My review of The Murder of Regilla, by Sarah B. Pomeroy, ran today at Popmatters. The book chronicles a case of domestic violence in 2nd century Roman Greece, attempting to shed light on the life of an aristocratic Roman woman who was the victim of a tragic crime. Pomeroy’s attempts to piece together the scant historical and archaeological evidence, in the face of both cultural biases and the self-serving distortions of those implicated in the murder, are admirable and enlightening.
For those interested in the inner workings of antiquity, The Murder of Regilla uses this woman’s story as a jumping off point to explore the complex relationships of the Roman Empire, between men and women, colonizers and the colonized, parents and children, masters and slaves. Beneath it all runs a swift current of politics and personal identity which invisibly drives the subjects in their motives and actions.
Though she occasionally ventures into speculation (or rather educated guesses based on compelling circumstantial evidence) as to the exact details of the crime and subsequent inquiry, Pomeroy manages to paint a very clear portrait of the relatively affluent lifestyle that Regilla would have enjoyed and how despite her high status in her community, she still was subject to the dominion of the men in her life.
Though Regilla’s true inner thoughts and feelings are lost in a historical record that paid little attention to her sex, the shading that Pomeroy does gives us a decent impression of what she might have been like, and emphasizes how important it is for people of all segments of society to have a voice and have their story told.
[tags]The Murder of Regilla, Roman Empire, Feminism[/tags]