|Julia Domina, wife of Septimus Severus (Severan Dynasty) |
was knownto be the power behind her husband's rule.
|Faustina, Marcus Aurelius' wife|
|Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi|
picture by mharrsch
|Claudia, daughter of Claudius |
|Agrippina the Younger|
|Little girl dressed for the day|
|of marriageable age|
|a young girl of marriageable age|
The primary duty of women was to bear children, being infertile was grounds for divorce. However, they were also expected to be the first teachers of their children. The responsibility of imparting Roman culture and preparing their children for citizenship was theirs. They did participate in politics but only in the influence they could exert on their husbands. There was however in 195 BC, the first recorded protest by women, where the women of Rome came together to support the repeal of the Oppian Law (prohibiting women from buying jewelry, passed during the wars against Hannibal with the support of the women at the time). They gathered en mass in the Forum when the repeal was being debated and were able to have the law abolished.
|Bath slippers very similar to our flip flops|
Roman women also took great pains with their appearance, putting on a foundation (which contained high levels of lead), lining their eyebrows with kohl and using eyeshadow made from safron among other things.
They also took a lot of time having their hair done, with the empress and other prominent women setting the trend.
Roman women's basic item of clothing was the tunic, similar to those worn by men but were fuller and longer. There were two types of tunic, the chiton, which was two pieces of cloth sewed together, leaving holes for the arms and then belted on the waist or under the breasts. The stola on the other hand was fastened at the shoulders leaving a sleeveless tunic. Married women would wear this on top of another tunic, to emphasize their respectability. They also donned the palla, a kind of cloak which could be pulled up to cover the head, when leaving their homes.
Roman women had some freedom. They could leave their houses, go to the market, visit with friends and other similar pursuits. They were also allowed to attend the games in the colloseum and attended banquets with their husband.
If little is known about Roman women's lives even less is known about the elderly women in ancient Roman society. Historical sources have put women's life expectancy (in ancient Rome) at birth at 20 to 30 years. If they lived to the age of 15, this went up to about 40 to 50 years. As I went around taking pictures, I came across these busts of two elderly women. I would put their ages at around 50 or so, but I could be wrong. This two look decidedly grumpy, I wonder why?