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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IV. THE RISE OF ROME TO 264 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 9
MORAL CHARACTER OF THE EARLY ROMANS
Hard-working, god-fearing peasants are likely to lead clean and sober lives. This was certainly true of the early Romans. They were a manly breed, abstemious in food and drink, iron-willed, vigorous, and strong. Deep down in the Roman's heart was the proud conviction that Rome should rule over all her neighbors. For this he freely shed his blood; for this he bore hardship, however severe, without complaint. Before everything else, he was a dutiful citizen and a true patriot. Such were the sturdy men who on their farms in Latium formed the backbone of the Roman state. Their character has set its mark on history for all time.
THE ROMAN FAMILY
The family formed the unit of Roman society. Its most marked feature was the unlimited authority of the father. In his house he reigned an absolute king. His wife had no legal rights: he could sell her into slavery or divorce her at will. Nevertheless, no ancient people honored women more highly than the Romans. A Roman wife was the mistress of the home, as her husband was its master. Though her education was not carried far, we often find the Roman matron taking a lively interest in affairs of state, and aiding her husband both in politics and business. It was the women, as well as the men, who helped to make Rome great among the nations. Over his unmarried daughters and his sons, the Roman father ruled as supreme as over his wife. He brought up his children to be sober, silent, modest in their bearing, and, above all, obedient. Their misdeeds he might punish with penalties as severe as banishment, slavery, or death. As head of the family he could claim all their earnings; everything they had was his. The father's great authority ceased only with his death. Then his sons, in turn, became lords over their families.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy