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Man ruled in Roman house

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Centurion in front of centuria
Centurion in front of centuria

A man ruled the Roman house, but he often entrusted his wife with some duties, for example, looking after the treasury or managing slaves. Traditionally, it was considered that the only work a free woman could do was spinning wool.

However, not all Roman women could afford to sit at home. Some worked as midwives or hairdressers, many helped in family shops or farms. Occasionally women worked as acrobats or dancers, but these professions were disrespected.

Roman women were not allowed to pursue political life or hold office. But many of the high-born women were well-educated, and some of them made their living by writing. With the advent of the empire, women began to play a greater role. We are talking here especially about empresses who pursue their political goals. However, one cannot forget about the times of the late republic, when the wives of politicians influenced their husbands, and thus the country’s policy.

A good example is Terentia – the spouse of Cicero, with whom he generally lived thirty-two years, and who has always been his support. Terentia was an ambitious and independent woman who often influenced the decisions of her husband and the senate.

  • Koper Sławomir, Miłość i polityka. Kobiety świata antycznego, Warszawa 1997

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