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Growing Up and Growing Old in Ancient Rome: A Life Course Approach [Hardcover]

By Mary Harlow (Author) & Ray Laurence (Author)
Our Price $ 106.25  
Retail Value $ 125.00  
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Item Number 157650  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.66" Width: 6.16" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.98 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 28, 2001
Publisher   Routledge
ISBN  0415202000  
EAN  9780415202008  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 125.00 $ 106.25 157650
Paperback $ 48.78 $ 48.78 157649 In Stock
Item Description...
Throughout history, every culture has had its own ideas on what growing up and growing old means, with variations between chronological, biological and social ageing, and with different emphases on the critical stages and transitions from birth to death.
This volume is the first to highlight the role of age in determining behaviour, and expectations of behaviour, across the life span of an inhabitant of ancient Rome. Drawing on developments in the social sciences, as well as ancient evidence, the authors focus on the period c.200BC - AD200, looking at childhood, the transition to adulthood, maturity, and old age. They explore how both the individual and society were involved in, and reacted to, these different stages, in terms of gender, wealth and status, and personal choice and empowerment.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Contrary to the other reviewer, I thought this was a good read  Dec 12, 2007
The only problem I had with this book was that it simply didn't have enough information. And that's because the material we have is so scanty. The author, Mary Harlow, actually mentions how often she has to use Cicero's writings because that is pretty much all that's available.

So that means we have no real idea of the life of the slave or working poor. Still, even what is left is interesting. In the census of 73 AD there were 3 people who claimed to be 140 or older. (Or lying).

It's difficult to find out the actual life expectancy was in Rome, but Roman lawyers guessed that a man of twenty would need maintenance for 30 years, while a 60 year old needed 5 years. Anyone who survived to age 10--and it is estimated that only 50% did--had a fair chance of living to at least middle age.

Babies were tightly swaddled and given massages, including the nose (having a proper Roman nose was a great asset, especially to a politician). Medical knowledge was scanty. Amulets "for curing a baby's cough, was made by tying the dung of a raven with wool" (p 43).

The elite were frequently taken care of first by a wet nurse and then by a tutor. But there could be problems with tutors. One young woman was seduced by her pedagogue. "Her father, under the right of patria potestas...killed both his daughter and her lover" (p 45). Since virginity was important for a young woman, they were kept busy with plenty of exercise as puberty approached and it was also suggested that "Food intake should be kept low and wine should be avoided" (p 57).

Young men, on the other hand, were expected to act out sexually from age 14-25, which was a time of frenzy the Romans thought, that would end around age 25, when a man could be married.

Old age was not a happy time for the ancient Romans. A man who reached 60 could no long be a soldier, couldn't vote, and was told not to try to beget children. What exactly happened to women is less clear, although the literature of the time cruelly mocks the appearance of an old woman. Also worth noting: the honorable way to deal with the problems of old age was to refuse food.
Ageing the hard way  Mar 12, 2003
Learning isn't always easy or fun. This is an important book and one that people should read if they are seriously interested in the classical Roman world. You need to understand the social aspect of history as well as the fun stuff. Reading about wars, political rivalry, gladiators, legions, emperors, and the adventures of ancient Rome can be a lot of fun and can teach you a lot. However, if you are serious you have to read the boring stuff as well and this book covers that. I needed to know more about the life course of every day Romans and purchased this book to tell me about it. The book does the job, but it is an extremely boring read. The book covers everything from birth to death for both men and women. It covers how women were treated as children, young adults, wives, and finally mothers. The male side is a little more complicated and the book goes into detail of a boy's childhood and then young adult and joining the military, possibly a political career and marrying and divorcing several times for political reasons. There are some good examples of depicting the life course in Roman art that are in the book. Also, the authors have scientifically examined evidence on ageing and at what age they moved from one life course to another (i.e. young adult to senator or praetor). They have graphs explaining probability of survival at birth. There is a useful appendix as well showing the various ages at which different classes of people moved from child, adult, parent, and grandparent. I enjoyed the authors take on being old in Rome. Old people were looked down upon as no longer mattering when it came to politics or a social life. They were expected to just stay home and live out the rest of their years quietly. Cicero married a very young woman at a very old age and this was looked down upon as well. An old man marrying for love was something to be made fun of because people married more for money and political alliances versus love. In this case Cicero did marry for money because he needed to pay debts, but the marriage only lasted a year. As I said earlier the book does a good job of explaining the life course, but falls short of being entertaining, but learning isn't always fun.

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