Women in Roman Society

Kristina Milnor

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780195188004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Women in Roman Society

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  • Classical Studies
  • Ancient Roman History
  • Gender and Sexuality


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This article takes a look at women in Roman society. It first examines Galen's On Prognosis, which provides a view of the wide range of social roles and relationships that women could have in second century Rome. It then notes that history was basically a story of (male) society, politics, and culture. Although women played a role in that story, they were usually treated as a disruption of the normal course of events. The discussion shows that women were considered as part of the “marginalized” groups of Roman society. This article shows the hidden power wielded by the women, especially those belonging to the Roman aristocratic families. The article also looks at some Roman women who held a “public” position in Roman society, such as Otacilia Laterensis and Aemilia Hilaria.

Keywords: women; social roles; social relationships; On Prognosis; hidden power; domestic sphere

Article.  7126 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History ; Gender and Sexuality

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