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Romanticism for the past

Romanticism for the past
April 17, 2012, 11:11:47 AM
I was simply trying to acquire reliable sources (if the Internet permits) on ancient life. In particular, I stumbled upon this theme regarding women's roles:

The women of the Middle Ages were totally dominated by the male members of their family. The women were expected to instantly obey not only their father, but also their brothers and any other male members of the family. Any unruly girls were beaten into submission and disobedience was seen as a crime against religion..

This provides a far different account: http://www.medieval-spell.com/Roles-Of-Women-In-The-Middle-Ages.html

The Roles of Women in the Middle Ages were not limited to spirituality.  They could inherit land and hold fiefs. They were entrusted with the charge of castles when their lords went on crusade. Such a chatelaine in later days was Jeanne de Montfort, who held the castle of Hennebon in Brittany.  Often they were heavily involved in politics, like Emma, wife of Edward the Confessor, who did more then anyone else to make the Norman Conquest to last.

1) Where is a more reliable source on family life in the ancient day? There are many claims of women being seen as "inferior" (Athenian women in particular compared to Egyptian conceptions). Is there a shred of truth to this "oppression" or is this a gross misrepresentation of ancient life?

2) Do we have a romanticized vision of the past when we conclude that family life and bonds between human beings were far superior?

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 17, 2012, 12:57:37 PM
It's hard to know what really was the conditons of the past because when a land was conquered, the winner often destroyed the record of the culture and replaced it with their vision. It's the conqueror that writes the history. An exemple of that is the chronicles of Julius Ceasare about the conquest of the Gaules.
Also, the majority of the customs were passed orally from generation to generation so they weren't writen down. Much was lost when poeple started to forgot them.

And there's a lot of different pasts so to speak. It's because there is different nations, differents civilisations so they didn't have the same values. Even in the same civilisation, the values changes as the time change.

And there was also differences between classes. A woman in the nobility wasn't subject to the same rules as a peasant woman. The same as men.

When we talk of a specific subject, like the role of the women in middle ages, before we start judging it, we have to consider all aspects of that time and it's hard to do it with all the factors I have point out above.

 It's too easy to pass a judgment with our own values especially if we have a political agenda.

So with all of that complexities, it's hard not to fall into the trap of romanticize the past.

It best not to go too far down that road because we will never know what it was to llive in a past we didn't live.

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 17, 2012, 05:00:28 PM
The Sagas of the Icelanders can shed some light on this.  I recall several examples where women were treated meritoriously.


Re: Romanticism for the past
April 18, 2012, 06:11:14 AM
Wikipedia and other modern sources are revisionist history. No one knows what life was like then so we use period documents, which may be reliable but may also not be reliable.

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 18, 2012, 08:04:56 AM
I only link to wikipedia to establish A) She was a woman and B) She had some rank of prestige despite being a woman.  Beyond that, inquiring minds need to do their own digging and research, of course.

The Sagas is a primary source.  The reason I tend to think the Sagas is fairly accurate is because it isn't constantly dramatic and it is filled with many boring, everyday accounts of normal life.  It also has drama and violence, too, but not exclusively.  A revisionist would most likely ignore boring stories where things turned out honky-dory and zero in on horror and "repression."  The Sagas is very sober and even-handed in this regard.  Of course, a perfect record of everyday life is not going to survive thousands of years and only "notable" events will be remembered.

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 19, 2012, 06:12:21 AM
very true but still be wary, some want to romanticize the past but most want to tear it down

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 19, 2012, 06:18:55 PM
Archaeologists and classicists donít disagree on whether or not there were female gladiators in ancient Rome. Itís clear from a number of contemporary accounts that there were. Just how rare they were is another question, depictions of them in physical form are very rare, but mentions of them in writing are much more conclusive. There are a number of recorded laws preventing high class women from training as gladiatrices, or banning female gladiatrices outright, opinionated poems calling on high class women to stop playing soldier by learning the fighting arts because no man would want them, and other casual mentions of their existence. The most visual evidence has, up until now, been a carved relief of ďAmazonĒ and ďAchillia,Ē the stage names of two gladiatrices who apparently both fought in heavy armor and received honorable discharges from the arena.

But researchers have recently discovered what may be the second known depiction of a gladiatrix in history.


I think the point of gender roles is that they are complementary and recognize exceptions, but see them as exceptions, not the norm.

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 19, 2012, 09:29:48 PM

I think the point of gender roles is that they are complementary and recognize exceptions, but see them as exceptions, not the norm.

How so?  It seems like Raison d'Ítre for feminism (at least they would have you believe) would be that traditional roles do not cover the spectrum of variations in gender.

Re: Romanticism for the past
April 19, 2012, 09:46:03 PM
There are exceptions to every rule, including <-- this one.

That means there are some rules for which there are no exceptions, but only exceptional rules.

Exception means something radically unique and rare. There are very few.

Modern people like to believe that the exceptions to a rule constitute 60% of the cases, when almost always it's below 1%.