Why Would Extended Families Live Together In Ancient Rome

Living in extended families was a common practice in ancient Rome. Through the centuries, this has been a key feature of the society. In ancient times, many families used to live under one roof since it was more practical and beneficial for all. Extended families had numerous advantages over nuclear families.

First of all, from a financial point of view, combined resources and expenses led to cost savings for the whole family. It was more affordable for families in ancient Rome to share a roof, rather than having to split up and maintain more than one residence. As a result, this enabled families to live in a more comfortable environment.

Secondly, extended families provided mutual support, in terms of children, taking on responsibilities, providing care for their elders and other duties. In the old times, when people could not depend on state or organisation, they could depend on their own extended family. Moreover, having extended family members around could be of great help.

Thirdly, living in extended families was a way to build a stronger extended family bonds and create a close-knit atmosphere. Families that lived together were able to form more intimate relationships with one another. Furthermore, sharing close quarters could also help to bring children closer and create a harmonious environment.

In addition to these advantages, extended families offer an easier way to preserve culture and tradition. This was particularly true in the case of ancient Rome, where they were highly valued and preserved. Extended families were able to pass down values, customs, morals and beliefs to the children. And in this way, the tradition and culture of Rome could be sustained.

Finally, living together in extended families gave children a sense of unity and belonging. Smaller family units provided children with a safe, secure and supportive environment. Most importantly, children got first-hand experience on how to be part of a larger society. All these added up to a clearer understanding of the world and how to be an active and contributing member of society.

Impact of Money

Money had an important impact on extended families living together in ancient Rome. People used shared resources, not only for the nuclear family but for the extended family as well. This enabled them to enjoy a wide range of benefits, from taking advantage of economies of scale, to ensuring the security of their younger and elder members of society.

For instance, when more people lived together in the same house, it meant fewer expenses for all. Not only was it more affordable to purchase commodities, it was also easier to distribute and divide the costs among all family members. Furthermore, a larger family meant more hands and less work. This was especially useful when it came to agricultural tasks and taking care of young children.

Moreover, the money and resources invested in the family were further spread out through the extended family. This was essential to make sure that everyone’s welfare was taken into consideration. It was easier to provide an equitable distribution of resources when living in extended families, thus guaranteeing that all family members’ needs were met, as much as possible.

Another important aspect is that money enabled more economic exchanges to happen between different family members. This enabled people to pick up duties, create special services, pass down skills through time, and perform important transactions. As a result, extended families provided more economic security and stability.

Social Aspects

Social aspects played an important role in the development of extended families in ancient Rome. In the first place, having members of the family living together was a way to create a social network. This had an effect both in the private as well as public sphere.

The members of an extended family typically tried to stay close to each other, and to assist each other in moments of need. This could mean anything from sharing resources to helping out with chores. In other words, showing solidarity between one and the others was essential.

On a larger scale, extended families were able to create strong ties between members of different families and branches. This helped to create trust among family members and to strengthen their ties. Furthermore, having multiple households under one roof enabled them to develop a greater sense of belonging and mutual responsibility.

Even more importantly, extended families played a role in social life within the neighbourhoods. They became an integral part of local activities, and the neighbourhood itself took part in the family’s way of life. This was an essential part of the culture, where gossip, traditions and rituals could be shared.

Another role extended families played in social life was in forming alliances and partnerships within the Roman Republic. This was done by forging strong ties between families, which further enhanced the social networks. This was not only beneficial for each family, but for by the society as a whole.

Political Significance

Living in extended families had an undeniable political significance in ancient Rome. The power and influence of an extended family could be explained by their wealth and social status. This enabled them to partake in political life and run for public office.

The politics of an extended family were determined by the number and magnitude of their alliances. In other words, being part of an extended family could influence a person’s capacity to ascend in the political stair. Moreover, an extended family provided a strong electoral base for the political candidates.

Additionally, extended families provided the ideal medium for publicizing their political messages. Through the family’s networks, candidates could reach a larger audience with their ideas and objectives. This was an effective way to solicit more votes and win more elections.

Furthermore, a large extended family could help increase the chances of forming good marriages, which was a key component in the politics of an era. Securing the future of the family was critical, and having a large extended family was an invaluable asset. This was of great importance for the extended family’s prospects and prosperity.

Finally, having large extended families was a way for them to ensure their power, by way of influencing the public opinion. This was done through their social and economic prestige, as well as the reputation gained by the members of the extended family in higher circles.

Gender Roles

Gender roles were quite relevant in ancient Rome. Men were typically in control of the extended family, as they were its political and public faces. Men were expected to take care of the finances and run the household. On the other hand, women managed the tasks of the home, as well as attended to the needs of the family members.

Having many members in an extended family was beneficial, as it enabled the division of tasks among men and women. Furthermore, women could also influence politics and public opinion through the networks of the extended family. This enabled them to be a part of the decision-making process and to express their views.

In addition, although women’s status was lower than men’s, in extended families they had more liberty and freedom of expression. Compared to leading a sole and solitary life, women who lived in extended families had more freedom and safety. Furthermore, this enabled them to better protect their rights and interests within the context of a larger family structure.

It is important to note that women were not completely dependent on men in extended families. They had their own rights and privileges, and their roles were invaluable in the life of the family. They took on many vital tasks, such as taking care of the children, and their contribution to the extended family was indispensable.


Religion was a major factor that impacted extended families in ancient Rome. The family’s faith was one of the most important aspects of their life. Religion was seen as a source of strength, security, and guidance. It provided comfort in difficult moments and brought meaning to life.

Most of the rituals took place in the family’s home. This ranges from daily prayers to festivals and holidays. Many of these religious practices were passed down from older generations, thus helping to preserve the culture and keep religious traditions alive.

Moreover, religious practices enabled members of the family to be closer to each other. Families could share religious moments together, by participating in special rituals and being part of the later discussions. As a result, this created a spiritual bond between them, which further strengthened the familial ties.

On the other hand, extended families allowed for more flexibility in religious practices. For example, if some members of the family had different beliefs, they could still practise their religion separately. This enabled different family members to have their own individual spiritual paths, while still maintaining a strong bond between them.

Finally, religion was also an essential component in the political realm. For example, it could be used a tool to help further the family’s interests or gain more power and influence. Ultimately, religion served its important role in the life of extended families in Rome, playing an integral part in its development.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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