CLASSIC 20 Fall - 2000 The Women of Ancient Rome

CLASSIC 20 Fall - 2000 The Women of Ancient Rome - The...

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Unformatted text preview: The Women of Ancient Rome Classics 20- Professor Gurval TA: t 23 October 2000 The Women of Ancient Rome The stories of Lucretia and Verginia written by Titius Livius i 1 his Early History of Rome not only exemplify the ideal woman with chastity, honor and i1 mocence as pivotal characteristics but more importantly the ideal Roman cifizen. Tradit onally, women have "-—w-—~~- H .7 amt-er dram we. m w” _m-- 4--*"' """" _ m "u "m" m *--a -__ ..., m, ., _. V _ _, _______W‘ __V_L_.d)flfl+ been] glorified as [either resplendent beings to be celebrated and I'EVE] ed orftheflcause f u/ 31-4 shred turmoil and revolutionary changes. Chastity, honor, and respectability are virtues truly Fem appreciated by the ancient Roman culture. In fact they demanded it upon their women. in i'VC (fidvakl (A Wit-1V9" ? Mi ‘TFC W 1A Lists} P- r'i-J““ "in ,';- [I‘M fiano« L e mfafimLf 61‘ 3‘14 (A H7; either case revolutionary changes usually occur when the purity of a culture’s women are in bmt oveohtc . question. During the reign of Augustus, Livy wrote his history in o: 'der to cease the moral tho/Mmiér we, ll degeneration of the Roman [pubicl Too many people were corrupt a 1d corrupting those around them, whether they were men or women. Howevér, the tale thark a turning point for Roman politics in that Roman officials, whether they are the son of the king or a decemvir, are put to task because of their immoral and passionate c1 irnes against the virtues t/ of the Roman republic. The stories of Lucretia and Verginia, althou gh different in terms of character, both exemplify the ways in which crimes of passion influe :nce the political changes of ancient Rome. Tr. < luau pr, at?) LA- i, Loni/CT Jami Paar m hr? H c Mai NT rare-mm , mi J‘w I N ‘ . d Pf: ,r‘ rip. ( \J'\-:‘:(\*T.C{ ‘ Livy writes Roman history for one main purpose, to stop the decline of the _,__fi ') I’Y‘urL yW-‘FOK ta .51 j M... g ,1 LA M, \(c ( degeneration of the Roman people is the cause of Livy’s intense character analysis. He uses C 7 “5 ‘L’i‘i'lirf ' Lita-17 @n order to intensify the need to rema and just, for@ is wl rat sets the Romans apart from their barbarian neighbors. The virtuous qualities of honor and courage in men and await; ‘SJHQS r‘ chastity and innocence in women are held in the highest regard. Nt rt only was Livy tryin%to a A» \ “sch/inf-“ stbp the moral decling but he was also trying to show the world ho w wonderful Rome is. In Roman people. With a corrupt government ruled by corrupt patrici an the faces of Corruption and the loss of innocence, Rome is able to ov ercome obstacles and persevere against all odds to become the greatest empire in the histo: y of the world all FER {"Alnuhaghyr—q J 70x because of the morality of the greatest people in the history of the ye 11:. MC; {D (My?! ,m Chkl‘t t7 2 _c\oac MIT“ “ll-t ick‘f’ Lucretia exemplifies the ideal Roman wife in that she was a model of chastity an honor. Upon arriving unexpected, Lucretia's husband and his fellovr friends found her hard at work while the other men's wives dined and danced in their husb and’s absence: "Lucretia [was] very differently employed: it was already late at night, but the .‘e, in the hall of her house, surrounded by her busy maid-servants, she was still hard at ‘ vork by lamplight upon her spinning" (Livy, The Early History of Rome, Book 1, Chapter 57, pg. 98). The rape of Lucretia by Sextus represents the dishonoring of everything good at ,d wholesome about the Romans for it was the women who mdgcjeefly upheld the morality for which the Romans prided themselves. Her honor is of utmost importance to her, riskir g death at the hands of Sextus before dishonoring her husband or father. In this regard she is actually acting with more typical male characteristics than a woman for while women w: are expected to remain virtuous, males