Roman Women The Early Republic
Early Rome Traditional Foundation by Romulus and Remus: 753 BCE
Rape of the Sabine women • Rape and marriage – repeats traditions of marriage by rape • Marriage as helpless experience; need for myths that show both violence and resolution? • Purity of first women (Roman women as chaste, not outlaws) 88 BCE
Rape of the Sabine women • Feminization of enemies and allies; Rome in masculine role
Rape of the Sabine women • Marriage as transfer of loyalty to husband’s family Livy: Historical account Ovid: Eroticization of the rape
Rape of Lucretia • outstanding pudicitia not outstanding beauty – or, industry as arousing • she can receive visitors alone (though it is dangerous …) • violation of her honor – reputation? humiliation, losing “face”? • what kind of response is suicide?
Rape of Lucretia • husband’s attitude that she is not guilty, only the rapist (while under Greek law, woman is still punished equally for rape or adultery)
Rape of Lucretia • woman as inspiring the revolution – her suicide makes vengeance completely mandatory • symbolism of women’s authoritative voice (like Veturia and Volumnia)
Veturia and Volumnia • Mother’s moral authority • Women symbolize the land, the birthplace, the home, the unchanging (unlike political turmoils)
Vestal Virgins • Aristocratic girls, chosen in childhood • 30 years of service • Exempt from tutelage • Have masculine privileges: making wills, etc. • Feminine task (guarding the flame) but on a civic level • Sometimes heroic action (guarding the flame in the Gallic invasion)
Vestal Virgins (Atrium Vestae): view from Palatine
Vestal Virgins (Augustus): “He increased the numbers and dignities, and likewise the privileges of the priests, and especially the Vestal Virgins. Once, when a Virgin died and had to be replaced and many parents tried to keep their daughters from being picked by lot, he swore that is one of his granddaughters had been the right age, he would have offered her.” (Suetonius)
Vestal Virgins Julia Aquilla Severa, wife of Elegaballus, former vestal Virgin
Verginia • not the actor in this story – her father is • point about virtue over life – a value both are expected to share • as elsewhere, important development in Roman history (writing of lawcodes) connected with an abuse that required fixing
Cloelia • girls rarely hostages • courage as a girl’s virtue too – usually heroines are matrons who influence men . . . (like Veturia and Volumnia) • military honors – rare but there was the model. Hellenistic queens? • Something in Roman culture that favors this image (Camilla in Vergil)
Roman Names Men have three names: e.g. Gaius Julius Caesar Personal name Gens name Family name There were only about 10 personal names to choose from. Women have one name: the feminine form of the gens name: e.g. Julia (of the Julius gens), Clodia (of the Clodius gens) Sometimes a woman might be known by two names, e.g. Clodia Metella (Clodia who was married to Metellus)
Roman Women: Concepts • Familia: like Greek “oikos,” the household, under paternal authority. • Pudicitia: “modesty,” but even more, a kind of centered self-restraint that has strength and moral conviction behind it, reflected in appropriate behavior.
Roman Women: Concepts • Paterfamilias: The male head of a family, who retained power over it until his death. • patria potestas: “Paternal authority,” the (officially) life-and-death power of a father over all his children, until his death.
Roman Women: Concepts Paterfamilias and matrona united
Roman Women: Concepts Images of the Roman family show the importance of the bond between husband and wife.
(identity contested; see Valerius Maximus, Memorabilia 6.7.2): two fragments of a marble plaque with inscribed text, beginning [U]XORIS, dedicated by a grateful and admiring husband. 1st century BCE.Baths of Diocletian, Rome. Credits: Ann Raia, 2005
Roman Women: Concepts • Manus: legal authority over children or (in some cases) wife • Sui juris: “legally responsibe for oneself,” rare for women but attainable in some circumstances. • Tutor: Like a Greek kyrios, the tutor handled public business for the woman in his charge. • Tutelage: reliance on a tutor
Roman Women: Concepts Gens Essentially, “Clan,” or extended family with the same clan name (e.g. “Julius” or “Claudius”). Matrona: A married woman, with all the expectations of behavior and authority involved Univira: “one-man” or “one-husband” woman who does not remarry after being widowed
Clothing palla over stola
2 women stand on left with girl child; 2 males, holding scroll, one holding patera, stand on right with boy; center: aedicula ( house or mausoleum) with slightly open figured doors, flanked by nude, crowned boys
Proserpina Ceres Religion
Religion Personified concepts
terracotta relief of ships, monuments, divinities.Vatican Museum, Rome. Credits: Ann Raia, 2005