Roman Women

Facets of everyday Roman life, from food to travel to petkeeping. "How did the Romans...?" answered here!

Moderator: Aldus Marius

Roman Women

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Sun Sep 15, 2002 3:25 pm

Salvete,


I read a lot about Roman Women. But some of those books state that women were threated as minor to men, others say that women were treated as very important. What is true? How did Roman women live in their daily life?

Valete,


Locatus
Quintus Claudius Locatus Barbatus
Rector
Princeps Gentis Claudiae
Consul
Senator
Patricius
Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2002 6:32 pm
Location: Gent

Re : Roman Women

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 10:51 am

Salvete Locate aliique,

The image of Roman women confined to their homes and subject to the harsh will of an omnipotent pater familias dates from the early and classical republic, although there must've been exceptions to this situation.

Female emancipation was a slow process beginning in the Classical Republic, when a law by Cato Maior to repress extravagance in female clothing and luxuries was retracted after mass protest by Roman women.

In the late republic, and certainly in the Imperium, women continued to gain more independence. Think of Clodia (Catullus' Lesbia) with her debauched, individualistic lifestyle, esp. after her husband Metellus died (poisoned by his own femme fatale ?).

In the Imperium we can draw up a list of iron ladies asumming the powers of their husbands-emperors : Livia (who dominated both her husband Augustus and her son Tiberius), Messalina (Claudius' consort), Agripinna (Nero's mother) etc. ..

Under the foreign Severi emperors, there was even a literal dynasty of empresses, often directing their male relatives in their Imperial administration : Iulia Domna, Iuliae Moesa, Iulia Soemias ... who were the women behind Septimius Severus, Caracalla (/ Geta), Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus...

Just throwing in my 2 cents that is. Comments, additions, questions ... ? Feel free :!:

Valete,

Atticus
Quintus Pomponius Atticus
Praetor

"Ars longa, vita brevis" - Hippocrates
Quintus Pomponius Atticus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 500
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 6:03 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon Sep 16, 2002 12:11 pm

Essentially, women in Rome were second-class people (although less so than in Greece). But as Atticus noted, certainly in imperial times and in the late republic a lot of influential women play a significant role in Rome (even though I disagree that Augustus and Tiberius were dominated by Livia).

The big problem with determining the role of women is that we have no woman who wrote about her own situations, feelings or activities, since most of them were illiterate. It is certainly so that in later times some women could also achieve considerable amounts of money and a high status. Also, as is visible up until the 20th century in all mediterranean countries, men are nominally in charge, but in the household women rule supreme. I believe that matresfamiliae had similar privileges.

Also don't forget about Etruscan women. Etruscan women were looked upon by Roman men with a mixture of fear and respect. By their cultural background, Etruscan women were as free as a man (arranging marriages for their sons!). Especially Cato appears to denounce this (but hey, what did Cato not denounce), saying that the wife of the first Etruscan king of Rome was also carried around in a chariot, a privilige only men could hold.

Scorpio
Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
User avatar
Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1618
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:04 pm
Location: Belgica

Daily life

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 12:33 pm

Salvete,



Thanks for your replies.

I would like to know more about their daily life. Could women go shopping on their own? Could they actually go out on their own? Could they have propreties on their own? And did have women value without their husband?

I heard a lot on prostitution. Were women more then their body? And what did religion say about women


Valete,


Locatus
Quintus Claudius Locatus Barbatus
Rector
Princeps Gentis Claudiae
Consul
Senator
Patricius
Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2002 6:32 pm
Location: Gent

Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 2:01 pm

Salvete!

Some internet links on this subject can be found at about.com:

http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/ancientrome/


Also, Chapter Four of Carcopino's "La Vie Quotidienne à Rome à l'apogée de l'Empire" (Daily Life in Ancient Rome) covers this subject. If you would like to read this part, Locate, I have the book, so just ask for it :!:

Valete bene
Publius Dionysius Mus

No Spartiate soul left alive to tell
How bravely they fought
By treason they fell
(Ancient Rites - Thermopylae)
User avatar
Publius Dionysius Mus
Eques
Eques
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 11:55 pm
Location: Belgium

Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 3:02 pm

Salve Locate,

Atticus is quite right about this, the Classic Republic began at 264, with the first Punic War. This obliged Rome to build a navy and meant the start of their conquest of the entire Mediterranean area (concluded in 133 when Pergamon joined the empire by testament.

