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Gens

(1,391 words)

Author(s): Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg)
[German version] A. Politics and Society The Roman gens comprised the members of a  family who descended from a common ancestor and under whose potestas they would have been, if he had still been alive (Varro, Ling. 8,4). The main distinction between gentiles and agnati lay in the fact that the latter could prove their blood relationship with their progenitor, whereas for the former, this relationship was only a fictitious assumption. The origins of the gens are a matter of scholarly dispute, and will likely remain so because of the lack of source material from Rome's …

Family

(7,857 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Feucht, Erika (Heidelberg) | Macuch, Maria (Berlin) | Gehrke, Hans-Joachim (Freiburg) | Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg) | Et al.
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The family in Mesopotamia was organized in a patrilineal manner; remnants of matrilineal family structures are to be found in Hittite myths, among the Amorite nomads of the early 2nd millennium BC and the Arab tribes of the 7th cent. BC. As a rule monogamy was predominant; marriage to concubines with lesser rights was possible, while there is evidence of polygamy particularly in the ruling families. The family consisted of a married couple and their children althoug…

Matrona

(726 words)

Author(s): Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg) | Lafond, Yves (Bochum) | Schön, Franz (Regensburg)
[German version] [1] Term used in family law Under Roman law of the Republican period, there was a difference between the matrona as the legal wife and the mater familias, the wife who was in the manus of her husband and thus belonged to his family (Gellius 18,6,8-9). This difference disappeared along with the marriage with manus ( Marriage), and since Augustus the terms matrona and mater familias are interchangeable in legal texts. In social terms, the word matrona expresses the public function of an honourably wed wife, which in early times possibly corresponded to the functions of the patr…

Adoption

(952 words)

Author(s): Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg)
[German version] Taking a member of another family into one's own family; usually in antiquity only adults were adopted. In adoption the concern was not the well-being of the adopted person but the continuation of the agnatic family association into which the adopted person was introduced. Adoption was used above all if there was no male heir. Adoption was already documented in Cretan inscriptions (IC IV 20; IV 21) of the 7th/6th cents. BC; it was comprehensively regulated in Gortynian law (X 33-XI 23) with almost no restrictions on adoption. In Athens there were three types of adopt…

Old Age

(1,404 words)

Author(s): Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg)
[German version] A. Introduction Old age as a phase of human life received great interest in antiquity, but opinions on it vary. Sources differ in the classification of the stages of life and, particularly the determination of the year of onset of old age: Solon, like Hippocrates and Aristotle after him, counted in hebdomads in his elegy to ages. In the ninth hebdomad, language and wisdom become weaker until one is overtaken by death at the end of the tenth (19 Diehl). Pythagoras divided human life …