Herculaneum Women Analysis

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How should Roman women thus appear and which virtues should they transpire, according to the given representations? The Pudicitia type of statue correlates the Roman virtue pudicitia, translated as “modesty”. According to Hemelrijk, this statue-type fits this virtue as it displays a submissive pose, almost protective, with the arms closely wrapping the torso, with a covering drapery . The palla covering the statue’s head gives the impression of a figure preserving her modesty and her body from public looks. The drapery forms a barrier between her chaste body and the viewer, and her lowered head avoids his gaze. The Herculaneum women (Fig. 1 & 2), dating from the Late Republic period to the second century CE, well display these features: they…show more content…
As such, the imperial female figure is to be more singularized and personified to embody enough her marital, social and political statuses . The statue of Agrippina Maior from the Tiberian Period (Fig. 4) expresses virtues that would be more associated to an empress. Also know as the Leptis statue, the empress wears the traditional costume of the Roman matron, the stola and the leather shoes (calcei muliebres) . Besides, the drapery fits more closely the shape of the body and enhances a more “wet” effect, and thus more conveys the figure’s sexuality and consequently her fertility, rather than her modesty. The stola, as we have seen in the Pudicitia type is to preserve the woman’s chastity as it fully covers her body. Whereas Agrippina is provided with a more transparent cloth that reveals the shapes of her body, betraying the shape of her breasts and hips. As said, the comparison of the Pudicitia and the Leftis type “would appear to bear out the contention that statue types were chosen which best expressed the values sought in different contexts.” In opposition with the Pudicitia, Agrippina’s body appears more on a open pose, not afraid of the viewer’s gaze and inquisition. She openly stands to be viewed, her identity to be investigated, recognized and acknowledged. As said, the statue of Aggripina Maior emphasizes the duality of the female imperial figure in Ancient Rome, such as bearing the status of a woman, but also characterized by a more enhanced female identity through her sexuality. The Roman empress is to be an ideal of femininity, which in turn mirrors the ideal of the emperor, her male reflection. Besides, the very fact that this type of female statues was less reproduced than the Pudicitia type well conveys of its originality
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