The Lives of Ancient Roman Women

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Kelly Macquire
published on 05 July 2022

The lives of ancient Roman women and the exact roles played by them both in ancient Rome and all throughout the ancient world are pretty obscure, due to the focus of both the ancient male writers, and the nineteenth and twentieth-century male scholars, who largely ignored them. It has only been recently that modern scholarship has begun working to demystify the lives of women from biassed source material written by men. By looking objectively at the ancient evidence concerning women in ancient Rome, we are getting a clearer and clearer picture of their rights, duties, status, and daily lives.

Women were pretty restricted in public life, they couldn’t attend, speak at, or vote in political assemblies and they couldn’t hold any position of political authority. Some women were able to influence public affairs through their husbands, but this wasn’t too common. Lower-class women had more of a public life, since they had to work for a living, with common jobs undertaken by women being in agriculture, markets, crafts, as midwives or as wet-nurses. Some places women were allowed to attend though included the theatre, public spectacles, including gladiatorial games, and Roman public baths. Some women, in fact, participated in the games at the Coliseum as gladiators and, although they might become celebrities, they were still looked down on as lower class.

Discover the Treasures of Ancient Greece Guided Tour



0:00​ Introduction
0:34 Travel to Ancient Greece with us!
1:11 Women in Ancient Rome
1:50 Women, the Family and the Home in Ancient Rome
5:29 Other Women in Ancient Roman Society
8:03 Women in Roman Mythology and Religion
10:47 Imperial and Royal Women
12:20 Outro

The Role of Women in the Roman World
Vestal Virgin
Love, Sex, & Marriage in Ancient Rome–marriage-in-ancient-rome/
Roman Mythology

The Roman Epic Poem The Aeneid: Introduction and Summary
History of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty of the Roman Empire
An Introduction to the Ancient Roman Religion and Mythology
The Life and Reign of Roman Empress Julia Domna
Ancient Roman Art and Architecture

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Open Access -
CC0 -
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Open Access -
CC0 -

World History Encyclopedia

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, July 05). The Lives of Ancient Roman Women. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Lives of Ancient Roman Women." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 05, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Lives of Ancient Roman Women." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 05 Jul 2022. Web. 04 Feb 2023.