Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Sign in to follow this  
Guest spartacus

Womens Rights

Recommended Posts

Guest spartacus

I would like to start a debate on the Rights Roman Women had!

 

I know, for instance that they were seated at the rear in the Coliseum, which suggests to me that they had restricted rights if any!

 

As always, your thoughts please?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roman women had pratically no rights. They were excluded from political life and they had no juridical life(meaning that they shifted from their father's manus from theirhusband's one);this happened because according to men, they had an ignorantia iuris (juridical ignorance) imbecillitas mentis (...grr), infirmitas sexus,levitatem animi and many other negative sides. As a matter of fact education for a girl and a boy were often different, which may partially explain the imbecillitas mentis..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although women did enjoy more minor freedoms than in many other contemporary cultures. Socially, they were allowed many indulgences, it was the economic and political paths that were denied. Even still, there are known cases of women owning businesses and many managed their own households with complete authority. Obviously too, certain women of tremendous character could influence their men in political positions. Livia is a perfect example I think.

 

However, the growth of Christianity is one piece of proof that women didn't enjoy great freedom in Roman society. Its overwhelming popularity with people of the lowest social orders (which included women in great numbers), shows that they did indeed occupy a rather limited place in Roman society.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They did gain the right to divorce their hubands with most of their dowry intact. This is a right that upper class women in imperial times seemed to have used quite often. When Augustus took over, adultery and divorce in upper class society were rampant. He tried to curb it, but not very successfully. Semi-emancipated upper class women no longer played by quite the same rules. In fact, quite a few of them became rather influential in behind-the-scenes manners at the imperial court.

 

 

One scholar I have read insinuates upper class women had earned for themselves a considerable degree of social freedom by imperial times. Certainly not "women's rights" as we understand them today, but in comparison to some cultures like Greece, Roman women (at least wealthier ones) were not exactly chattel.

 

Lower class women were just that - lower class. It wasn't much fun to be poor in imperial Rome, no matter the gender. Christianity, the great proletariat religion, appealed to them even though it still treated them like second class believers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the paterfamilias had the right of life or death over his entire family - how could woman have any real rights ? I think it was a PP said, women had influence throught their husbands and sons for the most part, with minimal protection from the state from major abuses. That being said there were elements of religeon that gave certain women power - the Vestal virgins and the festival of bona dea, that men other than the Pontifex Maximus really had no power over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I've read, the power of death held by the paterfamilias, while en vogue during the early Republic, became increasing theoretical as time went on. The late Republic and Empire saw a lot of break down of the austere morality and rigid social codes from the early Republic (which is why the conservatives were always harping about it, for better or for worse). It seems to me the most important division in imperial times was social class/ wealth. A woman of wealth could assuredly get away with more than a humble male peasant in imperial times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×