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The Roles of Women: When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

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This paper I will discuss the roles of women in Ancient Rome. I will argue that women were active members of society and because of this, had a big impact in the society of the Roman Empire. Ancient Rome has been known to be an important topic in history due to the fact of it being such a large and influential civilization. In today’s world, it would not be the same if it was not for the ancient Rome’s action. The Romans pretty much formed this history, and that gave a big impact on the whole world. The Romans had an impact on the present-day government’s systems, laws, arts, literature, languages and also religion. The significance of this all is something hard to even deny. Also, it is unfortunate that most of the works and sources we see today are written by men. It seems to look as if people have failed to show sources about women in the ancient Rome. It is very common to see that women’s roles and achievements are not talked about in detail the way they should. Even though the Roman Empire was a very on-going and un-biased state for that time, women had by far very different rights and opportunities than men did. Women were not able to be a part of the political life. they were not even able to vote or get elected. Even though this was not even open to them at the time, it most definitely did not stop them from playing important roles in everyday life of the ancient Rome. It very known that the main roles in the society were being wives and mothers. That is true, but there is also more that would be good to know too. The role of women as well as their influence in Rome was extremely different in a way, and it is usually forgotten or not brought up. Women have basically had less power and rights compared to men in pretty much all the ancient and modern civilizations, however, it is important to realize that the women made about half of the population in Rome and their role in politics, science and arts, and even in the outcome of the wars is highly significant. Moreover, they left a big impact on the history in their own unique way. Although it is made like these women didn’t accomplish much, there were still who gained a lot of success. This paper will dig into the role of women in the ancient Rome and touch in some areas to prove their significance and influence that they had on the civilization and society.

First, women had an extraordinary impact on religion practices in ancient Rome. It was one of the only areas where women had their own positions and power that men in fact did not have. Since the vast majority of the history is based off of ancient Rome, a lot of history is cut off the part when it comes to the information on women’s work in religion. The involvement of women in Rome could still be proven by the sources that historians now have in today’s world. Ancient Rome people were very into religion. As the result, it had a huge and important effect on their civilization and history. A quote that I found said “The Romans hoped, if not expected, that the gods would hold up their end of the arrangement if Romans did what was demanded of them.” (Davies 2008) and they believed that what was demanded is doing special religious practices. This idea gives you an idea on how the Romans took religion in a serious way. A lot of these things regarding religion involved women and could not be done if it was not for women. I would say that females affected this, which Romans thought affected their lives and well-being directly.

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Antient Rome had a special role for women in religion. It was something that was very influential and respected in the community. Vestal virgins had been a big chunk of the religion and impacted families, marriage and relationships. “The vestals were vowed to thirty years of service as virgins. Ten where they had to learn, ten of doing performances, and ten of presenting to others” (Stevensen 2011). The vestals were picked. They had come from noble families. They were even severely punished for going against rules. Romans carried a lot of respect for these people, and even a big amount of religious rituals depended on them. Women may not be allowed to vote, but it is important to know that they influenced the society through religion. This in fact proves that women still had their own kind of power in ancient Rome

Even though, many think that ancient Rome women had just two options which were being mothers and wives if they were married, or being virgins who devoted their lives to serving Roman gods, it is good to understand that there is more to them then just that. Men in fact could not be occupied in all the professions that were in need in Roman society. There were jobs that the men also sometimes did not want to do. Moreover, a lot of women had to sustain themselves and their family. “As a result they adopted jobs such as midwives or hairdressers, while a few women worked as acrobats or dancers.” (Davies 2008). It was not only the un-wealthy women who worked, rich individuals were able to have jobs too for example, the ones that required having background and education. However, the women’s options were restricted to jobs that men have left for them. Most of these options were the ones that were connected to women ‘s needs, for example being female doctors. This job is still of course a very complicated and significant job. They ended up covering the way for women to practice medical procedures in future, because even though they were female doctors, they performed complicated surgeries, treated many diseases. They were known to have done a lot of discoveries on feminine health and reproduction. These women were still not considered medicine experts. In conclusion, this does prove the fact that women’s professions did have some influence in ancient Rome as professionals even if they were not recognized for it.

successful women were shown to poor access of power in Rome. “These people were thrown out from all official participation in public affairs, even as voters, senators or magistrates; the only do-able exception was priesthoods. This is where they were taken as Vestal Virgins” (Stevenson 2008). They still were citizens and also were involved in the population by showing how politically involved they were. Leaders and rulers were only of men, but they still had their wife’s and daughters by their side helping support them. This shows that women were able to give off their own influence by counseling, maybe manipulating or even helping male politicians and governors to make important decisions in ancient Rome.

Later on in Rome, things changed and it came to the point where not everything women did that involved politics was “hidden”. Later on women started to gain the opportunity for more public roles. For example, the Second Punic War. This was something that played a big role part in making the Roman empire. When that time came, women were actually able to come out of the darkness and start to fight for rights. Even though such female organizations did not last for too long without a male’s protection, it still proves that women have history of being politically active in that time in Rome. Literature and arts have always been a big part of any society. It is actually a need of spiritual development and also entertainment. Arts of ancient Rome have had a big influence on Rome. This has helped form a foundation for a lot of ways and techniques in ancient Rome. In things that come from ancient civilization, there is a lot to get to learn when it comes to women. For example, Sappho, Corinna and others too. The problem is that there really is only one ancient Roman female poet that is actually well known and that would be, Sulpicia. Just because we don’t hear much information about the others, it does not mean that she is the only women in Rome who has written something. This means that only this persons works are shown and are being read today. There are ancient Roman poets who are hidden today, the role of women in literature could possibly be more important than we think.

Ancient Rome was such a big influence. The purpose of this paper was to prove the fact that females indeed a part of society. They even were involved in the Roman Empire. Although women had less opportunities than men, they still stayed in tune in political and social life, no matter how they had to. The amount of professions they had were limited, but still female doctors, lawyers, poets and Vestals were highly respected and put a big influence in ancient Rome. Through all of the inequalities, they were still citizens of their state and stayed engaged in what was going on in their place. The women did care about their children and homes and they also had care for their state too. Women were the ones who helped male rulers and those in power make important choices. They even helped take part in political groups and even the wealthiest ones. Women’s role in ancient Rome is often a blur to people, but that does not mean that it should not be learned about more.  

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