Women were not citizens in Ancient Greece and had limited roles outside the home. In Rome, the same thing took place in the early stages. In the later stages of the republic, women had a much more active role. They were able to own property amongst other things. Here are 10 important women in Ancient Greece & Rome who had influential and memorable roles.
1. Helen of Troy:
A whole war was fought over her for 10 years. She was abducted by the Trojan Prince, which led to the war between the Greeks and the inhabitants of Troy. The war is one of the most written about in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
2. Cleopatra VII:
She was the last pharaoh in Egypt. She was a Greek and part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty who ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. She is quite popular today in art and literature, especially in Shakespearean literature.
The mother of Alexander the Great. She was a feared leader who had a skill for defeating snakes in religious ceremonies. After the death of her son, she became a regent to her grandson. While regent, she tried to seize control of Macedonia.
4. Saint Helena:
She was the Empress Consort of Emperor Constantinus. She is credited for finding the relics of the True Cross. This was the cross that Jesus Christ was “crucified” on according to the Christians.
5. Livia Drusilla:
She was a member of the Claudian family, who was married to Tiberius Claudius Nero until the emperor Augustus forced her to become his wife. She was intelligent and provided administrative help to her husband. She was also active in helping her son, Tiberius in his rule, until her death at age 85.
She was also an essential part of Greek Mythology. The story revolves around a woman who seeks revenge against her betraying husband. Unsuccessfully trying to poison her husband, she flees to Asia where she becomes the Queen of Medes, her own people.
She was a regent for Vabalathus. She rebelled against Aurellian and set herself up as Queen of Palmyra, independently of Rome. She won several battles, however was not triumphant against the Roman legions.
8. Clodia Pulchra:
Mark Antony was her mother’s husband. She is the daughter of Fulvia and Publius Clodius Pulcher. As a gesture of alliance, Fluvia offered Clodia Pulchra to Octavian for marriage. The two married, but did not live happily ever after. Octavian divorced her and the marriage was never consummated.
She was an aristocrat who married 3 powerful men, including Mark Antony. All 3 of her husbands were active and supported Julius Ceasar. During the Perusine War, she fought to help her husband Mark Antony battle his enemy Octavian. Legacy wise, she is the first non-myth person to appear on Roman coins.
She was the mother Gracchi. Her most important role came in the Second Punic War. She was a leading example of virtuous woman.