Sisterhood and Sibling Rivalry in Roman Society
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Ripat, Pauline. "Sisterhood and Sibling Rivalry in Roman Society," Mouseion, series III, vol. 16, Supplement 1 (2019): 109–128. DOI: 10.3138/mous.16.s1-7.
Roman evidence for relations between sisters is thin, but what there is suggests that sororal relations were, like all familial relations, subject to ideals of behaviour that might be difficult for individuals to attain. Ideally, sisters, as almost interchangeable versions of each other, were supposed to offer each other unstinting and selfless support, particularly in the context of childrearing. However, these ideals could be difficult to achieve in light of the habit of assessing a woman’s worth with reference to her ability to produce children and the reality of high child mortality rates; envious feelings between sisters might take over. Rituals on the dies lustricus and the annual rites of the Matralia may have addressed the incompatibility of the ideals that framed female existence.