It is a well-established question that women in general in the ancient world, in Greece and in Rome, hardly play any public, social and political role, remaining largely invisible, even in different stays within their own home; so we call “gynoecium”, γυναικεῖον, the rooms of the house for the exclusive use of women; the “andron”, Ἀνδρῶν, is the part of the house reserved for men.

It is true that any statement about the ancient world needs many more profound qualifications and knowledge. Thus the situation of Greek women is not the same as that of Roman women, and this in the first centuries than  at the end of the Republic or during the Empire, when their social and legal "status" has undergone important modifications.

It is even striking that while socially her relevant role is  matron of the house, we speak about the free women of the Roman noble families, instead in the Greek-Roman "pantheon" the goddesses, demigoddesses, heroines have an important presence, and if Zeus-Jupiter responds to the paternalistic paradigm of the father-god, the virginal Artemis or Diana represents the autonomous, free and breakthrough woman with the dominant patriarchal system.

Also in art in general and in funeral epigraphy, for example, women are well present and represented.

I mean by all this that any statement about the ancient world, which we usually see with the eyes of the present, needs nuances and fine analysis.

But I do not want to refer to it but to a very current issue, that of sexism in language.

Both Greek and Latin languages are flexible, very flexible languages; that is to say, the words admit diverse forms, generally different endings to express the diverse "grammatical accidents".

We say that Spanish, like many other languages today, is derived from Latin. We could also say that these languages are but a Latin evolved over the years subjected to the influence of the substrate of other languages and various factors. This relationship is appreciated by those who are not specialists in languages, especially in the lexicon or set of words, but also in syntactic structures, despite variations. There are some other less obvious and less expected issues.

Thus for example in Latin there are two grammatical numbers, singular and plural and two there are also in Spanish; (in fact, there remains in Latin a remnant of a third number called dual which is applied to beings or objects that generally appear in pairs, such as two hands, two eyes, two ears, etc.).

In Latin there are three genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. In Spanish the neutral has disappeared, there is only one rest in the article "lo", in the pronoun "ello (it)", etc. So  the masculine and the feminine are only operative.

However, the use of grammatical genders in Spanish has generated, in addition to purely linguistic questions, others of a social and even political kin when "grammatical gender" is identified with "physical sex".

It turns out that language, like other human activities, operates with an invisible "media economy" principle and thus generally it uses substantive or "masculine" adjectives to refer to both men and women. So when we affirm "man is a being endowed with intelligence", we naturally refer to "man and woman", without excluding the latter. In more linguistic terms, we would say that Spanish language "marks" the feminine term, but not the masculine one, which, because it is not "marked", can be used to refer to both genders.

In that has naturally influenced the very historical formation of society, aptly defined as "patriarchal" given the preponderant role played in civilian and social life by the "pater", the father, and not the mother, relegated generally and for many years to the interior of the home and her functions.

But the roles of men and women in society have changed markedly in a process of equalization that has certainly not ended. This process thas not been kind, but has provoked great controversy among "patriarchal", "sexist" people in popular terminology, and "feminists".

This process of equalization has spread to all sectors of society. Thus in democratic countries equality has been achieved in laws, which no longer cover discrimination in the enjoyment of rights based on the gender or sex of individuals. Real equalization in society has obviously not yet been achieved and there is still a great way to go. For example, laws regulating labor and labor relations are not discriminatory, but in our country it is a sad reality that women often charge a lower wage than men, even when they do the same work.

Well, some people consider that language, in which some masculine gender terms are used to refer to masculine and feminine beings together, is discriminatory and "sexist", that is, it exalts gender or masculine sex for the detriment of feminine. Thus language is also a field of confrontation between those who cling to traditional uses and those who demand a renewal that does not hide the reality that approximately half of the human beings which  inhabit the planet earth are women.

The solutions that have been proposed are diverse and their general acceptance is nothing short of impossible. Thus it is proposed to replace the terms of specific gender with others of more abstract meaning, for example using "humanity" instead of "men", or use indistinct or alternatively one or the other, so we would sometimes say "men" and other "women"; "The boys" and "the girls"; or simultaneously use the two, thus "men and women",  "boys and girls", etc.

This question of sexist language is not definitively resolved, despite the normative efforts of some institutions. Moreover, the issue sometimes provokes controversies, such as recently emerged between two academics of  Royal Spanish Academy that has resulted in several articles of replicas and counter-replies loaded with ad hominem arguments.

At this point in the article, more than one reader will ask the story or reason of all this exhibition in a blog dedicated to the ancient Greek-Roman world?

Well, I can not say that this question of the "sexist" use of language arose in the ancient world, but there is evidence as old as the Greek Iliad in which the male and the female term are simultaneously specified and used simultaneously. It was precisely a recent rereading of the Iliad that caused me to stumble with verse 350 of Book XV and that motivated this article with such a long introduction.

