Matthew J. Perry
This chapter examines how law contributed to the definition and establishment of gender in the Roman world, and ways that gender shaped the law. Lawmakers and jurists established distinct legal statuses for men and women, and it was critical to elucidate precisely how individuals fit into this legal framework. Even when not deliberately defining gender to clarify law or legislating overtly gendered matters, legal sources reveal gendered thinking. In establishing the specific rules governing Roman society, lawmakers and jurists drew upon and reproduced prevalent and entrenched assumptions and beliefs about the nature of men and women and their place in the world. The final section of the chapter outlines the legal regulation of sexuality, critical to defining gender norms in the Roman world. The proper performance of sexual conduct was an important element of gender archetypes; those individuals who deviated from established standards were deemed problematic and potentially dangerous.
Sylvia Parsons and David Townsend
The pervasively male authorship and audience of medieval Latin literary culture powerfully naturalizes an ideology that allows the relativity of the tradition's gendered constructions to masquerade as given and unexceptionable. This article explores the ways that intertextual and reflexive constructions of authority and textuality both enable and circumscribe medieval Latin authors as they develop and critique models of gender. Implicit and explicit metacritical self-understandings of textuality are addressed through Benedictine texts: the dramas and narrative poems of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, the Waltharius, Reginald of Canterbury's Vita Sancti Malchi, and the lyrics of Baudri of Bourgeuil. The rhetoric of gender as deployed in medieval Latin reflects and shapes extratextual realities. At a prior level, it depends upon a system of palimpsested, specifically textual cultural markers bounded within the constraints of quintessentially Latinate expectations of diction and genre. Prior to the syntagmatic relations of text to social environment lay the paradigmatic requirements of gender as dictated by ubiquitous classical and patristic models, and as expressed not merely in the specifics of a male or female character's representation but in the very constraints of generic expectation.
This chapter investigates the relation between gender and slavery among the Greeks and Romans. It considers the gendered division of labour for slaves with a special emphasis on female slaves and female masters in the domestic context. Important topics covered include sexual violence against slaves, manumission, and prostitutes as slaves. It argues that female slaves were most common in domestic contexts and the sex and entertainment industry. Both contexts, however, meant that female slaves were open to sexual abuse, but close contact with the free might also benefit female slaves by leading to their manumission. Slaves frequently appear outside ancient constructions of gender, officially denied socio-political status as husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers, and free from behavioural expectations like male courage and female virtue; but this lack of a gendered identity was likely another element of their oppression.
Hesiod’s famous misogyny is part of a larger “poetics of the powerless” that pervades his epics. The poetic persona of his epics establishes a hierarchy of gender as a defense against his own situation of powerlessness, as presented in the poem. Hesiod subtly challenges those with power, whether in the human or divine realms, and condescends to those below him in the hierarchy, whether female or male. The poet’s portrayal of men and women is therefore the expression of a desire to reduce the power difference between himself and those around him in both the mortal and immortal spheres. As a result, gender in Hesiod is not binary but has aspects coded as positive or negative along a spectrum based on how the individual figure fits into the cosmic power hierarchy.
Melanie Sherratt and Alison Moore
Despite an increasing interest in social identity, the topic of gender identity remains under-theorized within Romano-British archaeology: gender categories are often assumed to be fixed and unchanging within the archaeological literature on the province. However, the concept of gender is complex and is impacted on by other aspects of social identity such as age, status, and ethnicity. This chapter provides an overview of the development of gender as a subject in the archaeological record of Roman Britain and explores the problems and potential of how gender is approached in present scholarship through four key areas: burial evidence, dress and adornment, economic activity, and family roles.
This article describes the daily life of Jewish women. It shows how and where women's experience can be compared with, and even connected to, those of men. It determines the major types of sources on Jewish women in Roman Palestine and studies the influence of the Graeco-Roman context on women. The article also discusses other features of women's daily life, including motherhood and the issue of menstrual purity.
Marilyn B. Skinner
This article examines the meaning given within different social structures to human individuals, whose relationship even with their own bodies is culturally determined. While ‘gender’ is widely understood to be a hermeneutic tool used in feminist research, its relationship to other feminist approaches is not altogether clear. Gender studies as a field is a relatively recent spin-off from ‘women in antiquity’. Investigation of ancient women, the realities of their lives and the representations of them in art and literature began in the early 1970s, as a project designed to supplement the existing historical record.
Writers in ancient Rome devoted considerable energy to the investigation of gender, revealing a deep interest in the nature of masculinity and femininity as well as in a third category that they labelled the characteristically non-committal term neutrum (‘neither’). The time these writers spent considering grammatical gender is remarkable: Nonius Marcellus devotes in modern editions seventy pages of his treatise on Latin grammar and vocabulary to the subject. ‘Gender Studies’ among contemporary classicists has decidedly different origins and approaches from its ancient counterpart. Recent studies of Roman rhetoric and oratory demonstrate some of the repercussions of the underlying principle that ‘speaking style mirrors life style’. The notion that the very language is masculine provides an interesting lens through which to view gender criticism in Latin poetry. The relationships of dominance and submission observable in poetic and prose texts are often accompanied by both verbal and physical violence. This article also discusses the construction of sexuality in art and archaeology during the Roman Empire, along with gender and law, ritual, and medicine.
This article investigates the relation between gender and cuneiform literacy in ancient Mesopotamia. It suggests that the apparent exclusion of women from written culture needs to be nuanced given that in mythological texts goddesses, more than gods, have mastered writing and calculation. It highlights the achievements attributed or attributable to women and mentions that previous studies on the question of literacy have not always taken into consideration the relationships that women could have with writing.
Lawrence A. Tritle
This chapter elaborates the understanding on Greek and Roman men at war. Preparation for battle in the ancient world was carefully approached. Military training at Rome was no less severe and regimented than in early Sparta. The ferocity and brutality in the killing zone of battle have no limits. Examples of atrocity and mutilation appear from the very beginning of Greek literature. Mutilation of the dead was an example of what the modern world knows as payback or revenge, and a ritualistic form of this came in stripping the dead of their armor (and weapons) after battle. It is observed that when a soldier survived in battle, they never forgot the experience.