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Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 12:38 pm


There is a discussion going in the Vita Quotidiana Collegium, but this can be asked here as well:

What did the Religio Romana say about Women? Were they equal to men? Did they have privileges?


Quintus Claudius Locatus Barbatus
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Roman women

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 1:40 pm

Salve Locate,

I think it's better to continue this discussion in one Collegium, the Vita Quotidiana to which the topic imho belongs, in order to prevent confusion.


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Postby Marce Moravi Horati Pisci on Sun Sep 29, 2002 3:46 am

Salvete Attice, Locate, et omnes

Locatus' question at the other collegium was in regard to the social status of women, but here it concerned women in the Religio Romana. That seems a legitimate question to address here.

What did the Religio Romana have to say about women? Nothing very distinct really, men and women were mentioned together as natural partners. There were certain culti deorum, and certain rites that were held exclusively by women. The rites of the Bona Dea are best known for this, although there were other rites such as at Fordicia that were performed by women exclusively as well. We can gather from some sources to imply there were others of which we know little or nothing about. The temple of Bona Dea was in general not open to men, except for a few chosen by the goddess. There are inscriptions that mention women as sacerdotes, that is as priests who administered temples. We know that certain women were brought from Capua to serve as sacredotes in the temple of Ceres, Liber and Libera, performing certain rites, and eventually also conducting initiations after the Eleusian mysteries. There was also a special priesthood of women for Liber, or sacredotes Liberi. In other culti deorum that were administered by men women still played an important role. These would include those dedicated to Vesta, Juno, and Minerva, also Magna Mater. In the provinces Roman women were especially connected with Magna Mater.

Women in Rome are mentioned to have been especially devoted to the mystery religions. There is not a lot of evidence to substantiate that however. Where women can be identified in dedicatory inscriptions, or funerary inscriptions that mention them as priestesses, women were overwhelmingly devoted to the traditional Roman culti deorum, moreso than men. Of all inscriptions made by men, around 30% are made to deities of the mystery religions, while with women only about 15-17% are made to oriental deities.

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