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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

In the first and second centuries ce, the legal status of women, children, and slaves varies due to factors like location, social status, and wealth. This chapter identifies three factors that complicate the description of these groups’ status under the law: the nature of law as both written law and custom; the breadth of the Roman empire and the practice of self-rule in the provinces; and tensions within the existing historical evidence. It goes on to describe central laws and customs pertaining to marriage and divorce, adoption and care of children, and slave ownership and manumission. Although scholars often contrast Christian practice with Roman or Jewish law regarding women, children, and slaves, the chapter argues that the groups had a good deal in common. Within each group, law and custom are not always in agreement, but they make possible a range of legal actions.

Keywords: children, marriage, manumission, slaves, women, Roman law, Jewish law, divorce, adoption

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