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Denia

The hobbies of a Roman girl

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How does a rich Roman woman spend her time. The leading character in my story is 18 years old. She

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This poor girl is practically a spinster, to be 18 and not yet married. While boys might marry at a later age, girls were considered marriageable by the age of 12. (But I suspect you already knew this, as you have all of this girl's friends already married off.) As an unmarried woman, even at the adult age of 18, your character most likely would have been kept under the strict control of her family to avoid scandal, with the daughter unable even to appear in public on her own.

 

She should be able to visit her married female friends, though, who themselves should be able to devote some time to their unmarried friend, despite their having to supervise household servants along with the other duties that go with being a Roman matron and running the domus.

 

If your character is of a noble family, she might spend her days at home with a private tutor who would teach her poetry (but not the poetry of that scandalous Ovid!). She might also study the use of a musical instrument, and some dance -- not for the purpose of public performance, but rather for her own deportment. Dance -- of the calm, stately variety in particular -- would be taught so as to improve her carriage and movement. She might even occupy herself with weaving, embroidery, and other arts of that nature. As well as study her mother's management of the household as a Roman matron.

 

As for games, there are a couple of board games that were known to the Romans that your character might play with her friends. One, called Duodecim Scripta, was played with dice and was similar to our modern day game of backgammon. Another very popular game was called Latrunculi ("Robbers"), and this was like our modern day games of checkers and chess.

 

-- Nephele

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Oh come on Neph, what do all young ladies do at that age? She gossips with her friends :)

 

Your point about the scandal is interesting, because being unmarrried at 18 is going to attract comment. Perhaps her family ought to try harder...

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Oh come on Neph, what do all young ladies do at that age? She gossips with her friends :D

 

:) At the baths, everybody gossiped -- male and female alike. (Just as in our own "Baths" here on this message board.) Thanks for the reminder of something else that Denia's character might do with her time: Visit the baths.

 

Your point about the scandal is interesting, because being unmarrried at 18 is going to attract comment. Perhaps her family ought to try harder...

 

Or perhaps the girl needs to be less choosy, as Roman parents didn't force marriage upon unwilling daughters (although the governing body of Rome might impose fines on those reluctant to marry).

 

-- Nephele

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Or perhaps the girl needs to be less choosy, as Roman parents didn't force marriage upon unwilling daughters (although the governing body of Rome might impose fines on those reluctant to marry).

 

I guess that's the point. My girl is too choosy. Actually she is in love with a guy and persuaded her parents to wait until he ask her (she thinks he likes her too). But because of some misunderstandings he doesn't ask her. She's very sad about that.

But wow, Nephele, did they really marry at the age of 12. I know my character is getting a little old, but I thought 14 or 15 was the normal age... Maybe I should make her 1 or 2 years younger then...

 

I'm glad Roman women knew weaving and embroidery. I used those activities, but suddenly wondered if this was correct.

And yes, in my story she goes to the baths several times.

After all I think I'm writing it quite well :lol: .

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I guess that's the point. My girl is too choosy. Actually she is in love with a guy and persuaded her parents to wait until he ask her (she thinks he likes her too). But because of some misunderstandings he doesn't ask her. She's very sad about that.

 

Well, if your girl is under the age of 25, then it won't matter whether the young man of her affections asks her. Because the choice of a husband would still be up to the girl's father.

 

But wow, Nephele, did they really marry at the age of 12. I know my character is getting a little old, but I thought 14 or 15 was the normal age... Maybe I should make her 1 or 2 years younger then...

 

14 or 15 probably was closer to the normal age -- it's just that a Roman girl could be married as young as 12. Cicero's daughter, Tullia, was married at the age of 13.

 

-- Nephele

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I guess that's the point. My girl is too choosy. Actually she is in love with a guy and persuaded her parents to wait until he ask her (she thinks he likes her too). But because of some misunderstandings he doesn't ask her. She's very sad about that.

 

Well, if your girl is under the age of 25, then it won't matter whether the young man of her affections asks her. Because the choice of a husband would still be up to the girl's father.

 

And should the father pass, she would still be theoretically at the behest of the next patriarch of the family. It may be a brother, an uncle, a cousin, or what have you, but she still would not necessarily be free to make her own decision. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't exceptions, only that this was the standard methodology.

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I guess that's the point. My girl is too choosy. Actually she is in love with a guy and persuaded her parents to wait until he ask her (she thinks he likes her too). But because of some misunderstandings he doesn't ask her. She's very sad about that.

 

Well, if your girl is under the age of 25, then it won't matter whether the young man of her affections asks her. Because the choice of a husband would still be up to the girl's father.

