Women's Religious Activity in the Roman Republic

By Celia E. Schultz

248 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 8 illus.,1 table, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8078-3018-5
    Published: May 2006
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7725-8
    Published: December 2006

Studies in the History of Greece and Rome

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Expanding the discussion of religious participation of women in ancient Rome, Celia E. Schultz demonstrates that in addition to observances of marriage, fertility, and childbirth, there were more--and more important--religious opportunities available to Roman women than are commonly considered.

Based on research in ancient literature, inscriptions, and archaeological remains from the fifth to the first century B.C.E., Schultz's study shows that women honored gods unaffiliated with domestic matters, including Hercules and Jupiter; they took part in commercial, military, and political rites; they often worshipped alongside men; and they were not confined to the private sphere, the traditional domain of women. The Vestal Virgins did not stand alone but were instead the most prominent members of a group of women who held high-profile religious positions: priestesses of Ceres, Liber, and Venus; the flaminica Dialis and the regina sacrorum; other cult officials; and aristocratic matrons who often took leading roles in religious observances even though they were not priestesses. Schultz argues that women were vital participants--both professional and nonprofessional--in the religion of the Roman Republic and that social and marital status, in addition to gender, were important factors in determining their opportunities for religious participation in the public sphere.

About the Author

Celia E. Schultz is assistant professor of classics at Yale University.
For more information about Celia E. Schultz, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Makes a solid case for reexamining some long-held impressions about ancient Roman religion and the place of women within it."--Historian

"A valuable beginning . . . towards understanding how women's participation contributed to the wider picture of religious activity in the Republic."--Journal of Roman Studies

"Compellingly demonstrates the variety of religious participation available to Roman women. . . . Impressive . . . [and] indispensable."--Choice

"[Women's Religious Activity in the Roman Republic] lays out a straightforward and convincing argument: women in the Roman Republic participated more broadly in religious life, public and private, than previously thought. . . . This useful book will serve as a good point of departure for further work in this area."--American Historical Review

"This is a book everyone who studies the Romans should read."--New England Classical Journal

"Schultz's clear and cogent argument uses the whole range of literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence to make a radical and important correction to long-held assumptions about both the worshipers and the gods of republican Rome."--Elaine Fantham, Princeton University, Emerita