Female head covering in the early Imperial period: questions of the covered 'other' and the ideal of Augustan womanhood
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 00:35 authored by Elizabeth Smith
This thesis examines the nature of the literary evidence for female head covering in early imperial Rome (defined for this purpose as 31 BC- AD 68) via a socio-cultural analysis of early imperial poetry. Data is collected from searches in the Thesaurus Latinae Linguae (TLL) for the terms amictus, palla, infula, vitta, mitra and flammeum. Patterns as to the use of these head covering garments and adornments to characterise female protagonists in early imperial poetry are analysed and early imperial attitudes to covering are determined. It is proposed that attitudes to covering in early imperial Rome were not beholden to a single perspective and concluded that a complex discourse on covering existed in early imperial literature. The approach of the thesis is informed by a post-colonial feminist reading of Orientalism that allows for critique of previous scholars who have ‘other-ed’ ancient women vis-à-vis the use of terms such as ‘veil’. Application of this reading to the early imperial corpus elucidates information about gender roles in the Augustan era and provides insight into ancient Rome as a nuanced culture that possessed an array of social roles, values and ways of making meaning.