The Role Of Women In The Roman Republic And Roman Empire

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During the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, women were restricted to domestic life in a male-dominated society. Egypt’s capital, Alexandria, formally passed into Roman rule in 80BC , and was the greatest of the Roman provincial capitals, with a population of 300,000. In comparison, the Italian city of Pompeii had a population of only 20,000. To examine the role of women in Roman society, I will need to investigate the literature that survived from the period. This essay will compare and contrast the role of women in Alexandria and Pompeii.

The Roman Empire regarded males higher than they valued female children, with a daughter’s chances of being reared being less than her brother’s . If a father decided his new-born daughter was not to be reared, there was no law to prevent him from offering it to the Gods by exposing the child on a mountain, leaving the child to die, in hope that it would be rescued by a wealthy family or raised in service2. The sex ratio found from the tombstones in both Alexandria and Pompeii indicated that there were more adult males in the population1, which indicates that selected infanticide occurred, with more males reared than females. However, this under-commemoration of females could be indicative of the Roman valuation of males over females, since in general, a population should have an equal number of males and females. Had effective contraception been available, this may have been a more ethical solution to family planning for Roman families.

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