Homer says in Illiad, XV, 346-351

And Hector shouted aloud, and called to the Trojans:“Speed ye against the ships, and let be the blood-stained spoils. Whomsoever I shall mark holding aloof from the ships on the further side, on the very spot shall I devise his death, nor shall his  kinsmen and kinswomen give him his due meed of fire in death, but the dogs shall rend him in front of our city.”  (English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D.Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 19)

In this occasion I will also cite the text in Greek so that it can be verified by the reader that the use of " male and female relatives, kinsmen and kinswomen" is not merely an effect of translation, but it is seen in the original: γνωτοί and γνωταί are the masculine form and female of the same word:

Ἕκτωρ δὲ Τρώεσσιν ἐκέκλετο μακρὸν ἀΰσας
νηυσὶν ἐπισσεύεσθαι, ἐᾶν δ' ἔναρα βροτόεντα·
ὃν δ' ἂν ἐγὼν ἀπάνευθε νεῶν ἑτέρωθι νοήσω,
αὐτοῦ οἱ θάνατον μητίσομαι, οὐδέ νυ τόν γε
γνωτοί τε γνωταί τε πυρὸς λελάχωσι θανόντα,   
ἀλλὰ κύνες ἐρύουσι πρὸ ἄστεος ἡμετέροιο.

Let us now turn to this other example of Pausanias (eight hundred years separate it from the previous text), which in his Description of Greece, when speaking about Delphi, referring to Homer and Pindarus and to the source Casotide, says in 10: 24,2:

So these men wrote what I have said, and you can see a bronze statue of Homer on a slab, and read the oracle that they say Homer received:
—“Blessed and unhappy, for to be both wast thou born.
Thou seekest thy father-land; but no father-land hast thou, only a mother-land.
The island of Ios is the father-land of thy mother, which will receive thee
When thou hast died; but be on thy guard against the riddle of the young children.”

The inhabitants of Ios point to Homer's tomb in the island, and in another part to that of Clymene, who was, they say, the mother of Homer.
But the Cyprians, who also claim Homer as their own, say that Themisto, one of their native women, was the mother of Homer, and that Euclus foretold the birth of Homer in the following verses:
—“And then in sea-girt Cyprus there will be a mighty singer,
Whom Themisto, lady fair, shall bear in the fields, A man of renown, far from rich Salamis.
Leaving Cyprus, tossed and wetted by the waves,
The first and only poet to sing of the woes of spacious Greece,
For ever shall he be deathless and ageless.”

These things I have heard, and I have read the oracles, but express no private opinion about either the age or date of Homer. (Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918).

I have already mentioned something about this issue in

But now I want to highlight a curious and significant fact.

In a special and repeated way the masculine / feminine doublet was sometimes used in the Roman legislative world. There are times when the legislator wants to make it clear linguistically that he refers to "men and women" in a non-discriminatory way. The Roman jurist has opted  the solution of using together the masculine terms and the corresponding feminine in resemblance to some current uses.

I have also found it in a recent visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, in the known as the "Lex Salpensana", which regulates the citizenship of the town of Salpensa, now Facialcázar, city close to Utrera, in the Hispanic Bética of the time Imperial of Domitian.

It is known that the "Roman Law" is the set of laws that exclusively regulate the life of the "Roman citizen". However, not all inhabitants of the Roman Empire are "citizens" (cives), some of them are related but not Roman citizens, like the "latini", others are foreign friends, but not citizens, "peregrini", pilgrims, whose relations with the Romans is determined by ius gentium; many of them are slaves, that is, men without rights. Each group has its own rights, until in 212 with the so-called Constitutio Antoniniana the Emperor Caracalla considers Roman citizens all free inhabitants of the empire, including those of Hispania, of course.

In a similar way, the Romans  assimilate the territories and cities that they  conquer  and are creating many others with different legal entities, such as "colonies" or "municipia",  "municipalities." Moreover, the different legal qualifications are applied in terms of the quality of their citizens and their assimilation to Rome.

The emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus (51 – 96) assimilated since the year 73 the Hispanic cities to the condition of "Latin cities"; thus he promulgated and granted between the years 81 and 84  the municipality of Salpensa a law with which he granted the "ius Latii", the law of Lazio, the Latin Law, of inferior category and less beneficial than the "ius romanum". Of this law we have only 9 chapters of a plate of the several of which it should have, according to other similar laws, like the Lex Flavia Malacitana, and the Lex Irnitana.