 

And should the father pass, she would still be theoretically at the behest of the next patriarch of the family. It may be a brother, an uncle, a cousin, or what have you, but she still would not necessarily be free to make her own decision. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't exceptions, only that this was the standard methodology.

 

I'll have to find my reference, but I was pretty sure that I'd read somewhere that, by this time in Roman history, a Roman woman would have obtained sui iuris by the age of 25. I could be wrong, though.

 

-- Nephele

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I guess that's the point. My girl is too choosy. Actually she is in love with a guy and persuaded her parents to wait until he ask her (she thinks he likes her too). But because of some misunderstandings he doesn't ask her. She's very sad about that.

 

Well, if your girl is under the age of 25, then it won't matter whether the young man of her affections asks her. Because the choice of a husband would still be up to the girl's father.

 

And should the father pass, she would still be theoretically at the behest of the next patriarch of the family. It may be a brother, an uncle, a cousin, or what have you, but she still would not necessarily be free to make her own decision. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't exceptions, only that this was the standard methodology.

 

I'll have to find my reference, but I was pretty sure that I'd read somewhere that, by this time in Roman history, a Roman woman would have obtained sui iuris by the age of 25. I could be wrong, though.

 

-- Nephele

I thought that Augustus' law regarding this had to do with divorce and/or death of a husband, rather than an unmarried woman, but you may very well be right. Either way though, it's something for Denia to keep in mind while she puts together her story.

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I thought that Augustus' law regarding this had to do with divorce and/or death of a husband, rather than an unmarried woman,

 

Ah, that does sound more likely, now that I think about it. I'll check into it.

 

-- Nephele

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I thought that Augustus' law regarding this had to do with divorce and/or death of a husband, rather than an unmarried woman,

 

Ah, that does sound more likely, now that I think about it. I'll check into it.

 

-- Nephele

 

Okay, it's been driving me crazy trying to figure out from where I'd gotten that idea that Roman women had the right to choose their own husbands after attaining the age of 25. I couldn't find my original source, but I did find this Google Books preview.

 

From Marriage in Roman Law and Society, by Judith Evans Grubbs:

 

"As emancipation of grown children increased, the significance of emancipation in its classical sense (as a release from paternal power) decreased. The rule that a woman needed her father's consent to marry persisted, but now the view was that paternal consent was essential for all women below twenty-five, whether or not they were emancipated. On the other hand, women over twenty-five, even if still under patria potestas, may no longer have needed their father's permission to marry (Beaucamp [Joelle?] 1990, 246-50)."

 

If Roman women (of the Empire) were ever permitted this right, though, then it would have to have been much, much later after the time period in which Denia has set her story.

 

So you were right, PP, regarding Augustus' law -- and not surprisingly, considering all the research you've done into Roman law. :lol:

 

-- Nephele

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Or perhaps the girl needs to be less choosy, as Roman parents didn't force marriage upon unwilling daughters (although the governing body of Rome might impose fines on those reluctant to marry).

 

I might be wrong, but I seem to remember that one young lady was treated badly by her father for refusal to consider marriage?

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Or perhaps the girl needs to be less choosy, as Roman parents didn't force marriage upon unwilling daughters (although the governing body of Rome might impose fines on those reluctant to marry).

 

I might be wrong, but I seem to remember that one young lady was treated badly by her father for refusal to consider marriage?

 

Perhaps I'm once again too far into Rome's later days, as my reference comes from the Digesta Iustiniani (50.17.30) which stated that a marriage couldn't be legal without the consent of both parties (consensus facit nuptias).

 

But then, the entry on Roman marriage in Seyffert's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities states: "It was originally the parent's business to arrange the marriage of the children, but the consent both of son and daughter was absolutely necessary." Which leads me to believe that the law in the Digesta Iustiniani was reflective of earlier sentiment on this issue.

 

However, it's entirely conceivable that a father would give a recalcitrant daughter a difficult time. But it seems to me that a Roman father, in forcing his daughter into marriage this way, would effectively be lowering her status to that of a slave concubine.

 

Can you dig up your reference, Caldrail?

 

-- Nephele

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However, it's entirely conceivable that a father would give a recalcitrant daughter a difficult time. But it seems to me that a Roman father, in forcing his daughter into marriage this way, would effectively be lowering her status to that of a slave concubine.

 

The father of my girl is definitely not pleased with the situation, but what can he do if no one wants to marry his daughter? I mean: he can not force his daughter into marriage if there's no bridegroom, can he?

So if the daughter says: "Dad, please be patient, I think XX likes me and is going to ask for my hand." Won't he listen to that?

(Maybe my idea of marriage is to romantic)

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