Roman Women


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Roman Women Journal for Latin 2 10/6/2005

What I Learned

Roman women played an important part in the Roman society. I learned that the ideal Roman woman was one who took pride in her children and the household and was faithful to her husband. I heard about the story of Cornelia, a Roman mother who took more pride in her children then in her possessions or education. Cornelia was more famous because her relation with her family then her personal traits.

Roman daughters were under the complete control of their father or the oldest male in the house. Some girls were educated, I was surprised to learn, but many were not. At age 12, girls would be married out by their fathers to husbands that they may or may not like. Marriages sometimes were made to make political alliances between the two families.

Once a Roman woman was married, their husband now had complete control over her. This control was loosened up over time, but still husbands were superior to their wives.

During the day, a woman’s responsibility was to have children and look after them and raise them. Also she controlled the slaves and the household. She even had control over the family budget. However, she was still just an object of her husband. Her behavior reflected onto her husband.

When a Roman woman had children, it was very dangerous. Many children died while young and many mothers died giving birth. Also, wealthy mothers let their slaves look after children. The German women were the opposite of this; they personally looked after their children.

Roman men in the upper class often were not totally faithful to their wives. They often got under the covers with prostitutes and their slaves. Women were, however, still expected to remain faithful and overlook their husband’s visits to other women.

Men also expected their wives to be good entertainers and just plain-good sex objects. They were expected to dance and play the lyre.

Some Roman women joined other religions that offered responsibility and power. Many made them feel better then the boring Roman state religion.

Also some men regarded woman who made too many advances to different people or who know too much about male-dominated fields to be dangerous. They were afraid women would take over things that belonged to males. Also, some women tried (by murdering) to get their sons into power.

Personal Response

The Romans had two basic views on women. During the day, a woman should be a good mother and run the house well. After dark, they needed to provide fun and be accommodating when other women provide the man’s fun.

Women were clearly in a support role for the Roman society. They were necessary for the empire to continue, though they did not control it or have any say in how it was run. Also, by running the house and raising the children, Roman women allowed the men in society to succeed. Their work allowed men to focus on running the empire, and make life better for everyone. They also allowed great philosophers to work uninterrupted and let generals fight great battles without having to worry about their kids, their house, and their slaves.