While reading a book on Roman history I came across the following interesting item concerning the status of women and their attempts to repeal (successfully) a piece of legislation known as the Oppian Law.
The Oppian Law was passed following the disastrous defeat of the Romans by Hannibal at the battle of Cannae (216 B.C.).
Because of the wars with Carthage, many men had died. Their wives and daughters had inherited their lands and monies, allowing many women to become quite rich.
The state, in order to help pay for the cost of the wars, decided to tap into women’s wealth by passing the Oppian Law. It limited the amount of gold women could possess and required that all the funds of wards, single women, and widows be deposited with the state.
Women also were forbidden to wear dresses with purple trim (the colour of mourning and a grim reminder of Rome’s losses).
Nor could they ride in carriages within Rome or in towns near Rome.
That all sounds perfectly reasonable and fair to me.
Cato the Censor spoke out strongly against all this women’s lib stuff.
Citizens of Rome, if each one of us has set himself to retain the rights and the dignity of a husband over his own wife, we should have less trouble with women as a whole sex.
As things are, our liberty, overthrown in the home by female indiscipline, is now being crushed and trodden underfoot here too in the Forum.
Our ancestors refused to allow any woman to transact even private business without a guardian to represent her; women have to remain under the control of fathers, brothers or husbands.
But we (heaven preserve us!) are now allowing them to even take part in politics, and actually to appear in the Forum…What they are looking for is complete liberty, or rather, if we want to speak the truth, complete licence.
Oh for the days when men were men and women knew their place – *sigh*.