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The Roman family

January 2009
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The Roman family has been the focus of many studies in the recent decades, and BrynMawr Reviews presents now a review of a collection of articles published in 2005. This book contains also an article on Egypt and one on ancient Palestinian family structures (you can see its List of Contents here):

Michele George (ed.), The Roman Family in the Empire. Rome, Italy, and
Beyond.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2005.  Pp. 384.  ISBN
0-19-926841-X.  $125.00.

Here are some excerpts of the review concerning Egypt and Palestine:

“Richard Alston’s contribution (pp. 129-157) on the Egyptian family, by
evaluating a vast array of sources (census returns, archives and
private letters of the first three centuries AD) arrives at the
conclusion that it is not possible to sketch a homogeneous family
structure for Roman Egypt. Altson discusses endogamous marriage in
Egypt as a degree of insecurity felt by family members in respect to a
harsher outside world. Although families appear to have had a fairly
tight-knit centre “often concentrating on a single conjugal
relationship” they could extend to include others that were not kin for
social and economic purposes. In some cases the author underlines that
family was so extended as to dissolve into community (an aspect
particularly shown by the letters).”

“The Jewish family in Judea from Pompey to Hadrian is analyzed by
Margaret Williams (pp. 159-182). Romanization, according to the author,
was mainly restricted to the elites who had the wealth to buy the Roman
status symbols, and–as far as regulation was concerned–it took place
in areas where the Thora was unprescriptive as in the fields of
marriage arrangements and burial. Without doubt Romanization brought
changes but they were superficial as the onomastic data would prove.
Williams argues that “it would not have cost non-elite Jews anything to
give their children Roman names,” therefore if they chose not to,
preferring the names used by the Maccabees and the Hasmonean dynasty,
it is evidence of their intention of maintaining a cultural identity
but also of their political attitude towards Rome.”


1 Comment

  1. Ted Burrett says:

    I follow your blog for quite a long time and must tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

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