HelRAW: Sara Borrello 5.9.2022
The Helsinki Research on the Ancient World (HelRAW) is a monthly research seminar. HelRAW is organized by the SpaceLaw project together with the Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri (PapyGreek) project.
5.9.2022 at 17.15 (UTC+3)
Room 7, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40, 3rd floor)
Meeting ID: 641 2944 4826
Sara Borrello (Newcastle University): The Republic of Children: Elite Pueri and Puellae in Roman Politics and Warfare
This paper sets out to investigate the interactions between pueri and puellae belonging to the Roman elite, on the one hand, and politics and warfare, on the other hand. It argues that the participation of Roman children in public life was widespread, and that young boys and girls played pivotal roles in the competition dynamics within the senatorial nobility. The timescale considered spans from the outbreak of the Hannibalic War (218 BCE) to the establishment of the Principate (27 BCE).
The paper provides definitions of puer and puella from a legal standpoint. It considers age limits, the significance of wearing distinguishing marks (bulla and toga praetexta), and the rites of passage between childhood and adulthood. In addition to this, it focuses on how and why the age threshold to be deemed a puer changed over time. It also offers an overview of the occasions in which Roman elite children were involved, with a focus on the political scope of such interventions.
The core of this paper centres on elite children as actors and exemplary figures. The first instance deals with young Scipio’s purported admirable rescue of his father at the Ticinus battle. The second case-study focuses on young Aemilius Lepidus as a saviour of a fellow-citizen, a feat that awarded him an equestrian statue erected on the Capitol by Senate decree. The third instance examines little Tertia Aemilia’s ominous words and the interpretation that her father, L. Aemilius Paullus, gave of them shortly before waging war against King Perseus of Macedonia. The fourth case-study analyses the evidence for Cato the Younger’s firm opposition to Q. Poppaedius Silo’s demands for the enfranchisement of the Italians, and to Sulla’s dictatorship and proscriptions.
Each instance aims at challenging the historicity of an incident in which a Roman child is singled out as the protagonist, and at investigating the historical conjunctures in which a child’s intervention could gain political significance.
Sara Borrello is a Doctoral Candidate in Ancient History at Newcastle University. Before joining Newcastle University, she obtained a B.A. in Cultural Heritage Sciences (History pathway) at the Catholic University of Milan, and an M.A. in Ancient Civilisations: Literature, History and Archaeology at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, where she is currently a Subject Expert in Roman History.
Her research interests focus on the political history of the late Roman Republic, the Roman family, Roman matrons and female figures, and the processes of memory codification – topics on which she has published a few articles. Her research adopts an interdisciplinary approach, aiming at analysing historiographic, epigraphic, iconographic, and numismatic sources and at endorsing the dialogue between them.
Her doctoral research deals with the political and military engagement of elite children within the political and military settings and the power dynamics of the Roman Republic, with a focus on the period spanning from the Hannibalic War (218 BCE) to the establishment of the Principate (27 BCE). After submitting her Ph.D. thesis in December 2021, she passed her Viva in March 2022 and is currently in the process of revising her thesis, also with a view to turning it into a monograph.
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