Talk:Pater familias

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Classical Greece and Rome (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is part of the WikiProject for Classical Greece and Rome, a group of contributors who write Wikipedia's Classics articles. If you would like to join the WikiProject or learn how to contribute, please see our project page. If you need assistance from a classicist, please see our talk page.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Latin (Rated C-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Latin, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Latin on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the importance scale.
WikiProject Men's Issues (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Men's Issues, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Men's Issues articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

"The Latin form 'patris'"[edit]

This is (was?) a very absurd idea. "Pater" is Latin, "patris" is its genitive. Velho (talk) 01:58, 6 April 2009 (UTC) From my talk page: Dougweller (talk) 15:33, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

It´s the same meanning you can find on Oxford English Dictionary. Jackiestud (talk) 13:56, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
pls do check the same source at the Oxford English Dictionary. Jackiestud (talk) 14:00, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
The OED in my lap says the English word pater comes from the Latin word pater and that pater familias comes from the Latin meaning father of the family. It does not link either with the word 'pagan' which you are trying to do, it says 'pagan' comes from the Latin 'paganus'. Dougweller (talk) 14:09, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Ok, but where does pater come from? Comes from patris, which in latin and in my mother language, portuguese (latin), means country, village (pagus, pagan)!! In portuguese we say patria or pais (or paese, or pagus) for country! What for you may saound strange or new for me is obvious. Jackiestud (talk) 14:18, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
But even your source does't back that up [1] -

the English word pater

derived from the Late Latin word pater (father)

derived from the Greek word pater, πατήρ (father; a 'father' (literally or figuratively, near or more remote))

using the Proto-Indo-European prefix pəter- (father) You still haven't undone your edit, and if you don't you will probably be blocked. --Yes but you can slo see there are many derivatins, and they all point to patria (or country) or paese. Jackiestud (talk) 14:36, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Dougweller (talk) 14:31, 6 April 2009 (UTC

Look again, you have it backwards, patria comes from pater. Pagan is from a different rootăgân.html Dougweller (talk) 14:43, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

  1. --As ou can see country for paese
  2. --For pagan --pagus (village; country district, community, canton)
  3. --And pagan from paese also --paganus (pagan; countryman, peasant; pagan; of a pagus; rural). Jackiestud (talk) 14:47, 6 April 2009 (UTC) --Here, ou can see it better: the Late Latin word patria (native land; home, native city) derived from the Late Latin word pater (father) Jackiestud (talk) 14:49, 6 April 2009 (UTC) -Patria, pais (country) are synonymouswith pagan. Jackiestud(talk) 15:10, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Patria comes from pater, yet you wrote in your edits "The word pater comes from latin word patris so is this a change of mind? You then make a jump to paese which is not so far as I can see etymologically related to pater. You don't seem to have found an etymological relationship, and paesa comes from pagus, not the other way around. And right or wrong, you broke 3RR and I am asking you to revert so you won't be blocked. Dougweller (talk) 15:29, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Redirect from 'paterfamilias'[edit]

This page redirects from 'paterfamilias', but 'paterfamilias' is also a legitimate English word with specific meanings. This should be indicated or cited somwhere. The definitions given by Mirriam-Webster are: " : the male head of a household 2 : the father of a family 3 : a man who originates or is a leading figure in something (as a movement, discipline, or enterprise)" Janopus (talk) 12:57, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Done! The Ogre (talk) 16:22, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Why revert?[edit]

I think the changes I made turned the article into a much more accurate, and significantly more balanced article. Wikipedia shouldn't give people information that would lead to a failing grade on a test, and the sources I gave are university grade and above, and are regularly assigned when studying Roman Society.

So if no objections are made I will restore the edit, since it could be undone, and wikipedia shouldn't give an inacurate image. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ScriptusSecundus (talkcontribs)

As I wrote on your talk page, the text was copyright and had to be removed. And you can't just paraphrase either, see WP:PARAPHRASE. Large chunks of copied text rarely improve an article in any case. Dougweller (talk) 16:38, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

In that case would you allow me to rewrite based on the sources I used but not just paraphrasing or copying? Those sources are very authoritative on the topic of Roman Law and Society, and on Patria Potestas especially Gardner.

