7 - Imperial Women
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 November 2020
This chapter selects some of the plentiful epigraphic evidence for women of the imperial family, ranging from the relatives of the emperor Augustus to the empresses of the Severan dynasty in the early third century AD. Starting with two prominent women of leading Republican families, who may be considered as forerunners of the women of the imperial family, the inscriptions are grouped together under three headings: life, death and deeds; titles and cult; wealth and staff. By throwing light on their public image, their public titles, such as mother of the army camps, their personal staff and their economic undertakings, inscriptions allow a more dispassionate view of imperial women vilified by the ancient literary authors, such as Livia, Messalina and Agrippina Minor, and shed some light on empresses neglected by the literary sources, such as the Matidias and Sabina. Inscriptions also attest to the friendship and benefactions of indivual empresses and the way they were presented as models for (female) citizens. In contrast to the deification and cult of some empresses, inscriptions also testify to the posthumous damnatio memoriae of other imperial women or their relatives.
- Women and Society in the Roman WorldA Sourcebook of Inscriptions from the Roman West, pp. 299 - 330Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2020