Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 November 2022

adoption, Romanlocked

adoption, Romanlocked

  • Adolf Berger,
  • Barry Nicholas
  •  and Susan M. Treggiari


Adoptio is a legal act by which a Roman citizen enters another family and comes under the *patria potestas of its chief. Since only a paterfamilias (see patria potestas) could adopt, women could not (except in later law by imperial grant). When the adopted person, male or female, was previously in the paternal power of another, the act was adoptio; when a male who was not in paternal power but himself the head of a family, it was adrogatio. Women could not be adrogated. Both acts involved a deminutio capitis minima, a reduction of legal status.Adrogatio fused two families, for with the adoptee (adrogatus) all under his power (potestas, manus) and his property pass into the family of the adopter (adrogator). In early times adrogatio was publicly validated by a vote of the curiate assembly, preceded (since it extinguished a family and its cult) by an investigation by the pontiffs; by the time of Cicero, 30 lictors represented the curiae (see curia (1)).


  • Roman Law

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription