Dressing the Part: The Costume of Roman Women




Schenck, Catherine

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Although women in antiquity are often perceived as suppressed and inferior by modern readers, Roman women played specific roles in society. They were daughters, brides, matronae, and priestesses. Each woman performed her own responsibilities, fulfilled her societal expectations, and wore a specific costume. Clothes and hair adornment were key features in distinguishing the levels of social and moral hierarchy within the Roman world. They could symbolize a transition from one phase of life to another or idealistic qualities, such chastity, modesty, purity, and pudicitia. Using my own translations of ancient authors, unless otherwise noted, and the visual representations of women in art, this thesis analyzes how the costumes of two categories of ordinary women, young girls and matronae, and two categories of extra-ordinary women, brides and the Vestal Virgins, reflect their status, social and economical class, and identity.



The Costume of Roman Women