What was women's role in Rome?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The role of women in Rome was fairly limited.  Roman women did not have many rights and did not play much of a part at all in public affairs.  Upper class women mainly ran their homes while lower class women had to work to survive.

Women were not equal to men in Roman law.  In early Roman times, married women could not even own property, though this changed in the early Republic.  Women were legally passed from their father’s protection to their husband’s when they married. 

The main role of women, particularly in the households that were not poor, was to run the home and bring up the children.  Women of the better classes did not work outside the home.  They could go out in public and could participate in religious festivals, but they did not have economic or legal power.

Women in poorer households were more important economically.  These women had to work to help their families survive.  In lower classes still, there were many slave women who of course had to spend their lives working for their owners.

The role of Roman  women, then, was mostly to be wives and mothers, though poorer women certainly also had to play a major role in their families’ economies.

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