Thursday, November 5, 2020

Publilius Syrus on Women: A selection of Sententiae

The sententiae (maxims) of Publilius Syrus show some perspectives of women in Roman society:

* Adulter est uxoris amator acrior.

A person who actually loves their wife is an adulterer.

* Aperte mala cum est mulier, tum demum est bona.

When a woman is openly wicked, she is finally good.

* Aut amat aut odit mulier, nil est tertium.

A woman either loves or hates; there is no alternative.

* Casta ad virum matrona parendo imperat.

A chaste wife rules over her husband by obeying him.

* Didicere flere feminae in mendacium.

Women learn to use weeping deceptively.

* Feminae naturam regere desperare est otium.

To control a woman’s nature is to give up hope of a life of leisure.

* Malo in consilio feminae vincunt viros.

Women are better than men at making evil plots.

*Mulier quae multis nubit, multis non placet.

A woman who weds many, will not please any.

*Muliebris lacrima condimentum est malitiae.

A woman’s tears are icing on the cake of her evil ways.

*Muneribus non lacrimis meretrix est misericors.

A mistress respects your money, not your feelings.

* Muliebre est furere in ira.

It’s effeminate to have a meltdown when you’re mad.


--Publilius Syrus, Sententiae (selections)

Publilius Syrus


Name:  Publilius Syrus

Date:  1st c. BCE

Works:  Sententiae


Map of Roman Empire Divided into Regions



 Publilius Syrus was a famous performer of Golden Age Rome. Although he entered Rome a slave from Syria, he was quickly freed due to his talent and became one of the foremost mime artists of his age. The corpus of moral sayings (Sententiae) attributed to him continued to grow after his death, with later authors adding their own contributions to the collection.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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