• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Ho did Roman society's expectations of women in the first century AD differ from those of society in Britain today?

Extracts from this document...


How did Roman society's expectations of women in the first century AD differ from those of society in Britain today? In a letter informing a friend of a young girl's death, Pliny praises the girl for having the "judgement" and "dignity" of older women. He comments on the fact that she preferred reading to playing, and mentions that when she did play she did so "demurely". Pliny also admired her for her bravery and for the respect and affection she showed her father's friends and her teachers. This shows that in Roman society girls were expected to mature early, and to socialise with adults and read instead of participating in childish games because they were supposed to be unnoticed, and not cause their fathers any embarrassment. There are similarities between these expectations, and those which Britain's society has of girls; reading is still seen as an admirable pursuit today, and being able to socialise with adults is a good quality to have. However today girls are frowned upon for growing up too quickly, which is very different to Roman views. Sallust's critiscism of Sempronia for being too educated, and the lack of mention of girls in the account of a school day show that it was unusual for girls to receive more then a basic, primary education. This was because at that time women were not expected to get jobs, or have careers because their role was as a wife and mother, so they did not need much education. ...read more.


Roman wives were the property of their husbands, and they had to obey them. Valerius Maximus' account of a man killing his wife for drinking, and not being reproached for it because she "deserved the punishment" shows the power men had over their wives lives. This was because women had to be disciplined so that they did not embarrass their husbands by acting immodestly, or receiving any unwanted attention. In Britain today domestic violence is a crime, and men no longer have such extreme control over their wives existence. Married women were also expected to put up with their husbands affairs. Valerius Maximus praises a women for being tolerant of her husbands adultery, and "completely ignoring" it. Adultery was common in those times because wealthy citizens married for social position, not love, so there was often little affection between a husband and wife. In today's society attitudes towards adultery are very different, because people normally marry for love, and women are not expected to accept the fact that their husbands will have affairs. In the first century AD married women also had to be careful they were not expressing too many opinions, or appearing to have too much knowledge about poetry or ethics, because this was "really annoying." In public women were supposed to be appreciative of their husbands, and not try to upstage, or appear cleverer, than they were, because women were seen as being intellectually inferior to men. ...read more.


Ovid's advice on how women can "appear bright and radiant" by using face masks shows that at that time women used cosmetics to make themselves more attractive so that they could get men's attention. This shows it was men who pursued women, as women had to get their attention through the way they looked. It also suggests that women were desired because of their appearance, not their mind, probably because at the time it was thought that women could not understand the same things as men anyway, so how clever they were was not significant. Although women still use cosmetics nowadays, and are still judged on their appearance, their personality is also important. Legally women in the first century AD had no rights. Their father, or guardian if their father was dead, "deaf, mute or insane", had to authorise all of their lawsuits, "legal or financial obligations" and their transactions in civil business, and they also had to arrange their dowries. This was because it was thought that women could not understand law or business, as they were not clever enough. It is a demonstration of the inferior position that Roman women held in society because it shows that they were treated as if they were children. In Britain today men and women have to have a parent or guardian until they are sixteen, but after that they are legally considered adults so they no longer need a guardian. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Classics essays

  1. Explain how Shakespeare portrays men and women and relationships in Much Ado about Nothing

    For example in Act 1 Scene 1, the character of Beatrice shows her hatred towards Benedick by using petty comments such as 'A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours' meaning that Beatrice would rather be a squawking bird than an animal like Benedick.

  2. Free essay

    Just about every aspect of sport which we find exciting today was present at ...

    In a way the footballers are owned like a slave would be the club / manager owns them and they are sold onto other teams. Just like the charioteers they also receive very high pays. This aspect of charioteering / modern day sport would have made it exciting because you

  1. Guide To The Colosseum and Games of Ancient Rome

    Then, it all began. Gladiators would usually fight to the death, but if the defeated man had fought a good battle, there was a chance for his life to be spared. It was called an 'appeal to the finger'. He had to hold up a finger in admit of defeat, and to plead for mercy.

  2. To what extent are the traditions and values of the ancient Olympic Games reflected ...

    Even in today's games we recreate with surprising accuracy the climate and circumstances surrounding the ancient Olympic Games. For example the vase painting on the right is shows a boxing contest ('pugme'). Two boxers wear leather 'himantes' or boxing gloves.

  1. Discuss how Dickens criticises the Victorian education system in the opening of Hard Times?

    To contrast the stern names, sibilance is used to create soft, welcoming characters. By using names like 'Sissy' for characters inexperienced by Gradgrind's standards, Dickens conveys a direct line separating sibilance from harsh-sounding names. The novel is opened by introducing the relevance of 'Facts' which is all anyone needs to know from a strict Utilitarian's point of view.

  2. What was life like in the Roman Army and what made them successful?

    There were further rigorous fitness tests and the main assessment, watched closely by the commanders, and after all training had been completed, the recruit was given a position depending on what the commander thought of his skills and good attributes; if he was good at fighting and also had good

  1. GCSE Latin- Who is more reliable in their account of the druid culture- Julius ...

    The third account, that of Tacitus, was written 100 years after that of JC, around the time of Pliny's work. Tacitus is extremely dismissive of the Druids, mocking them as barbaric, crazy and irreligious. It is possible that Tacitus was a Christian, and would have found the Druids and their

  2. Pericles and Athens in the 5th century BC

    500\ Athens suggested the Greeks form a defensive league interesting Sparta didn?t join the Delian league. One a state became a member it could only withdraw if other states agreed. The league had one common Navy the ships were built and manned by Athens but other city-states paid for them.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work