Women in Athens and Rome Sources

Still in progress. Does not include Women @ Thesmophoria! (glitch on website means they're not in order)

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Source 245: To Calpurnia

Author: Pliny

  • Calpurnia wrote in her reply how she holds Pliny's books in place of him, since she misses him so much.
  • Pliny describes how this gives him solace, as he knows she has found a way to comfort herself in his absence.
  • Pliny rereads Calpurnia's letters, picking them up each time and pretending it is the first time he is reading them. However this only makes his longing worse. This shows how much Pliny enjoys Calpurnia's presence.
  • Pliny asks Calpurnia to continue writing despte the fact it makes him feel more upset about her absence.
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Source 246: To Calpurnia

  • Pliny (again) describes how much he misses Calpurnia. He explains this is not only because he loves her, but because they are not used to being apart. This shows us how marital relationships were a unit and would share a close bond.
  • Pliny stays awake at night conjuring Calpurnia's image to comfort himself. (Exaggeration?)
  • The only relief Pliny finds is trying his friend's cases in court.
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Source 168: A Funeral Eulogy (Turia)

Context: A funeral eulogy from Valerius Maximus to his wife, Turia.

  • First explains that Turia's parents were killed the day before their wedding. Turia did not leave their deaths unavenged, despite all the closest men in her family being away following it. (VM left for Macedonia, her sister's husband had gone to Africa.This shows independence, where a woman is capable of handling affairs without the aid of a man. It must also be highlighted VM compliments her for this, as it could be seen as a negative trait on the male's part.
  • Turia persued the case with 'insistent demands' and VM describes how she could not have done any better without the male family members present. VM calls her persuit to avenge her parents as a 'filian duty' showing the value of family in Roman society. Turia's social awareness is equal to that of a man's, and shows herself to be a valuable asset to their family.
  • Turia ensured the punishment of the guilty, which shows her respect of the law and therefore her care for the upkeep of the Roman state
  • Following this she immediately left her own house and moved in with VM's mother to await his return (Loyalty)
  • Turia's father's will had been invalidated as another illegitimate family member persued to take a portion of it. If they had succeeded, her father's property would have gone into their hands. Turia would have gotten a smaller amount, and her sister none at all.
  • Turia asserted the truth, explaining that the will had not been broken. VM explains how it was important to Turia to affirm her father's word, meaning she was persuing it for her father's legacy, not for the material rewards.
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Source 243: To Calpurnia Hispulla

Context: A letter addressed to Pliny's wife's aunt, his nearest female relative.


  • Pliny describes how much affection and devotion CH had for her brother and his daughter. This is particuarly notable as his child is not her own.
  • CH's relations with her niece became more than what as expected of an aunt. Pliny compliments CH, as her niece is 'worthy' of her family reputation, suggesting CH raised her well.
  • Pliny again lists the positive aspects of a woman: intelligence and frugal (meaning she has an economic awareness of household affairs). She also is devoted to Pliny, which he takes as a sign of chastity.
  • The niece's devotion to Pliny is shown via her interest in his books and is interested in Pliny's political affairs. She often would send messengers to Pliny to see how his cases were progressing.  This displays her intelligence (politically aware)
  • Pliny describes how CH's niece would listen to his work whilst he read it aloud. This is a positive display of husband and wife relations.
  • Pliny is sure they will have a harmonious marriage for the rest of their lives. His wife admires him for his glory, not his body, and Pliny attributes this to Calpurnia. This shows positive male/female relationships, the importance of chastity, and the role of women teaching younger females.
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Source 233: The Rape of the Sabine Women Part 2

When it was time for the games, so many people were distracted that the Roman youths began to **** the Sabine women. The most beautiful were reserved for senators, and were escorted to their houses. Shows us the importance of beauty in Roman women

Once the games were over, the grieving parents of the girls accuses the Romans of violating the laws of hospitality, and invoking Neptune, who was supposed to be celebrated at the festival. Romulus replied that none of it would have happened if their fathers had obliged. Shows the length to which offspring is important - Romans were willing to violate the Gods. Shows the importance of a girl's father in her future - women were only valued for their beauty and ability to reproduce?

