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The family has played a central role in most societies, and the complexity and variety of that role demonstrates there is no single definition or pattern of the family in any society. Recent studies of ancient Rome have shown that the sentimental ideal of a core nuclear family was strong throughout the period, but that reality often diverged from the ideal. This study examines many aspects of the composition and inner workings of the Roman family, and provides an illuminating case study of the sentimental ideal versus everyday reality. In addition, Rawson considers the effect of divorce, high mortality rates, status, and fostering on the family in ancient Rome.