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Gender Roles in Ancient Rome

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Courtney Ross

on 18 December 2014

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Transcript of Gender Roles in Ancient Rome

Gender Roles n Anc ent Rome
Rate of childbirths began decreasing more and more to the point where legislation was put in place to reward it
Girls and Womanhood
Males in Society
Comprised all of the legal and governmental system, formed purposely to empower men
Women in Society
Some upper-class women owned property and had their own fortunes, sources of wealth
Women would only have 2 children usually because the mortality rate for the mother and child were increasing
~the heir and the spare
Male children were preferred for inheritance purposes, females were used for marriage alliances (political, economical, etc.)
Only male children were educated, except for royalty and select upper-class women
Girls were married off between 12-15 but often engaged earlier (statistical average- 14)
~these marriages were consummated, even if prepubescent
Girls were under the complete control of the patriarch in their family, this was only transferred when a girl was married off
Girls were taught by their husbands, family, and slaves how to act in public, private, and how to be a wife
Woman controlled the household but had little influence outside of the domestic realm
~few exceptions to this
Children could be born legitimate, illegitimate, freeborn legitimate, freeborn illegitimate, or as slaves
Some girls of upper class families became priestesses
The fate of women was not often their choice
Effects on Culture of
the Roman and Western World
Editing and composition of literary and legal works
Gender roles of Europe and the future Western World
~What if?
Most written texts on women are men writing about women, most Roman authors are male (history from a male perspective)
Women living in a man's World
Lower-class women worked various occupations, comprised much of the Roman middle class
~Bible, law, constitutions, etc.
Culture of Lust
Sex dominated many aspects of Roman life
Wives, Concubines, prostitutes, and slaves could gain political influence and power from their clients or relationships
~Caenis, Agripinna, Octavia, etc.
Phallic symbols and religious congruence
~Juno, Venus,
, Isis, etc.
Women began becoming more emancipated in the later Republic and early Empire due to private life legislation- always a limit
"Since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure."
~Augustus on wives
Adultery not permitted for women but
acceptable for males in most cases
~Comparison to Greeks (Spartans) and Etruscans
~great source of influence
In times of war MEN levied taxes against women for their "extravagance"
~pottery, paintings, etc.
~ex. Ashera, Mary Magdalene
Male dominated society effects health of women
~voting rights
~Why haven't we had a female President?
~vs. Hellenistic women
~prostitutes, tradeswoman, the occasional gladiator
~tried to keep law
Women are a reflection of their men
~Dowry and inheritance
~Male absence
~Sine manus
~In private women had influence over
men, in public had no control
Most writings from women are letters, typically to husbands or loved ones, or poetry from upper-class women
Wives usually outlived husbands, unless death during childbirth
~remarriage and widows
~Sexual capital of the Roman Empire or
insight into the true Rome?
~male-only government
~Results of the Empire
Religious concentration on masculinity and the male-dominated church
~patria potestas
~Catullus and Ovid
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