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35. Public Roles for Women in the Cities of the Latin West

Emily A. Hemelrijk

Subject History
Roman History » Roman Empire

Period 1 - 999 CE » 1 - 250 CE

Key-Topics evidence, gender, historical monuments, sources, women

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405192842.2012.00051.x


In the mid-third century ce , the local council of Avioccala, a small town in Africa Proconsularis, decided to set up a statue in honor of a distinguished fellow citizen in one of the public areas of the town. The battered inscription on its base, which preserves only part of her polyonymous name, Oscia Modesta Cornelia Patruina Publiana, praises her “conspicuous merits in rendering illustrious her city of origin” ( originis suae patriam, CIL VIII.23832 with Hemelrijk 2004a ). As the wife of a consul, Oscia Modesta (as I shall call her) lived most of her life outside her patria , accompanying her husband on his tours of duty in the Greek provinces and residing in Rome, where she educated her grandson ( CIL VI.1478). After a long life, she was buried in Rome leaving a remarkable epitaph in pseudo-Homeric Greek (presumably composed by herself) in which she dwells on her marriage to a consul, her sorrow for the early death of her children, and the consolation she found in the Muses ( IG XIV.1960). Yet, no word is spent on her North African background nor on the small provincial town that so proudly presented her as its citizen ( civis ) and patroness ( patrona ). The example of Oscia Modesta shows to what extent Rome and the local cities were worlds apart. Feelings differed depending on the point of view one took: from Rome or from the local cities. Whereas a provincial background ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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