|Author||Tansy Rayner Roberts|
|Publication Date||July 16, 2014|
If you believe the texts that survive to tell the story of Ancient Rome, then that fascinating civilisation was pretty much all about the men. Men went to war, men played politics, and men stabbed each other in the course of said politics. Even the great love stories of the era often turn out to be all about what the men saw, desired and took.
But history is always more interesting than you think it is, and no matter how public the works of men were in Ancient Rome, there were always women living and working alongside them. Their status was very different, and few ladies were allowed any kind of public honour (except when those honours were really useful to the politics of men), but that doesn’t mean they weren’t a vital part of Roman daily life and culture.
Then there were the women we do hear about—those who made a mark on the writers of the day, and were immortalised as ambitious mothers, sultry and wicked temptresses, or perfect marble wives to be placed upon pedestals like the goddess Venus herself.
While the ordinary women fell through the cracks of history and were lost to us, the most famous became so largely by accident, because they were connected in some way to the powerful men who were seen as appropriate subjects of scholarship. But the story of those women is an important one, however hard it is to sift through the hyperbole and wild stories to find some kind of truth as to the lives they lived.
Here are fifty extraordinary women of Ancient Rome—virtuous wives and adulterous vixens, abductees and viragos, imperial mothers and mortals who became goddesses, all taking their place in history. Their stories are told by Doctor Tansy Rayner Roberts, in her wry, insightful, highly readable manner, and by the end, you will have explored Roman history from a slightly different point of view.