Romulus remarks that the women would have full status with material rewards, citizenshi and would have children of "which nothing is dearer" - Male view of what a woman values most.

"A good relationship often begins with an offence"

Romulus furthers his argument, saying their husbands will respect their wives to make up for the home they would miss.

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Source 233: The Rape of the Sabine Women

Author: Livy

Livy tells us how the Roman state had become strong enough to hold its own in war. However their main problem was a shortage in offspring to continue this. This shows us the Roman values in children - their priority was the upkeep of the state.

Romulus sent messengers to neighbouring communities to ask for an alliance to fix this. Livy tells us how the upkeep of the Roman state is essentially a divine matter, and so men should not disdain from incest within their own family. This shows us the extent to which children were a priority.

The neighbouring people had mixed responses. Many asked why the Romans did not release the women criminals to reproduce - youth of Rome offended.

Romulus prepared to celebrate the Consualia (games in honour of neptune), sending the news to the neighbouring people. Many arrived, including the Sabine population. They were recieved with hospitality after marveling at Rome's great buildings.

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Source 247: To Calpurnia Fabatus

Author: Pliny Context: Pliny is writing to his wife's grandfather after his wife had a miscarriage.

  • Pliny blames the situation on the fact his wife is young and inexperienced. She did not realise she was pregnant and dind't take proper care of herself, doing things she should not have done at all. The tone of the letter suggests Pliny blames his wife for their misfortune, showing the importance of offspring to a family. It also shows the importance of education for women, as they needed to take extra care whilst pregnant, which his wife did not take notice to.
  • His wife nearly paid for her mistake with her own life, showing the danger of pregnancy. Pliny tells his wife's grandfather to thank the gods she is alive.
  • "You cannot want great-granchildren more than i want children" Offspring was an entire family matter, not just between the husband and wife.
  • Pliny describes how his family and his wife's family have a positive reputation which would lead their child to live an "easy path to office" showing the importance of established birth and how it will allow you to progress in society.
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Source 172: Fannia

Author: Pliny


  • Pliny is concerned about Fannia's health, as she contracted an illness caring for a Vestal Virgin called Junia. She did this on her own initiative since Junia was a relative, but was also ordered by the priests. Loyalty to family, distant family members and religion, duty of care, putting herself in danger - sacrifice?
  • Fannia performing the role of matron, but fell ill with constant fever and cough. Pliny explains that her spirit remains high despite her worsening condition. Determination, control of emotions
  • "Worthy of her husband Thrasea" role of home, marriage relations
  • Pliny explains his sadness that she may be removed from the eyes of the people as someone like her may never be seen again. - Fannia is an examplar Roman woman, a rare kind - are there not many other women with Fannia's qualities?
  • Explains her qualities - chastity, sanctity, dignity
  • Followed her husband twice into exile and was exiled on the 3rd account - political awareness and involvement, loyalty to husband
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Source 168: A Funeral Eulogy (Turia) Part 2

  • If Turia had not been able to uphold her correct share of her father's will, she would have shared it with her sister. This shows her genorisity and selfessness, as well as her care for her family members. Positive female/female relations.
  • Turia stated the details in the law w/ proof. This shows her political awareness and intelligence.
  • Turia was so effective in her argumenet the people did not persue the matter further.

