Opposing Violence and Taxes: Hortensia’s Leadership During the Roman Civil War

Opposing Violence and Taxes: Hortensia’s Leadership During the Roman Civil War

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

In 42 B.C. the three-man ruling junta (“the triumvirs”) in Rome needed money to fund further military actions against their enemies in Rome’s Civil War. When property confiscations from civilian domestic opponents proved insufficient, they promulgated a plan to tax the 1,400 wealthiest women in Rome. This case invites students to consider how the women shifted from private appeals to public protest under the leadership of Hortensia and how her socially transgressive leadership brought change in a time of personal danger and public crisis. In wartime, ideas about the social good can easily come into conflict; Hortensia’s leadership leverages traditional values and social networks in new ways to protect women’s interests while dampening internal social conflict.

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