How Women Were Treated in Roman Times in Julius Caesar versus Modern Times

2004 Words 9 Pages
The way in which women were treated in Roman times is an interesting issue which arises in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. We can look at modern society to see what similarities or differences may exist between the two.
How has the treatment of women changed in certain parts of society? We all know that in western civilization the way that women are treated has been altered significantly, but this demographic isn’t the only society in which there has (or hasn’t) been developments in the way women are treated. How would the peoples of the past react if they were to see the treatment of women today and compare that to what they are accustomed to?
In Julius Caesar, there were only few
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If married, she and her property passed into the power of her husband. The wife was the purchased property of her husband, and like a slave, acquired only for his benefit – and this is similar to what is decreed by The Elizabethan Homily on the State of Matrimony.
One example of this in the text studied is at the start of the second scene, with Caesar calling his wife’s name and issues his commands (note that he orders her around rather than asking her) ‘Stand you directly in Antonio’s way/ when he doth run his course’.
Infertility was blamed on the wife, not the man – an assumption that has been henceforth disproved due to advances in medical technology and research. This is supported in the text by the quote ‘For our elders say the barren, touched in this holy chase, shake off their sterile curse’ (Act I Scene II Lines 7-9). In this case Caesar’s words reflect a similar anxiety felt by the Elizabethans (which is most probably the double meaning that Shakespeare was trying to incorporate into this particular part of the text). Queen Elizabeth was unmarried and childless, there was no clear heir to England’s throne and the queen’s increasing infirmity gave similar reaction to that seen in the text.
In short, Portia and Calphurnia are seen as being powerless figures, in that their opinions are quickly dismissed when the public lives of their husbands muscle in on
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