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.
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.
Roman sexuality is only just emerging from the scholarly shadows. As the sexual domain became a valid, and increasingly vital, subject of historical enquiry, it was classical Greece that was selected to speak for the ancient world, and to challenge modern assumptions about the constitution, organisation, and valorisation of sexual desire, activity, and identity; with considerable, though certainly not uncontested, success. In the pursuit of radical difference from the present, past divisions were elided, and Rome's sexual patterns were subsumed within a classical paradigm of distinctly Greek construction. They are now breaking free, however, and more recent scholarship has been concerned, quite precisely, with demarcating and exploring definitively Roman sexual territories. This article explores the most recurrent themes to emerge from the recent scholarship on Roman sexuality. It discusses the sharp division, and clear double standard, between men and women as sexual subjects; the Roman sexual order; and Musonius's views about the ongoing conundrum concerning women, sexuality, and subjectivity.
What is a woman? Is ‘women’ most appropriately a category of biology? Of society or culture? Of language? Is naming oneself a woman a right? A responsibility? A burden? These questions are difficult enough to address when we are speaking of the modern day, but become even more so when we look back to antiquity. The idea that the definition of ‘woman’ cannot be separated from the definition of her social role is not unique to the Romans, but it is one which is frequently repeated and strongly emphasised in their myths and history. One of the most popular and enduring myths of early Rome is the story of the rape of the Sabine women, in which the early male settlers of the city stole the daughters and sisters of neighbouring tribes in order to take them as wives. Roman women could possess property – inherited or otherwise – so it is not surprising that one of the few places in the Digest of Roman Law where we find an actual definition of ‘women’ is in the context of inheritance.