Vestal Virgins, Sibyls, and Matrons: Women in Roman Religion

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University of Texas Press, Jan 1, 2010 - Religion
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Roman women were the procreators and nurturers of life, both in the domestic world of the family and in the larger sphere of the state. Although deterred from participating in most aspects of public life, women played an essential role in public religious ceremonies, taking part in rituals designed to ensure the fecundity and success of the agricultural cycle on which Roman society depended. Thus religion is a key area for understanding the contributions of women to Roman society and their importance beyond their homes and families.

In this book, Sarolta A. Takács offers a sweeping overview of Roman women's roles and functions in religion and, by extension, in Rome's history and culture from the republic through the empire. She begins with the religious calendar and the various festivals in which women played a significant role. She then examines major female deities and cults, including the Sibyl, Mater Magna, Isis, and the Vestal Virgins, to show how conservative Roman society adopted and integrated Greek culture into its mythic history, artistic expressions, and religion. Takács's discussion of the Bona Dea Festival of 62 BCE and of the Bacchantes, female worshippers of the god Bacchus or Dionysus, reveals how women could also jeopardize Rome's existence by stepping out of their assigned roles. Takács's examination of the provincial female flaminate and the Matres/Matronae demonstrates how women served to bind imperial Rome and its provinces into a cohesive society.

 

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Contents

One The Silent Ones Speak
1
Two Life Cycles and Time Structures
25
Three The Making of Rome
60
Four Rome Eternal
80
Five Rome Besieged
90
Six Rome and Its Provinces
112
Conclusion
122
Appendix A Ancient Authors
127
Appendix B Timeline
137
Appendix C Maps
145
Notes
149
Bibliography
173
Index
181
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Sarolta A. Takács is Associate Professor of Classics and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program at Rutgers University.

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