Gender, Domesticity, and the Age of Augustus: Inventing Private Life

Overview

The age of Augustus has long been understood as a time of imposed social conservatism, when the Roman state sought in the restoration of 'traditional' values a healing balm for the wounds of a society torn apart by civil war. This moral rebuilding included as one of its most important aspects an emphasis on ideals of female domesticity, on the necessity for women to return to the private sphere and reclaim their status as the primary caretakers of the Roman home. At the same time, however, early imperial culture ...
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Overview

The age of Augustus has long been understood as a time of imposed social conservatism, when the Roman state sought in the restoration of 'traditional' values a healing balm for the wounds of a society torn apart by civil war. This moral rebuilding included as one of its most important aspects an emphasis on ideals of female domesticity, on the necessity for women to return to the private sphere and reclaim their status as the primary caretakers of the Roman home. At the same time, however, early imperial culture also embraced numerous public representations of that private sphere, so that women in their roles as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters came to have a significant presence in political discourse. Kristina Milnor explores the causes and consequences of this paradox, through an examination of both the history of the time and the ways in which it comes to be represented in early imperial literature. She argues that the much publicized 'return to the traditional home' under the first emperors was less a matter of changing the ways in which individuals actually lived their lives than of changing the ways in which the private sphere was understood as part of Roman society.
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Meet the Author

Kristina Milnor is Assistant Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Reading and Writing Gender on the Augustan Palatine
2. Other Men's Wives: Domesticity and Display in Vitruvius' 'De Architectura'
3. Women, History, and the Law
4. Domestic Disturbance: Talking about the Triumvirs in the Early Empire
5. Natural Urges: Marriage, Philosophy, and the Work of the House
Epilogue: Burning Down the House: Nero and the End of Julio-Claudian Rule

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