The Roman Domina
This lady fascinates me. In our modern world, we encourage our young girls to challenge their world. Stand up. Be counted. Not be run over my others, especially by men. And we tend to look back at women in history as weak and submissive. I don’t see Roman women in that light. I respect them for what they did.
Like America’s pioneer women, the early Roman domina/housewife were much the same as these American women. She was a good ole farm girl who fed the family from what her husband provided, raised and cared for the kids, and took care of the home. She was a down-to-earth survivalist.
Then Rome discovered it was stronger than it thought and became a nation, fighting for existence. When achieved, the men of that world began to idolize the Greek model and tried to impose much of it on their own world as governing, fighting. Thus we have the same stories in mythologies but different names for the gods. And yes, they attempted to impose the same expectations on their Roman wives as the Greek women endured.
For starters, my Roman ladies said no to the private women’s quarters shut away from their husbands. Nope, my ladies slept in the house with their husbands and in their own bedrooms either with their husbands or not. It was her call.
And, they did not accept multiple wives, even though their fathers arranged their marriages. (I’m sure mothers had some say in this.) Romans continued to have a monogamous marriage.
These ladies never gave up running their homes, or as said, ‘kept the keys to the pantry.’ They let their husbands do what they may outside the home, but in the home, the wife ruled. As Domitia in my Red Fury series. Julius may do as he wishes, but she ruled the house.
However, some of the Greek traditions were tried as being submissive to husbands, covering all but face and hands with a shawl/palla And if more was shown, the husband could divorce her for exposure. I attempted to show bits of this in my novel of Vows of Revenge. Aelia was a victim of this trial period as was Viciria in my short story For the Family. Yet, in time however, by my Roman ladies’ design, the palla became more of a protection from weather and pollution or became an adornment or accessory as Domitia did in my Red Fury series yet again. In fact, these dominas set fashion in apparel and home designs. They were the Joanna Gaines and Vogue.
And as far as being submissive, Roman women cultured the art of manipulation as is seen by many of the empresses as Livia. The question was who really controlled the throne? Nero defied his mother’s control to the point of trying to murder her. It was soon evident with husbands that wives were an asset to the success of their careers, that they best play nice or they may soon find themselves repentant as did Alexius when he must deal with Messalina in Threatened Loyalties. (Playing with these dominas is so much fun.)
These ancient farm girls were the first women-libbists of this ancient world, who eventually determined the fashion of the day, made their own statement, and even influenced our modern world for the stay-at-home mom. It was later in the Victorian world when its women even modeled these Roman dominas.
For more about my stories and my dominas, be sure to visit www.jfridgley.com