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1) The term `matrona' describes a highly regarded woman that was respected in Roman
society. She oversaw the food, clothing, and shelter of all members of the household, was
the nurturer and first teacher of the children, may assist her husband in his work. Usually the
matrona's opinions on politics, arts, and religion were influential in public life. Examples of
this were Octavia's influence over Antony.
2) Pliny opens the passage with a phrase that clearly shows his affection for his wife "you
yourself are a model of the family virtues." This shows how she is being the best a woman
can be to her husband, and the language demonstrates that Pliny is almost idoliszing her
above all women. Pliny continues to say that she replicates the same affection that her
brother showed, and by describing her brother as "the best of men" Pliny is regarding her
with almost the same status as a man thereby showing his high regard and affection for her.
Pliny's wife loves his brother's daughter "as though she were [her] own child." She didn't
have to do this, but being the "model of family virtues" and in line with the persona of a
matrona, she duly does so!
The compliments that Pliny writes about his wife are a sure sign of his affection towards
her. She "has a sharp wit...is wonderfully economical...and she loves [him]" The word
"wonderfully" accentuates how good these qualities are, as he could have used any other
adverb to describe his wife. All the quoted qualities are that of a perfect Roman woman,
and he explicitly states them to emphasise how much affection he shows for her. The
affection is not just one way but is, as he describes it, "mutual affection". Pliny's wife "sits
near [him] screened from the audience by a curtain" and her "ears greedily drink in what
people say to [his] credit."
3) Pliny has numerous letters that reference his views of what qualities a Roman woman
should possess, and also how they behave. One of his letters is about a woman names
Arria, she did not tell her husband that their son had died in order to protect him from dying
of grief. This was described by Pliny in very epic type language which emphasises how
Arria was brave and epitomised how a woman should try and protect her husband at all
costs. The next part of this letter continues to show the dedication of Arria. When her
husband is captured by the Romans after being refused to travel with him, she hires a small
fishing smack to follow her husband to Rome. The incredulity that Pliny describes this with,
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Because it is written in a letter by Pliny in such detail that we know this
would probably what he thinks is ideal about a woman.
Pliny's wife is also described in one of his letters to Calpurnia's aunt. He describes her as
"wonderfully economical" having "sharp wit" and then finally that she loves him. These are all
flattering descriptions of his wife, to compliment and congratulate Calpurnia's aunt on
bringing up Calpurnia in such a fine way.…read more