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CL365: THE FAMILY IN CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY
Professor Lisa Rengo George (lgeorge@scott.skidmore.edu)
Skidmore College

OBJECTIVES: Many of the allegedly "modern" issues of family life--such as divorce, remarriage, infidelity, rebellious children and aging parents--were just as problematic for the ancient Greeks and Romans as they are for us today. In this course we will examine the nature of the Greek (oikos) and Roman (domus) households and the complex relationships that made up the center of private life in antiquity. In both Greece and Rome, men's lives were lived mainly in the public domain, while the existence of women, children, and slaves was confined for the most part to the house. We will analyze the dynamics of power between public and private as well as the roles of each member of the household in order to determine the extent of influence and importance the family, which was controlled and managed by women, exerted on society as a whole.

REQUIRED TEXTS:

RESERVE BOOKS:

   GREEK FAMILY

   ROMAN FAMILY

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Class participation constitutes a full one-fifth of your grade. Therefore, absences for reasons other than true emergencies are unacceptable. More than FOUR absences without excuse will result in failure for the entire course.

  1. PREHISTORY OF THE FAMILY

    Discussion Question: What characteristics of the family unit have remained consistent throughout time and why?

  2. DEFINING THE GREEK FAMILY

    Discussion Questions: What defines the Greek family? What roles do the oikos and polis play in defining the family dynamic in Ancient Greece? Who belongs in the family and what role does each household member play?

  3. ORIGINS OF THE FAMILY IN GREECE: MYTH AND REALITY

    Discussion Questions: How does Greek mythology reflect and portray the role of the family? What defines the family unit in Homer?

  4. CREATING THE FAMILY: MARRIAGE, BIRTH, AND DEATH

    Discussion Questions: How does the cycle of birth, marriage, and death manifest itself in ancient Greek society? Does the existence of contraception and abortion in antiquity surprise you in any way, and if so, how? What is the importance of marriage and its rituals for men and for women? How do funeral rites reflect marriage rituals?

  5. GENDER, AGE, STATUS & LAW IN THE GREEK FAMILY

    Discussion Questions: How were gender and age roles defined in ancient Greece? How many of these definitions have changed in modern society?

  6. DEFINING THE ROMAN FAMILY

    CHOOSE ONE AND BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT IT IN CLASS:

  7. ROMAN FAMILY RELATIONS AND THE LAW

    CHOOSE ONE AND BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT IT IN CLASS:

  8. CREATING THE ROMAN FAMILY: MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, CHILDHOOD, AND OLD AGE

    CHOOSE ONE AND BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT IT IN CLASS:

    1. From Rawson and Weaver, The Roman Family in Italy (pick two):
      1. 6: "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Elderly Members of the Roman Family" by Tim Parkin (pp. 123-148)
      2. 9: "The Iconography of Roman Childhood" by Beryl Rawson and "Iconography: Another Perspective," by Janet Huskinson (pp.205-238)
      3. 12: "Repopulating the Roman House," by Michele George (pp. 299-320)
    2. Bradley, Keith R., Discovering the Roman Family, Chap. 3 "Child Care at Rome: The Role of Men," (pp. 37-75) and Rawson, B. ed., Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome, "Children of Freedmen (and Freedwomen)" by P.R.C. Weaver (pp. 166-190)

  9. CREATING THE ROMAN FAMILY: MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, CHILDHOOD, AND OLD AGE (CONTINUED)

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