On these laws and their meaning I must write an article at the time, but today I will confine myself to the verification of that linguistic precision which differentiates between the beings of gender and the masculine and feminine sex in the written language, in this case of a law . Of course he does not do it because it considers that the generalist formula is sexist, but for reasons of juridical precision; but who would tell us that this formula that has served and serves as a confrontation when not as exercises of dubious humor, who would tell us that he had already settled in a text two thousand years ago?

National Archaeological Museum of Madrid

I reproduce only the five rubrics in which these uses appear in Latin and in their translation, leaving for another occasion the comment and meaning, not without difficulty.  I use the meritorious  translation of  E. G.  Hardy, in his work Three Spanish Charters and other documents. The Lawbook Exchange Ltd. Clark. New Jersey)

Note: The word "rubric" is derived from the Latin ruber, rubra, rubrum, meaning "red". According The dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy, in its first two meanings, it means:

1. Trait or set of traits, always performed in the same way, which usually are put on the signature after the name and that sometimes replaces it. 2. Label, mark, epigraph

In the fifth, which alreadyit warns that it is in disuse, it means:

5.  Sign in red or red sign.

And it is precisely this fifth that explains the meaning of the previous ones. In the ancient texts, especially legal, the beginning or title of the paragraph was colored "red", and hence derived their meanings.

Note: the English language is less flexible and less often marks the difference between masculine and feminine grammatical genders, which makes it less obvious the masculine-feminine linguistic differentiation in relation to physical sexual differentiation. In any case the differentiation appears: grand-sons/granddaughters, male/ female, freedmen/ freedwomen, free man / free woman,

Rubric 21 

XXI. All persons created duoviri, aediles, or quaestors in accordance with this law shall be Roman citizens, on laying  down the magistracy at the end of the year, together with their parents and wives, and children born in lawful wedlock, and subject to the patria potestas, and in like manner grand-sons and granddaughters being the children of a son, and  subject to the patria potestas, always provided that no more  Roman citizens be created than the number of magistrates proper to be elected in accordance with this law.

R. Ut magistratus civitatem Romanam consequantur. [XXI. . . Qui llvir aedilis quaestor ex hac lege factus erit cives Romani sunto cum post annum magistratu] | abierint cum parentibus coniugibusque {h}ac liberi(s) qui legitumis nuptis quae l siti in potestatem parentium fuerunt item nepotibus ac neptibus filio I nat{al}is [natabus] qui quaeque in potestate parentium fuerint dum ne plures c(ives) R(omani) I  sint qua(m) quod ex h(ac) l(ege) magistratus creare oportet.

Rubric 22

All persons, male or female, obtaining the Roman citizenship, in accordance with this law, or having obtained it in accordance with an edict of the imperator Caesar Augustus Vespasianus, or the imperator Titus Caesar Augustus, or the imperator Caesar Augustus Domitianus, father of his country, shall be in the parental power or marital control o legal dominion of that person, having been made a Roman citizen by this law, to whom such dependence would be proper, if the said persons had not been transferred into the Roman citizenship; and the said persons shall have the same right of choosing a legal guardian, which they would have, if they had been born of Roman citizen, and had not exchanged their citizenship.

R. Ut qui civitat(em) Roman(am) consequantur, maneant in eorundem m(ancipio) m(anu) potestate.
XXII. Qui quaeque ex h(ac) l(ege) exve edicto imp(eratoris) Caesaris Aug(usti) Vespasiani, imp(eratoris)ve Titi Caesaris Aug(usti), aut imp(eratoris) Caesaris Aug(usti) Domitiani, p(atris) p(atriae), civitatem Roman(am) consecutus consecuta erit. Is ea in eius, qui c(ivis) R(omanus) h(ac) l(ege) factus erit, potestate manu mancipio, cuius esse deberet, si civitate Romana mutatus mutata non esset, esto idque ius tutoris optandi habeto, quod haberet si a cive Romano ortus orta neq(ue) civitate mutatus mutata esset.

Rubric 23

XXIII. In the case of all persons, male female, obtaining  the Roman citizenship in accordance with this law, or having obtained it in accordance with an edict of the imperator  Caesar Vespasianus Augustus or the imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus or the imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus, there shall be the same rights and the same conditions in respect to freedmen or freedwomen, whether their own or their fathers', such freedmen and freedwomen not having come into the Roman citizenship, and likewise in respect to the goods of the said freedmen and freedwomen, and to the services imposed in consideration of their freedoms as would have existed, if the said persons had not exchanged their citizenship.

