The Paterfamilias in Roman Law

By: Anavitarte, E. J.*

Roman private law was organized around the figure of the paterfamilias, who had to be a Homo Optimus Iure person, what means, he had to be free, citizen and not under the authority of anyone else.

The paterfamilias was the absolute owner of everything that was within his family unit, being able to dispose of it and also directing private religious life, as supreme priest.

This patriarchal figure with such wide powers is a normal evolution of the first forms of Roman tribal organization, where a chief-father directed all the affairs of his tribe-family and precisely this is the reason for the very particular kinship system by agnation, typical of Romans.

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