Relations w/ VM

  • States that marriages as long as theirs are rare - together 40 years. Describes it as 'fortunate' showing how VM genuienely enjoyed Turia's complany and saw her as compansihip rather than a way to gain offspring.
  • 'Not broken by divorce' Turia was loyal and did not cheat, as this would have been the main reason as to why a husband would divorce his wife (was not aloud vice-versa)
  • WIsh he had died first. This was normally the case in Roman relationships, women lived longer and would often be a lot younger compared to their husbands
  • Mentions Turia's domestic virtues; obediance, working wool, loyaly, religion and modesty. Means Turia was valuable and practical (wool working) as well as being an asset to her family through her personality traits.
  • Turia was devoted to her family and love for her relatives. Means she did not only care about her close family, but anyone blood related.
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Source 174: Sempronia

Author: Sallust Summary:

  • Sallust writes that Catiline attracted a diverse amount of people, including women. They worked as prostitutes to finance their luxuries. (Materialistic, sex-driven). An age limit was later imposed on this, which they opposed and fell heavily into debt (sex-obsessed and unable to organise financial affairs without male guardian) Sallust believed he could use these women to win over urban slaves, set fire to the city and either enlist or kill their husbands.
  • One of these women was SEMPRONIA (she is easily manipulated); Sallust writes she had 'masculine boldness' (suggesting boldness is a trait only associated with males and her qualities would be OK if she was a man).
  • Sempronia was lucky to have a good birth, with husband and childen as well as beauty. (Value of family and their reputation, she abuses her luck)
  • She was well read in Greek and Latin. (Intelligence). She played the lyre and danced well.
  • However Sempronia was not modest of chaste. Sallust writes she threw away her "reputation" (shows just how important chastity is, since all her other positive qualities are invalidated if she does not possess modesty)
  • She went after men and not the other way around (informing us of sexual custom)
  • She broke promises, had heavy debt and had been an accessory to murder (does not respect state laws). Her debt was from her 'love of luxury' (materialistic, no concern for money or dignity)
  • She was sociable, as she would make jokes, write verses and converse well. She had wit and charm.
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Source 260: Letter from Cornelia to Gaius Gracchus

Author: Cornelia Context: Cornelia urgues her son GG to not seek the Tribunate. He did not listen and was killed 121BC.


  • Cornelia explains GG has given her as much grief as the murderers of Tiberius. She says she should have little to worry about in her old age. (cares for the wellbeing of her children, it directly affects her). She says she must agree with his schemes, and he should count it as a sin if he goes against her wishes (authority - male qualities)
  • Asks when it will end, and their family has been burdened with 'madness'. She suggests GG should feel ashamed for confounding and destroying the constituion.
  • Tells him to do what he likes, as shd is not there to know of it. Makes him feel guilty by suggesting that when she is dead, he will not feel so ashamed of his wrong actions.
  • Asks jove to not let the 'lunacy in his mind' persist (She is sure she is right, informed of political affairs)
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Source 44: To his wife Calpurnia

Author: Pliny

  • In this source Pliny explains his worries for his wife's health. Pliny and his wife are apart as she is ill, and Pliny needs to continue working.
  • This shows a positive marital relationship, as well as men genuinely valuing their wives past their ability to have children. This is emphasised by the fact that Pliny describes how he has never wanted to leave work until now, as he would rather be with his wife.
  • Pliny goes on further to say he would worry about his wife even if she wasn't ill, as he loves her so dearly.
  • Pliny asks his wife to ease his anxiety by writing back to him "once of twice a day" so he feels more secure.
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Source 170: Arria

Author: Pliny Context: Pliny writes a letter describing the story of Arria, explained to him by her granddaughter, Fannia. Summary/Analysis:

