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“Nourished at the Breast of Rome”: The Queens of Ostrogothic Italy and the Education of the Roman Elite

“Nourished at the Breast of Rome”: The Queens of Ostrogothic Italy and the Education of the Roman Elite

By Massimiliano Vitiello

Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, Vol.149 (2006)

Introduction: Among studies on the education and the role of women of the Roman elite in Late Antiquity, recently enriched by a series of interesting contributions, the female part of the royal family in Ostrogothic Italy deserves special attention. It was not just propaganda, but the ambitions of the Amal family, which desired to imitate the best examples of the ‘Romanitas’ during the almost forty years of government.

In the panegyric written at the end of 536 to celebrate the wedding of Witigis and Matasuentha at Ravenna, Cassiodorus first praises Witigis, the uir fortis, who became king of the Goths by proving his military valour, and then continues praising Matasuentha, the bride. The daughter of Amalasuintha and Theoderic’s niece, who now married the new king, certainly did not lack the necessary virtues that Cassiodorus refers to as “sisters”, linking them metaphorically with parts of the body in an ideal image.

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