Roman Patchwork Families

Ann-Cathrin Harders

in Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582570
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595271 | DOI:
Roman Patchwork Families

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In Republican Rome, it was a father's task to instruct his son and turn him into a worthy representative of his family. However, social reality did not confirm the picture of an exclusive father-to-son relationship since the concept of imitatio patris was challenged by high mortality rates as well as divorce and remarriage. It can be shown that the fragmentation of Roman families was countered by substitute parenting, especially by cognate kin or by the single mother herself thereby offering an alternative role model. However, the primary aim of Roman socialization, the ideal of imitatio patris to perpetuate the agnatic lineage not only in name but also in action, was thus missed and was replaced with the exercise of imitatio alieni. To outline the alternatives to paternal socialization, four different cases of surrogate parenting is discussed in which the impact on the moulding of tradition can be observed.

Keywords: agnates; Brutus; Cato the Younger; cognates; Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi; education; socialization; surrogate parenting; Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus; tradition

Chapter.  9500 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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