Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Roles of Patrician and Plebeian Women in Their Religion in the Republic of Rome

By Lesa A. Young

Political events during the Republic involving women began reforms that eventually changed women’s roles: a Vestal buried alive in 337 BCE, the poisoning trials of 331 BCE, the events surrounding Verginia in 307 BCE, the cults of patrician and plebeian chastity in 296 BCE, and the Stuprum trials of 295 BCE were some of the occurrences. These events were used by women to gain more control over their own lives, money, and property.

As with all Roman law, loopholes allowed the laws to be manipulated to suit the individual. The usus types of marriages were the most common and could be manipulated legally through loopholes by the wife staying away from home and her husband for three consecutive nights a year. Also, these loopholes allowed the women to
retain control over their dowries in trust for their daughters.
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