  • The fact that Fannia knows Arria's story so well shows the value of the phratry, and how positive stories are handed down and would benefit her reputation.
  • Caecina Paetus, Arria's husband, was gravely ill, along with her son. The son soon died and Arria concealed this from CP in the hope he would have a better chance of overcoming his illness. She hid her tears when visiting him, and told him he was doing well. Shows emotional control, importance of offspring, and duty of care. Can be interpreted as negative since Arria is so effective at her deceit, which could be utlilised in negative situations.
  • Arria took care of her son's funeral. This illustrates her leadership and business-like qualities typically seen in males.
  • Arria killed herself with a dagger, stating "Paetus, it doesn't hurt." Pliny comments it was more noble to die without the prospect of glory and fame
  • Paetus was a partisan of Scribonianus in the rising against Claudius, and was brought as a prisoner of Rome when Scrib was killed. When embarking on the ship Arria begged a soldier and asks to come along to do the slaves' jobs. The refused and she followed in a fishing boat. Desperation, independance and loyality to husband.
  • A the imperial palace  she met the wife of Scrib and asked how she could go on living whilst being a widow.
  • Her son in law Thrasea asked if she would want her daughter to die if he had, she agrees (only if T and her daughter were as happy as she was w/ Paetus). States he cannot stop her dying, tried to kill herself by running into wall.
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Source 168: A Funeral Eulogy (Turia) Part 4

  • Begged Marcus Lepidus to spare her husband's life. Notes that she had bruises, shows her physical devotion to VM and political awareness.

Child Bearing Issues

  • Turia could not have children. Calls this 'fortune', Vm did not regard it as Turia's fault
  •  Turia wanted to leave VM and begged for the divorce on the basis that she could not bear children,and he could. Shows the value of children in Roman society, her devotion and care for VM, her selflessness as divorce would have encased her with stigma
  • VM flared up, horrified - the love was returned
  • VM remarks that no child could have given him the happiness Turia did - prioritisation of their happiness over children
  • Expresses how sad he is at her death
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Source 168: A Funeral Eulogy (Turia) Part 3

  • Cared for VM's mother as much as she was with her own parents. F/F relations.
  • Mentions how many sufferings Turia endured and yet her positive aspects never faltered.
  • Shared her parent's property w/ VM
  • Her kindness and genorosity extended to her many friend and relatives. VM comments this was her sister in particular (female relations)
  • Prepared marriage portions (dowries) for family members so that could affirm marriage bonds worthy of her own family.

VM's political Issues

  • Was imprisoned for taking part of conspiract with Emperor Cladius.
  • Catered for VM's needs during his absence, Sent gold and jewellry to him - she decieved the prison guards - intelliigence and care
  • She begged for Vm's life when he was abroad. Shows political awareness, courage and perseverence
  • Beat back a troop of men collected by Milo (attacked VM b/c he had taken his house during exile). Shows her physical abilties and courage, a typical male trait. This also shows her devotion to VM himself as she endangered her life by fighting back.
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Source 43: Murdia

Context: The source is a funeral eulogy for Murdia, presented by her son from her first marriage. The source largely regards how Murdia split the contents of her will. 


  • Murdia's son initially describes how Murdia split her affairs equally amongst her sons, and left a bequest to her one daughter. She also left her husband (and the speaker's stepfather) a sum of money, meaning her dower would increase.

By splitting her belongings equally, Murdia demonstrates diplomacy and an awareness of political norms. She has taken the time to prepare and organise her affairs, which exhibits organisation and intelligence. Further more Murdia also leaves her daughter a bequest, which illustrates a consideration for social conventions, and she is clearly accepting women's place in society. 

  • Her son goes on to recount Murdia left the remainder of the speaker's fathers' property. 

Murdia had a fair-minded approach to the dispersing of her will, and respected her first husband's wishes for his property to fall into the hands of someone of his own blood. 

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Source 165: Cloelia the Hostage

Author: Livy

Context: Livy accounts the story of Cloelia.

Qualities of Cloelia:

Intelligence: notices their hostage site is not far from the banks of the river Tiber, manages to elude guards.

