The extent of the patria potestas during the High Empire: Roman midwives and the decision of non tollere as a case in point

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Abstract

This article examines the legal aspects of child exposure during the High Roman Empire. It considers the relationship between child exposure and the legal authority of the paterfamilias over his household members and, more specifically, asks whether the decision to expose a newborn belonged under the exclusive jurisdiction of the paterfamilias. After demonstrating the various ways the Roman law curtailed the authority of the paterfamilias in this matter, most notably, through the growing medical authority embodied in the figure of the midwife, I shall examine the meaning of this dilution of the private sphere of domestic jurisdiction both legally, and from the perspective of social history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-229
Number of pages17
JournalMuseum Helveticum
Volume74
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2017

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