oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Cedere il passo alle signore
Recent investigations dwelled on gestures of deference owed to magistrates (such as giving way, dismounting from a horse, removing one's hat, standing up; principal sources: Serv. Aen. 11, 500; Sen. epist. 64, 10) or other citizens (such as salutatio matutina, table seats etc.), with the difference that the former are juridically obligatory, the latter are only so socially. On the other hand, very little attention has been granted to an old article giving way to matronae over men, on which Plut. Rom. 20,3 e Val. Max. 5,2,1 (feminis semita viri cederent). At a later age, a few references to the ancient "positioning" of matronae are found in the Digest, particularly in an excerpt by Ulpian, in D. 1,9,1, best known for the famous sentence maior dignitas est in sexu virili. According to the illuminating interpretation of Mario Salomonio degli Alberteschi, Ulpian's quaestio should be read in terms of institutional dignities, instead of pre-emption rights in trials of adjudication. According to the scholar, men would "stay ahead" of women (virum praeferendum) even if they were inferior to them. Stressing the spatial meaning of the verb praeferre over that of "to prefer", we suggest that already in Ulpian's age, high-ranking women had lost their place ahead of men (perhaps even ahead of magistrates), which they had in the "matronal age of honor". Even in the case of women with consular dignity, they would be preceded not only by consulares but also by praefectorii. For instance, this happened in theatre, as it appears in the Ulpianean text's version of B. 6,1,1.
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