Bravery: Swims across the tiber amidst a rain of enemy spears

Independence: takes initiative in escaping without the guidance of a man

Leadership: Manages to lead the other hostages to their escape

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Source 89: Poisoning Trial: Part 2

The stepmother is manipulative (for befriending the concubine for her own gain) and deceitful (lying to her to gain her trust and motivate her to follow her plans)

  • Stepmother asks the concubine to act as her assistant. The concubine obliges - prosecutor comments she probably did so "readily", Later Philoneus had to go to a religous ceremony to Aeuz, at the same time his father was preparing for a visit to Naxos. Philoneus decides his trip should have a double purpose, he should accompany the prosecutor's father to the harbour & perform his religious duty and feast.
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Source 69: Juvenal Women Part 1

Context: Juvenal expresses his opinion on women through satire. He uses several women as examples for his political expression, mostly criticisng them for their sexual tendencies. 

Reliability: Juvenal writes smutty and political satires, is subject to bias. 


The source initiates with the story of Eppia: 

  • Was the wife of a respected senator, her family possessed status and were wealthy. 
  • She abandoned this to run off to Alexandria with the gladiator Pharos, who Juvenal paints to be extremely dim-witted and unnattractive. 
  • Eppia travelled across the Ionian sea with Pharos - Juvenal makes the generalisation that all women are too fearful to embark upon voyages until it benefits themselves. 
  • Juvenal says Eppia chose Pharos over her idealic Roman lifesyle for sexual reasons - this paints women as sex-crazed, sex will drive them to abandon all they have. 
  • Juvenal emphasises's eppia's idealic lifestyle to make her appear ungrateful. He mocks the gladiator to add to this, making her decision seem even more irrational. 
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Source 69: Juvenal Women Part 2

The source continues with the story of Emperor Claudius's wife:

  • At night his wife would sneak out of the house with a female slave, would disguise herself and go to a brothel - Claudius's wife is inteliigent b/c she manages to sneak out and thinks to effectively disguise herself, however she uses her intelligence for the wrong reasons. She is deceitful - this would hit home for Roman men, who may worry their wife would do the same. 
  •  "Displaying the stomach you came from, noble Britannicus" suggesting that because of Claudius's wifes immoral actions, she pollutes the family reputation. 
  • When Claudius's wife is cismissed from the brothel, she goes reluctantly, painting her as sex-obsessed. 
  • When she returned to the house, she was dirty and "smelt of the brothel", meaning she has no regard for her appearance.

Juvenal explains what an idealistic woman should be - beautiful, rich, fertile and gracious. This contrasts with his presentation of Eppia and Emperor Claudiu's wife, who are the opposites. 

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Source 69: Juvenal Women Part 3

Juvenal uses a wife's mother as another example to criticise women: 

  • Paints them as sex-obsessed, "despoiling" their husbands
  • Says she writes to a seducer, painting women as disloyal and unworthy of skills such as writing, which they use in the wrong ways. 
  • "She tricks your spies and bribes them" another accusation that women use their intelligence to manipulate
  • Is over-protective of their daughter, calling the doctor claiming her "blankets are too heavy", painting her as uneducated and over-dramatic. 
  • Juvenal concludes this section with the suggestion that "your wife's mother" passes her negative traits onto her daughter. 
  • Generalisies a wife's mother to make it more relatable to the male audience. 
  • Juvenal next sets the scene that if a wife's items were sold, she would react negatively. This paints women as materialistic.  

Juvenal makes the comparison of modern Roman women to those in the times of Hannibal. Women were hardworking ('hands calloused and hardened with wool-working') suggesting that woman were more functional, dedicated and intuitive (since they gathered the skills for effective woolworking). 

"Let there be something in books she doesn't understand" Juvenal suggests that women should not be as educated as men. "You might end up the father of some Ethiopian" -> painting women as adulterous. 

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Source 52: Tiberius and Cornelia

Context: Plutarch tells us the story of how Cornelia's husband Tiberius died. 


  • The source initiates with an explanation of family background; Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus are the sons of censor and twice Roman consul Tiberius Gracchus. Scipio , a general who fought against Hannibal, offered Tiberius his daughter Cornelia in marriage despite their differences. 
  • Tiberius once caught 2 snakes in his bed. Soothsayers declared this was an omen, and told Tiberius not to kill or free both of the snakes. They tell him that if the male were killed, Tiberius would die, and if the female were killed, Cornelia would die. 
  • Tiberius sacrificed himself and killed the male snake, since he admired Cornelia so much, and he was much older.  