were the ones who acted uponiheir virtues in order to protect the women. She remains calm and collected throughout the entire episode and r; itionally thinks through the repercussions of her actions as well as those of Sextus: "As for n e, I am innocent of fault, but I will take my punishment. Never shall Lucretia provide a precedent for unchaste women to escape what they deserve” (Livy, Early History of Rome, 3- )ok 1, Chapter 59, pg. 99). Not only does she feel her life is worth nothing if she is unable to remain virtuous and chaste, but she is unwilling to allow her actions to pardon those wh ) commit adultery and (Kath/- Ml 5 Q dlhd la l—l (- b 7 d'te ("D at, (3 HA , dfb :- JV! Pl Livy also uses the story of Verginia and Appius in order to show the Romans how 9' WT 9" [1'9" cry rape. She alone takes on the responsibility of keeping wom/Gn-h ood pure. immoral their society has become. As opposed to Livy's characterization of Lucretia as a . . . . . K . model Roman Wife, he portrays Vergmia as an mept, passrve and Vt eak wompn Without any L7 Cs‘flgidw s32 “W CL:{‘§‘( "C-WCr—Gj 1’— '7; true redeeming qualifies besides being a modest virgin. However, sl .e does deny Appius ‘7 upon catching his eye with her beautylibut he is unable to sway her 1 vith honeyed words or material gain. Yetkwhen her honor comes into question, she does nc thing to stop or stall [’7 do at rail... Mos) ? to at g} le rfc chem Appius' plan nor does she react one wzfy or another to her freedom leing revoked. Livy does not even name her until a few pages into the story, proof that 51 1e is not to be included (stair/5L0 was in mm a, Mel. into the same category of feminine virtues as Lucretia. [email protected] on h r father to save t (-— an 1w +35%)C f low if“) her virtue and as a result@ killed by her father in order to protect her chastity whereas Lucretia took it upon herself to commit the ultimate sacrifice for hon 3r. Livy also portrays her inadequacy through her lack of speech throughout the story; she remains mute without a single word to either condemn or deny the allegations brought forth against her. The fact that Verginia is not categorized as morally honorable and chaste as Lucretia does not mean that Livy condones the actions of Appius. She is still an innocent W1 :men who has been Pt Ef L—KAW wet «- Vfimwx .3 Web t PJ} bwi’ P0 U I f wronged at the hands of a corrupt system. “If N W (30rqu ($643, N m (“.7 wax“) a” dim I The presence of emotion is an important trait intertwined be1 ween the two stories in that Roman civilization was one based upon pride, courage and aosi but also passion. In the stories of Lucretia and Verginia, ironically, it is the men who 1 eact in a more N ‘ l A3534 cm iuz WN(”\IJM -’ ; Keel-h" .3 mm H mm” "womanly" nature by acting on their hurt and vengeful earn gs. A“: ter the both the rape of Lucretia and the murder of Verginia, the men use their emotions in )rder to change the policies of Roman politics. The Romans were people with strong m Jral and religious beliefs and values; when either one of these condemned, major political change is not very far off in the future: “Long before [Verginius] reached the camp, he could be seen because the crowd of some four hundred citizens who accompanied him out of iympathy for his lacerated feelings; his naked weapon still in his hand, and his clothes were covered in blood” (Livy, The Early History of Rome, Book 3, Chapter 50, pg. 237). The p icture of a bereft father, still reeling from the loss of his innocent daughter due to the corrupt on of the Roman ‘ Again a Small/vi” l -- govemmensis enough to cause the mob reaction and gain the support of the Roman public. W'J’V Pomf In the case of Lucretia, the tyrannical rule of the Tarquirixs res ults in the dethroning and the exile of the king, his wife and their sons: "By this girl's blooc - none more chaste till a tyrant wronged her- and by the gods... never again will I let them 01 any other man be King in Rome” (Livy, Early History of Rome, Book 1, Chapter 