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The Exemplary Domina: Slaving and Female Virtue in the Roman World

Katharine Huemoeller (University of British Columbia)
Friday, October 13, 2023 - 3:30pm
DEN 212 and by Zoom

Roman masculinity has long been linked with the domination of enslaved people, but what was the role of slaving in the construction of ideal femininity? This paper explores the role of slavery in the myth of Lucretia, the archetypal Roman matron. Enslaved people are omnipresent in early accounts of Lucretia: they spin wool beside her, guard her door, lament her death, and, most famously, are employed as tools of coercion. Analyzing these scenes, I argue that Lucretia’s recognition of the right and wrong way to be a female slaver is central to her exemplarity and that this quality is not distinct from, but rather productive of, her famed chastity.

Kat Huemoeller is an Assistant Professor of Roman history at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Her work centers on law, slavery, and gender in the Roman Mediterranean.

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