Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2021
This chapter investigates the portrayal of carpentum and its prestigious relative, the pilentum, two special carriages sanctioned for use by Roman matrons but frequently portrayed as problematic or dangerous. Through an examination of several stories involving carpentum – most importantly that of Tullia, who famously drove over the corpse of her father, King Servius, in the carriage – it shows how this conveyance served to focalize Roman patriarchal anxieties surrounding women’s conflicting loyalties as daughters and wives. It moves on to analyze accounts of the prohibition of women’s privilege of using carpenta, the attempts of moralizing senators such as Cato the Elder to oppose the repeal of this ban, and the dramatic protest of the women themselves. A concluding section examines how its occasional, but conspicuous use by men is represented as effeminizing, and traces the recurring theme of hybridity in its depictions.