chapter  34
12 Pages

POMPEIAN WOMEN

ByFrances Bernstein

APompeian woman of the first century AD could neither hold a magistracy, serve in the local senate, nor vote. Given these constraints, was the Pompeian matron’s world limited to dutiful service to husband and household? Did her interests and achievements extend beyond domestic chores to public involvement within the community? Information gleaned from the wealth of preserved epigraphical and archaeological evidence at Pompeii clearly demonstrates that Pompeian women not only performed the traditional female duties of managing households and raising children, but also were actively involved in the economic, political and social life of their town. Capable of making astute financial decisions, they oversaw large estates, held jobs and managed households. Knowledgeable of the political process, they wielded power and were actively involved in a governmental structure that formally excluded them. Moving within the social structure, many improved their position and earned the respect of fellow citizens. The women of Pompeii played a visible and crucial public role in town life, as vital and contributing members of their community.