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Lecture 4

Week 4: Women and Religion Detailed continuation of both last week's notes (Roman Households) and this week's notes, which include the Pantheon, Festivals, Oracles, Vestal Virgins, and more. Again notes were taken both in class, and additional notes were


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA219H1
Professor
Melanie Racette- Campbell
Lecture
4

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October 7, 2010
Kaloikagathoi = noblemen; ‘the beautiful and the good’
Assumed people who were good and beautiful were also rich; just how their
minds worked
Socrates called Isomachus kaloikagathoi
Oeconomicus written by Xenophon; both Plato and Xenophon use the character to
Socrates
No space specifically set aside as womens’ spaces
Perhaps in the homes of the very wealthy—but these spaces couldn’t have been
that common
Roman Domesticity and Domestic Space
Believed they treated their wives/women differently than the Greeks did
Believed that displaying the virtuous activities of their women was a reflection of
the virtue of the household; see women’s work as important, but ultimately
functioning in making the men’s lives better—a virtuous wife was a status symbol
Roman women believed their lives were freer than those of Greek wives; believed
their wives were somehow more virtuous than Greek women
Roman women eat with the men, even if they’re at parties, even with men that
weren’t a part of their family, unlike Greek women
Traditionally, Roman women would sit on stools, while men reclined on couches
For propriety’s sake
Part of a man’s virtue and standing in his community was having a wife that behaved
properly; could be seen sitting at her loom weaving, supervising slaves, and doing
things that wives were supposed to do
Greeks appreciated and expected this, but Romans put this on display
Greek men (especially political men) tended to conduct their business in public areas
of their city
Roman men, especially important Roman men, would do this as well, but they’d also
have people come into their homes
Roman men had a salutagio, where they would sit in the morning, where clients
would come and visit (could be economic, political…etc)
Made a Roman house less strictly private than a Greek house
Roman women didn’t seem as confined to the household than Greek women
Leaving the home for shopping, etc, wasn’t looked down upon in Rome as it was
in Athens for Athenian women
Roman women in charge of:
Woolworking—big thing
»If women weren’t doing anything else, they should be working wool
Ie: vase of prostitutes spinning wool while waiting for clients

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“She worked wool” was frequently found on gravestones—almost like
shorthand for ‘she was a good woman’
Food preparation
»Took more time in premodern era; unless family was fairly wealthy and could
afford a freestanding oven in their home, baking was done outside of the home
Kitchens in homes that could afford it could be fairly huge—to provide
food for everyone who worked there
Most work in kitchen probably done by slaves—perhaps supervised by
woman of the house
Fire hazard; kitchen located near edge of the house
Usually had a type of grill
Made up bread dough, and took it to a baker who would rent space in their
oven…
Fast food spaces in Rome
Women generally oversaw everything that went on indoors, wealthy women
probably didn’t do much work themselves
Roman Farms
»Most slaves working on a farm would be male—some women would be there
though as wives for working overseers of the farm
»Overall, similar to Greek farm homes
House Plans
Domus: latin for house
Like a single family home: would be more than a nuclear family, also slaves,
other dependents
Inward-looking, not many outward windows; like Greek homes
Atrium: central hall of house; partially open to sky, pool in middle where rainwater
is collected, and it’s from the atrium where all other rooms get light and air.
This is where a Roman man would have clients come in and speak with him
This is the public face of a house
Where family would keep more important possessions; if family was rich, would
have masks of ancestors
Weaving, cooking, anything, would be done in here if weather was good
Besides entrance, atrium, and dining room, many other rooms were multipurpose
Later, some wealthier Romans could afford to build larger homes, based on the
traditional ‘core’ of the home, “peristyle house”
Peristyle: more intimate kind of meeting space; where you’d more have your friends,
dinner parties…
Garden space, with a covered walkway open with colonnades on the side, with
rooms coming off of the sides
Thought of Peristyle addition as being more Greek

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»Romans had a notion that Greeks were more about luxury in private, while
Romans were about being serious in public...so thought the peristyle was
developed from Greek influences
If people had larger homes than they needed or could afford to keep up, some of the
rooms were converted into shops that were separated from the rest of the house, and
opening onto the streets
Rented out, or used to sell products by the family itself
Some houses were subdivided into smaller homes
Insula: apartment building, usually 2-3 stories, sometimes 5-6 stories
Usually in urban areas; some found today in Rome itself
Sometimes built beside a hill/against a hill; good especially because construction
practises weren’t as good as today
Nicest apartments in the day were found on the ground floor
Also shops lining the streets
Cheapest apartments were the ones on the top floor
Bottom floor apartments could be as nice as private houses, a readily-available
water supply
No real distinction between women’s and men’s space in the Roman household.
Women and Religion
Polytheistic; supernatural and gods were an important part of almost every aspect of
ancient life
No concept of separation of church and state; there were gods and spirits attached to
just about anything
Not everyone would have worshipped every deity/spirit; usually stuck to those that
were the most important to them: main deity of state city, class, work, stage of life,
etc.
Other side of this; if you happened across an area that was controlled by another god,
you’d have to be careful not offend that other god; some gods were more easily
offended than others
Ex: if passed some place of worship for god Pan, and didn’t make an
acknowledgement, something bad was going to happen to you as you’d just
insulted the god
A big part of ancient religion is keeping the gods from being angry with you; a big
part of was bribery (getting the gods to do what you want) and avoiding punishment
In later Rome, many aristocrats didn’t necessarily believe in their gods anymore;
more felt that worship was an important thing to do/show for the sake of the public,
and to impress the Romans
It seemed that everyday people did follow these rituals though
Wide range of ways of observing the religions, and women had important roles in
many of them
Household cults
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