By Mairéad McAuley

Within the conservative and aggressive society of old Rome, the place the legislation of the daddy (patria potestas) used to be supposedly absolute, motherhood took on advanced aesthetic, ethical, and political meanings in elite literary discourse. Reproducing Rome is a learn of the illustration of maternity within the Roman literature of the 1st century CE, a interval of extreme social upheaval and reorganization as Rome was once reworked from a Republic to a sort of hereditary monarchy lower than the emperor Augustus.

Through a chain of shut readings of works via Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, and Statius, the amount scrutinizes the gender dynamics that permeate those historical authors' language, imagery, and narrative buildings. Analysing those texts 'through and for the maternal', McAuley considers to what measure their representations of motherhood replicate, build, or subvert Roman beliefs of, and anxieties approximately, kinfolk, gender roles, and replica. the amount additionally explores the level to which those representations distort or displace matters approximately fatherhood or different kin of energy in Augustan and post-Augustan Rome. protecting the traditional literary and historic context in view, the quantity conducts a discussion among those old male authors and sleek feminist theorists-from Klein to Irigaray, Kristeva to Cavarero-to think of the connection among motherhood as image and the way a maternal subjectivity is advised, built, or suppressed by means of the authors. Readers are inspired to contemplate the issues and probabilities of interpreting the maternal in those old texts, and to discover the original website the maternal occupies in pre-modern discourses underpinning Western culture.

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Additional info for Reproducing Rome : motherhood in Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, and Statius

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I will focus here on Kristeva and Irigaray, whose thoughts have informed my work most (though I should note that this is just a highly selective snapshot of two immensely complex and evolving bodies of work, aspects of which I elaborate on in greater detail at different points throughout this book). Let me begin with Irigaray. Strongly influenced by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, and his position that the subject was constituted by language, Irigaray’s work, as Margaret Whitford has summed it up, is ‘an attempt to make visible the deep emotional structures conveyed in discourse: in a nutshell the underlying Oedipal structure of language and culture, which distributes different roles to men and women’.

73 In the most extreme view, some twentieth-century historians, in particular Paul Veyne, argued that in aligning children who were not sui iuris with household slaves, patria potestas had dramatic consequences for father–son relations, which were characterized not by affection and care but by tension, coldness, and distance, or worse, routine brutality including corporal punishment and sodomy. g. Crook 1967, Gardner (1986), Veyne (1987), Eyben (1991), Saller (1994), Shaw (2001), and Cantarella (2002–3) with interesting comments on paternal representation in Fowler (2000).

G. Crook 1967, Gardner (1986), Veyne (1987), Eyben (1991), Saller (1994), Shaw (2001), and Cantarella (2002–3) with interesting comments on paternal representation in Fowler (2000). On divergences between the ‘tyrannical’ stereotype of paterfamilias and legal usage and social reality, see Saller (1999); for a counter-argument, see Cantarella (2002–3). 74 Veyne (1987) 18 and passim; see also Cantarella (2002–3) for other bibliography on this theme. 75 More recently, however, there has been a fairly widely-held consensus that the exertion of unlimited paternal authority through violence and fear is a vast overstatement: historians such as Emiel Eyben, Richard Saller, and Brent Shaw have argued that there is little evidence for the Roman family unit in the later Republic and early Principate as a large hierarchical and patriarchal structure, with several generations under the potestas of a single paterfamilias, but rather that it was usually constituted by father, mother, and children, a small unit similar to the Western nuclear family (or rather, its ideal).

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