By Richard A. Bauman
8auman delineates not just the influential and manipulative function of Roman girls within the enterprise of presidency, legislations and public affairs regularly, but additionally the emergence of women's political and liberationist hobbies.
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Broadly speaking, the period displays two distinct developments: on the one hand a continuation, and indeed an intensification, of discrimination and ill-treatment; on the other hand the encouragement, by the more liberal elements in male society, not only of co-operation by women, but also of a more active role in the management of their affairs. There is no clear-cut temporal division between the two developments until the last few years of the war. Until then the good and the bad alternate in seemingly haphazard fashion.
The one finding that is coloured by conjecture to some 20 WOMEN IN THE CONFLICT OF THE ORDERS extent is the manus-eliminating motive of the patrician poisoners of 331. 2). That there was such a case need not be seriously doubted; it was part of the official acta of a magistrate. But the matrons’ motives can only be deduced by inference. And here there is not much on offer. Palmer’s identification of the basis as ‘a presumed aphrodisiac’ (1974:122–3, 134) tells us very little. Why did some two hundred matrons suddenly decide on such a move, and why did they all get it so horribly wrong?
While they were practising the hymn, lightning struck the temple of Juno Regina on the Aventine. The soothsayers declared that the portent concerned matrons and the goddess must be placated by a gift. The government’s response opened a new chapter in women’s affairs. The curule aediles, again acting as a vehicle for innovation, issued an edict summoning matrons domiciled in the city or within 10 miles of it. The matrons chose twenty-five of their number as treasurers to whom they would bring contributions from their dowries, and with the money thus raised a golden basin was gifted to Juno Regina.