Ancient Roman Marriages Essay Research Paper Marriages

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Ancient Roman Marriages Essay, Research Paper Marriages in matrimonium iustum (a legal union) had three requirements: both partners must have coniubium, and age and consent. A valid marriage was very important because it would affect the inheritance rights of both the children produced and husband to wife/wife to husband inheritance. Coniubium was the right to marry (described further in the following section). Age refers to the fact the couple is expected to have reached puberty. Also it was acceptable for a man to marry a girl young enough to be his daughter or even granddaughter, but it was dishonorable if a woman married a younger man. Consent refers to the fact the final decision was ultimately up to the paterfamilias, but he would often refer to the bride’s mother.

There were also details such as incsestum (marriage between close relative) was a crime. There should be no difference in social standing between husband and wife. Nobility and wealth could make up for other shortcomings in a partner. Marriage was commonly used for political alliances. Character was much more important than good looks. Types of Roman Marriage There are several types of Roman marriage. Some marriages are legitimate, and others are just ways of life. Some are traditional (with coniubium and manus) and others are unconventional (without coniubium and manus). Both the husband and wife needed to have ius coniubium (the right to marry) for both the actual marriage and the children to be legitimate. Coniubium was granted in Roman citizenship as well as a special

privilege for certain people. A Roman woman was usually under the guardianship of her paterfamilias her whole life. Confarreatio was the most traditional type of marriage. It was limited to patricians only whose parents had the same type of marriage. Wedding ceremonies were very elaborate and ten witnesses were present. The woman passed directly from the manus of her paterfamilias to that of her new husband. Divorce (diffarreatio) was rare, and carried out with a special type of sacrifice. Coemptio was another more common type of marriage. The groom paid nummus usus, a penny, and received a bride in exchange, representing a "bride purchase." The ceremony was much less formal than confarreatio, and only five witnesses were required. However, the bride still passed to her

husband’s manus. Usus was an unusual but practical type of marriage. It required no wedding ceremony, but rather was a transfer to the manus of the husband after cohabition. The only requirement was that the man and woman lived together for a whole year before the woman passed into her husband’s manus. However, if the woman were away for three nights in a row that first year, she would not pass into her husband’s manus. This type of marriage was obsolete by the end of the republic. There are a few marital unions that did not require the woman to pass into her husband’s manus. Free marriage was one such type. In free marriage, the wife would keep her independence as filiafamilias to her paterfamilias. Concubinatus was another type. A concubine (paelex) was a woman who had

regular sexual relations with a married man. The man and his paelex would often live together. Children produced from such a relationship were not legitimate. Another way this marriage was practiced was by slaves. Slaves used this as a marital-like union until both partners could gain their freedom. There were also a couple alternatives to marriage. Prostitution was one, but not for honorable women. Scortae, meretrices, or lupae (as they were often called) were usually foreigners who wore heavy makeup and flamboyant clothing. They registered with the aediles and paid taxes. They could work for a brothel owner (leno or lena) or work independently. Living as a courtesan was another alternative to marriage. Courtesans were mistresses that were usually of respectable Roman origin.