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Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society

Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society: Women and the Elite Family

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 444
  • Book Info
    Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society
    Book Description:

    Judith Hallett illuminates a paradox of elite Roman society of the classical period: its members extolled female domesticity and imposed numerous formal constraints on women's public activity, but many women in Rome's leading families wielded substantial political and social influence.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5532-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-2)
  5. I The Paradox of Elite Roman Women: Patriarchal Society and Female Formidability
    (pp. 3-34)

    The women’s movement of the 1970s has heightened a long-standing scholarly interest in the women of the Roman elite during the classical era—a period extending from the late third century b.c. through the early second century a.d. Yet this newly heightened interest has done little to connect the study of elite Roman women with the study of the elite Roman family during the same period. The separation of Roman women’s history and Roman family history into two fairly discrete areas of research mirrors a separation between women’s history and family history generally, a separation which the distinguished American historian...

  6. II Women of Elite Families and Roman Society
    (pp. 35-61)

    When investigating the political involvement and social significance of women in ancient Rome during the republican and early imperial eras, one can easily accord insufficient importance to a basic fact:¹ women did not generally become politically involved, or even bulk large, in Roman society unless they belonged from birth to upper-class Roman families, families whose male members held positions of public authority and prestige, and families which often possessed sizable fortunes as well. To be sure, ancient sources at times also downplay this fact, de-emphasizing a woman’s family connections while stressing her sex, and the technical incongruity of its entry...

  7. III Filiae Familiae
    (pp. 62-149)

    In his second oration against Verres, delivered in 70 b.c., Cicero provides vivid testimony to the high emotional valuation of daughters, and the role of daughter, by Roman fathers, even fathers (like Cicero himself) with male children. “What,” he asks the men assembled, “has nature wanted to be more pleasurable to us (nobis iucundius), what has nature wanted to be more dear to us (carius) than our daughters?” In the proemium to hisDe Rerum Natura, Cicero’s contemporary Lucretius employs Agamemnon’s slaying of his daughter Iphigenia to illustrate the unspeakable evils caused by religion; in so doing, he accentuates the...

  8. IV Sorores Familiae
    (pp. 150-210)

    In attempting to provide an etymology for the wordamita, “father’s sister,” the Roman scholar Festus far-fetchedly links it withamare, “to love”:amita dicta est, quia a patre meo amata est, “she has been calledamita, because she has been loved (amata) by my father.” His explanation, however, deserves serious consideration. “For sisters are generally more cherished by brothers than brothers are cherished by one another, obviously because sisters are such different kinds of individuals—they are less prone to discord, and therefore to invidious competition.”¹ In this chapter we will examine this bond which Festus perceived as so...

  9. V Matres Familiae
    (pp. 211-262)

    Varied evidence testifies to the political influence, social esteem, and general cultural importance of mothers and mother-figures among the classical Roman elite: some of this evidence has been dealt with in chapter two, which discussed women’s sociopolitical impact; some has also been treated in chapter four, which discussedamitaeandmaterterae, paternal and maternal aunts. Sources from the classical era additionally ascribe influence, social esteem, and general cultural importance tomatresin Rome’s monarchic and earliest republican periods. Indeed, the influential, esteemed, and important roles assigned both actualmatresof the classical era and their fabled predecessors of Rome’s earliest...

  10. VI Some Cultural Perspectives on Ancient Roman Filiafocality
    (pp. 263-346)

    In seeking an explanation for the so-called paradox of upper-class Roman women’s perceived social significance and political influence during the classical period, we have investigated women’s roles in the socially significant and politically influential upper-class Roman family. We have argued that women were not only valued, and hence likely to become formidable and respected figures, in their families of birth (and for that reason those in which they gave birth) but also valued initially and primarily in Roman society as their fathers’ daughters. The term “filiafocal” has been coined to describe the manifestations of this Roman phenomenon: affection and other...

  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 347-362)
  12. Appendix: Genealogical Tables
    (pp. 363-380)
  13. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 381-397)
  14. Index of Historical and Legendary Persons
    (pp. 398-412)
  15. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 413-422)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 423-423)