By sacfricing himself. Tiberius illustrates to us just how admirable (and therefore valuable) Cornelia was. She was such an idealised Roman woman that he was willing to die for her.

  • Plutarch describes how following Tiberius's death, Cornelia takes over the children and he household. She shows others that he made the right decision by choosing to die on her behalf. 

Cornelia is shown to be even more respectful, as she does not let Tiberius's death go to waste. By taking care of their children, she ensures his legacy lives on. She takes over the household, which also shows her ability to be indepedent. 

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Source 51: Cornelia's noble nature Part 2

Because of her many misfortunes, most thought Cornelia would have lost her mind. Plutarch says her nobility, good birth and education ensured this didn't happen.

This shows us that Cornelia possesses all the core values of a Roman woman, whcih can only occur if they are born into the right family. These qualities meant that Cornelia handled her grievances well. 


Plutarch wrote as a way of inspiring people to live more moral lives. Some of the content may be exaggerated. 


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Source 51: Cornelia's noble nature

Context: Plutarch describes Cornelia, whom encapsulates all the essential aspects of an ideal Roman matron. Women are said to aspire to her excellence. The source is entirely positive, and useful to use as evidence for what the Romans truly idealised, and to compare against sources with more negative women. 

Summary/Analysis: Plutarch first describes how following her death Cornelia was honoured with a statue. Despite encountering many troubles in her life, Cornelia dealt with her grief 'nobly and magnanimously' 

Cornelia is in control of her emotions, and does not let her grief get the better of her. 

Cornelia spends a lot of her time in Misenum. She had a good circle of friends whom she entertained. She exchanged gifts with Kings.

Cornelia had effective social skills. The source notes how many of these friends were Greeks and 'learned men' amplifying her importance, as established people desired to socialise with her. 

Cornelia particuarly enjoyed telling her friends about her father Scipio Africanus, a general who fought against Hannibal.

Cornelia respects her ancestry, and by explaining her father's stories she continues his legacy. Her ancestry is extremely impressive and established, which would improve the status of a Roman woman. She also has an articulation in her words, and a capacity to entertain and socialise. 

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Source 89: Poisoning Trial

Context: Prosecutor = the deceased son by his 1st marriage. Defendant = deceased second wife, who is represented by her sons and prosecutor's half brothers.


  • Says that the sons are morally obligated to come forward as avengers of the deceased - they are backing their 'murderous' mother over their father. Claims his step mother had been caught in plans to inflict death before. Claims the jury is obligated to punish her if they wish to protect the laws "which you have recieved as inhertance from your ancestors"

According to the prosecutor, the stepmother had a reputation. Uses the excuse of ancestors as a persuasive technique to remind the jury of their motivation - importance of ancestry in Greek society.

  • As a persuasive technique, the prosecutor claims the jury have now replacec his half brothers as sons, as they stand by the laws of the state
  • Philoneus was a friend of the prosecutor's father and occupied the upper room in the house when he had business in town. Prosecutor describes him as honest and respectable. He had a concubine who he intended to dispose of in a brothel. When the stepmother heard this she made a friend of the concubine. The stepmother lied to the concubine and said she was being wrongly treated to, by the prosecutors father
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Source 88: A Husband's Defence Part 4

Gathers his friend Sostratus and has dinner with him upstairs. Eratosthenese makes his entrance and the husband is awoken by the maid who tells him he is in the house. Telling her to watch the door, he goes and collects some of his men who can bare witness. Some are away, but others are present. They gather torches and catch Erathosthenes with his wife. 

The husband is inteliigent, knows the rules and knows he can kill Erathosthenese if other bear witness to the crime. Makes his story appear more credible that some men are away. 

