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Many died in childbirth or because they were weakened from having too many children without reprieve. (3) A funerary inscription to a woman named Veturia provides a good example of this: she was married at eleven, gave birth to six children, and died at twenty-seven. (4) Women were expected to have as many babies as they could because they were never sure how many of the children would reach maturity. (5) Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, gave birth to twelve offspring, but only two boys and one girl survived. (6) Aristocratic families wanted male children to carry on the family name and lineage, (7) and expected their wives to be perpetually pregnant. (8) Infertility was actually grounds for divorce, and women would often offer a divorce so that their husbands would have the opportunity to have children with someone else. (9) Women from the lower classes would not be expected to have as many children because they did not have the means to support them. (10) These women may also have worked outside the home to help support their families. (11) Their husbands would still want a son to carry on the family name and if they were a rural family, to help work on the farm.

Pages: 328

Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 20, 2004)

ISBN: 0521604303

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