The ancient Roman tale known as the “Rape (or seizure) of Sabine Women” depicts women, taken against their will by Roman captures and married to Roman men. These women later, intervene in a battle between their new husbands and their angry brothers and fathers. The ancient tale depicts Roman ideology and practices of marriage. It shows how a bride was transferred from living under her father’s jurisdiction to being ruled by her husband. The capture of the Sabine women, the war that follows, and the final truce brought upon the Sabine women themselves are direct relation to the separation of a young bride from her maternal family, the transfer of authority, and her beginning in her new family. The tale is told by two philosophical figures of Roman history. Livy, whom writes about the events in 30 B.C.E and Ovid whom rights about them nearly a generation later1. Both have different views on the event, its meaning, and its relevance. The two men also share the same thoughts in regards to their view masculinity and power.
Livy’s narration of the rape is different from Ovid’s as it clearly describes the effort put forth by Romulus to appease the women that were taken. Livy is able to develop the significance of the women taken by showing how his treatment of the gender roles is a direct reflection of what is acceptable in Rome, and that his narrative is not simply marital based but also has themes in the political and social realms. In the world today western culture recognizes persecution and oppression. Yet, the allegorical characterization of victims is not identified or taken as seriously. The Sabine woman are not viewed as victims for sexual innuendos in Livy’s tale. Instead they take the role of a counterfeit desire that seems ...
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...man people simply seemed happy to go along with their king’s plans. Ovid’s vivid narration on the rape of the Sabine woman seems to clash with Livy and many depictions of glorious Rome as a leading city. Instead such images are replaced by the brutality of the rape by Roman men and the emotional rollercoaster of the women being abducted.
In all, Livy’s narrative appears to be an attempt to downplay the role of brutality and force used by the Roman men on the Sabine women. His narrative despite his best intentions exposes the immoral actions displayed by the Roman men on the Sabine women. Ovid’s narrative simply shows the exploitation of the Sabine women by Romulus’ men and the brutality of such actions.
1Fantham, E., with H. P. Foley, N. B. Kampen, S. B. Pomeroy, and H. A Shapiro, Women in the Classical World. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994.
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