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Ancient Rome

Roman Women

History >> Ancient Rome

Throughout the history of Ancient Rome, women were considered second to men. They had little official role in public life. Despite this, women played an important part in the culture and history of Ancient Rome.

Colorful drawing of Roman women
Women of Rome
Source: Costumes of All Nations by Albert Kretschmer
Women's Rights

Women had little official political power in Rome. They were not allowed to vote or hold political office. In general, they were not accepted into political debate or other areas of public life.

Unofficially, some women in Rome held power through their husbands or sons. Wives of senators, and even the emperors, advised their husbands and often had a significant influence on the government and the workings of Rome.

Women weren't completely without rights, however. They could own property and run businesses. Some women became very wealthy and held power through their wealth.

Marriage

Once a woman was married she had even less rights. The husband had all the legal rights when it came to the children. In the early years of Rome, the wife was actually considered the property of the husband. This changed around the time Rome became an empire in 27 BC.

Occupations

Married women ran the Roman household. All aspects of home life was ran and managed by the woman of the house. She was called the "materfamilias", which means "mother of the family."

Some women also held jobs outside the home. They worked a variety of jobs including merchants, wet nurses, midwives, scribes, and dancers.

Wealthy Women

As you might expect, wealthy women had a much better life than peasant women. They were often educated and taught to read and write. Once married, they had servants and slaves who did most of the hard work around the house. The wife managed the servants, but still had plenty of time for leisure and planning house parties.

Famous Roman Women
Interesting Facts About Women in Ancient Rome Take a ten question quiz about this page.

For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Barbarians
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Clothing
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Literature
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
People
Augustus
Julius Caesar
Cicero
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Nero
Spartacus the Gladiator
Trajan
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Other
Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms


Works Cited

History >> Ancient Rome






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