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CLA219H1 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Hubris, Andania, Terentia

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Regina Hoschele
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Reading Summaries October 12th Onwards
Lefkowitz and Fant Texts
Text 196: Repeal of the Oppian Law The History of Rome by Livy 195BC
In 215 BC after the defeat by Hannibal at Cannae, Rome passed the Oppian law,
an emergency measure which limited women’s use of expensive goods.
20 years after the crisis, the law was repealed against the objections of many
conservatives represented in the text by the Consul and Marcus Cato
Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius the tribunes of the people brought for
the motion to repeal this law
The law originally stated that no woman might own more than half an ounce of
hold nor wear a multi-coloured dress nor ride in a carriage in the city or in a town
within a mile of it unless there was a religious festival.
The women besought to have back their luxuries giving reason that the republic
was thriving and that everyone’s private wealth was increasing
Cato who spoke in favour of the law said that if men had firmly established that
the right of authority of the husband should supersede the mother of his family
then they would not have such issues with women. He went on that it was not the
woman’s place to concern themselves with what laws are passed or repealed.
He prompted that if women are victorious now, what will they then not attempt?
As soon as they begin to be men’s equals they will have become men’s superiors.
Lucius Valerius the peoples champion gives his rebuttal by chastising Cato
saying that he used up more words castigating women than he did opposing the
He goes on to reference a list of times in which women’s public appearance has
only benefitted the people - “the more power you possess, all the more
moderately should you exercise your authority”
Text 244: Chastity, 3rd/2nd Century Written in a Doric dialect - attributed to Phintys, a female
member of the Hellenistic Pythagorean community in Southern Italy
In general, a woman must always be good and orderly this no one can become
without Virtue
A woman’s greatest virtue is chastity because she is able to honour and to cherish
her own particular husband
Some things are suitable for men, such as cavalry, politics some things are
suitable for women such as keeping house, caring for family etc. but some things
belong evenly to both sexes
Justice, courage and intelligence belong to both sexes
Accordingly, a woman must learn about chastity and realise what she must do to
obtain this virtue there are five qualifications 1. The sanctity of her marriage
bed 2. The cleanliness of her body 3. The manner in which she chooses to leave
her house 4. Her refusal to participate in secret cults or Cybeline rituals 5. Her
readiness and moderation in sacrificing to the gods
Of these 5 the worst offence to break is the first if she takes other men to bed
she defiles her family name the reward for such pride or hubris is death
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There is also no means of atoning for the above sin for this crime, divinity has
no mercy
Text 245: Advice for one with a Husband consorting with a Hetaera
Since this letter was written in a language characteristic of the Hellenistic age, the
Theano who wrote this could not have been Pythagoras’ wife
A wife’s virtue does not consist of supervising her husband, but lay rather in
accommodation or tolerating his foolishness
Good character alone wins over enemies
The better a housewife becomes, the sooner her husband will recognize his folly
Text 295: Exposure of a female child. Oxyrhynchus, Egypt 1BC
A letter from a husband to his wife directing her not to raise her baby if it is a
Exposed children were left to be raised by others or to die
He offers to send her wages to care for the child so long as it is male
Text 300: The Philosopher Favorinus on breast feeding
This was a conservative reaction against women’s wish to rebel against
biologically determined roles
Favorinus was also known to condemn abortions
The speaker muses with a woman to feed her child with the milk of her own
breast, not others
The mother of the woman in question says that her daughter, after a lengthy
labour should be spared breast feeding as it is tiresome and instead be provided
with wet nurses
Favorinus pleads that the woman must be a mother in its totality what sort of
mother would send its child away after nourishing it with her own blood and body
could she not just feed it anyways? He adds, do women have nipples for
decoration of purpose?
He then argues that the disposition of the nurse and the quality of the milk being
given play a huge role in character development only a mother’s milk will
suffice as it is supposedly tinged with the fathers seed
He concludes by saying, why would one cut the bond between mother and child
remove the nurturing aspect of contact that is breast feeding cutting that tie
servers that relationship from the get go/
Text 301-331: Most of this section is comprised of small fragments or excerpts only
highlighting the longer, key ones.
303: a mother is convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail time with minimal food her
daughter visits her a feeds her from her own breast the mother is released due to the remarkable
deed of her daughter both are given substance for the rest of their lives
310: Seneca to his mother AD 41-49
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