by Guglielmo Ferrero

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More than 40 illustrations.

This is a brilliant and sympathetic historical study of those women whose lives were great factors in that constructive period of Roman history, when the family of the Caesars elevated themselves from the ancient aristocracy into imperialism, adds new lustre to Signor Ferrero's name, which already stands for the best and most sincere in the reconstruction of Roman history.

With profound insight into conditions which make or mar the development of civilization and of nations, Signor Ferrero endeavors to arrest the attention of his readers upon the significant fact that the serious and tragic side of life is not teaching us its full meaning; that we are losing the "balance between the natural aspiration for freedom, that is none other than the need of personal felicity, and the supreme necessity for a discipline, without which the race, the State and the family run the gravest danger."

This work, although not intentionally so, is pertinent material for the feminist movement, for woman's influence and responsibilities are dealt with seriously and understandingly. The author believes, apparently, that the foundation upon which we build is more especially woman's character than man's, for man is influenced by woman. The recognition of this fact is certainly responsible for the very conditions against which women are struggling to-day, for men of all ages have desired, with more or less vague comprehension of methods, to protect and set apart "woman, who is by nature the vestal of our species, and for that reason she must be more conservative, more circumspect and more virtuous than man," for, the author continues, "there is no State or civilization which has comprehended the highest things in life which has not been forced to instill into its women, rather than into its men, the sense for all those virtues upon which depend the stability of the family and the future of the race. And for every era this is a question of life and death. In such periods when one world is dying and another coming to birth, all conceptions become confused and all attempts bring forth bizarre results. Precisely for this reason it is more difficult for a woman than for a man to succeed in fulfilling her proper mission, for she is more exposed to the danger of losing her way and of missing her particular function; and since she is more likely to fail in realizing her natural destiny, she is more likely to be doomed to a life of misfortune."

For the advancement and the stability of the family and the State the women of the Caesars were sacrificed.

Although the Roman allowed woman judicial and economic independence, a refined culture, and that freedom without which it is impossible to enjoy life with any sense of dignity, he was never willing to recognize as the ultimate end and reason for marriage, personal happiness, or the common personal moral development in the unifying of their characters and aspirations. Marriage was considered by him wholly from a political and social point of view; its purpose was exterior to the persons. It was an instrument for political domination and for increasing the power of families. As a natural consequence-divorce was obtained without formality. If one man high in power desired the wife of another man for political or other reasons, he demanded that the husband divorce her, and the remarriage took place without delay. Such was the marriage of Livia with Augustus, and through her long life, with constancy and wonderful tact, combined with supreme qualities of mind and heart, she fulfilled her great mission. She combined simplicity, loyalty and an absolute surrender of her own personality to the interests of the family, with a gift for politics. Augustus frequently came to her for counsel and made no serious decision without consulting her. She governed her household, her great following, and assisted her husband in governing his empire.

But the Roman marriage laws left for a woman's future no sense of stability, a situation which discouraged women from austere virtue and was incitement to "frivolity of character, to dissipation and infidelity."

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013341869
Publisher: Leila's Books
Publication date: 10/02/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

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