He knocks Eratosthenes down and twists his hands behind his back. Eratosthenes begs he is not killed. The husband does not oblige, and tells him he has committed a crime against the state. He kills Eratosthenes. 

The husband appears selfess and dedicated to Athenian laws, as he states that he must be killed because he broke the laws of the state, over emotional toil of him sleeping with his wife. 

Gives details of his death - he was struck in the bedroom and bound his hands behind his back. Many people bore witness to Erathosthenes crime so it's justified. States he fully admited is crime and offered to pay compensation but the husband did not accept. Brings witnesses to testify. 

The details amplify the credibility, as well as the witnesses - illustrates Euphiletus's intelligence. The fact he rejected the money compensation shows he is not materialistic and priortises the state over anything. 

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Source 88: A Husband's Defence

Context: A man defends himself after killing the man sleeping with his wife. 


  • The speaker addresses the jury directly, and states that when they originally married he intended to not annoy her, but also to "not have her own way". He watched her as much as he could. He trusted her more after their child was born, and gave/shared all his possessions with her to show affection 

TECHNIQUE: addresses the jury directly in order to be persuasive and seem more civil. He presents himself as the ideal Ahenian man - being nice and affectionate to his wife whilst simulteanously appearing dominant.

  • Goes on to tell the story of how she cheated on him - at first she appeared nice, and would not have suspected her. She was "clever, economical and in exact management of everything". However his mother died, and at the funeral she first saw Eratosthenes - the adulterer. 

The husband states some of the ideals Athenian men wanted in their wives - to be economical and clever. Funerals were one of the only times women were allowed outside. The fact she first saw Eratosthenes at a religious event makes the woman appear even worse. 

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Source 88: A Husband's Defence Part 5

States the details of the law of Areopagus, which grants the right to murder adulterers if caught directly with enough evidence. Later says that the punishment was not in his own interests, but in the interests of the whole Athenian community. 

The husband shows inteliigence through showing his knowledge of the law. He is selfless and cares for the state more than anything. 

Reliability: If husband is convicted, he faces murder, and so would go to lengths to ensure this does not happen. 

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Source 88: A Husband's Defence Part 3

The wife leaves and locks the door, which the husband took as a joke. The husband does not suspect a thing, and was glad to sleep after his long journey. In the morning the husband unlocked the door, and asks his wife why the doors had been creaking in the night. She explain that it was because the baby's lamp had gone out and she had fetched one from the neighbours. 

Husband appears unsuspectingly innocent, but perspective of the creaking floors. The woman's direct lie makes her appear deceitful to the jury, but also intelligent since she was so convincing. 

The husband notices his wife had put make up on despite her brother dying a month before, however he says nothing. Some time later, he was approached by an old woman who was sent by Eratosthenes' previous mistress. He never came to see her anymore and had found out it was because of the speaker's wife. Tells the husband of Eratosthenes. Describes that it's his profession to be adulterous. 

With each fact about Eratosthenese, it makes him appear worse, justifying his death. 

Euphiletus is overwhelmed by this news, and reflects on how he had been locked into the bedroomk and that night the doors had creaked, and how his wife's face was rouged. He goes home and takes the servant to the market, and informed her he has discovered all that is going on. Tells her she has two options - to be flogged or to confess the whole truth and suffer no punishment. At first she denies it saying she knows nothing, but when he named Eratothenes she tells him everything.

He is perspective and remembers details. He is also threatening and dominant over his maid - he handles the situation well and isn't controlled by his anger by acting immediately.

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Source 52: Tiberius and Cornelia Part 2

  • Following Tiberius's death, Ptolemy proposed to her, offering to share his kingdom with her. Cornelia refuses and elects to remain a widow. 

By refusing Tiberius's offer of an entire kingdom, Cornelia displays that she is not materliastic. She has no regard for riches, putting family and respecting Tiberius's sacrifice first. 

  • Of all her 12 children, only 3 survived. Her only daughter marries Scipio the younger. Her two sons were Tiberius and Gaius. Plutarch tells us she raised them well. 

