From the texts that I have studied on Roman women the speakers wife seems to have much in common with other ‘married women who care for their good name’ from that time. Many of the women are described as virtuous, loyal, obedient and devoted in the texts, but also many of the texts where for public consumption.Therefore it seems that this is how women were meant to be but not necessarily how these women really were. The passage is taken from a funeral eulogy, therefore it is unlikely that the husband is going to tell everyone about anything that may be seen as ‘un-ladylike’, or anything that would harm the families name.
However, this particular Roman woman took it upon herself to beg Lepidus for her husbands life, as well as being legal minded in bringing her parents murders to justice. These things are not often mentioned about other Roman women.On the other hand, Arria protects her husband in another way when their son dies. Instead of telling her ill husband that their son has died she tells him each day that he has eaten a little and is getting a little better.
Though it could be argued that this is quite cowardly, I think in her case it was done solely to protect her husband who was already so ill. When she could no longer take it she killed herself, but I think that it is quite probable that she could see her husband dieing as her son had.On killing herself, and telling her husband that it did not hurt, so that he too would commit suicide, she was trying to stop his pain and suffering, as well as her own. This is something that is not seen in the other Roman women mentioned in the texts.
Arrias granddaughter Fannia is also said to have been loyal, having twice followed her husband into exile and being banished once herself on his account. It is said she inspired affection and respect, having cared for a relative called Junia, who was a vestal virgin.This shows the she must also have been caring, another commonly mentioned virtue of Roman women. A virtue that is mentioned in most of the texts if purity, integrity or propriety, all basically meaning the same thing, but obviously a major issue to the Romans, especially since the speaker of the passage tells us in the text that when her parents were murdered she went to stay with his mother when he was away to protect her modesty.
As with the Arria and Fannia texts Plinys texts about and to his wife Calpurnia are written knowing that they are going to have an audience, and therefore are not written naturally.The Calpurnia texts seem a little over the top, she teaches herself to play the lyre, learned all his texts off by heart, listening to him whilst he is giving speeches and sets his writing to music. Though this may all be completely true, I can not help thinking that she may not have done any of these things, but that he did not wish people to know that he had a ‘terrible wife’ by the standards of the time. He does, however, put her down in a way, in his letter to her grandfather, saying that she is young and inexperienced.
He basically blames her for the miscarriage of their child.Pliny does though say that his wife is devoted, careful, a good housewife, and has ‘learned to love him’. These things echo the other texts. In the case of Lucretia we see a slightly different view of Roman women.
Though she takes her own life, as Arria did, it is to save her family name and her own suffering rather than that of a husband. She is so upset by her ordeal and the possibility of it damaging the families name and reputation that she feels that it is more acceptable for the family is she commits suicide than if everyone were to know her chastity had been stolen from her in that way.In the Murdia funeral inscription she too is said to have been modest, chaste, loyal, obedient and to have had good judgement. This too is obviously written knowing that it will be read, or heard by many, so common virtues that were important to the honour of the family and the people of the time were mentioned.
Though we cannot know whether or not it is true, from the fact that the similar qualities arise in each text it was expected that a married woman would be a good housewife, could work with wool, would be loyal and obedient and would be reasonable and affable.Therefore I conclude that the speakers wife had many traits in common with other women mentioned in the texts studied, although we cannot be sure that how accurate these depictions of the women are. Classics Gemma McKenzie Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer section.