The Roman Experience: Family Life in the Roman Empire

History 103A.002

Spring 2016
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 1200-200

In this course we will explore what it was like to live in the Roman Empire. This is not an easy task given the size and diversity of Rome’s dominion, but it is possible to get a sense of the Roman experience through a close look at the nuclear family, which was and, arguably, continues to be the fundamental unit of society. Through seminar discussions, readings of both primary and secondary sources, and a research paper, we will consider how Romans of all stripes legally and conceptually organized family life, what they valued, their concerns and fears, desires and passions, how the family divided labor, and the religious life of the family. We will also reflect on how the nuclear family has changed between then and now, how to use different types of sources to illuminate the attitudes of the diverse populations of the empire, and ultimately what it meant to be “Roman”.