred did indeed act as a reformer after being influenced by the Carolingians, yet I believe it was in order to gain power instead of the idea that the Carolingians wishing to spread their scholarship over Europe. By this I mean Alfred underwent

The Effects of Children and Sports

1324 words - 6 pages The Effects of Children and Sports My research paper explains whether or not playing sports affects young children in their everyday life. The reason I chose this topic is because I am interested in finding out if sports helps children’s social development. The relevance of this topic is to see if there is an improvement in the overall development with children who participate in sports compared to children who do not and if there is a

The Power and Meaning of “Girl Watching"

711 words - 3 pages The Power and Meaning of “Girl Watching" The concept of “Girl Watching” caught my eye right away. Most men do this even though they might not admit it. It has become a part of our culture that is easy to subject ourselves to and act upon without thinking. Most women would call this sexual harassment, but there are some women who think it’s just the way guys are. Technically they are right. Guys are this way, but they don’t have to

Why was there controversy over the Exercise Tiger cover up?

535 words - 3 pages There are many reasons why there was a controversy over the Exercise Tiger cover up. One of the major reasons is because of the available evidence.An example of this is source D, which is information on Exercise Tiger from a website by the Navy of whom are convinced that they released enough evidence explaining that exercise tiger did happen and that they did not cover it up. Due to the fact that the website was issued by Operation Archive, it

Differentiate the Doctrine of Strict Liability from the Doctrine of Absolute Liability

610 words - 3 pages The doctrines of strict liability and absolute liability are closely-related legal concepts defining the level to which those involved in the manufacture, development, marketing, sale, or use of a product are liable for the negative effects of the product (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2006, pp. 422-423). The doctrine of strict liability holds that all companies and individuals in a product’s value-chain share can be held liable for it’s effects provided

The Sun King Louis Xiv as the Epitome of Absolute Monarchy

874 words - 4 pages State is me’ . Louis XIV is considered to be the epitome of absolute monarchy by perfecting the practice of complete royal absolution. King Louis XIV will always be remembered by his control over nobility, competent ministers, culture affect and his self glorified taste in art. It was through this that he managed to make France one of the most powerful countries in history. After Louis personally took over the government, his first mission was

"The Mini-Series Roots Provides An Accurate Account Of The Experience Of African Slaves"

1594 words - 7 pages Roots provides, to a great extent, an accurate account of the experiences of African Slaves during the time of their capture, the Middle Passage and the slave auctions. The eye-opening series visually captures the barbaric nature of which the Africans were stolen from their homeland then packed into ominous ships only to be unloaded, sold and sentenced to a life of slavery in America. However some minor details have been omitted and distorted

The Haunting Despair in Gordon’s “Can We Love Our Battering Fathers?”: How It Is Created by Literary Devices and Devices of Emphasis

639 words - 3 pages The Haunting Despair in Gordon’s “Can We Love Our Battering Fathers?”: How it is created by Literary Devices and Devices of Emphasis In the essay by Helen H. Gordon, Gordon illustrates that her father is the primary cause of her despair. It is a reflective essay that shows how the relationship of Gordon to her father suffers from his beating of the mother. She expresses her haunting despair through the use of diction, parallelism, and

Related Essays

French Revolution And The Emancipation Of Slaves

1487 words - 6 pages the power of the colonists, ultimately allowing the slaves to be successful in their emancipation. Prior to the Declaration, St. Domingue was under the control of the French King. The Kings presence and authority was a major agent in restricting the slaves thought of a rebellion. Although the slaves were the majority in the colony and could have easily rebelled against the colonists, there was an instilled fear that the King stood firmly

The Impact Of Freedom On Slaves Both During And After The Civil War

3065 words - 13 pages to independence. However, political intrigue and a change in policy was soon to leave the Negroes in a lurch. This change in policy resulted in a determination that much of the confiscated land would ultimately be returned to its southern owners once the war was over. Accordingly, by the end of 1864, many of those who had been farming their land under lease agreements from the Army, found themselves denied renewals. Suddenly, the freed slaves

Use The Account Of Olaudah Equiano, To Analyze The Situation Of The African Slaves In The Americas. How ‘Typical’ Was Equiano’s Experience?

2147 words - 9 pages petty crimes such as eating sugar cane, or absence from work. Equiano viewpoint and experience in the West Indies is supportive of this when he says that ‘many times he had seen these unfortunate wretches beaten if they asked for their pay, often severely flogged…I have even seen a negro beaten till some of his bones were broken, for only letting a pot boil over’ It was typical also for slaves to be treated as cattle or as other livestock

Founding Fathers Of The Us Connstitution

1241 words - 5 pages confederate flag, but because there hasn’t been a majority rule, the law hasn’t changed. Situations have led up to dissatisfied communities, like the young man who was burning the Confederate flag in South Carolina. He was a part of a “white power ideology” which made him feel like he was against another race, which led up to 9 personnel being killed. The Founding Fathers believed the formal system they instituted to amend the constitution provided a