Clodia, Fulvia, Livia, Messalina : what can we really learn about the elite women of Rome?

Meredith, Jacqueline Margaret. (2014) Clodia, Fulvia, Livia, Messalina : what can we really learn about the elite women of Rome? Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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How much can we really know about the lives of elite women in the Late Republic and Early Empire? If we are to take the written sources at face value then we might assume that women in the public eye were generally oversexed, overly assertive and ‘unnatural’ in their masculine behaviour: Cicero’s Clodia is an excessive monster and Fulvia is an aggressive and manipulative woman who dominates her husband. Rome of the Late Republic has a reputation for moral decline characterised by increasing emancipation for women. The foundation of the Principate sees Augustan moral legislation attempting to address this, combined with the establishment of an unprecedented female role: that of First Lady. Livia of the sources is virtuous and loyal, but she is also manipulative and a poisoner. Messalina’s vilification by historians as a self-seeking nymphomaniac is a culmination in the portrayal of female cunning and excess. However, these portrayals do not tend to include information from material evidence. Through analysis of both literary and artistic evidence this dissertation seeks to establish whether it is really possible to see the real women behind the sources and to determine their role and status with any true historical accuracy. In doing so it considers the importance of the nature of those sources: some are blatant propaganda, others conform to their literary genre and others reflect political bias.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations.;.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Women, Rome
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
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Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2014 16:38
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2022 10:10

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