Virtues for freedmen – a question of masculinity?

The project examines Roman freedmen’s masculinities by exploring how virtues, qualities and ideals used to define them in literary and epigraphic sources relate to ancient traditional gender identities and constructions. The project discusses what such virtues, qualities and ideals tell us about freedmen’s gender identity and social standing. Masculinity is a key concept to understand the material.

Applying masculinity theory is an innovative approach as it has never been used to study Roman freedmen. The project will contribute to a better understanding of Roman freedmen, their gender identity and their position in society and to the discussion of the social complexity of Roman society. What is more, the project will contribute to a better understanding of how gender identities were constructed and communicated in antiquity.

The empirical foundation of the project is a combination of Latin literary and epigraphical sources from c.50BC-120AD. A critical close reading of the texts combined with a contextual philological method, where the texts are compared with other texts of the same author and/or genre, is applied and the texts are given a literary, epigraphic and historical context. The project uses theories of masculinity to analyse the material as a means to create a complex and nuanced view of the gender identity and status of Roman freedmen. 

Contact: Lisa Hagelin