Roman Social History and the Roman Family

Module code: AH2038

The family was the basic unit of Roman society, it was fundamental in the lived experience of all Romans from childhood to death, and study of this topic allows us to appreciate the vast sections of society who are otherwise ignored in the study of ancient history. Roman ideas of family were also fundamental to the evolution of Roman politics, law and religion throughout the Republic and Empire.

In this module we will examine the mechanisms by which the Romans ensured a sense of social coherence and shared values. As well as the topics below, we will look tangentially at gender, the history of the emotions, non-verbal communication and approaches to studying the culture of the everyday. Our source material will include epigraphy, documentary and literary sources, and visual and material culture.

Topics covered

  • Social hierarchies
  • Socialisation in the family
  • Education
  • Interpersonal relationships expressed in friendships, patronage, and marriage
  • Leisure time, bathing, dining, entertainment