Women were not citizens of Rome. Only
adult free men were citizens. The ancient Roman men believed that a
women had to be under a guardianship. That guardianship could be a
father or a husband. But they believed a women was unable to direct
her own activities.
once said of early Roman men, "Our ancestors, in their wisdom,
considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be
under the control of guardians."
During the 200
years when Rome was a kingdom, a wife
was the center of the household. It was her job to take care of her
home and family. She taught her daughters how to cook and sew. But
women had no rights. A woman could not even make a suggestion to her
husband. Her guardian, her husband or father, had complete control
over her activities. In most families, women could shop, visit a
temple, or chat in public. But she could not participate in
government. Few women wanted additional rights.
During the 500
years that Rome was a Republic, women
gained no legal freedoms, but women were allowed, in private, to make
suggestions about business to their husbands. That was a huge change.
Towards the end of the Republic period,
and throughout much of Empire period, a new form of marriage became
popular. This marriage allowed a wife to be placed under the control
of her family instead of her husband. Typically, her family was more
lenient and also further away. While under family control, wealthy
women could hire someone to manage their money and land. The manager
did what she told him to do. That gave wealthy women a tremendous
amount of freedom.
During the 500
years that Rome was an Empire, women
gained considerable freedom. Under the Empire, it became legal for
women to own land, run businesses, free slaves, make wills, inherit
wealth, and get a paid job. Women were still considered to be
under the guardianship of her father or husband.
Drinking wine was part of daily life.
In very early days, women were not allowed to drink wine. Their
husband might kiss them on the mouth to see if they had been drinking.
It sounds sweet, but if a husband believed his wife had been drinking,
she could be severely beaten. During the Empire, women could drink
Life was very different during the
Empire than it was in the days of early Rome.
of the Roman Female (Thinkquest)