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Women of the Etruscan civilization

Written by A. C. Usardi.

The women conditions in Etruscan people are a sign of great diversity with respect to the definition and the role that women played in the contemporary societies of the Mediterranean. The etruscan woman has importance to political and administrative level and she fully lives the life of the family and society. Not only she has more freedom compared with the Roman women, but she is prominent in the civil society functions. To witness this condition there are not just historical examples of women particularly prominent in the political life, but also archaeological discoveries in the etruscan tombs with representations of women in the community life.

Donna Etrusca. Museo di Chiusi (SI). Fonte Flickr: utente Riccardo08.The etruscn woman fully lives the intense activities of her society: she often comes out, "without blushing", as reported by Livy, "to be exposed to the gaze of men", participate in public ceremonies, attends dances, concerts, games, sometimes presides on a special stage, as shown by the paintings of Orvieto. All this was shocking to the Romans who did not hesitate to label this equality as an index of licentiousness and lack of morality: to the point that to say "Etruscan" for the Romans was a synonym for "prostitute".

During the banquets she sits on triclinium, with her husband, which avows her an equal position in the family wealth management and children education. The funeral inscriptions often show that she has the power to name children and by the matronymic inscriptions found it is been possibile to understand that women are remembered with the name of their gens but also with their first name, which testifies the desire to remind them as separate individuals and independent within the society. For the same reasons in the funeral urns and sarcophagi lids women appear to us as they have been while alive, without alterations, often with wrinkles or body weighed down by age.

This type of representation is virtually non-existent in the whole contemporary Etruscan universe, where women, whether they are wives, mothers, concubines, are still in a marginal position and second place to men. Moreover, the intimacy of the etruscan couple is revealed by the "Etruscan tomb of the spouses", now preserved in the Louvre in Paris where husband and wife are united in death as they had been in life, next to each other for the eternity.

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