The reproductive health of women in ancient Rome

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

Non-elite women are more or less invisible in the ancient Roman society. There are few possibilities to find out anything about their reproductive health by ancient sources. My project is to try to compare Rome, by analogy, with some African countries with a social and economic structure in certain ways similar to Rome´s.

To us it seems evident that reproduction is basic in society and also a measure of it´s social and economic status, which means that the care of women and children is one of the prioroties in society. We know that the ancient Roman elite understood that as well as we do. There are sources such as laws encouraging fertility, epitaphs over dead wives or children, criticism of abortions,literary evidence of sorrow and desperation when young women died giving birth and advice from doctors concerning care of women and children.
It is difficult, however, to find sources about the attitudes of men and women not belonging to the elite since they have not left any documents of their lives.
My project is about them. I will try to understand Roman women better by comparing them with modern women, naturally considering the cultural differences. I have chosen African countries with a social and economic structure as similar to Rome´s as possible. I am convinced that women´s reproduction is universal and timeless enough for me to make some conclusions.
Effective start/end date2011/09/012018/12/31