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Roman Women and Their Mythology

Uploaded by huggles on Aug 24, 2001

Throughout the ages myths, legends and fairytales have been used to teach people basic moral and educational lessons. For example, mothers and fathers use the childhood story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to teach their children that stealing and snooping is wrong. In the end, Goldilocks was either eaten or she ran away, depending on your bloodthirsty nature. By using this comparison between myths and reality the Romans were able to “control” their women, and to discourage them from vain, romantic and adulterous actions. Women themselves had a very low place in Roman society, and could be bought and sold like cattle or slaves. Despite their low legal status, women had immense power and influence over their fathers, brothers and husbands. These myths and legends were society’s guidebook, which provided women with a manual about correct conduct.

Despite being a guidebook for all women to use, the Romans couldn’t simply say, “Look what happened to that mythical person. You shouldn’t do what she did.” This would have led to a very depressing and boring set of myths, so the Romans spruced them up a bit. They portrayed both good and bad pictures of women, including the Goddesses. Some of these stories were funny and some sad, but every single one had a lesson which could be learnt and acted upon. For example, the Amazons were a legendary race of warrior women who despised all men. They killed all the male babies that were born, and kept the female ones. In fact, it was said that the Amazons used the men from a nearby village as sex slaves, so that they wouldn’t die out. One day, Hercules came along, and wanted to borrow the Queen’s belt. Hippolyte, being a woman and all, fell madly in love with Hercules and readily agreed. But the other Amazons weren’t impressed, and thinking that Hercules was trying to kill their Queen, charged towards him. Hercules seized Hippolyte and slew her, then ran away with the belt. Needless to say nothing much else was said about the Amazons. This story was used to teach the folly of women who thought they could survive without men. They were dependant on the nearby village, and weren’t very well organized. They were much better off sticking to their own place in society.

But as I said not all depictions were bad. Some were quite nice. The Muses were the...

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Uploaded by:   huggles

Date:   08/24/2001

Category:   Ancient Rome

Length:   6 pages (1,375 words)

Views:   1564

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