Cornelia ensures her surviving children have stability in their future. 


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Source 88: A Husband's Defence Part 2

  • Erathosthenes kept a look out for their maid when she went to the market and suggested how he would get into the house. 

Maids had more social mobility 

  • Describes the layout of his house. Divided into two - men and women's quarters. After their child was born he decided to swap the women's quarters downstairs so his wife was closer to their child and could nurse it easier.

Presents himself as selfless and caring - making the woman's adulterous choice appear worse, as she was ungratefulf for the "ideal" Athenian man she had 

  • One day the speaker came home from the country early. After dinner their child began crying unexpectedly, the speaker found out later it was the maid pinching him as Eratosthenes was in the house. The speaker insisted his wife go tend to their child but she initially refused, pretending to seek him after his long absence.

"Back from the country" - suggesting he's hardworking. The lengths in which Eratosthenes goes to get to the speaker's wife make him appear worse to the jury. Presents the woman as sex driven - the husband appears more civilised and caring, as he priortises the wellbieng of his child over sex. 

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Source 86: Proof of Marriage Part 2

  • The speaker argues that if she were illegitimate, her husband would not have held the banquets and oaths, and instead would have tried to conceal it. 
  • The wives of the demesmen would not have chosen her to preside over the Thesmophoria if she were legitimate. This shows the importance of legitimacy for the important roles in the Thesmophoria, shows women were intuitive  and selective in deciding these roles.
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Source 86: Proof of Marriage

Context: An Athenian woman is making claims for her father Ciron's estate. As a respected Athenian woman she is not present, and her case is therefore argued by her son.

Reliability:Presented by her son, who would want her to claim the estate as it would benefit himself. 


  • Claims it should be clear that she is the legitimate daughter of Ciron due to what positive things Ciron had done for them, and the women of their demesmen also favour her.
  • When the woman's husband took her in marriage, he held a wedding feast and summoned his relatives and 3 friends, giving a marriage tbanquet to the phratry according to the correct customs. Proceeding this the wives of the demesmen decided that the woman would conduct a ritual at the Thesmophoria. This shows that the woman is respectable, as her husband valued her and her family (shown through the marriage banquet) and as she was chosen fo a valued role at the Thesmophoria, an important event for Athenian women. Her husband would not organised such an extensive banquet if she were not legitimate.
  • When the speaker was born, his father introduced them to the phatry and made an oath that they were children born from an Athenian citizen. Due to none of the members of the phratry denying this, despite investigating matters thoroughly. Shows the importance of the phratry in proving the legitmacy of a birth, and how important this was to Athenians since they went to such great lengths.         
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Source 262: Death of Helvidae sisters

Author: Pliny


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Source 43: Murdia Part 2

  • Murdia's son goes on to mention Murdia's nature, describing how she treated her husbands well and contributed well to both marriages. To her son, Murdia's equal division of her estate illustrates her open-minded nature. 

This shows how a Roman women had no say in their marriages, and what was expected of them. They were expected to be accepting of the marriage, to contribute to it well (aka, producing children), be loyal, and succeeding her death she must be praised. According to her son, Murdia achieved all of this, and it is indicated through the fair nature of her will.

  • The last retrieved section ends with a praise of women's contribution to society. Murdia's son furthers his argument by mentioning how Murdia 'deserved greater praise than all others', listing her skills in modesty, chastity, obedience, propriety, wool-working, industry and loyalty. 

From this it is clear Murdia's son holds a positive view of women. By listing Murdia's qualities, the speaker is presenting to us the qualities of an ideal woman. Chastity, modesty, propriety and loyalty all regard how a woman presents herself to her husband and other peers. Where as wool-working and industry regard her practical skills. 

Reliability of the source: Part of the source is lost, and so we can not get to grips with the entire context. Murdia's  son is also biased to a degree, since he is left extra property and eulogies are generally glorified. 

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