Exam Format: cumulative, material from the entire semester
- Essay (will take about 1 hr)
- Short answers, terms
- Possible image ID
Famous Roman Women
— In ancient literature, the way people are portrayed doesn’t necessarily
correspond to reality
— Some emperors portrayed as perfect emperors, and others portrayed as
— Is this what really happened? Hard for us to reconstruct the reality.
Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi
— Next to Lucretia, who is a legendary figure, Cornelia is the one Roman
figure that appears as an absolute embodiment of a good woman
— Identified mostly through her motherhood, mother of Tiberius and Gaius
— Daughter of famous Roman man, Scipio Africanus, whose name comes
from the fact that he defeated Hannibal
— Married to Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (name is an example of tripartite
naming system in Rome)
— First part: given name
— Second part: name of the family, clan
— Cognomen (last part): kind of nickname that gets attached to
— Cicero: nickname meaning chickpea
— Problem: many members of the family with the same name
— Women only named by the second part. They get the female form of the
— If father’s name is Gaius Julius Caesar, girl would be named Julia. Five girls
all would be named Julia (the First, the Second, etc.) — So Cornelia is part of the Cornelii family.
— Her marriage took place in 172 BC. Tiberius was around 45, and Cornelia
was 18. Common age difference in Greek & Roman marriages.
— Tiberius died around 154 BC. In that time period of around 20 years,
Cornelia bore him 12 children, almost all of whom died before adulthood.
Only survivors: Sempronia, Tiberius, Gaius.
— Cornelia was famous for her virtue, which is reflected in the fact that she
was a univera. After her husband dies, she refuses marriage proposals, even
though the King of Egypt proposed to her. Virtue: she didn’t even want to
— We don’t know what the real Cornelia did. What later sources make out of
her might not correspond to the historical person. Under her name are
transmitted several letters she supposedly wrote to Gaius, although the
widespread consensus that these letters aren’t really her. However, sources
portray her as a woman who was very eloquent and would have been
— Cornelia in later times was very much worshipped and revered, which
could be seen from the fact that a statue of her was erected in Rome in the
Augustan age. At that time, there were really no statues of mortal women. It
is said that the statue was already put up in the second century BC, but very
unlikely. More likely, a statue that was originally of a goddess was
interpreted as her. The statue came to stand for Cornelia and was put into
the Porticus Octaviae.
— Porticus (a hub with a lot of columns)
— Porticus Octavii very significant because it was put up by Augustus in
honour of his sister sometime after 27 BC. First public building in Rome
named after a female. In the portico is a statue of Cornelia. Now the statue
has been lost, but archeaologists have found the statue base w/ inscription.
The inscription was found at the very spot Pliny says that statue stood.
Inscription: “Cornelia Africani F GRACCHORUM”: Cornellia, daughter of
Africanus, mother of the Gracchi. She was defined as the daughter of the
famous conqueror of Hannibal and the mother of the Gracchi.
— Octavia, mother of Marcellus who was the designated successor of
Augustus, takes in children of Cleopatra, mother figure (later embodiment of
— Gracchi: Tiberius lived from around 163 to 133 BC and he was a so-called
tribune, meaning he was a representative of the Roman people, the plebes.
— In Rome, two parts of the population: old Roman aristocracy who are the
patricians, and then the others, non-nobles, are the plebians. The senators belong to the upper-class, and later on you get the representatives of the
plebian class. Tribune is a very important function because he could
influence politics on behalf of the lower classes, a very desirable position.
Tribune position lasted one year. Tiberius uses his position as tribune to
propose a law that would end up redistributing the public land, which wasn’t
very popular with the patricians. 133 BC, Tiberius Gracchus is killed. Ten
years later, his younger brother Gaius becomes a tribune, and then tries to
do something similar. The Gracchi are social reformers, tried to institute
reforms in Rome that are very problematic and result in a lot of fighting, and
both end up dead. Gaius dies in 125 BC. Both were very forward-looking
politicians that wanted to introduce social reforms that were unpopular.
— Cornelia loses her two grown-up sons in political struggles. A lot of anxiety
is attached to the names of the Gracchi. Sometimes Cornelia is blamed for
these events because she gave birth to them, but in later portrayals her
image is unblemished. Cornelia in these sources is always presented as the
mother of the Gracchi.
— Plutarch writes biographies of famous Greeks & Romans.
— “The snake portent.” Portrays a happy marriage, the husband loves
his wife so much that he does something that will end in his death.
— Valerius Maximus, “These are my jewels” — meaning: “I don’t need gold
or necklaces, I have my children to adorn me”.
— Plutarch: “Mother of the Gracchi”. — Meaning: Scipio Aemillianos (PH) is
husband of her daughter Sempronia, leading general of the Roman Republic,
and commanded the destruction of Carthage (fought in the Third Punic War).
Imagines Cornelia telling her children that they need to do famous deeds to
bring honour to her name.
— Statue in front of the Ohio Statehouse of Cornelia who stands for the state
of Ohio, beneath are famous Ohioans. She is gesturing, “These are my
— Cornelia: known for being erudite, one of of the first women who we are
told knows Greek and Latin, and takes an active role in the education of her
sons (necessary because her husband died)
— Seneca, To Helvia on Consolation: We see Cornelia used as an example of
a woman who can bear her grief over her children’s death very well.
— Seneca was exiled to Corsica because Mesillina accused Seneca of
adultery, 41 AD, and then recalled in 49 AD because Agripinna (mother of
Nero) wanted him to tutor his son. He writes to his mother, Helvia, to console
her: Cornelia is not defeated by the loss of her sons, but feels proud of them
and gets over it. Seneca names her as a woman who is ranked with the greatest of men.
— Born around 94 BC
— Notorious for lots of reasons, one is that she’s the sister of Publius Clodus
Pulcher (of the Bona Dea sca