Roman funerary statue of a Flavian woman.
Roman matrons were viewed positively as they embodied desirable characteristics of a fully grown woman. They held authority, assertiveness and the ability to resolve family disputes which protected their honour. However, one of the rare instances where they were not viewed positively was when they disagreed with the Oppian Law.
This law restrained the amount of gold women could possess, the amount of purple they could wear, and also, they could not travel in a carriage if they lived within a certain distance from Rome’s town centre. The women publicly protested when its repeal was about to be vetoed. They crowded the entrances to political arenas, blocking it off from the political figures (men) from entering. Men such as Cato the Elder was disgusted by these actions, and verbally attacked them by saying how shameful it was for these respectable matrons to be out in public causing such a scene. However, other men protested and wanted the Oppian Law to be repealed, by joking that ‘even horses were finer dressed than the wives!’