Livy's Women : Crisis, Resolution, and the Female in Rome's Foundation History book cover
1st Edition

Livy's Women
Crisis, Resolution, and the Female in Rome's Foundation History

ISBN 9781138553255
Published March 9, 2021 by Routledge
284 Pages

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Book Description

Livy’s Women explores the profound questions arising from the presence of women of influence and power in the socio-political canvas of one of the most important histories of Rome and the Roman people, Ab Urbe Condita (From the Foundation of the City).

This theoretically informed study of Livy’s monumental narrative charts the fascinating links between episodes containing references to women in prominent roles and the historian’s treatment of Rome’s evolutionary foundation story. Explicitly gendered in relation to the socio-cultural contexts informing the narrative, the author’s background, the literary landscape of Livy's Rome, and the subsequent historiographical commentary, this volume offers a comprehensive, coherent and contextualised overview of all episodes in Ab Urbe Condita relating to women as agents of historical change.

As well as proving invaluable insights into socio-cultural history for Classicists, Livy’s Women will also be of interest to instructors, researchers, and students of female representation in history in general.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

Foreword: Setting the Scene


Chapter One: AUC history: women and the art of exemplary storytelling

1. Res Novae and Mores Maiorum: exempli documenta, haec tempora and the resonances of change

2. The Rape of Lucretia: gender, crisis and the res publica

3. Egeria, Carmenta and the Vestal priestesses: exempla and the male imagination

4. Damarata, Harmonia and Heraclia: Livy’s assignation of moral weight

5. Conclusion

Chapter Two: Gendered collectives in Livy: the agmen mulierum and independent female demonstrations in AUC history

1. Hortensia, the demonstration of 43 BCE, and the extent of matronal authority in Roman public life and patriarchal culture

2. The Sabine Women: defenders of the patriarchal order?

3. Veturia and Volumnia: reconstructing a tradition

4. Cato and the frequentia mulierum: a crux of social legislation

5. Conclusion

Chapter Three: The rhetoric of the unfamiliar other: non-Roman women in AUC history

1. Stereotypes and Personae: representing non-Roman female identity

2. The Bacchanalia: a fictive history or historical romance of gender relations?

3. From Hersilia to Theoxena: mirrors of male reality?

4. Conclusion

Chapter Four: Topoi, tropes and the female: the rhetorical memory of the annalist tradition

1. The Commonplace Topics of Gendered AUC History

2. Fakes, Forgeries, and Historical Fiction in the Ab Urbe Condita: the authenticity of gendered historiography

3. Conclusion

Afterword: Final Observations 




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Peter Keegan is a Professor in Roman History at Macquarie University, Australia. His research ranges from sexuality and body history to the spatial dynamics of social relations in urban and periurban contexts and the epigraphy of ephemeral graffiti and death. His recent publications include Inscriptions in the Private Sphere in the Greco-Roman World, Graffiti in Antiquity, Roles for Women and Men in Roman Epigraphic Culture, and Written Space in the Latin West 200 BC-AD 300. He has also contributed a range of book chapters, journal articles and conference papers on the subject of gendered discourse in historical and sub-literary texts.


"K.’s book is essential for students and scholars interested in the study and narrative composition of the end of the Republic. It is an exhaustive and rigorous work on Livy’s literary expertise and his practical incorporation of women as relevant actors at crucial moments in the history of Rome." - The Classical Review