God-like power?  Rome’s Imperial Women and Religion

Dartmouth Events

God-like power?  Rome’s Imperial Women and Religion

Mary T. Boatwright, Duke University

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Room 002, Rockefeller Center
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Clubs & Organizations, Conferences, Lectures & Seminars, Workshops & Training

Investigating the religious roles of Roman imperial women, this illustrated talk explores
idiosyncrasies and realities of Roman religion and Roman women alike. We discuss the
consecrations of several of Rome’s imperial women, the positions of some as priestesses of
imperial cult, and the inclusion of more in oaths of allegiance to the emperor and his “house.”
Livia, Plotina and others received their own cults, with elite women serving as priestesses in
Italian and provincial cities. Imperial women had great visibility in religious processions and as
portrayed with goddesses on coins. But what did such awesomeness and divinity mean for any
empress? Why were Rome’s imperial women – not men – associated with ‘fringe’ religions like
Judaism and Christianity? This detailed look at Rome’s imperial women and religion illuminates
fundamental aspects of Roman history and life.

Mary T. (“Tolly”) Boatwright is Professor and Chair of the Department of Classical Studies at
Duke University, where she has spent most of her career. Indeed, she was fortunate enough to
teach there your own Roberta Stewart! Professor Boatwright’s teaching concentrates on Roman
history, Latin historiography, Roman urbanism and the city of Rome itself. Her books include
Hadrian and the City of Rome (1987) and Peoples of the Roman World (2012), and she is coauthor
(with D. Gargola, N. Lenski and R.J.A. Talbert), of two Roman history textbooks: The
Romans: From Village to Empire (2nd ed. 2011), and A Brief History of the Romans (2nd ed.
2013). Various articles, such as “Women and Gender in the Forum Romanum” (TAPA 2011) and
“Tacitus and the Final Rites of Agrippina” (Latomus 2008), explore her fascination with the lives
and roles of Roman women. For the past two years she has been happily at work on a new book,
Imperial Women of Rome: Power, Gender, Context (under contract with Oxford). Today’s talk
comes from one of her chapters.

This event is free and open to the public!

For more information, contact:
Carol Bean-Carmody

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.