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Order Number 8725470

T h e p u b lic ro le o f Jr'ompeian w om en

Bernstein, Prances Stahl, Ph.D .

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University of Maryland College Park, 1987
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Copyright ©1987 by Bernstein, Frances Stahl. All rights reserved.

U-M-I
300 N. Zeeb Rd.
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THE PUBLIC ROLE OF POMPEIAN WOMEN

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by
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Frances Stahl Bernstein


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Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School


of the University of Maryland in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
1987

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c Copyright by Frances Stahl Bernstein, 1987

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a p p r o v a l sheet

Title of Dissertation: The Public Role of Pompeian Women

Name of Candidate: Frances S. Bernstein


Doctor of Philosophy, 19 87

Dissertation and Abstract Approved:


I EW Wilhelmina Jashemski
Professor Emeritus
Department of History
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Date Approved: < ■ ^ ^7


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ABSTRACT

Title of Dissertation: The Public Role of Pompeian Women

Frances S. Bernstein, Doctor of Philosophy, 1987

Dissertation directed by: Wilhelmina F. Jashemski


Professor Emeritus
Department of History

A Roman woman of the first century A.D. could neither hold a

magistracy, serve in the Senate, nor vote. Given these constraints,

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was the Roman matron's world limited by dutiful service to husband and

household? Did her interests and achievements extend beyond domestic


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chores to public involvement within the community? There is strong

evidence from Pompeii that many women were actively involved outside
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the home in the political, social and economic life of their town.

Information on the lives of over two hundred individual women has been

gathered from the wealth of epigraphical and archaeological remains


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(the inscriptions, graffitti, portraits, statues, homes, workplaces

and tombs) and presented in the catalog on Pompeian women found under

Appendix A.

A survey on the status of Roman women eis gleaned from legal

texts and literature places the position of Pompeian women within the

broader Roman context. Pompeian women, like their Roman counterparts,

acquired position and influence through membership in elite and

wealthy families. As respected members (daughters, wives and mothers)

of gentes. Pompeian women could acquire the 'weapons' of power:

clientes et amici. money, prestige and honor. By using these

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resources, elite Pompeian women were able to ensure their family's

political future.

Personal relationships played a vital role in Roman and

Pompeian politics. Elite women served as patrons over duty-bound

clients; they also were involved in the formation of political

factions and marriages. Pompeian women used their wealth for

political advancement. Although Eumachia, Mamia and Corelia Celsa

presented the town with three costly gifts (a public building and two

temples), their generosity was politically motivated. Pompeian women

in accepting public honors enhanced the position of their gentes

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within the town. Such honors included priesthoods, statues and gifts

of land.
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The evidence from Pompeii is unique in that it shows lower

class women involved in the electoral process. Servile and freedwomen


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as well shared an interest in and knowledge of Pompeian politics.

Pompeian women of all classes were actively and publicly involved in

the political, social and economic life of the small Campanian


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municipality.

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PREFACE

I first became interested in the women of Pompeii over ten

years ago during a series of seminars directed by Professor Wilhelmina

Jas’
nemski; and began formal studies upon returning to Graduate School.

The amount of information on Pompeian women was both encouraging and

overwhelming. My progress, however, began once a theme and point of

view were sharply defined. I examined and departed from potentially

rich areas of exploration namely the domestic life of Pompeian women

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in order to focus on their civic and public role.

Professor Jashemski's work which is based on archaeological,


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epigraphical and literary sources serves as a model. Likewise, I have

drawn from all of these sources. The approach is dictated not only by
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the unique nature of the well preserved evidence from Pompeii but also

by the topic itself. The literary sources which immortalized the

women of Rome were written by men. The women of Pompeii left their
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own mark recorded in the inscriptions, graffiti and preserved

artifacts.

I wish to thank Professor Wilhelmina Jashemski for her

unwavering support and encouragement over many years. I am also in

debt to Stanley A. Jashemski for the many photographs used in this

dissertation. His friendly smile and kind words of advice will always

be remembered. I thank Dr. Betty Jo Mayeske for her help and insights

as I researched the topic. I also thank my typist, Josephine

Onwuemene whose efficiency aided in the final preparation of the

manuscript.

