Importance of Children for Roman Women

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  • Created on: 16-04-15 11:25

Pliny and Minicia Marcella (AD 105-6)

"She cheered up her sister and her father"

"He has lost a daughter who was like him in manner as in physical appearance and who copied her father in everything"

Family was central to Romans and daughter weren't necessarily viewed as a burden. Loving family life and father/daughter relationship contrasts detatchment of other parts of Roman society. Loss of continuity of life. Did not live long enough to get married and have children.

Problems: Is writing a letter of consolation upon the death of his friend's daughter. Planned to publish letters.

Theory vs Reality: May over-exaggerate how important Minicia was to enhance the sadness and tone of the letter. May also exaggerate fathers love and grief for this reason.

Pliny and the Sisters Helvidiae (AD 105-6)

"They both died giving birth to daughters"

"Sad indeed to see two such fine girth in the bloom of youth felled by their own fertility. I am very sorry too for their infants, orphans at birth and for their fine husbands."

"I am the more anxious for his health and character now that he is all that remains of the family"

Emphasises the dangers of childbirth, as they were norn on a birthing stool, with only herbs/spices to sooth them and contribute towards producing a healthy child and mother. Highlights the pain and trauma mothers-to-be had to go through, ans they weren't thoroughly educated in childbirth, and were forced into pregnancy as they had to procreate for their children to say prayers at their parents' death and to look after them when they grow up. Source is quite ironis as both mothers die before the daughters were able to do this.

Problems: Is writing a letter of consolation about their deaths. Planned to publish letters.

Theory vs Reality: May over-exaggerate how their death in childbirth was a loss to enhance the tragic way in which they were fulfilling their duty to their families.

A funeral eulogy (The laudate Turia), 1st Cent. BC

"it is true that we did wish to have children, who had for a long time been denied to us by an envious fate"

"when you dispained of your ability to bear children, you became anxious lest by retaining you in marriage. I might lose all hope of having children and be distressed for that reason, so you proposed a divorce outright and offered our home free to another woman's fertility"

Shows importance of having children as it was believed to be a gift from the gods. Shows importance of having children as woman proposes divorce because wife is infertile.

Problems: Is a funeral eulogy. Speaker is Turia's husband, talking about his and Turia's marriage. Might not offered divorce.

Theory vs Reality: Since it is a funeral eulogy, then he is likely to say positive things about her and highlight her love for children, mostly doesn't show reality because he's talking about his actual experience.

Sources about Cornelia, 2nd cent. BC


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