Reconsidering Opportunities for Female Benefactors in the Roman Empire: Julia Antonia Eurydice and the Gerontikon at Nysa
A small, yet significant body of archaeological and epigraphical evidence demonstrates that women in the Roman Empire undertook a variety of public roles. Recent research has centered on wealthy, elite females, who made benefactions in Rome and around the empire in the form of building projects, alimenta, and entertainment. These endeavors required a great deal of money and placed the benefactress in the eye of the public. One of the better known examples of such a woman is Plancia Magna from Perge, who in the early second century held the positions of demiourgos, gymnasiarch, and priestess of Artemis and renovated her city's gateway and built a triple archway to include statues of the imperial family, city founders, and her own family. 2 Although our only information about Plancia Magna comes from epigraphic evidence, it seems as though she was able to control her own wealth and had attained a position of prominence within her city. Some scholars, including Riet van Bremen,3 have claimed that women made such donations according to a family precedent for giving. That is, elite women sponsored building projects or donated funds for the public good because their own families were known for such philanthropic work and they were simply continuing this tradition. The women were acting, not as individuals, but as members of their families.
This article is from L’Antiquité Classique 81 (2012): 145. Posted with permission.