Besides a giant territorium increase, the Romans also acquired vast numbers of slaves (when Octavianus turned into Augustus, therer were 3 million slaves in Italy alone...).

For a prosperous familia in Italy this meant that slaves now did most of the tasks previously reserved for women, who had more spare time on their hands now. During this period the conquered Greece also conquered Rome and was a giant influence on the life of the richer Romans. The law of Cato that Atticus mentionned (the Lex Oppinia) is an example of the duality at that time in Rome between the Scipiones (pro-hellenos) and the conservatives around Cato (anti-hellenos). However, the amazing part is that Cato Maior had to withdraw this Lex Oppinia under the pressure of the Roman women (makes one think about the Lysistrata :lol: )

Of course this was only the case with prosperous familiae, who could afford slaves, emancipation for the women of clienteles, beggars or slaves was close to non-existing at that time.

Vale bene
Lupus
Marcus Pomponius Lupus
Iurisconsultus
User avatar
Marcus Pomponius Lupus
Eques
Eques
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:40 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 9:10 pm

Salvete
I'm just trowing my voice into this discussion but from what i know is what was said here before. Roman wome gradually saw their status changing in a good way but from what i know, this right was a privilige only the patrician and rich women gained. Others probably didn't have this. I think i read this in a book soemwhere about the every day life in ancient rome.
I will look for it tomorrow when i go to the library.
But i stay with what i said. This change was only for rich women.
Valete optime in pace deorum
Sokarus Aurelius Orcus
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Rector ColRel
Rogator
Princeps gentis Aureliae
User avatar
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 937
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2002 5:05 pm
Location: Ghent, Belgica

Roman women

Postby Diana Moravia Aventina on Mon Sep 16, 2002 9:36 pm

To add a shallow reply to the discussion, I think that a lot of a Roman woman's fate depended on the character of their father or husband, much like it is today. If you have a domineering husband, you have very little freedom and if he's a pushover, you can get away with a lot more :lol:
Diana Moravia Aventina
 

Postby Marce Moravi Horati Pisci on Sun Sep 29, 2002 4:00 am

Salvete omnes

The status of women, and what liberties they had relative to men differed among the various social classes. I would suggest that women of the middle and lower classes enjoyed more equality than did their sisters in the upper classes. Forms of marriage that prevailed among the lower classes changed quicker than for upper class women. Women could choose their husbands, and divorce much more readily. Women could own property, and while a limit on how much property women could inherit was made during the Republic, this did not effect women in the middle and lower classes. Women did have careers, in many cases working alongside their husbands, but also on their own. We know of some who were doctors, merchants, craftsmen, owning their own shops. Life in ancient times could be brutal for both men and women, and women certainly had no advantage then anymore than now, but I think conditions for Roman women at least was much better than one would think.

Could they go out on their own? Yes, to shop, for entertainment, for religious ceremonies held exclusively by women, at night, even though attempts were made to proscribe such activities. They could own property and could also administer it if unmarried. Otherwise the husband usually had charge of his wife's property. and women could have lovers, even if married. What was frowned upon was being in a subordinate position to a person of lower class, and that applied to men as well as women.

Valete
Moravius Piscinus
Marce Moravi Horati Pisci
 

Back

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Mon Sep 30, 2002 11:37 am

Thanks, Marce!

Great to see you here!

I don't have to explain how much we missed you, I guess :roll:


Loc
Quintus Claudius Locatus Barbatus
Rector
Princeps Gentis Claudiae
Consul
Senator
Patricius
Q. C. Locatus Barbatus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2002 6:32 pm
Location: Gent

Gratias

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Sep 30, 2002 2:00 pm

Salve mi Locate

It is nice for me to have finally managed to arrive. Now I am trying to get use to this new list. Nice job you aediles have done bringing us here. Gratias

Vale
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Victoria Aurelia Ovensa on Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:32 am

Quintus Aurelius Orcus wrote:Salvete
I'm just trowing my voice into this discussion but from what i know is what was said here before. Roman wome gradually saw their status changing in a good way but from what i know, this right was a privilige only the patrician and rich women gained. Others probably didn't have this. I think i read this in a book soemwhere about the every day life in ancient rome.
I will look for it tomorrow when i go to the library.
But i stay with what i said. This change was only for rich women.
Valete optime in pace deorum
Sokarus Aurelius Orcus


