Thursday, July 26, 2012

Roman Women and Reproductive Autonomy

Women are often subject to the forces of patriarchy. In societies such as ancient Rome, where patriarchy was as deeply intertwined with daily life as the belief in the supernatural, this sexism manifested itself in innumerable overt and covert ways.

Roman medicine and female healthcare is a surprisingly overlooked yet strikingly significant example of patriarchy in the guise of theory, intellect, and learned practice. Through analyzing the way in which women were treated (in all senses of the word) according to these theories, we can construct a more comprehensive picture of the daily life of an elite Roman woman, and continue our quest to accurately assess the myriad facets that comprised the world of the Romans.

In the following paper I explore the roles that social and legal convention, medical theory and practice, and Augustus’ marriage legislation contributed to the limited autonomy affored to women over their sexuality and reproductivity.