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Finally, I am most appreciative of and grateful to my

husband, Roger, and my children, Aaron and Rachel, for their patience

and their encouragement.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

PREFACE .................................................. ii

LIST OF PLATES............................................. v

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS....................................... viii

INTRODUCTION............................................... 1

Chapter
I. WOMEN IN THE POMPEIAN FAMILY ........................ 15

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II. POMPEIAN WOMEN: PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND
PUBLIC INFLUENCE...................................
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III. POMPEIAN WOMEN AND PUBLIC GIFTS...................... 99

IV. POMPEIAN WOMEN AND PUBLIC HONORS..................... 141

V. POMPEIAN WOMEN AND THE PROGRAMMATA. ................. 180


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CONCLUSION................................................. 208

APPENDIX A ................................................. 210

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY....................................... 265


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iv

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PLATES

Plate

I. Fig. Pero and Mikon


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

II. Fig. Matron and daughters


(Deiss, Herculaneum. p. 74)

III. Fig. Maiden with stylus


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

IV. Fig. Portrait from II.ii.2-5


(Spinazzola, Scavi Nuovi. p. 377, Fig. 4)

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V. Fig. Tomb of Fabia Gratina
(Mau, Pompeii. p. 421)

VI. Fig. Husband and wife


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VII. Fig. Family in Bacchic guise


(Herbig, Nugae. Taf. 18)
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VIII. Fig. Unidentified Husband and wife


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

IX. Fig. Young couple at I.‘vir.7


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)
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X. Fig. Matron at VI.xv.14


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XI. Fig. Matron in profile


(Helbig, Nugae. Taf. 31)

XII. Fig. Matron at IX.v.3.


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XIII. Fig. Vertia Philumena and family


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XIV. Fig. The Tomb of Vesvia Iucunda


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XV. Fig. The tomb of Aesquillia Polla


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

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XVI. Fig. 1 The tomb of Veia Barchilla
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XVII. Fig. 1 Tomb of Flavia Agathea


Fig. 2 Tomb of Stronnia Acatarchis
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XVIII. Fig. 1 Woman spinning wool


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XIX. Fig. 1 Woman playing lyre


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XX. Fig. 1 Lararium painting at IX.xiii.1-3


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXI. Fig. 1 Lararium painting at I.xiii.2


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXII.

XXIII.
Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Fig. 1
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Mother and child at VIII.iv.4
Mother and child at I.x.ll
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

Mother and children


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)
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XXIV. Fig. 1 Youth at VI.xv.l
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XXV. Fig. 1 "Successus," I.ix.3


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXVI. Fig. 1 Youth at V.iv.a


Fig. 2 Youth at V.iv.a
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(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXVII. Fig. 1 Tomb of P. Vesonius Phileros


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXVIII. Fig. 1 Tomb of Eumachia Porta Nocera - 11(


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXIX. Fig. 1 Plan of the Eumachia (Mau. Pomoeii 110).

XXX. Fig. 1 Facade of the Eumachia

XXXI. Fig. 1 Entrance to the Eumachia


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXXII. Fig. 1 Plan of the Temple of Vespasian


(Mau. Pomoeii. p. IDS')
Fig. 2 Entrance to the Temple of Vespasiai
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

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X X X III. Fig. 1 The altar in the Temple of Vespasian
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXXIV. Fig. 1 Women participating in sacrificial scene from


Herculaneum
(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXXV. Fig. 1 Plan of the Temple of Isis


(Mau, Pompeii, p. 170).

XXXVI. Fig. 1 The Iseum


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXXVII. Fig. 1 Venus at VII.xii.21-23


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XXXVIII. Fig. 1 Ceres at VI.ix.6


(P.ichardson, Dioscuroi. p. 117)

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XXXIX. Fig. 1 Tomb of Mamia and Istacidia

XL. Fig. 1 Priestess of Venus


(Sogliano, Pitture. Fig. 34)
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XLI. Fig. 1 Priestess of Ceres
(Gell, Pompeii. Plate LXVIII)
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XLII. Fig. 1 Young girl attending a sacrifice


(Ward-Perkins, Pompeii. AD 79 Fig. 19)

XLIII. Fig. 1 Young girl with offering


(Kerbig, Nugae. Taf. 32)
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XLIV. Fig. 1 Woman with tray of offerings


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XLV. Fig. 1 Viciria M f


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XLVI. Fig. 1 Eumachia L f


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XLVII. Fig. 1 Tomb of Vestorius Priscus


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

XLVIII. Fig. 1 Tomb of Naevoleia Tyche outside Porta Ercolano


(Photo: Stanley Jashemski)

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

The abbreviations of titles of periodicals and standard

reference works used in this dissertation are taken from the American

Journal of Archaeology vol. 82, no. 1 (1978):5-10. Abbreviations used

in the citations of names of ancient authors are listed in the Oxford

Classical Dictionary, second edition (1970):ix-xii,

Translations, unless otherwise noted, are from the Loeb

Classical Library. Recent publication of the tombs outside the

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Nucerian Gate by Antonio D'Ambrosio and Stefano DeCaro has been most

useful. Their numbering will be used throughout the dissertation.


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AJA: American Journal of Archaeology.
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CIL: Corpus Inscrintionum Latinarum. 1863-.

CJ; Classical Journal.

CO: Classical Quarterly.


