Why We Need a Women’s History of the Roman Empire

Dec 01, 2023 651

BY: Emma Southon

There is a story from the 1970s often told by Roman historians of gender. It goes like this: students at an American college approached their male professor, a revered Roman historian, to request a course on women in Roman history. They, being among the first women ever to study ancient history at this university, wanted to see themselves on their syllabus.

Their professor disagreed. To their dismay, he replied that he may as well do a course on Roman dogs. The professor’s meaning was clear: women have no place in history. History is not about women, or children or non-binary people or indeed dogs. History, to him and to an awful lot of people, is the Doing of Important Things. It is winning battles and having Important Opinions In Public. History is politics and public deeds. Women don’t make history.

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