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Ancient Rome didn't have specific domestic violence legislation – but the laws they had give us a window into a world of abuse

By Eleanor Cowan, Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Sydney
Ashley Finn, PhD Candidate in Classics and Ancient History, The University of Melbourne
Kimberly Harris, PhD candidate and tutor, Classics and Ancient History, University of Sydney
Kirsten Parkin, PhD Candidate in Classics, The University of Cambridge
Tim Parkin, The Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair in Classics, The University of Melbourne
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Readers are advised this story includes depictions of domestic violence and violence against women.

Domestic violence was endemic in the Roman world.

Rome was a slave-owning, patriarchal, militarised culture in which violence (potential and actual) signalled power and control.

Tragically, but predictably, the names of most of the victims of domestic violence do not show up in the historical record. And yet the identities of a handful of victims survive.

Nero’s second wife Poppaea…The Conversation

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