.R. Ut qui c(ivitatem) R(omanam) consequentur, iura Iiberatorum retineant.
XXIII. Qui quaeve [ex] h(ac) l(ege) exve edicto imp(eratoris) Caes(aris) Vesp(asiani) Aug(usti), imp(eratoris)ve Titi Caes(aris) Vespasian(i) Au(gusti) I aut imp(eratoris) Caes(aris) Domítiani Aug(usti) c(ivitatem) R(omanam) consecutus consecuta erit: is in | libertos libertasve suos suas paternos paternas, qui quae in c(vitatem) R(omanam) non | venerit, deque bonis eorum earum et is, quae libertatis causa inposita | sunt, idem ius eademque condicio esto, quae esset, si cìvitate mutatus I mutata non esset

Rubric 28.

XXVIII. In the case of any citizen of the municipium Flavium Salpensanum, being possessed of Latin rights, manumitting one of his slaves, male or female, from servitude to liberty  and ordering the said slave to be free man or  free woman at the court of the duovirs  charged with the  highest jurisdiction in the said municipium, always provided that no ward in law and no unmarried woman and no widow  shall manumit such person or order such person to he free man or free woman unless represented by a gnardian, then  the person so manumitted and so ordered to be free shall be a free man or a free woman, possessed of the best rights whereby Latin freedmen are  shall be free persons, provided that a person less than twenty years of age shall only manumit when that number of the decuriones by which decrees may lawfully be made shall have approved just cause of manumission.

R. De servis aput IIvir(um) manumittendis. XXVIII. Si quis municeps munici Flavi Salpensani, qui Latinus erit, aput Ilvir(os), | qui iure dicundo praeerunt eius municipi, servom suom servamve suam | ex servitute in libertate[m] manumiserit, liberum liberamve esse iusserit, | dum ne quis pupillus neve quae virgo mulierve sine tutore auctore | quem quamve manumittat, liberum liberamve esse iubeat: qui ita | manumissus liberve esse iussus erit, liber esto, quaeque ita manumissa | liberave [esse] iussa erit, libera esto, uti qui optum[o] iure Latini libertiní li Iberi sunt erunt; dum is qui minor XX annorum erit ita manumittat, | si causam manumittendi iusta[m] esse is numerus decuríonum, per quem | decreta h(ac) l(ege) facta rata sunt, censuerit. 

Rubric 29

XXIX. As respecting persons, male or female, being citizens of the mllnicipium Flavium Salpensanum, and not being wards in law, who have no legal guardian or one whose legal  existence is uncertains if the said persons shall bave made demand  of the duovirs, charged with the highest juriSdiction in the said municipium, that they shall assign a guardian, at the same time specifying the person whom they desire to be  so assigned, then the magistrate, of whom such demand is made, shall take cognizance of the case, acting on the views  of all his colleagues, whether one or more than one, who are at the time present in the said municipium or within  the boundaries thereof, and, if they shall approve, shall assign the guardian so specified. But if the person, male  37 female, in whose name such demand is made, is a ward in law, or if the magistrate, from whom such demand is made,  shall have no colleague, or no colleague within the boundaries of the said municipium,u then the said magistrate, from whom  such demand shall have been made, shall within the ten days  next following take cognizance of the case, and acting on a  decree of the decuriones, passed in the presence of not less than two-thirds of the said decuriones, shall assign the person  specified by the applicant as his legal guardian,45 provided tha.t thereby the right of tutelage be not withdrawn from  a legally constituted guardian6 The guardian so granted by this law to the said person, provided that thereby the right of tutelage be not withdrawn from a legally constituted guardian, shall be as lawfully appointed as though he were a Roman citizen, and as though the nearest agnate, being a Roman citizen, had been made guardian.

Cui tutor non erit incertusve erit, si is eave municeps municipi Flavi Salpensani erit, et pupilli pupillaeve non erunt, et ab IIviris, qui iure dicundo praeerunt eius municipi, postulaverit, uti sibi tutorem det, et eum, quem dare volet, nominaverit: tum is, a quo postulatum erit, sive unum sive plures collegas habebit, de omnium collegarum sententia, qui tum in eo municipio intrave fines municipi eius erunt, causa cognita, si ei videbitur, eum qui nominatus erit tutorem dato. Sive is eave, cuius nomine ita postulatum erit, pupillus pupillave erit, sive is, a quo postulatum erit, non habebit collegam, collegave eius in eo municipio intrave fines eius municipi nemo erit: tum is, a quo ita postulatum erit, causa cognita in diebus X proximis, ex decreto decurionum, quod cum duae partes decurionum non minus adfuerint, factum erit, eum, qui nominatus erit, quo ne ab iusto tutore tutela abeat, ei tutorem dato. Qui tutor hac lege datus erit, is ei, cui datus erit, quo ne ab iusto tutore tutela abeat, tam iustus tutor esto, quam si is civis Romanus et ei adgnatus proximus civis Romanus tutor esset.

Similar expressions appear in the other laws with content also similar and that is because  I avoid repeating them.

Male/Female (Qui…Quae…)

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