Secondo il mos maiorum, la virtù del pudor vincolava le donne nella dimensione privata. Norme e tradizione impedivano loro qualsiasi ruolo istituzionale, militare o civico. Eppure le condizioni precarie e molto particolari della Roma del II e I secolo a.C. sconvolsero temporaneamente i confini fisici e soprattutto ideologici della domus, consentendo alle donne di agere in re publica, un periodo temporaneo ma estremamente significativo per l’azioni femminile, quanto per la vita politica e pubblica dell’Urbe. In un tempo di violenti scontri intestini, gli uomini furono allontanati dai luoghi del potere in tale numero e con una sistematicità tale da far sì che le loro mogli, madri, figlie e sorelle si trovassero nella condizione di sovvertire l’ordine pubblico nel tentativo di sostituirli o supportarli. Spesso tali interferenze femminili con la vita pubblica terminarono con la delegittimazione, altre volte il vincolo della pietas giustificò l’operato delle donne, preservandone l’immagine. Questa raccolta di saggi ha il doppio scopo di definire un fenomeno molto complesso e contemporaneamente di esaminare la condizione femminile al tramonto di un’epoca di trasformazioni.
Each of the ancient Roman matronae was given, from the sources available to us, a
special type of praise: Lucrezia the modesty, to Marzia gravity, the ardor of married Porcia,
a sober “festevolezza” to Claudia, to Giulia the grace. One of “Cornelia” is praised
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for the strength and generosity of spirit, the other for the sweetness of manners and
words. Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, is described by Tacitus as an example of the
ideal mother, who raises “good children”. As this pattern of mother has influenced the
later sources? And until this female model is exploited? How real was the influence of
the matronae on the education of their children? Considerations slip of the concept of
motherhood by the testimony of Tacitus “revised” by Saint Jerome.
This paper aims at showing how Flavius Josephus represents three major networks of
political influence between women: the first between Alexandra, mother of Mariamme
and Cleopatra; the second between Salome, Herod’s sister and Livia; and the last one
between Berenice and Antonia. Josephus shows these networks operate, namely through
messengers and letters, and establishes a kind of feminine political network, parallel to
men’s relationship, but sometimes involving men as well. The most important constatation
is that Hellenistic women and Roman women of the Principate used the same kind
of network, all over the Roman world: political action for women went through the same
channels, in both the Hellenistic and imperial courts.
Asking about spaces and opportunities for feminine action in the Roman world between
the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire leads us to wonder
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about the evolution of the woman’s place in the Roman society at this period. Spectacles
constitute both a major political place and an opportunity whose structures get set up
precisely at this time. However, it is also at that time that the women appear, in a quite
remarkable way, in the documentation relating to the spectacles. It seems reasonable
to relate this phenomenon with the transformations that the « system of spectacles »
knows then and that must fit under the global context of deep evolutions that affect the
Roman society between the first century BC and the first century AC. Rather than trying
to highlight, in one field of the public life, a larger phenomenon of women’s emancipation,
it is interesting to turn the reasoning over and insist on the mutations and evolutions
that transform the Roman society and allow new places of public expression and
public interventions to open. Those make a way for some less visible social categories.
Then we can wonder if women take advantage of those new intervention’s opportunities
in the public life and in which way. The women’s means of intervention in the spectacles
and their consequences are different according to the categories of women. So, we will
first take an interest in the opening of this professional world to women and its effects.
Then, we will go back on the exceptional interventions of aristocratic women in the
spectacles and the highly political dimension of this phenomenon.