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Helbig: W. Helbig, Wandgemalde der vom Vesuv Verschutteten Stadte


Campaniens. Leipzig, 1868.

IG: InscriPtiones Graecae.

JRS: Journal of Roman Studies.

M.N. inv.: Museo Nazionale, Napoli.

NSc.: Notizie degli Scavi di AntichitA.

PCD: Oxford Classical Dictionary.

PN,
Porta Nocera: A. d'Ambrosio and S. DeCaro, Fotopiano e Documentazione
della Necropoli Di Porta Nocera.

PP: La Parola del Passato.

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RE; Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encvclop&die der klassischen
Altertumswissenschaft.

RendNap: Rendiconti della R. Accademia di Archeologia. Lettere


ed Arti. Naples

RomMltt; Mittellunpen dcs deutschen archaologlschen Instituts.


Romlsche Abteilunp.

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ix

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INTRODUCTION

HIC DUO RIVALES CA[N]ONT


UNA PUELLA TENET FASCES

These lines of a popular love song or poem were found

scrawled on a wall in Pompeii's Region I, a neighborhood of modest

working class homes (CIL IV 8873). The selection of politically

charged words like tenet. fasces and rivales to describe a romantic

who "—
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theme echoes the love elegists Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid

use the language of 'establishment practices,' i.e. politics,

law, finance and warfare, to portray their love affairs."2

the image of the fasces. the bundle of rods and axe carried by
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magistrates who had ultimate military and judicial power, entrusted to


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una nuella is powerful and enigmatic.

The paradox of Roman women captured in this jarring image is

noted by contemporary scholars.3 in Pompeii, as in Rome, women could


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neither join the governing council, hold an elected political office,

or vote, Ulpian in Dig. 50.17.2 remarks "Women are debarred from all

civil and public functions and therefore cannot be judges or hold a

magistracy." Cicero in Rep. 4.5 notes "But how great will be the

1/ So identified by A. Maiuri, NSc. 1958, p. 84.

2/ Judith P. Hallett, "The Role of Women in Roman Elegy: Counter-


Cultural Feminism," Arethusa 6 (1973):115.

3/ On the paradox of Roman women, see Sarah Pomeroy, Goddesses.


Whores. Wives and Slaves (New York: Schocken, 1975), pp. 185-189;
Judith P. Hallett, Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society. Women
and The Elite Family (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1984), esp. pp. 3-34.

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calamity of that city, in which women shall discharge the duties of

men."^ Indeed, woman's secondary role is stressed in both literary

and epigraphical references. Glimpses of powerful women, however,

appear throughout the pages of Latin texts where they are not

infrequently compared to men.^ Tacitus implicitly compares Agrippina

to Augustus in Ann. 1.41 and notes that she commanded the troops

(Ann.1.69). Seneca, in Consolatio Ad Marciam 12.4ff, uses male

examples for Marcia to emulate while remarking that Roman women have

the strength of men. Extensive testimony on public and political

involvement by women can be marshalled. As a result, scholars are

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focusing on the nature of Roman women's influence in a governmental

structure that formally excluded them.®


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The answer may lie within the family--the Roman gens. In

discussing the Roman oligarchy, Ronald Syme comments, "Three weapons


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the nobiles held and wielded, the family, money and the political

alliance (amicitia or factio, as it was variously labelled).


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4/ Lactantius Epit. 38.1-5 from The Works of Lactantius. trans.


William Fletcher (Edinburgh: 1871), p. 121. K. Ziegler includes
this passage in the Teubner edition of De Re Publica 4.5.

5/ For a discussion, see Judith P. Hallett, "Woman as the Same,"


paper presented at Brown Univ., Mar. 15, 1986; Linda W. Rutland,
"Women as Makers of Kings in Tacitus Annals," CW 72 (1978):15-29.
J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Roman Women: Their History and Habits (London:
Bodley Head, 1962).

6/ See for example Judith P. Hallett, Fathers: Suzanne Dixon, "A


Family Business: Women's Role in Patronage and Politics at Rome
80-44 B .C ," Classica et Mediaevalia 34 (1983):91-112.

