Women of Ancient Rome and China Women in ancient Rome and China were very different but quite similar as for as their treatment and roles were concerned. In both cultures they were under the protection of their fathers until they married. When they married they were to stay home and be wives, they were not formally educated and learned to manage their households. They were not allowed to disgrace their families in any way and were inferior to men from the moment of birth. Chinese women whether from a noble or a poor family could not escape oppression, but it was somewhat easier for the women from Noble families. 8) Comparing the women of Ancient Rome (750BC ??? AD500) and the women of China (350BC ??? AD600), from the roles they played in society to comparing their status to the status of a man in this era; a day in the life of a woman in these ancient times that was dominated by men. In Ancient Rome the women were not allowed to have a political position or to vote. In roman culture they stressed the importance of the family and the woman was the center of the family circle. (1) Women in ancient China were expected to be house wives and to be completely obedient to their husbands.
Taking care of the children was expected for the majority of women in ancient China. (8) They were expected to bear many children and most women were the pressured to bear a son. They had to do the house work which included sewing, cleaning and preparing the meals along with other duties. Life was different for Roman women as opposed to the Chinese wives; the Roman women lived more of a life of luxury. They were allowed to take part in a lot of the roman cultural events, such as sporting events, private and public baths, and so forth.
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They often went to the public baths these were considered a recreational activity in Rome, people of all ages, social classes, and sexes enjoyed these. (1) Most of the time there were separate baths for men and women, if not women used it in the morning and men in the afternoon. Where as the ancient Chinese women hardly ever left their homes, not even to go to town to buy food or items for the household. (6) There would be generations of a family who lived in a household together; the elders were to be greatly respected.
The most respect was given to the grandmother if she outlived her husband she would then be the oldest member in the household. The teachings of Confucius was that a woman’s role was to take care of her husband and they should not have any ambitions of their own, however that a woman as a mother desired to be respected. The greatest duty of Ancient Chinese women was to have a son. (6) Roman Women were allowed to have some personal freedoms, but hardly ever they allowed any personal choice.
They were always under the supervision of their fathers, male relatives, or their husbands. Drinking wine was forbidden for them, if caught they could be put to death. Because so many of the marriages were pre-arranged it was believed that if women drank wine and got drunk it could lead to adultery. Roman women were usually expected to marry much older men than them. The fathers of the two households would make an agreement for the marriage. Women were not allowed to have any money from their dowry’s it went directly to the husband.
There were some exceptions though they were allowed to spend money on their sons’ education or political careers. (2) They were given legal guardians because they were not thought to be intelligent enough to make decisions on their own. If they divorced the woman’s dowry was expected to be returned unless she was an adulteress and she would not be allowed to remarry. If a woman became divorced, and was not an adulteress, she could only remarry if her father gave her permission to do so. If they divorced the women had no legal rights and for their children and usually never saw them again.
If a woman was not able to bear children this was also grounds for divorce this was so the man could remarry and have the opportunity to have children with another woman. In Ancient Rome a man considered a woman was a good wife if she was loyal, obedient, tireless, and modest. She was expected to give physically financially and emotionally to her family at all times. Roman aristocratic families expected women to have male children so they cold carry on the family name and also expected the wives to be perpetually pregnant.
The women from the lower classes did not have to have as many children due to the financial situation of raising a large family. They were expected to work outside the home to help support them. If a roman man decided to expose of a female baby he was allowed to do so and the woman had no choice but to allow it. The reason for this was that girls could not carry on the family name and a dowry was expected of them when they married. (4) In Ancient China the father of the woman decided who that his daughter would marry. There was no agreement between the two fathers.
The father would talk with an astrologer who had a birth chart on every child. By looking at the time and date of their births he would then decide whether or not they would be compatible for one another. The father when then make the decision whether they would marry, the daughter’s thoughts and opinion’s did not count. (9) The woman was required to be completely devoted to her husband. After the marriage a Chinese women was expected to bow to her new in-laws and offer them tea. This showed them that she now belonged to her husband’s family.
It was required of her to obey her new husband’s mother and all of the other family members. The girl was not allowed to disobey her mother-in-law and basically became her servant. If she gave birth to a boy she gained great respect from the family, if the wife did not have a son the husband would usually have other wives. (5) In ancient Rome and ancient China men and women were expected to hold to the same standards of their social classes. Women were to always have a nice appearance and be very lady like while in public. (5) The women in Rome wore makeup and jewelry and their hair was always fixed.
The women who had wealthy husbands would probably have spent the day planning a dinner party for guest. They would start the day by first praying to the shrine, and then they would have their slaves to start preparing dinner while they would do their hair, makeup and cloths so they could look beautiful for their husbands and dinner guest. If they were poor women there day was a lot different. They had to work everyday to help support the family and could not afford to have slaves. (3) The women in china were not allowed to gossip, and their cloths were very important because it showed their status.
They wore long tunics with a belt and usually a jacket. Their hair was long and it was considered to be disrespectful for them to cut it. Girls in The poor classes could be sold to be servants to the upper classes. If a woman was high in social status they were considered valuable in creating the marriage alliances for economic or political advantages. They still were not given any kind of power. (5) In ancient Rome and Ancient China the women were classified as second class citizens, however they did hold some important positions.
They had more freedom in religion than they did with men. Women in Rome and China were able to perform religious duties. The women of Rome had greater freedoms than women did in China. Chinese women were not allowed to have a significant role in religion, (6) Roman women had goddesses, women priest and Vestal Virgins Who took care of the sacred fire, and the sacred objects in the Temple. An example is the Palladium which was an image of the goddess Pallas Athena, which was believed to protect Rome. This was considered an honored position and one of the few a women was allowed to do. 1) Ancient China woman had goddesses also in some of their religions and were allowed to be monks in the Buddhism religion. They were never considered to be equal to the male monks. (5) It was not important for women of ancient China to have an education. They were also not allowed to participate in ancestor worship because they had to be loyal to their husband family. Their husbands were allowed to participate for this would show that they were loyal to there family. They were not allowed to hold any government office this was due to them not being able to take an exam. 7) Both Roman and Chinese girls did receive some education while in their homes, they learned to read and write. This was only allowed so they could teach their own children after they married. In China some girls were able to learn things form their fathers who were scholars but this was rare. This was frowned on because China did not want women to become too educated. In Rome the women were expected to teach roman culture to their children. Boys and girls in Rome received they same education so when they grew up it could advance a boys political career and girls would be able to teach their own children. 5) In ancient Rome they had many civilizations that were under their control and were considered to be a conquering nation. Rome expected that the customs, social classes, and their beliefs were kept. If the Romans conquered a civilization then the women were allowed to keep their place in society. (3) China was not a conquering country so all the women were all the same in their societies. In conclusion it is evident that in Rome and China from the studies of Ancient women that they had roles to play: daughter, wife, mother and a child bearer.
Their status was not that of a man, they were not allowed to vote, to hold a government position, get a descent education, to have their own identities, personal choices, or have a social position in their societies. Ancient women were overshadowed by men and always a second class citizen. Women were really not allowed to have much of a life; we can only wonder what they felt back then. Did they feel they did not have much of a life or was this they expected and knew no other way of life? We may never know the answer to this question, but can only hope that they had some pleasures in their lives.
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