Final Thoughts on Researching Roman Women’s Ritualistic Role in the Secular Games of 17 B.C.E.

At the beginning of conducting this research, I thought I had an idea of what I would find as I went through various articles and primary sources. Yet, many surprising revelations still ended up coming into my research, which further influenced my understanding of how important the process of doing research is. For example, in my first overall reading of Horace’s Carmen Saeculare, the goddess Diana was one of the primary gods spoken to with her twin brother Phoebus, otherwise known as Apollo. I genuinely thought of this only as they are the gods of the sun and moon, and expressed a great dichotomy of dark and light for the games. While true, however, her role in the literature and the ritual of the Secular Games, as I continued to research and analyze the Latin, became the basis for how I continued to look further into the research. I found that the dichotomy of fertility and purity played a major part in women’s role in ritual. In seeing how Diana, the virgin goddess, was called upon to make sure the women of Rome were fertile and could bear the next generation, this created an even clearer understanding of how women were viewed and the relation to how we still see women today. In 17 B.C.E, the Roman government and culture placed emphasis on a very religious, misogynistic view, that women were only acceptable in society if they were virgins, deemed “pure” either for religious purposes or until a certain age, or if they were married and fertile. Diana embodies this concept.

            This can be seen in modern times as well as it is still necessary in most states that a women has to get her husband’s permission to undergo a hysterectomy, but men do not need permission to get a vasectomy. Through this realization, I was able to create an even clearer thesis and direct my research. With the use of resources like JSTOR and books on these subjects, which are thankfully free through the university, I was able to determine and obtain much of the information I found throughout the semester. 

            Through the CURF experience, my eyes were opened to the great amount of resources at my disposal, including the work with my mentor, Dr. Possanza. Having free range to conduct research on something interesting to me furthered my drive to continue to do research and hopefully find even more things that surprise me. Since CURF is over, I am already planning a new research project, which I will hopefully be conducting in a Bachelor’s of Philosophy program going further into how gender and literature and ritual all connect in the Roman world. I hope to use this CURF research in the new project which will be more in depth and will require about a year’s worth of research. 

Statue of Diana
By Photo: Unknown photographer – 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 24, pg. 505, Plate IV, Public Domain,

Leave a Reply