because history just ain't what it used to be

What was the attitude of the Romans towards women and children?

In History on March 5, 2010 at 22:04

by Becca Kotula and Hannah Griffith

The Romans did not reserve many rights for children or women.

They did not think of children as cute little kids, or even necessarily that any kid could have potential in life, like we do today. They just looked at the child to see if he/she would be of any use to them.

If the child was deformed, they considered it unneeded. In the Twelve Tables, it is said: “IV. 1: A dreadfully deformed child shall be killed.”

Women were not treated much better.

They had more laws restricting them than the men did, and they were considered a man’s property — whether it be her husband or her father. They viewed as lower then all men, and had very little rights. Table Four gives men the “Rights of fathers (paterfamilias) over the family”.

And in these families, women were not treated with the same sort of respect we often consider common in Western societies today.

For example: “VI. 2: Marriage by ‘usage’ (usus): If a man and woman live together continuously for a year, they are considered to be married; the woman legally is treated as the man’s daughter.”

In other words, the woman is just automatically the man’s property.

Also, women were not supposed to show public displays of emotion: “X. 4: Women must not tear cheeks or hold chorus of ‘Alas!’ on account of a funeral.”

Overall, women in Rome were not treated nearly as well as women are treated today. Their attitude towards women and children was that they were viewed that their lives were less worthy then men’s lives. The men came first above all women and children and it was viewed almost as if the men owned the women and children.


“THE TWELVE TABLES.” California State University, Northridge. Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. Web. 05 Mar. 2010.


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