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Women in Ancient Rome

Евсеенков А.С.

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As in other states of the ancient era, which were characterized by patriarchy, women in Ancient Rome had a lower social status. than men, and were restricted in their rights. They were not allowed to hold public office, vote, serve in the military, or attend certain public events and circuses. Traditionally, women were in a subordinate position in relation to men in the family (husbands or fathers).

A model wife was considered a loyal and modest stay-at-home mother (Latin: domiseda, domus in Latin means "house"), who was diligently engaged in housework.

Fresco from the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii. 1st century AD

Social status

Most women had fewer rights than men. The exception was the Vestal virgins, who had even more privileges than the noble men. This was a feature of the cult of Vesta, traditionally important for the Roman religion and state.

In ancient Rome, there were women of the following social statuses::

Bust of the goddess Hygiea. Marble. Rome, National Roman Museum, inv. no. 8588. Roman copy from a Greek work of the 4th century BC. The work was made in the 2nd century AD..
Fresco from the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii. 1st century AD
Polyhymnia. St. Petersburg, the Hermitage Museum. Inv. no. A. 381. Roman copy from a Greek work of the 4th century BC. The work was made in the 2nd century AD.

Women's clothing

Depending on your social status, the dress may vary, but most images, with the exception of gladiatrix, include the following items of clothing::

Women liked to adorn themselves with jewelry, which in Ancient Rome was made very skillfully:

There was also a very intricate fashion for hairstyles, especially among rich women. For a reenactor, the most difficult thing to create an image is to recreate the drapery of a dress, which in Rome was folded from a thin fabric, hanging weights on the ends of clothes. Such weights can be seen on the statue of Concordia Augusta from Pompeii in the early 1st century AD.


Before starting to collect a set of clothes, it is necessary to determine the reconstructed social status. In the Roman reconstruction, unlike many other eras, the image of a female gladiatrix warrior is available, the equipment of which is discussed in detail in the section "gladiators". The image of a priestess, for example the cult of Isis, requires a special kind of tunic. The clothing of peregrines may contain elements characteristic of indigenous peoples. In the most common female images, the main differences will be in the presence or absence of a palla, a table (which is allowed to be worn only by matrons), the method of hair styling, jewelry and colors. Sew clothes for the chosen image should be made of fine wool or linen, for the reconstruction of very rich female images, you can use natural silk.

The least expensive set of women's clothing suitable for novice reenactors is a long tunic with a belt and sandals, the image of a slave or commoner.

Roman aristocrat, reconstruction
Roman Matrona, reconstruction
Resident of the Roman Empire, reconstruction

Related topics

Palla, Tunic, Of the table, Balteus, Subligaculum, Strofium, Sandals, Calcei, Necklace, Earrings, Armylls, Fibula, Buttons, Matrona, Gladiator, Hairpin, Roman hairstyles, Women in Ancient Greece, Samnite women


Life of the Greeks and Romans-Velishsky.pdf

The Life of Ancient Rome-Sergeenko. pdf

History of the peasantry in Ancient Rome-Shterman. pdf

The legal status of women in Ancient Rome. Shlenchak D. A.


Concordia of August. Pompeii. Naples Archaeological Museum. Early 1st century AD
A young woman in a house tunic and a wrapped head. Getty Villa. 9 BC-14 AD
Comedy scene from the theater. P. Casca Longus House, Pompeii. Early 1st century AD
Mosaic from the House of Orpheus. Pafos, Archaeological Park. 2-3 century AD
Bronze statuette with a meander pattern in an archaic style. Found in Verona, Italy. The British Museum. 1st century BC - 1st century AD