A Woman 's Status During The Roman World

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A woman’s status in the Roman world was entwined with her chastity. The Roman patriarchs saw female sexuality as a threat to the established authority . Female prostitutes presented a particular problem to the Roman belief that the security and prosperity of the state was dependent on both the sexual fidelity and fertility of women. The rightful duty of a respectable woman was to contribute the state by fulfilling her role as faithful wife and fruitful mother. While prostitutes were regarded, both legally and socially, as irrevocably inferior to the rest of the Roman populace, sex work itself was not outlawed. The popularity of brothels juxtaposed with the degradation of the women working in the brothels reflects the ambivalent…show more content…
While Augustus’ intention was to promote fidelity and fertility among the proper matronae, this law further divided the respectable citizens from those involved in the sex trade: anyone who had been involved in the sex trade as either a pimp, procuress, or prostitute was forbidden from marriage with a freeborn citizen. This law effectively prevented prostitutes from any meaningful social mobility. Once freed, a woman who had been prostituted was left with little opportunity to advance beyond the infamy and exploitation of prostitution. That these legal sanctions on marriage were effective at keeping prostitutes in their place is reflected in the archaeological evidence found at Pompeii. Analysis of the names of prostitutes and their owners that survive at this site indicate that all of the prostitutes were slaves, while the majority of their owners were former slaves. One can assume that many of these freed slaves who owned the sex slaves working at the brothel in Pompeii had themselves been prostituted while enslaved. This cycle of sex slave to sex slave owner was shaped by the lex Julia et Papia. By confining former prostitutes to the
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