Roman Women

The life of a Woman of Rome was filled with many traditions and rules, which were carried on generation after generation. Many say that Roman women were oppressed because they were not allowed to be an active part of society and politics. The book Roman Women by J.P.V.D. Balsdon gives, what I consider to be, an accurate and detailed account of a typical woman in Rome during the Roman Empire. Balsdon writes about the married women of Rome and the formidable ceremonies needed to perform a wedding. The children that soon came after marriage, which was in itself, another worry for women of the Roman culture. Rome also had its share, like most civilizations, of happy and unhappy marriages that women lived through. In addition, there were the less reputable women of Rome, the prostitutes and courtesans. And last, but not least, Balsdon gives a detailed account of a woman’s daily life down to hairstyles, make-up, and jewelry. A woman’s looks were very important in Rome. A woman revealed no more of her body than a nun does today. She usually wore the standard dress called a stola with light undergarments beneath this. It is a rather interesting fact that this style of dress did not change for three hundred years. Purple and gold, and a dark rose, scarlet, or amethyst were a few of the favored colors for the women of Rome. Women’s hair arrangements often occupied a large portion of their time and were performed by a hairdresser. Younger women dressed their hair very simply by drawing it back into a knot at the back of the neck. Most hair was parted down the center and curled into waves, or styled with small ringlets. Make-up, an important part of a woman’s beauty process, was only moderately applied unless the woman was a prostitute. Jewels, however, were sometimes lavishly applied. Opals, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds were popular among the wealthy women. The amount of jewelry a woman wore signified her husband’s we…

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