Women of Early Rome as Exempla in Livy, AB Urbe Condita, Book 1


This paper examines Livy’s depiction of prominent women as exempla in book 1 of his history. It seems that the ideal public role of these women is to support the efforts of their men to make the Roman state strong and stable—a role which appears to be an elaboration of women’s efforts with respect to their families. It is clear, however, that Livy complicates each exemplum and that the women generally fall short in this role, so that the overall picture is one of inherent instability, in which men must be wary of the influence of prominent women.