A free gift for you!
Happy Mother’s Day from Cornelia Africana, a Roman-era Life Guide!
As we prepare for “A Taste of Italy”, our virtual experience of Italy for parents and their children in July, I thought we could draw some inspiration today from a Roman symbol of motherhood and learning!
Cornelia Africana was an educated and wealthy woman who lived in the second century B.C., and is one of only four Roman-era women whose writings survive today.
After her husband died, she devoted all of her time and attention to educating herself and her three children in Greek, Latin, literature, philosophy and public speaking, the important subjects of the day. It is said that she was so dedicated to her kids’ education that she even refused a marriage proposal from the rich and powerful King Ptolemy VIII of Egypt!
This was a radical demonstration of her strength and character since Roman women were typically unable to live independently or even get an education in those days.
This 18th century painting by Angelica Kauffman depicts an anecdote from Cornelia’s life that symbolizes her love and devotion to her kids.
It has been said that while walking in the market one day with her daughter and two sons, she encountered several female friends that were well dressed in fashionable clothes. Cornelia was elegant, yet plainly dressed, as was her custom.
During their friendly greetings, one of the women couldn’t restrain herself from asking why Cornelia didn’t wear any jewelry. While gesturing toward her children, Cornelia responded, “These are my jewels!”
Her sons, the Gracchus brothers, grew up to be important agents of political change within the early Roman republic and advocates for the urban poor and veterans.
I’ll be sharing more Roman, Middle Age and Renaissance stories for you and your kids this July in my summer program, A Taste of Italy! We’ll also be making period specific art and so much more!