Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Just Did Something No Roman Woman Did...

Today I voted in my local elections. Women in Italy were denied the right to vote until 1925 and that was in various localities, not the whole of Italy. Women weren't entirely shut out of politics, however. There are walls in Pompeii painted with campaign ads from women endorsing candidates:
"Nymphodotus, along with Caprasia, asks you to vote for Marcus Cerrinus Vatia for the aedileship." Another, found on the side of a wine shop reads: "Caprasia along with Nymphius -- her neighbors too -- ask you to vote for Aulus Vettius Firmus for the aedileship; he is worthy of the office."
If you're curious, here's an interesting chart breaking down the positions (and responsibilities) of government in Rome. I've also come across more nifty history. I can't decide if I like this better than the computers we vote on nowadays:

SUFFRA′GIUM: to vote.
It is commonly supposed that at Rome the people were always polled in the comitia by word of mouth, till the passing of the Leges Tabellariae about the middle of the second century BCE [Tabellariae Leges], when the ballot by means of tabellae was introduced.

Popular assemblies voted by ballot, as well as by word of mouth, long before the passing of the Leges Tabellariae, but that instead of using tabellae they employed stones or pebbles and that each voter received two stones, one white and the other black, the former to be used in the approval and the latter in the condemnation of a measure. The voting by word of mouth seems to have been adopted in elections and trials, and the use of pebbles to have been confined to the enactment and repeal of laws.
Exciting, I know! Basically, you had to be an adult male landowner to vote, but that doesn't mean women had no say at all. They caused scandals when need be, including the protesting of the Oppian laws where the women showed up in the Forum and lobbied the men to repeal law that women would not be allowed to spend money. I wonder if it was a Lysistrata type situation... hmmm!

Anyway, not to bore you entirely with the legislative situation in Rome (which is more like our modern American system than anyone really wants to admit, and might have been a better one except for all that land owning patrician sexism).

Tonight is also the opening of the Mundus and The Eastern Orthodox feast of Michael the Archangel. In some traditions the date is dedicated to the "Dark" aspects of Michael, the one who reaps Justice and takes retribution. Call on him only if no one could call for justice or retribution against you. Are you pure enough to cast the first stone, so to speak? Is your heart lighter than a feather? Would Ammit devour you? His sword is double-edged. Be wary of calling upon it.

No comments on my Whipping post? I'm terribly disappointed! Perhaps it's time to post part 2? ;)

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