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Roman Women   By:

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In All Ages and in All Countries




Philadelphia George Barrie & Sons, Publishers

Copyright, 1907 by George Barrie & Sons Entered at Stationers' Hall, London

[Illustration 1: TULLIA, DAUGHTER OF SERVIUS After the painting by E. Hildebrand

We have had the good queen, now we encounter the bad..... Tullia was of that type of which Shakespeare has given a picture in Lady Macbeth..... Lucius, her husband, with an armed band, repaired to the Senate and seated himself on the throne. King Servius appeared, but no one thought it worth while to hinder Lucius from throwing the aged ruler down the steps of the Senate house; which me manfully did.

Tullia was the instigator of this coup d'état; and impatient to learn its success, drove to the Forum, and, calling her husband from the Senate chamber, was the first to hail him as king. But Lucius commanded her to return home; and the tradition runs that as she was going thither her chariot wheels passed over the dead body of her royal father. ]


The student of history does not proceed far in his researches before he discovers that human nature is a fixed quality. Other lands, other manners; other times, other customs. But the man behind the manner is essentially the same; the woman under the changed custom is not thereby rendered essentially different, any more than she is by a varying of costume. The women of ancient Rome exemplified the same virtues, and were impelled by the same foibles as are the women of to day. And the difference in environment, the vanished conditions of Roman life, gain large scientific interest from the fact that they did not result in any dissimilarity of fundamental character. If, by the most violent exercise of the imagination, it were possible to transport a female infant of the twentieth century, and cause her to be reared among the women of the Augustan age, she would fit as naturally into her surroundings as she would into the present society of London or of New York. Her legal status would be different; her moral conceptions would be unlike those of the present age; her duties, pleasures, privileges, and limitations would combine to make the accidents of life very different. But underneath all this, the same humanity, the same femininity, the same habits of mind are revealed. Herein is the chief use of history above that of gratifying natural curiosity the ascertaining how human nature will comport itself under varying conditions. The author hopes that the following pages, wherein the Roman woman is taken as an illustration, will be found of use to the student of the science of humanity, and not uninteresting to the reader inquisitive as to the manner of the ancient civilization.




The conditions which governed the life of woman in the earliest days of Roman history are too far removed from the searchlight of historical investigation for us to essay to indicate them with any degree of fulness and accuracy of detail. While it is true that the ancient writers have bequeathed to us records of historic events from the very founding of their nation, the source of their information is very questionable and its authenticity extremely doubtful. Rome did not cultivate literature until very late in her history; she was too greatly preoccupied in her rôle of conquering the world. At a time when every Greek was acquainted with the noblest poetry produced by his gifted race, Rome had not produced a single writer whose name has been preserved. And if at that time she had possessed any men of letters, it is quite certain that there were few of her citizens who would have been able to read their works. Hence, when the first attempt was made to write her history, the authors depended principally for their material on traditions and legends which, as is the case with all such lore, had gained greatly in marvellousness at the expense of historical value... Continue reading book >>

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