chapter  7
9 Pages

THE EXTENDED FAMILY

The extended family has been generally ignored in recent studies of the classical family, an almost tacit acceptance of the notion that the Romans considered family, as we understand the term, a nuclear one.1 This in part is due largely to the living patterns of family throughout the Roman Empire: Brent Shaw has shown that the nuclear family had been the general model of organization since the late Republic.2 In previous chapters, too, we have tried to show that in both the classical and late antique world, emphasis was placed on what we call immediate relations. Whatever the precise reason, extended kin have not been greatly emphasized. Be that as it may, there was an equal notion that familia transcended the nuclear model, and could include quite disparate kin and non-kin alike. Domestic slaves and freedpersons of course were among the most visible members in a household, and we will discuss their role in the following chapter. Yet we know that extended kin frequently played a role in family life and in some cases dictated behavior and custom. Accordingly, our aim in this chapter is to make manifest the nature of relations between those individuals whose sanguinity may have been distant and had infrequent contact with one another.