At the moment I'm concerned only with copyright violations. I've got the ability and responsibility to prevent those, but so long as there are no copyright violations anything else is probably going to be editorial decisions - in other words, you write using your own language and citing reliable sources (you do need to look at WP:CITE to learn what's expected), and then see what other editors (if any) think about your edits. And please don't forget to sign your name with 4 tildes (~). Dougweller (talk) 18:22, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

Thank you, I will b e significantly less lazy in future edits, and I already removed the link to women in rome, and the link to honor killings, Patria Potestas was equally relevant to males as to females, and the last examples of fathers who killed their children by excercising that right far from being seen as protectors of society (an essential in an honor killing) got prosecuted. Not all articles have to link to other topics, there are unique things in history. --ScriptusSecundus (talk) 03:21, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

inappropriate tone tag[edit]

To the editor who's writing in the manner of "Who was a Pater Familias? Well he was your legitimate father provided you are the product of a lawful marriage": If you are new to Wikipedia, could I suggest that you take a look at some of the Featured or Good articles presented by WikiProject Classical Greece & Rome? Click here to find a list. It might be helpful, and avoid unnecessary clashes with other editors, if you familiarized yourself with what's expected in terms of writing style and citation. Chariot racing is a pretty fun article. Interesting and a fresh take on a topic: Roman trade with India. Clearly and confidently written on a narrowly defined technical topic: Velites.

On this particular topic, you might want to check out what the Cambridge Ancient History has to say. I see, however, that you are already using A Casebook on Roman Family Law, which is a good source. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:35, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Thank you Cynwolfe, the reason A Casebook on Roman Family Law is my favorite of the sources is it provides a very high level of direct translated sources in ways anyone can understand. I will check out the Cambridge Ancient History.

Velites I'm not sure what your objection to that section is exactly, is it not enough sources, or the tone? If it is the tone I could just fix it to try and make it less offensive. --ScriptusSecundus (talk) 23:20, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

It's the way you've written it. As Velites CyneWolfe suggests, read some of our best articles and use them as a model for the style of your writing. Dougweller (talk) 06:43, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Hang on a tick, guys. "Velites" is one of the articles recommended by Cynwolfe as an appropriate model for clarity. Scriptus, it strikes me that you use the same tone of voice in the articles as on the talk-page. That's fine for the talk-page but not for articles, which should not presume to address the reader in person, or the readership as a collective. It really would help you to slow down and carefully read the articles that were offered as examples. Your enthusiasm and drive are undoubted - you're probably quite a memorable public speaker. Building an article's quite a different affair. Regards. Haploidavey (talk) 09:33, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think Haploidavey is making the right distinction. Wikipedia articles should be worth printing out and referring to: worth "publishing." Talk pages are more like texting or tweeting or email.
I see why typographically my first note is confusing: I was linking to three articles from the Project list I thought would make decent examples of writing style and weren't too technical, and it came out looking as if Velites was a signature. But do, Scriptus, check out those or other articles on the Project list linked above, and try to make your writing more like that of other articles classed as "good". Cynwolfe (talk) 13:58, 22 September 2009 (UTC)


The article is not salvageable in current format. It needs a historical approach, and this requires complete re-organisation and re-writing. Has to be done. Will do. Haploidavey (talk) 01:26, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

Go for it. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:16, 24 September 2009 (UTC)


