Women in Late Republican Rome Communal and Family Power Political Upheaval and Social Change Punic Wars: 218-202 BCE: Italy invaded and occupied Husbands/sons serving in the military Hard times, impact on small farms
Civil disturbances: 120s-27 BCE Extensive infighting and proscriptions among the elite Marriage and divorce Sources Livy: Historian, c. 30 BCE Writes a standard history of Rome from its foundation Republican sentiments; embroidered with Livys reconstruction of events
(influenced by values common in his time) Polybius, c. 120 BCE Greek historian, writing an inclusive history, lived for a long time in Rome Other historians Sources Inscriptions Often funerary Show conventional values Specifics of lives
Comedy Plautus, Terence Based on Greek originals but with ideas specific to Roman experience An exaggerated, comic view but must relate to Marriage and Dowry What were a wifes or husbands legal rights over her dowry? Women apparently retained control over it, as we have
references to loans or gifts to husbands Husbands did typically use it and manage it, as evidence references to husbands who had a hard time replacing it when divorced Children had a legal right to it, 1/6 per child in the event of divorce The arbitrator [in a divorce] has the authority to
impose what seems good to him, if the woman has acted in any wrong or dishonorable fashion. She is fined if she drinks wine; if she has had a dishonorable relationship with another man, she is condemned.
Gellius, quoting Cato Economic Life Women engaged in marketing as a regular thing both free and slave Economic Life Professions: Pedagogue Personal secretary Hairdresser
Fishmonger An unusual female slave profession: gladiators. This plaque commemmorates the Grocer (in business with her husband) Porter Economic Life Wool-weigher
(market position) Seamstress; Weaver Fuller some of the slaves shown are Actress Musician Slaves and Freedwomen Womens personal slaves are predominantly female and
female slaves are often portrayed doing typically But most slaves described or referred to, even domestics, are male. Slaves and Freedwomen Catos Instructions to a slave overseer, regarding the hosuekeeper: See that the housekeeper perform all her duties. If the master has given her to you as a wife, keep yourself only to her. Make her stand in awe of you. Restrain her from
extravagance. She must visit the neighboring and other women very seldom, and not have them either in the house or in her part of it. She must not go out to meals or be a gadabout. She must not engage in religious worship herself or get others to engage in it for her without the orders Slaves and Freedwomen Slaves were not allowed to marry, though they could live in marriage-like relationships. A slaves partner was called a contubernalis, essentially, roommate.
Slaves had no rights over their children, and at any point either partner or children could be sold away As Catos passge reveals, from the other. masters could reward male slaves with wives, niether slave having much choice in the matter. Masters had sexual rights to their slaves. Though social disapproval and family issues were factors limiting this in
dominus ancillae Slaves and Freedwomen One measure of status in Rome was the large numbers of slaves the elite had attending and serving them. Elite women, as well as elite men, participated in this sort of display. Domestic slaves in rich households might have light duties but little Slaves and Freedwomen Slaves
attending their mistress and her daughter Slaves and Freedwomen Funerary monuments of freedmen and freedwomen often emphasize
mainstream family values. Slaves could be manumitted, either for a price or otherwise, and could buy the freedom of their children if the masters cooperated. Freedmen (and freedwomen) sometimes became Slaves and Freedwomen Lucius Aurelius Hermia, freedman of Lucius, a butcher of the Viminal Hill. She who went before me
in death, my one and only wife, chaste in body, a loving woman of my heart possessed, lived faithful to her faithful man; in fondness equal to her other Slaves and Freedwomen In life, I was named Aurelia Philematium, a woman chaste and modest, knowing not the crowd, faithful to her man. My man was a fellow-freedman; he was
also in very truth over and above a father to me; and alas, I have lost him. Seven years old was I when he, even he, took me to his bosom; forty years old - and I am in the power of violent death. Adornment: Personal and Political Limiting womens display:
The Lex Oppia, imposed during the Punic wars, restricted womens finery and withdrew the privilege of riding in carriages Taxes were imposed on wealthy womens property in particular (as individual rather than precisely related to the patriarchal concerns of
Adornment: Personal and Political Women cannot hold magistracies or priesthoods or triumphs or military decorations or awards or spoils of war. Cosmetics and adornments are womens decorations. They delight and boast of them and this is what
our ancestors called What viewestate. of womens womens (Valerius, value ininsociety and the Livy 34.7.8) outside world emerges here? The Lex Oppia,
instituted in the Punic War, was protested by women afterward Adornment: Personal and Political The ancient Trophy wife: Whenever Aemelia left her house to partake in womens processions, it had been her habit to appear in great
state, as befitted a woman who had shared the life of the great Africanus , , , Apart from the magnificence of her personal attire and the decoration of her carriage, all the . . . sacrificial essels and utensils were made of gold or silver, and were carried in her train in such ceremonial occasions . . . Adornment: Personal and
Political Sumptuary and morality legislation often focuses on women, and is often an issue in conservative declarations of socal control: Solons restrictions on Athenian womens display in mourning Islamic
fundamentalism If you will let them unbind each element [of social control] and finally be raised level with men, do you think that they will be tolerable? As soon as they begin to be our equals, they will be our masters . . . Speech attributed to Cato, Livy 34.3.2
Elite Women Political marriages Roles as mediators Julia Cornelia Servilia Octavia Education Moral guidance Fame (usually through deeds of her sons)
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