Traces of the unfamiliar: epigraphic evidence for extended families on the margins in Roman Italy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Scholarship of the family in the ancient world embraces a group of people related by blood, marriage, law or custom: the nuclear family (a father, a mother, and their sons and daughters) or the extended family (kinship or tribal groups). Within the ambit of the latter category, careful study of the surviving epigraphic corpora of Roman Italy reveals certain groups of people who live together, groups that are similar to that extended group related by blood, marriage, law, or custom, but which have not often been directly acknowledged in the literature of ancient family studies. This under-examined category of extended family may be situated in relation to the etymological root of the Latin term familia, namely famulus/a (male/female slave); in other words, servile and freed groups living and working together within marked boundaries of industry, duty, companionship and affection. Inscriptions in civic, residential and occupational spaces identify the groups which display these relationships: fire-fighters in Ostia and the Roman capital; apprentices to service in the Palatine palace; and, of course, the servile familia within the households of republican and imperial Rome. This chapter will adduce a range of formal and informal epigraphic testimony to explore the extent to which various social groups in ancient Rome understood themselves in relation to the traditional markers of the extended family – legal formulations; kinship structures; marriage, divorce and children; and affective relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMediterranean families in antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationHouseholds, extended families, and domestic space
EditorsSabine Huebner, Geoffrey Nathan
Place of PublicationChicester, West Sussex
PublisherWiley-Blackwell, Wiley
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781119143703
ISBN (Print)9781119143727
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Traces of the unfamiliar: epigraphic evidence for extended families on the margins in Roman Italy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this