Over-reliance on legal sources, whether primary or secondary, inevitably gives articles [which purport to describe a social institution] a legalistic bias and distorts the subject. It too easily implies the crude, nonsensical idea of Roman family as a legal instrument of domestic and gender oppression and the paterfamilias as a near-absolute petty tyrant. To be fair, anyone attempting to reconstruct our own societies from a handful of law books would come to different but similarly bizarre conclusions about ourselves. It would be far more useful to regard the law as a prescriptive commentary on extreme or morally doubtful circumstances, and a guideline for inheritance, duties, responsibilities and what-have-you: law is not the subject here. There's a lot of useful material available on Roman law, and quite a lot of it's relevant to this article but can we think outside the nosebag? Haploidavey (talk) 11:24, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Another aspect of Roman law, like law in the U.S., is that many archaic laws were still "on the books," but not enforced — particularly since in Rome you don't have police as such (the tresviri under the praetors have some police functions). If someone wanted to embarrass a political figure, there were a number of statutes used to do that, but somebody had to be motivated to bring a charge. As for "family law," I have no idea how that would be enforced or adjudicated. My guess is that by the later Middle Republic, customary law pertaining to the paterfamilias mainly had to do with contracts, property, and inheritance. A grown son couldn't enter into a contract unless he was emancipated from his father, or specifically empowered (like a power of attorney?). I also suspect this has to do with "adult adoption" or testamentary adoption — if you were 'adopted' by some rich geezer without an heir shortly before he croaked, or in his will, and your birth father was still alive, that must've been an improvement in your legal status. The paterfamilias seems like a survival of social organization based on clan or tribe, because of Roman traditionalism. Instead of dying out, the family hierarchy becomes part of the complex social fabric.
And here's an aspect of arranged marriage (though this is more pertinent to the subject of women in ancient Rome) that gets overlooked: if women weren't 'important,' if they were only regarded as chattel, what use is arranged marriage for political purposes? In a slave-owning society that is as politically and socially complex as Rome, it makes no sense to imagine that you're handing over your aristocratic daughter merely for the sexual use of her husband, or to keep house. The potential husband can buy, or pay for sex from, beautiful women trained in the arts of entertaining; he can buy skilled household help specialized in whatever tasks. What he wants from a wife is someone who can ease his way socially and politically — she presumably knows the ins and outs of her family's politics, for instance. Someone who's a good manager of their family "business," who can run the show at home when he's off fighting a war or governing a province. This is precisely why Roman women were educated — they were expected to participate in society in important ways.
So I agree that an emphasis on legalism can obscure realities. Both Cicero and Caesar plainly loved their daughters; Cicero in particular was heartbroken at the early death of Tullia. Caesar's mother played an important role in shaping his political career (and indeed in saving him from Sulla), as his father died when he was only 15 or so. On the other hand, there's Augustus's treatment of Julia ... .Cynwolfe (talk) 14:49, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
Useful talk there and insightful as ever. Tullia is why I like Cicero, really (yes, that's a very naive reason to like someone). A couple of questions, dealing from the bottom of the pack - I take it you're talking about the Julia the Younger Elder!! (as per Marsyas and the plebians, which still draws me like a fly to jam) - do you know of a critical modern account? I ask because this seems to have been one of the "Sorrows of Augustus" and a matter of regret: on the other hand more than one Augustan Julia seems to have been severely treated. As to the mutual advantages of adoption, Octavian's by JC is forefront - and thereafter several emperors of course - but if you come across others who started lower (ideally quite a lot lower) down the social ladder and climbed higher through the mechanism of adoption into the status of paterfamilias and on to the middle rungs, a note here would be much appreciated. Haploidavey (talk) 13:28, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Don't think they used adoption for social climbing much; more for property exchange and the perpetuation of name and image. Clodius Pulcher infamously used adoption for the reverse of social climbing. A Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus didn't really have anywhere to rise to; the Bruti are pretty much the cream. I think the appeal for the adoptee would be property or being emancipated from your living father. Sometimes one brother was adopted and the other remained part of the original family; for examples, see the Metellus Scipio who was consul in 52 BC with Pompey (his brother adopted by a Crassus), and Marcus Marius Gratidianus (adopted by an uncle, I think). Scipio honored his adopted "father" with funeral games; the preservation of memory is one reason for these adoptions from the POV of the adoptive parent (though Scipio wasn't really adopted). Yes to Augustus's sorrows, too; but I'm sticking so much to the Republic these days I don't have sources to toss off for the Principate. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:51, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. That's plenty to be getting on with. Haploidavey (talk) 10:54, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Sources: partial previews via googlebooks -

Walbank, F., (ed.) The Cambridge ancient history, Volume 7, Part 2, (reprint of 1989 revision) [2]

Scullard, H. H., A History of the Roman World, 753 to 146 BC, (reprint, 2002) [3] Haploidavey (talk) 15:12, 10 October 2009 (UTC)


Editors keep trying to exclude the form paterfamilias. It really can be found written as a single word. Examples of RS include: Richard P. Saller, Patriarchy, Property and Death in the Roman Family (Cambridge University Press, 1994)[4]; and Suzanne Dixon, The Roman Family (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992)[5]. And innumerable others. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:23, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Note also that citing critical editions in which paterfamilias is written would not be original research: textual critics' usage of the form is scholarship in itself and perhaps even more significant than the fact that we rank-and-file classicists use the compound.  davidiad.: 00:44, 27 July 2012 (UTC)