Women in Law and Politics

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In the Roman Law of the Twelev Tables, the women remained in the condition of a daughter oe was always under the tutelage of one man or another. Romen women, were viewed as mentally weaker than men and therefore it was necessary to keep a close eye on them. They were not allowed to participate in financial matters without the supervision of their legal guardians. However, a woman sui iuris could take control of her own money and property without the help of a tutor, though she still had to have one. The tutor cold only advise her and did have the power to stop her in certain circumstances. Also, his consent was necessary for the transactions res manicipi which were transactions concerning agricultural property. On the other hand, she did not need his permission to partake in a new tutor if she desired. Initially women were anot allowed to write will either, but this soon changed and became the first legal right to be had by women. A woman first had to gain the permission of her guardian, which was difficult if her tutor was an agnate relative because it was him that the property would automatically go if he did not grant permission.

Women in Rome, though they did not have many legal rights, played a very large part in the legal and political life of the city. They found ways around the laws confining them, ways which were often times illegal themselves.

The Poisoning Trials of 331BCE is justone example of how women took charge of their situation and came together as a group. A strange plague was afflciting men, the cause unknown until a slave woman revealed the truth to Fabius Maximus. In truth women were brewing poisons they claimed to be curative. Twenty or more matrons were forced to drink these potions as proof, all of them died. Shortly thereafter on ehundred and seventy more women were brought to trials and convicted. This was the first time women had been tried publicly, rather than reutrned to their families for punishment. Though it is uncertain why these women poisoned their husbands one possible explaination would be the restrictive methods of dissolving an unhappy marriage.

Another example of women taking charge in a situation displeasing to them would be the repeal of the lex Oppia in 195 BCE. The Oppian Law was passe in 215 BC during the second Punic War and said "that no woman should have more than a half ounce of gold or wear a multi-coloured garment (especially with pruple) or ride in a carriage in the city or town within a mile of it, unless it was a public religious festival". This was not necessarily done to supress women, rather to save money to help pay for he high costs of the war. However, twenty years later the law was still in effect. The women of Rome gathered together in the Forum and tried to speak to the senators. When that did not…

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