2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Rome got beat by a girl: Women as a reflection of societal strength in Tacitus
Laura A. Provance
Dr. Bridget Thomas, Faculty Mentor

Tacitus’ Annals recount Rome during the early imperial period, a time which stands out for scandals and debauchery. Tacitus gives special attention to women, characterizing them as manipulative and masculinely powerful. That the bad behavior of the aristocratic women in the Annals is itself described as feminine does support an argument that Tacitus harbored misogynist feelings, but in his ethnographic work the Germania Tacitus presents German women as obedient to their husbands. This indicates that Tacitus did not see all women as monstrous, but rather crafted his female characters to support his claims about society, using women as a vehicle for social criticism. This paper examines his portrayal of the women in the Annals in contrast to the women in the Germania, finding that in Tacitus’ works female behavior attests to the strength and dominance of the men around them, and becomes a measure of societal cohesion.

Keywords: Roman politics, women and sexuality, historical rhetoric, Roman republic, Roman empire, female behavior, ethnography, political marriages


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 10-2
Location: VH 1232
Time: 8:30 am

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