59, pg. 99). Brutus uses Lucretia's UL)? suicide as a means to change the tyranny of Rome; no longer are; the Dto sit back and watch the Roman soldiers who idealize Roman bravery and honor be used as slave labor in order to Wu 7 we pm’ach ole ti cm W? bettel' the lives ofJ the aristocra nor sit and watch while a daughter lrives a cart over her (lawn-cl father. The definite violations of the most worshiped yelafionships r evered by the Roman public are the true reasons for the revolution against monarchy, yet without the rape and 1+0Q :9? M a“ f“ suicide of Lucretia, these events would have transpired in a much (1: fferent manner. era—ft? W4 Luz/(WK 5hr") 5A) Flam ‘hwfln? Similarly, the attempted rape of Verginia caused a massive revolt against the powers of the decernvirs and the corruption of the government. What was obviou sly supposed to be one of the many acts of corruption of the Roman government turned on : to be another turning fin LVN—L (IL! r1 “£51.36 {mi/4| at) a. [ LI} WWI—l ’1" 70M (I? SiACJ"‘r—&\E\’\ In \j‘tfi‘rflcl (a 2A “(3" fl»; (")1 , 10 {krd)-thr » - j .1 Ur Livy also uses the story of Verginia and Appius in order to c )ntinue this Roman ideal 7 77 of virtuosity and chastity and overcome the corruption of the Roma 1 government. Again, point in Roman politics. here is a young, beautiful woman whose virgin qualifies are being t' u’eatened by those who should protect them. Although Verginia is not actually raped, nor does she represent the 7 fix Ell” bra a cl , same qualities of purity to the same extent as Lucretia, she symboliz es the death of innocence in Roman society. Verginia is a young woman, not yet married, and still under the wing of r? mind) (ll—f, opt?) {drive her father and fiancee, and yet, Livy writes 0 this incident and the impact it has on Roman 7 politics. The entire Roman population, plet‘ians arid patricians alike , acted as one person and \/ Wis"! (“4 4W4“) OE ill-w Imp“ deserted the city as a result of the lack of protection for those who are chaste and virtuous: “Who would protect them now, in a city where there was no respect for chastity or freedom” (Livy, The Early History of Rome, Book 3, Chapter 51, pg. 240). Witho 1t innocencel Rome i would be left to the corrupt and the greedy. 513 am } MT’J m. (1'an Q OL'Lr For‘d—h [The stories of Lucretia and Verginia are more of a microcosm ic version of the situations occurring in Rome. 5 Livy writes in order to delineate the moral degeneration of 2") or Frill-if}, mod" f-‘i r raft“ L H47 Roman society and yet, ironically, he uses virtuous women, women $21110 envelop all the qualifies they revere and hold sacred. On a macrocosrnic level, them: women not only represent the virtues of the Roman republic, they represent the Rom an republic itself. Symbolically, the rape and suicide of Lucretia and the murder of Vel ginia parallel the history M4 mutt/«J (f, (lbw-NJ? Hmwm H, of Rome itself. Once a city of innocence and pure motivations. it fell to corruption and civil war only to rise again into its full glory much like the initial innocen ce of the women, the debauchery, and then the revolutionary changes of the stories. With the vast amount of St: "ll-Q 245wa at [d Q—e--,m."z\' J We LOW»! knowledge and known history of ancient Rome, thanks in part to Li ‘2', these two imes of Of (Am? passion against Roman ideals led to revolutionary changes in the politics of the Romang ‘i 4‘ P1 jold pater/,6 Uan mdthQJMJ c2» Mwaf A bwmlll. Maw 7-2 l prV (j {if " (Ki-Asvvndp hi5”) Well {)anfih . l Wimp/[,3 RE Wakvljffi) } {Mai-ems ADM“- i ' .. v-MLQ ,3 {—U‘ L, loam-J? 5 l»; ) (\A\-L ncC-r- .- L) laud iffifiL-fl. 70Lf MAl-75\) N é wlf’eC-J Q AD r ...
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This essay was uploaded on 02/21/2008 for the course CLASSIC 20 taught by Professor Gurval during the Fall '00 term at UCLA.

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CLASSIC 20 Fall - 2000 The Women of Ancient Rome - The...

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