Roman Women

Rome was founded in 753 B.C.E. In the ancient Roman culture, women played prominent roles. Ideally, a woman in Roman society’s right to act independently was restricted by legal norms, but in reality, women found ways to influence home life, marriage, and overall society.
Ancient Roman women had many jobs and expectations. Raising children and managing the home were just some of the duties expected of them. Lower class women did all the work themselves. In addition to the lower class women managing their homes, they worked in manufacturing and in the service economy. Upper and middle class women were often times fortunate enough to have help from a slave or servant. Despite the fact they had help in all they did, “many Roman matrons lived a life of enforced idleness and boredom.” (French/Poska, 98)
The elite women of Pompeii “adorned their lavish houses with elaborate murals, decorative courtyards, and large gardens.” (French/Poska, 97) These women controlled the property and money. Slaves and servants were hired to do everything else so the husband would not feel tension between him and his new wife. They did not even nurse their own babies! Women had to be accompanied everywhere and constantly had someone watching them whether it be a slave or older family member.
“Scholars estimate that approximately sixty-five hundred people lived in Pompeii.” (French/Poska 96) The actual percentage of how many women were slaves, freed, or free women is still undetermined. The non-Elite women did things like midwifery, hairdressing, food selling, clothing retail, and jewelry retail. Some women were even professional mourners at funerals. Women were praised for having jobs in Pompeii. Society glorified a woman as a mother and as a housekeeper.
The male head of the household, which was the oldest male that had the most power, was known as the paterfamilias. “The paterfamilias had laws declaring a women’s need for constant legal and moral supervision by men, preferably...