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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Roman family was defined at law as a unit controlled by the all-powerful pater familias, its membership determined by relationship through the male line (agnatio). Both formal law and family relations altered between the fifth-century-BC XII Tables and the sixth-century-AD legal compilations ordered by the Eastern Emperor Justinian. In particular, Christianity and married women’s developing capacity to acquire and transmit property drove significant changes in power relations within the family. Scholarly perspectives on Roman law and the Roman family have also changed to take into account the religious and ethnic diversity of the Roman Empire and the social realities behind the rigid legal categories of the law. This chapter surveys these strands of scholarship.

Keywords: Roman family definition, Roman family evolution, scholarship, property, inheritance, women, kinship, patria potestas

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