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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

Claudia made her wool (Claudia lanam fecit)

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Certainly one of the first achievements of the men was making clothes for weather protection sometimes warm sometimes cold. In oldest archaeological deposits appear bone needles with a hole and slot on one end through which a fiber input, a strip of skin, a thread later. Making yarn of animal hair or wool or vegetable fiber was early and very important. It was a great human work.

At least in the Greek and Roman world, which we try, it was a female occupation and responsibility in line with the social role of women.

Of course, the social role of Greek or Roman woman (there are important differences between them) today is not acceptable in our society, although it is fair that has started to change a few years ago, but this change is not yet over, because western countries and many others have achieved legal equality, but there it is not a complete real equality in them.

In any case, the facts of each society must be analyzed and evaluated in context and anachronistic judgments were incorrect (from gr. ἀνα  = upwards, against,  and χρόνος = time). Wow this warning to better understand and appreciate the following anonymous epitaph (from Greek ἐπὶ = on and τάφος = grave) of a matron  called  Claudia, in  half of the second century BC, which synthesizes the ideal Roman matron of the early days of the Roman Republic.

Worldguest, stan, listen, let the stone speak.
Is the small graved unbeatiful voice of a
Woman once beatiful.
The name her parents named her is Claudia.
She loved her husband with a thankful love
And bore him two sons: of these two, one
She left on earth, one she lost to earth.
With gente words, with perfect dignity
She armored her haouse.She spun a lifethread.
It is said. Go.

(Janet Lembke: Old Latin poetry from its beginnings to 100 B.C.;  University of California Press, 1973)

          HOSPES, QUOD DICO PAVLLVM EST, ASTA AC PELLEGE.
          HEIC EST SEPVLCRVM HAV PVLCRUM PVLCRAI FEMINAE
          NOMEN PARENTES NOMINARVNT CLAVDIAM.
          SVOM MAREITVM CORDE DEILEXIT SOVO.
          GNATOS DVOS CREAVIT. HORVM. HORVM ALTERVM
          IN TERRA LINQVIT, ALIVM SVB TERRA LOCAT.
          SERMONE LEPIDO, TVM AVTEM INCESSV COMMODO.
          DOMVM SERVAVIT. LANAM FECIT. DIXI. ABEI.
                 ( Carmina Latina Epigraphica, -CLE- 52)

Note: Read it also in Latin, although not fully understood; it is the only way to appreciate not only the pace but also the phonetic resources served by the author. I used only capital letters to get a little closer to the original text of the tombstone; the same reason explains the use of the V as well as our consonant and vowel U. It  should be read and pronounced always as "W".

Well, in this epitaph are collected and topically praised  the main virtues virtues that should adorn Roman matrons: she  is beautiful, loving, good mother who raises children, with pleasant conversation and stylish. The last line is the epitome of this ideal matron: she kept  her home, which we interpret as a reference to his honesty, and she made  his own wool.

The expression "Lanam fecit" and the idea in it hidden is a legacy  of the Greek world, in which the work of the wool is associated with feminine virtue from the Iliad and Odyssey. Recall the work of the beautiful and chaste Penelope, unraveling at night what she wove during the day, awaiting the return of her husband Odysseus and avoiding the many suitors who beset her and her palace.

Moreover, work carding and weaving wool dresses is a topic of funerary epigraphy and of Latin literature in its intention to compare  the relaxation of the customs against the  ancient morality.

The same objective intended narratives such as the death of Lucretia who was  dishonored by King Tacitus as Livy tells us in his  Ab urbe condita, I, 57, or the story of Regulus, a prisoner of the Carthaginians who dies bravely, collected by numerous authors.

This epitaph reflects that existing topic   in society and helps strengthen it. But this does not mean that the really-century matrons make  their wool or draw up their dresses exclusively  or preferably. It is rather an expression of their hard work and  containment against overspending, vices prevalent in society when the conquests contribute at the same time to Rome enormous wealth and resources.

In any case, we can see in this short epitaph the enormous capacity of synthesis and the expressive force of the Latin language. It is therefore lapidary  (from lat.lapis, stone ) and solemn  language, suitable for all kinds of inscriptions and not just funeral.
 

   
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