If this was true, it would be different from almost every other case in history. It is usually the rich, upper-class women who have the most restricted lives, because they are all about "appearances". Think, for example, of the way aristocratic women are portrayed in England of the last few hundred years, versus how lower-class women are portrayed. Same thing in Imperial China and Japan, too.
Actually, though, now that I think about it, maybe it's more a matter of middle-class women... because the poor don't usually worry about such things, they are too busy working and playing, and the very wealthy of course can very often do as they please and flout any conventions they like... but the ones in the middle, the "Joneses", they are the ones who get stuck with convention (never mind that they are also partially responsible for its creation and perpetuation).
Victoria Aurelia Ovensa

Cave ab homine unius libri...
User avatar
Victoria Aurelia Ovensa
Socius
Socius
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:49 am
Location: Idaho

Postby Q Valerius on Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:00 am

The patrician class had more privleges than the plebeian class, male or female. Patrician women gained rights through monetary achievement, like Cornelia mater Gracchorum.

As far as legal rights go, I don't think history does present the underclass with more than the nobles. Money begets power, not poverty.
Q Valerius
Eques
Eques
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 7:06 am

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:02 am

Salve

If this was true, it would be different from almost every other case in history. It is usually the rich, upper-class women who have the most restricted lives, because they are all about "appearances". Think, for example, of the way aristocratic women are portrayed in England of the last few hundred years, versus how lower-class women are portrayed. Same thing in Imperial China and Japan, too.
Actually, though, now that I think about it, maybe it's more a matter of middle-class women... because the poor don't usually worry about such things, they are too busy working and playing, and the very wealthy of course can very often do as they please and flout any conventions they like... but the ones in the middle, the "Joneses", they are the ones who get stuck with convention (never mind that they are also partially responsible for its creation and perpetuation).

That is not the case with Roman women. It was the case with Greek women. The more wealthy women couldn't leave the house without a male relative. A man had to be present at all times. Basicly to the Greeks, women were nothing without men. Sure, the Romans had a similar belief, but at least their women had more freedom than their Greek counterparts.
vale

Quintus
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Rector ColRel
Rogator
Princeps gentis Aureliae
User avatar
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 937
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2002 5:05 pm
Location: Ghent, Belgica

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:59 pm

Widows could run the business of their deceased husband like some kind of a shop or workshop etc. This would be a middle-class woman. Most probably no women opened some kind of business on her own.

But on the other hand there were female medicae, not only midwives but renowned medicae who did not just have the knowledge about typical female illnesses but about illnesses in general. And they were as much accepted by the society as male medici.

True is that women couldn't participate actively in politics but I guess many were good advisors to their husbands.

It's funny that you, Aurelia, brought up this subject esp. since I just finished reading a recently published book in German dealing with Roman women. It's called "Lebensbilder römischer Frauen" by Andrea Rottloff, published by Philip von Zabern Verlag, ISBN 3-8053-3546-6
Cleopatra Aelia
alias Medusa Gladiatrix
User avatar
Cleopatra Aelia
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 353
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:57 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germania

Roman Gals in Power Suits!

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 am

Salvete omnes,

Mi Aelia, I was just going to mention the apparently woman-owned businesses of Ostia, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and other such places...in Rome too, I'd imagine, unless the capital was too stuffy for that. As these were part of "street-life", no written record of them exists that I know of. But there are enough funerary inscriptions and bas-reliefs showing Plebeian businesswomen at their work. (Some of these may be seen in our Avatar Gallery.) The ladies in these reliefs do not always have male help present; in at least one of them, the oldest guy on the premises is an eight-year-old boy!

There are also one or two examples of learned women in the later Empire (Patricians, I would suppose) who were respected teachers in fields such as law and mathematics. Seems gender roles changed as much as everything else in the span of twelve centuries...

In amicitia et fide,
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
User avatar
Aldus Marius
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 2173
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2002 3:16 am
Location: Within hailing distance

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Sun Sep 03, 2006 8:42 pm

The book mentioned in my previous post states a female grammar teacher called Hermione who lived in the 1st century in Egypt. They had found her mummy with a portrait which was typical for that era. Because of the inscription on that portrait they know her name and profession.
Cleopatra Aelia
alias Medusa Gladiatrix
User avatar
Cleopatra Aelia
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 353
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:57 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germania


Return to Collegium Vitae Quotidianae

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron