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Juvenal's Poem Portray


Women have been a long standing icon for Roman times. They were treated as an entirely different class of people and shown very little respect. Back in the days, Roman women would have to do many different daily activities to please their husbands. This would range from doing manual labor to maintaining attractive appearances. This can be seen in their daily grind and class treatment.

The troubles women in Rome went through were many. Once a woman was married, she had to abandon her childhood and leave her home to live with her husband. Roman marriages existed for the production of legitimate children who would be heirs to their fathers' properties. All marriages were arranged marriages which would benefit both sides, in particular the parents (Martin). Typically, women did not work for their living except if they were married into the lower class. They would, however, have to maintain the household and the powers associated with it (Thompson). The wife would have to do all of the house work unless her husband had servants. This even involved chopping the wood to cooking the meals. She would also have to teach her daughters the basic skills such as cooking and sewing (Martin). Part of women's daily lives included maintaining their personal appearances; they had to have perfectly cosmetic-looking faces which they achieved through layers of make-up. Keeping up appearances had to be maintained throughout the entire day even if the women did not leave her homes. They would also wear gems on a necklace and pearls on their ear lobes (Fiero). These daily activities created enormous amounts of stress on wives to be absolutely perfect and obedient. Otherwise, they would be beaten by their husbands. This being said, it is no wonder that few women actually seek more freedoms in Rome.

Women in Rome had little to no freedoms at all. In order for them to leave the house, they had to be escorted by men. Women gained no legal freedoms after being married. At no time in the history of Rome were women allowed to hold public offices or work in the government. Only after some time had passed were women even allowed to make suggestions to their husbands concerning their businesses. Often times, these suggestions were made in private to their husbands. Even then, these suggestions were not always considered. However, as time passed, they began to listen to them more and more (Thompson). Women were not considered citizens of Rome. They had no respect at all from men on the streets or sometimes in their own homes. They were quite often beaten when they got out of line. As time progressed through five hundred years of Roman history, women gained significant amounts of freedoms in the Roman society.

Juvenal's poem and class aspects show how poorly women were treated in Rome. The harsh realities of arranged marriages and lack of citizenship for women were daily expectations in Rome. The cruel physical treatments that women faced from their husbands would be considered illegal today. Together these two influences, their daily lives and class treatment, showed clear indications of the harsh realities that women experienced in Rome.

Works Cited

Fiero, Gloria K. "Minoan Civilization." The Humanistic Tradition: the First Civilizations and the Classical Legacy. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 151-152. Print.

Martin, Phillip. "Status of Women." Ancient Rome for Kids. Web. 10 Nov. 2011

Thompson, James C. "Women In Ancient Rome." WOMEN IN THE ANCIENT WORLD. July 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.

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