Servilia and her Family
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Servilia is often cited as one of the most influential women of the late Roman Republic. Though she was a high-born patrician, her grandfather died disgraced and her controversial father was killed before he could stand for the consulship; she herself married twice, but both husbands were mediocre. Nevertheless, her position in the ruling class still afforded her significant social and political power, and it is likely that she masterminded the distinguished marriages of her one son, Brutus, and her three daughters. During her second marriage she began an affair with Iulius Caesar, which probably lasted for the rest of his life and is further indicative of the force of her charm and her exceptional intelligence. The patchiness of the sources means that a full biography is impossible, though in suggesting connections between the available evidence and the speculative possibilities open to women of Servilia's status this volume aims to offer an insightful reconstruction of her life and position both as a member of the senatorial nobility and within her extended and nuclear family. The best attested period of Servilia's life, for which the chief source is Cicero's letters, follows the murder of Caesar by her son and her son-in-law, Cassius, who were leaders among the crowd of conspirators in the Senate House on the Ides of March in 44 BC. We find her energetically working to protect the assassins' interests, also defending her grandchildren by the Caesarian Lepidus when he was declared a public enemy and his property threatened with confiscation. Exploring the role she played during these turbulent years of the late Republic reveals much about the ways in which Romans of both sexes exerted influence and sought to control outcomes, as well as about the place of women in high society, allowing us to conclude that Servilia wielded her social and political power effectively, though with discretion and within conventional limits.