Famed Roman Orator and One of Three Women Known to Have Spoken Publicly Before the Roman Magistrates
Birth Date Unknown, Most-Likely Rome, Roman Republic (Present-day Rome, Italy)
Death Date Unknown, Most-Likely Rome, Roman Empire (Present-day Rome, Italy)
Hortensia reportedly spoke before the Second Triumvirate and bartered for a repeal of a tax on wealthy Roman women. Basically, Hortensia was fighting against something all Americans know well, Taxation Without Representation. The tax was being proposed in order to raise money for a war against the men who had assassinated Julius Caesar.
Hortensia’s father was also a famed orator, Quintus Hortensius. She reportedly studied Latin and Greek literature according to one source, and was a widow with one daughter.
Hortensia’s speech was partially successful; instead of taxing 1,400 women, the triumvirs changed the number to 400 and ended up taxing some men to make up the difference.
Very little else of Hortensia’s life is remembered today, but her story is recounted in two sources from antiquity: the Greek historian Appian and the Roman historian Valerius Maximus, which gives some credence to the validity of the story.
Located In My Personal Library:
Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity by Sarah B Pomeroy