Private life plays a special role in the social structure of Ancient Romans. Life, family profession, traditions, state and individual: the connection and what we call the social relationship between them can never be determined by a permanent set of relationships in which one area affects another area more or less sensibly. As in all other civilizations, ancient Romans are also sensitive about children and family life. Children are considered followers of their parents in the future. In this essay, the role of children in Ancient Rome will be discussed.
Birth of a new child
In Ancient Rome the law provides too much freedom to householders whether to admit a newborn child or not. In order to make a decision, all family members including relatives and neighbors give their opinions. Because during that time unwanted and disabled children could be left to die on the streets. Law gives the father, who has whole authority on the family, the right to choose the life of his child. The accepted child would be welcomed by a ceremony in the family. There are several symbolic scenes such as the oldest man in the family putting the child to the ground and hanging flashy crown outside of the house door to welcome a child. During the first 3-4 days, they hang a chain of amulet to the girl’s neck and bulla to the boy’s neck. Girls and boys get their names after 8 and 9 days of their birth respectively which is a day after die lustrous. In ancient Rome, boys wear a toga taken from Etruscans until their 16. After this period they change their clothes which indicate that a new era begins for them.
Romans’ view on male children
In Rome, the male children were considered important because he would take responsibility for the power of his father. Boys grew up with special care inside the family. Because after the death of his father, the boy has to start his new family. When the family man died, the family was divided into new families by the number of males. This privilege of the father, who played the role of the priest in simple religious ceremonies held in the family, was passed to the oldest son in the family. Boys always tried to imitate their fathers during their lifetime. As soon as the boy completed his growth and does not need mother care anymore, he starts to live under the surveillance and control of his father. During this period boys learn how to complete requirements for their future role in life. First of all, fathers expect their boys to display their right behavior inside of the family. Apart from this, boys expected to have a good education, can take his responsibility and deal with problems whenever he has no help from his family.
Rome’s view on female children
The standpoint of female children in the family in Ancient Rome is highly different than the male children’s. While preparing children to major duties in life for their future, girls are always seen as a prospective mother in the next few years and lived under the surveillance of their mother. Starting from the early years, girls were taught housework and how to deal with family duties. In Rome, the mother who prepares her daughter for life is considered as an example for their girls. However the mother has control over girls’ decency, daughters were also live under the authority and power of the father. After their marriage girls live under the control of the head of the new family. It is noteworthy to mention that they also end relationships with their real family right after marriage and control of all personal duties of bride pass to her new family.
The significance of child in Roman society
The roman family enriches and foster by the children they grow up with. The number of children in a family can increase in several situations. One of them is the remarriage of a father after the death of a mother and the second one is the adoption of a new child from a different family which was very common in Rome during that time. The newly adopted child took the name of the family and have the same rights as their siblings in the family. During the reign of Emperor Augustus, several reforms were accomplished on the family institutions. Those who avoid marriage and have no kids after marriage lose their rights to get inheritance and have to leave half of the inheritance to the government. Those families who have more than 3 children get a high reputation among authorized people. Also, the government creates a chance for these citizens to get an advantage while finding jobs in the administrative field. Those women who have a child have more public rights than other females. For instance, those who have 3 children in the family will not be selected as a guardian.
The status of children born from slaves in Rome
The number of slaves in Rome tremendously increased during the end of Republican time as a result of wars. We see that most of the slaves were brought from Greece which was used as a labor force. It is interesting to note that there was high demand for Greek slavers in ancient Rome because most of them are specialized in the area of art, education, and music. The marriage of slaves between slaves or with a citizen is not legally valid. The children born from slaves are considered as slaves like their parents and have to live like them during their life. But sometimes there were exemptions like during the pregnancy period of slaves. There were some situations when the status of women slaves can change and it also affect the status of born children. Because slave children grow up in a domestic environment, laws allowed males and females to live together. In order to do this, the marriage of slaves is not legal but it is considered a de facto marriage.
Primary education in Rome
Starting from the age of 7 children should begin to have primary education in Rome. As in the Greek education system, teachers are chosen from those educated slaves and get paid by the student’s family for his job. Most of the time the wage was too low. When there were no free buildings for schools, classes were given at rented places. During a day classes last 6 hours, with a lunch break, and boys and girls have classes together. It was mandatory for parents to send children to at least primary school and because of this educated people were the majority in Rome society. Teachers used harsh methods like beatings, screamings to teach their students reading, writing, and making calculations. But during math class, there were separate teachers who called calculators helping students to solve basic problems.
Entertainment activities for children
During Ancient Rome, children played several games during their free time. There is various kind of games for entertainment but most of them connected with wars and fights. It is obvious that wars play a significant role in Roman society and it is every boy’s purpose to act like a soldier and be one in the future. In order to play these warrior games, boys prepare special instruments such as swords and shields. Apart from these games, children played games with balls by hitting with hands and hide-and-seek.
In conclusion, the role of roman children and his or her life were nearly the same as in other formulaic societies. They spend most of their time studying and working near their fathers. It is considerable to mention that boys have more freedom in education and social life than girls. But also starting from early ages family demands male children have more responsibility.