The dark side of the coin: working families in urban Rome
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Roman Economics is a subject area that is fast gaining momentum in the classical world. Although there are numerous studies regarding workers, economics and families, the scholarship is thin when combining all of these aspects to analyse family survival as a whole. With this in mind, we can begin to answer the question, how did urban families survive in the Roman Empire? The thesis revolves around skilled labourers and addresses not only men‘s financial contributions but women‘s contribution as well. To discuss these issues, we use material from an array of locations and periods. Any gaps in the evidence are approached using comparative studies.
The discussion begins with an assessment of the costs of living in an urban setting, food, necessities and housing all come into play with these expenses. We then move on to an investigation into the income and daily realities of ordinary Romans, primarily men. After the competition of this section, it is clear that a single income was not enough to support a family. Thus we move on to an investigation on women‘s contribution to the family income. This discussion focuses on craftswomen and assesses their contribution through a life stages approach. The overall conclusion of this thesis is that families survived through a combination of two incomes, and networks that facilitated their lives, both socially and financially.