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Daughters of HecateWomen and Magic in the Ancient World$
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Kimberly B. Stratton and Dayna S. Kalleres

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342703.001.0001

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Cheating Women: Curse Tablets and Roman Wives

Cheating Women: Curse Tablets and Roman Wives

(p.340) 12 Cheating Women: Curse Tablets and Roman Wives
Daughters of Hecate

Pauline Ripat

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a handful of curses that target female slaves or freedwomen. It hypothesizes that Roman wives may be behind these curses, as they seek to remove a servile rival from posing a threat to the wife’s position in the household. The chapter’s study highlights the fragile social status of wives; their privileged position in the household depended on a husband’s preferential treatment and respect. By examining Roman social customs and connubial ideals, it reveals how the difference in status between a wife and slave was relative, as both were supposed to obey the paterfamilias. An ideal wife resembled in many ways a good slave and vice versa, especially if the slave also played the role of lover and confidant to her master.

Keywords:   wives, rival, female slave, social status, connubial ideal, servile, curses

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