Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: February 1, 2024 - Last updated: February 1, 2024


Author: Darah Paige Vann Orr

Title: A Roman Rape Culture

Subtitle: Sexual Violence in Augustan Era Rome

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Houston

Advisor: Kristina Neumann

Year: 2023

Pages: xi + 310pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Roman History | Cases: Mythological Incidents / Rape of the Sabine Women; Mythological Victims / Callisto, Lucretia, Philomela, Rhea Silvia; Types: Rape; Society: Rape Culture


Link: University of Houston Institutional Repository (Free Access)


Abstract: »There are currently no holistic studies of rape in Rome. This dissertation fills the gap in establishing the ubiquity of rape in Roman society, proving that it had, in today's terms, a "rape culture."f Sexual assault permeated the lives of Augustan-era Romans. Rape was present in Rome's very foundational stories, from Mars' assault on Rhea to the Sabine Women. Stories of mythological rape were commonly reproduced in art and poetry. Augustan laws did not protect the safety and autonomy of women from predation and left non-elite and non-citizen women vulnerable to assault. The Romans, as other ancient and modern societies, participated in the dehumanizing and violent practice of wartime rape. Each of these areas reinforced the others, creating a full system of justifications and acceptance of sexual assault.
The challenge of discussing Rome's rape culture is their own self-representation of the subject. Augustan laws did protect against stuprum per vim, or forcible rape - but these laws had severe restrictions. Historical narratives of Roman participation in war framed rape as a deviant occurrence.
Thus, rather than taking the Romans at their own word, I employ feminist theory to apply modern ideas of rape/rape culture to Roman society. These methods allow us to parse out what the Romans left unsaid. The acceptance of Rape Myths, or commonly held beliefs about sexual assault - i.e., she was asking for it - leads to victim-blaming. The stigma and shame of being blamed for their own assault leads to victims being silenced and their testimonies replaced. As an additional layer, the patriarchal and misogynistic society of Rome contributed to the entitlement that powerful men felt towards the lands and bodies of vulnerable and foreign populations.« (Source: Thesis)

  Preface (p. iv)
  Acknowledgements (p. vi)
  Abstract (p. viii)
  List of Figures (p. xi)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    Literature Review (p. 8)
    Roman Patriarchy (p. 21)
    Rape, Rape Culture, Feminist Theories (p. 27)
    Methodology & Chapter Summaries (p. 39)
  Chapter One. Livy: Entitlement and Blame in Mytho-Historical Rape (p. 45)
    Introduction (p. 45)
    Literature Review on Rape in Livy (p. 52)
    Theory and Methodology: Entitlement and Blame (p. 58)
    Rhea Silvia (p. 63)
      Entitlement (p. 66)
      Narratives, Blame, Rape Myths (p. 71)
    The Sabine Women (p. 73)
      Narratives of Rape/Raptus (p. 76)
      Entitlement (p. 81)
      Blame (p. 84)
    Lucretia (p. 87)
      Entitlement (p. 90)
      Blame (p. 94)
    Verginia (p. 96)
      Entitlement and Blame (p. 100)
    Conclusion (p. 102)
  Chapter Two: The Silencing of Survivors in Ovid's Myths (p. 106)
    Introduction (p. 106)
    Literature Review (p. 113)
      Ovid as a Voice/Ovid as Silencer (p. 121)
      Excursus: Reading Ovid Today (p. 125)
    Methodology (p. 128)
      Voyeurism as Silencing (p. 134)
    Evidence: The Metamorphoses (p. 141)
      Callisto (p. 141)
      Philomela (p. 149)
      Arachne (p. 158)
    Conclusion (p. 165)
  Chapter Three. Law: Systemic Patriarchy in Rome's Legal Codes (p. 167)
    Introduction (p. 167)
    Literature Review (p. 175)
    Patriarchy and Misogyny (p. 179)
    Defining Rape Legally (p. 184)
    Maintaining Patriarchal Institutions (p. 192)
      The Filiafamilias and Victimhood in Roman Rape Laws (p. 193)
      The Materfamilias and Committing to Patriarchal Values (p. 197)
    Weaponizing Morality (p. 202)
      Forced Compliance (p. 205)
      Low Class, Low Morals? (p. 207)
    Conclusion (p. 214)
  Chapter Four. Imperialism: Wartime Rape, Rhetoric and Reality (p. 216)
    Introduction (p. 216)
    Literature Review (p. 222)
    Roman Representation of Sexual Violence (p. 230)
    Other Roman Representations of Sexual Violence: Visual Media (p. 237)
    Rape in War: Theories, Comparative Models (p. 242)
    Roman Evidence (p. 248)
      Function One: Rape is a Part of the Rules of War (p. 249)
      Function Two: Rape in War as an Aspect of Male Communication (p. 253)
      Function Three: Rape is a Result of Masculinity (p. 255)
      Function Four: Rape as the Destruction of an Enemy's Culture (p. 259)
      Function Five: Rape within War is Culturally Ingrained (p. 265)
    Conclusion (p. 268)
  Conclusion (p. 271)
  Bibliography (p. 278)

Interview: Girod, Gary, int. »#MeToo and Roman Rape Culture.« The French History Podcast. 2019. - Bibliographic Entry: Info

Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Rome / History of the Roman Empire | Literature / Latin literature / Ovid | Myth / Classical mythology / Arachne, Callisto (mythology), Lucretia, Philomela, The Rape of the Sabine Women, Rhea Silvia, Verginia | Feminism: Rape culture | Sex and the law: Rape / Sexuality in ancient Rome