Full Text

32. Women in Imperial Roman Literature

Rhiannon Ash

Subject History
Roman History » Roman Empire

Place World » Mediterranean

Period 1 - 999 CE » 1 - 250 CE

Key-Topics community, gender, women

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405192842.2012.00048.x


In the literary texts that survive from the early Imperial period across a whole range of different genres, vibrant and memorable portraits of women abound. While some such representations are undeveloped and undeniably shaped by stereotypical conceptions of archetypal female (as opposed to male) traits, other depictions of women, evolving subtly over extended stretches of narrative, are much more nuanced and multifaceted, allowing scope for complex and divergent reactions from an audience. We can compare here the different ways in which we react to characters preserved in static “snapshots” as opposed to those appearing in complex films. Of course, the process of characterizing any individuals in ancient texts, whether men or women, is influenced by various factors. Two of the most important are how an author responds to the preconceived “rules” of a given literary genre (which are often subverted in inventive ways) and the practice (particularly prevalent in Roman texts) of creative allusion, which involves filtering one character or situation through another pre-existing text. It should never be forgotten that ancient readers were highly sophisticated consumers, with the ability to draw on their knowledge of previous Greek and Latin authors and engage in a lively “dialogue” with a new text. Take, for example, the intriguing opening sequence of Juvenal's sixth Satire about ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top