The Roman Family in Italy: Status, Sentiment, Space

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The family continues to be seen as a central institution in Roman as well as modern, Western society. The Roman family is often used as a stereotype, sometimes of severity, sometimes of decadence, with its decline often cited as a cause of wider decline and fall. Definitions and concepts continue to be modified and nuanced, however, as the availability of new evidence and new methodologies make possible a much less simplistic picture. In this volume, the study of family draws on a wide range of disciplines to develop the intertwined themes of status, sentiment, and space. For example, on status there are contributions about Junian Latins and a survey of senators' monuments, while sentiment is represented by a gloomy but convincing picture of old age and a paper on the sentimental ideal which argues that conflict as well as concord is a feature of family life. Space is represented, among others, by the contribution on who commemorates whom in Roman Italy, pointing up the regional variations in custom and the difficulties in tracing complete families. The final contributions focus on the house: how people lived in the Roman house, the use of rooms, and the artefacts that might indicate this use. The book makes use of many types of evidence from the legal and literary to the iconographical and archaeological. Visual and material evidence play an important role in reconstructing real lives in considerable colour and variety. The book moves beyond the city of Rome to the rest of Roman Italy and even into the provinces, just as Roman culture moved outwards and mingled with other cultures. Chronologically too there are new directions, towards the later Empire and Christianity. So, although the contributors do not abandon any of the territory already gained in Rome, nor literary and epigraphical sources, nor the late Republic or early Empire, there is an exciting sense of new discovery.