How have family relations been regulated through the ages by state institutions and laws? What impact did the advent of Christianity have on marriage? Were parents in the past less emotionally attached to their children? What changes have taken place in legal attitudes and practices toward adultery and "homicides of honor"? How has the position of women in the household altered over the millennia?
In this book distinguished contributors offer historical and anthropological perspectives on the Western family, focusing on family life in Italy from the Roman Empire to the present. Using methods that range from symbolic to quantitative analysis, the authors discuss a wide variety of topics, including matchmaking, marriage, divorce, inheritance, patterns of household organization, child-rearing practices, cultural and legal meanings of death, sexual mores, celibacy (banned in ancient Rome), adoption, and property rights. Through its unique combination of chronological sweep and geographical focus, the book is able to shed new light on central questions of continuity, change, and causation in family history.