The Romans were not sentimental about family.  Every noble Roman family had a paterfamilias, "father of the family", who directed the actions of every other member of the family, including the slaves associated with that household.  It was his job to decide whether or not the newborn children of a household should be allowed to live.  Blood relation was simply not enough for the Romans; it was a conscious choice to keep a child.  Unwanted children were aborted in the womb or left outside the house or in some other public spot to die.   Most of these unwanted children were picked up by passing slave traders and never knew of their true parentage.  If a child were born deformed, it was either exposed (in the way explained above) or drowned.  The Romans abhorred weakness in any form, and they saw deformity as an extreme weakness.
       Shortly after birth the "kept" children were handed over to a wet nurse slave, who would basically function as a mother to the child.  Children rarely interacted or formed a relationship with their birth mother in the manner we do today.  Children saw their parents mainly at mealtimes, where they were expected to be very formal.  Parents left the affection to the servants, who usually spoiled their child masters.  The nurse, in conjunction with a pedagogue (tutor), was responsible for the child's early education.
        At the age of twelve the lives of wealthy boys and girls diverged.  Boys continued their educa- tion, while girls prepared for marriage, an event that usually occurred during their fourteenth year.



ABOVE:  A typical Roman family consisted of a paterfamilias, his current wife, and three to four children.

BELOW:  The mistress of the house entertains