Dominandi avida : Tacitus' portrayal of women in the Annals.
This thesis deals with Tacitus' portrayal of women by examining in detail a number of the female characters in the Annals in order to identify certain themes and ideas relating to women. The most striking theme to emerge from such an examination is that of the strong, powerful, almost masculine woman, and several of the characters examined exemplify this recurring theme. In portraying these characters Tacitus uses certain language patterns and techniques of characterisation, and this thesis is concerned with identifying such patterns and techniques. These include the recurring use of certain words with a specific connotation, and the employment of several methods of directing the reader's perception in the manner Tacitus desires. This manipulation of the reader's response is an example of Tacitus' direct and indirect authorial control, which is also evident in his technique of using his own and other authors' usage to create resonances for particular expressions. Of note is the fact that Tacitus avoids direct description of his characters, but rather allows their actions to reveal character. Given that Tacitus' main preoccupation in the Annals as a whole is the nature of the principate, he uses his portrayal of women to illuminate and comment upon his view of this form of government. The women chosen for study, with one exception, belong to the imperial circle since, with the inauguration of one man rule, those with ready access to the princeps had the most opportunity to break out of the mould of the traditional ideal of Roman womanhood. Boudicca, the British queen of the Iceni, has been chosen for study as a foil to the Roman women in order to highlight their manoeuvrings for personal power, while Octavia has been selected as an exemplar of the Roman ideal of womanhood. Although this is not a historical or sociological study, it must be noted that the evidence we have of the period about which Tacitus is writing is in fact one-sided evidence derived from a restricted social class, recorded by men, and an attempt to redress this balance is made by reference to contemporary studies of the legal and social position of women in Roman society. Consequently chapters on the historical background and the position of women respectively have been included as background. In addition other ancient sources have been consulted where this is appropriate in order to determine areas of bias in Tacitus.