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More than mothers and wives. A study of women's public roles in Roman society between the fourth and second centuries BC

Chavarria, Sophie (2022) More than mothers and wives. A study of women's public roles in Roman society between the fourth and second centuries BC. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97036) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:97036)

Language: English

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This thesis has collected and investigated for the very first time a large variety of source- materials that underline women's public roles and agency between the fourth and second centuries BC in the city of Rome. By doing so, this research project demonstrates that women's statuses were not solely defined by their roles in producing children and supporting husbands.

Starting with a brief overview of the social context of the Mid-Republican era, the second chapter delves directly into early epitaphs and highlights how women made undeniable contributions to the establishment of their city and the Roman civitas. Moving on from the study of women's memories, the third chapter focused on spatial analyses proves that women did not only move in private settings but could hold influential positions in public. A lengthy fourth chapter discusses wide-ranging approaches to the female body as well as its performances in sacred environments, thus showing that women were understood as key protectors of their city. The final chapter breaks down the boundaries between the different female social categories and challenges the parameters commonly accepted as defining a person's reputation in Ancient Rome.

Through the close examination of transmitted sources which have yet to be studied carefully for what they reveal about women, this thesis has thus shed new light on the many facets of women's identities during the critical times of the Mid-Republican city. Instead of focusing on the preponderant literary figure of the feminine exemplum (ideal), one of the many rhetorical devices favoured by ancient authors, allusions to 'ordinary' women have been tracked down. The evidence compiled and analysed for this research plainly sustains the view that a woman's reputation did not solely rely on her family roles, particularly those of a wife and a mother.

For the sake of this work, sources are brought together in a new way and their substantial amount, illustrated by a seventy-six-page long appendix, contributes to reconstruct a more vivid, realistic, and less stereotypical image of women in Republican Rome. The evidence goes well beyond the well-known works usually adopted in this kind of research, such as the comedies of Plautus and Terence along with Cato the Elder's agricultural treaty, to include satires, palliatae and togatae whose texts are only partially preserved, as well as inscriptions, visual representations, and more widely material culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lowe, Dunstan
Thesis advisor: Wibier, Matthijs
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.97036
Uncontrolled keywords: Republican Rome; Women's History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D51 Ancient History
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2022 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2022 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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