7/ Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University


Press, 1939), p. 12. Ways to examine and to interprete the
evidence on the Roman family vary from statistical analyses to
more general discussions on familial relationships. For an
epigraphical analysis see, for example, P.R.C. Weaver, Familia
Caesaris: A Social History of the Emperor's Freedman and Slaves
(London: Cambridge Univ., 1972); Beryl Rawson, "Family Life among

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According to Suzanne Dixon, "The conclusion is inescapable that there

was no hard and fast distinction in the Roman mind between politics

and family."® Judith Hallett in the first chapter of her work also

notes, "Due to the patriarchal nature of Roman society, and to the

elite family's role as a major, if not the main, political unit

therein, the structural centrality of female members in the upper-

class Roman family would seem inextricably related to women's ascribed

political significance: the elite family, its patriarchal nature

notwithstanding, was able to furnish its womenfolk with what modern

political scientists label a 'power base'."^

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All three scholars agree that elite Roman women used the

family as a political base. Syme notes,


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The wide and remembered ramifications of the Roman noble
clan won concentrated support for the rising politician.
The nobiles were dynasts, their daughters princesses.
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Marriage with a well-connected heiress therefore become an
act of policy and an alliance of powers, more important
than a magistracy, more binding than any compact of oath or
interest. Not that women were merely the instruments of
masculine policy. Far from it: the daughters of the great
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the Lower Classes at Rome in the First Two Centuries of the


Empire" CP 61 (1966):71-83; Beryl Rawson, "Roman Concubinage and
other Defacto Marriages" TAPA 104 (1974):279-305; S. Treggiari
"Family Life among the Staff of the Volusii," TAPA 105 (1974):393-
401; M.B. Flory "Family in Familia: Kinship and Community in
Slavery" AJAH 3 (1978):78-95; Richard Sallar and Brent Shaw,
"Tombstones and Roman Family Relations in The Principate
Civilians, Soldiers and Slaves," JRS 74 (1984):124-156.

8/ Dixon, "Family Business," p. 104.

9/ Hallett, Fathers. p. 29.

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houses commanded political influence in their own right,


exercising a power beyond the reach of many a senator.

While such scholarship focuses on the elite family operating

in Rome, especially during the Republican era, parallels to a

Campanian municipality in the early imperial age can be drawn.

Families whose members belonged to the Pompeian ordo decurionum and

served in civic magistracies comprised the local elite. As well

respected citizens within Pompeii, they strove to maintain their

influential status and apparently cherished their role as civic

leaders.11-

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Political life in Pompeii as in Rome was centered around the

family or gens. Paavo Castren convincingly traces the rise and fall
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of family coalitions within Pompeii from the founding of the colony in

80 B.C. till the Vesuvian eruption in A.D.79. He clearly identifies


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the Pompeian families of the local elite who dominated municipal

politics, society and economics.12 as Central members of prestigious

Pompeian sentas. certain women had access to "the weapons" held and
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wielded by the local elite: the family's position, money, and

alliances. Before examining the public involvement of elite Pompeian

10/ Syme, Roman Revolution, p. 12.

11/ The active and fervent campaign process which preceded Pompeian
elections is well illustrated by the programmata. See infra
Chapter 5.

12/ Paavo Castrdn, Ordo Ponulosaue Pomneianus. Polity and Society in


Roman Pompeii. Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae, 8 (Rome: Bardi,
1975). For prosopographical studies, see Mary Gordon, "The Ordo
of Pompeii," JRS 17 (1927):165-183; Matteo Della Corte, Case ed
Abitanti di Pompel. 3rd ed. (Naples: Fausto Fiorentino, 1965);
Ettore Lepore, "Orientamenti per la storia Sociale di Pompei,"
Pompeiana (Naples: Macchiardi):144-166.

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women, their public representations in their roles as daughters,

wives, and mothers must be shown.

The public involvement of lower class women is rarely

discussed. Perhaps, this is due to the aristocratic nature of most

literary sources. Evidence from Pompeii, especially the programmata

or painted election notices, provides a glimpse into the world of

servile and freedwomen. They lacked the support of rich and powerful

families and had little hope of politically advancing their male kin.

Nonetheless, without the apparent means and motivation of their elite

counterparts, lower class women were involved in local politics. The

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reasons non-elite women selected and supported candidates in local

elections will also be discussed. Yet, first, a woman's status defined


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by Roman law and custom as derived from literary sources must be

briefly examined.
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Legal Status

In earliest times, sons and daughters born of a legal Roman


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marriage (iustae nuptiae) fell under the power of the pater familias.

This power of life and death, which Crook contends was a reality in

early Republican times, was accorded to the oldest male ascendent, a

father or even grandfather if alive.13 As the Leges Regiae (Dion.

13/ John A. Crook, Law and Life of Rome (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 1967), p. 107; Also, Jane Gardner, Women in Roman Law and
Society (Indianapolis: Indianapolis University Press, 1986), pp.
5-29; On Roman Law see David Darbe, Roman Law. Linguistic. Social
and Philosophical Aspects (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press,
1969); Herbert F. Jolowicz, Historical Introduction to The Study
of Roman Law (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1952); Joachim
Marquardt, Das Privatleben der Romer (Leipzig: Hirzell, 1882);
Alan Watson, The Law of Persons in the Later Roman Republic
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1968); also see Pomeroy, Goddesses. pp. ISO-
163; Hallett, Fathers. passim. For sources see Salvator

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