Sunday, July 7, 2013

... on Girls in Roman Empire, before and after Christianity

Video Commented on (started commenting before seeing it through, at the point where it is said that four "Domitia" daughters became confusing):
TEDEducation : Four sisters in Ancient Rome - Ray Laurence

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Now, in Pagan times a daughter of Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus would have obviously been Domitia, or possibly, one Domitia and one Domitilla. There being four daughters to one rich Roman back then is to my mind utopic.

The reason why a system of "Domitia" actually worked is that one usually had just one daughter - the rest killed off or set out to die or become slaves.

Christianity changed the killing, and also (through saint's names) the naming custom.
A girl that is going to [marry] at 12 and this is normal?
You must understand that in the time of Ancient Rome, human lifespans were much much shorter than today, with their average lifespans around 30 - 40 and if you're lucky 50. So in that respect, a girl of 12 years then would be comparable to a girl of 19 - 20 years today.
That's a misconception. It's technically true that the average lifespan was about that, but it's the high infant mortality that skews that statistic. If you did survive past age five or so, you had pretty good odds of making it to 60 or 70.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
I quite second that.
A girl that is going to at 12 and this is normal?
Hans-Georg Lundahl
The legal age was 14 for boys and 12 for girls.

In actual practise Pagan Romans sometimes married daughters off as early as age ten or eleven. Since Christianity was introduced that was stopped.

Twelve or at very earliest eleven and a half became strict miminum.

Two points more:

Gynaecologically speaking the ideal age for a first childbirth is neither 13 nor 30 (nec XIII nec XXX) but between, furthermore narrowed down to between 17 and 25. However, stiff hips at 30 are even worse than small hips at 13. I have this information from my mother as a medical student, and in theory gynaecology would have been her favourite subject. In practise she could not have her practicum in gynaecology, since in Sweden that would have meant collaborating with abortions.

Canonically speaking the nether limit of 14/12 remained in force as Roman Catholic Church law up till in the XXth C. It has been raised to 16/14 with an added comment about obeying the state laws in that respect. However, 12 being legally acceptable for a girl all through the Middle Ages does not mean they were always married at that age. In Medieval cities in France for which "civil registers" (or parish registers, more probably) have been recovered, 25 seems to have been much more typical than 12. However, it may well have been somewhat younger in the countryside, and I have no problem with that. "Respect the farmer" was the best aspect of the Swedish Bonnet Party against the Hat Party, "respect the farmer, he's the daddy of the rest of us, it's his bread we all eat". In 1900 there were Catholic States that had a higher marital age limit even so: in France I think it had been 18/15 since Code Napoléon (and remained so to 2006, when it became 18/18), not just in the anticlerical Third Republic, but even during pro-Church periods (like start of Third Republic, 1870-78), in Austrian Empire it was 21 for a girl to marry without parental consent and 14 with parental consent. Church Law in theory did not require, but sttrongly recommend parental consent. "It is usually a sin to marry against the will of one's parents," not meaning it was always the case, nor meaning such a marriage would be invalid. But Spain still had the 14/12 limit without parental consent as requirement./HGL

PS, one thing more:

Most of the time when girls married as late as 25 while 12 was quite legal, they were not educated with boys not of their family, they did not listen to rock music, they did not stress for exams or for getting a work. They had far less sexual pressure in the flesh than avarage girls not married those ages have nowadays. And though less true about boys, it is rather true about them too. Coeducation, rock music, stress of industrial and post industrial society are making it harder to remain chaste up to marriage./HGL

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