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Public Roles of Provincial Women: Flaminicae of the Imperial Cult

Judith Lynn Sebesta

The position of flaminicae of the imperial cult enabled elite women living in the provinces and Italian cities to assume a public role more significant than that of elite women of Rome, where the imperial family was the center of focus.  This paper presents what is known about the duties, terms of office, and priestly garb of the flaminicae of various coloniae through selected inscriptions found in Italy, North Africa, and Spain (Vitellia Rufilla, Urbs Salvia, Italy; Avidia Vitalis, Carthage; Coelia Victoria Potita, Cirta, Numidia; Lucilla Cale, Thurburba Maius,  Africa Proconsularis; Vibia Modesta, Baetica, Spain).  These inscriptions show that the position of colonial flaminicae was one of great public honor, not only for the women, but also for their families.   During their term of office the women bestowed out of their own purses various munificentia, such as public statues, bathing complexes, and public banquets that the decuriones celebrated in public inscriptions of praise and thanks. Through her flaminicate an elite woman made her mark on the otherwise male preserve of public donation and recognition.

As we teachers should be concerned about the extent to which we are able to present, through textbooks and other materials, the activities in which elite Roman women engaged, this paper also shows how these inscriptions and scholarly work on Roman religion can be made accessible to students. The inscriptions of the women presented in this paper are available, therefore, in annotated form for classroom use on the website Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women.

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Women of the Roman Empire

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