Master (Paterfamilias)

The paterfamilias was the father of the family and his role was to protect the reputation and wealth of the family and pass it on to a new generation. He was the oldest male in the family and everybody in the household was under his control, even his adult, married sons. Technically he had power of life and death over his family – he was within his legal rights to kill any member of his family, whether wife, child or slave.

 The rich paterfamilias based himself in his town house, where he could see his clients, win political office and generally show off his wealth. But he probably made his money in the countryside, by owning large estates worked by slaves. The land around Vesuvius was very fertile and used for growing grapes which were made into some of the most famous wines in Italy.


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