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The Rape Of Sabine Women Essay

1244 words - 5 pages

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 to distribute itself among Romans and Sabine males that make them loathe each other. This in turn leads the Sabine women being forced into the most vulnerable position. This position relate to the woman having to place themselves in between their fathers and brothers and their new husbands later in his narrative to stop a war. Yet, Livy does not give credit to the Sabine women for stopping a war instead he seems to rationalize their abduction and even goes as far as to call the theft “the great moment” 1. In fact unlike Ovid, Livy does not spend much time detailing the actual event of the women’s kidnapping. He simply seems to state that it happened. Livy also clearly identifies the low status of women in Roman culture, even though he never directly states such a thing. Livy is able to convey the thought that women have a form of double status. They are considered outsiders or eventual risks. For Livy, rape or seizure is the representation of the erratic decisions of Romans ruler, whom is no more than what Livy believes is a tyrant.
In contrast, to Livy’s detailed telling of the tale Ovid’s narrative shows the Sabine women as victims subject to overzealous Roman men. Ovid’s narrative seems to suggest that the Roman...

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