There, through the mouth of Hortensia, whom they had selected to speak, they spoke as follows: "As befitted women of our rank addressing a petition to you, we had recourse to the ladies of your households; but having been treated as did not befit us, at the hands of Fulvia, we have been driven by her to the forum. You have already deprived us of our fathers, our sons, our husbands, and our brothers, whom you accused of having wronged you; if you take away our property also, you reduce us to a condition unbecoming our birth, our manners, our sex. If we have done you wrong, as you say our husbands have, proscribe us as you do them. But if we women have not voted any of you public enemies, have not torn down your houses, destroyed your army, or led another one against you; if we have not hindered you in obtaining offices and honours,- why do we share the penalty when we did not share the guilt?
33 "Why should we pay taxes when we have no part in the honours,
the commands, the state-craft, for which you contend against each other with
such harmful results? 'Because this is a time of war," do you say? When have
there not been wars, and when have taxes ever been imposed on women, who are
exempted by their sex among all mankind? Our mothers did once rise superior to
their sex and made contributions when you were in danger of losing the whole
empire and the city itself through the conflict with the Carthaginians. But
then they contributed voluntarily, not from their landed property, their
fields, their dowries, or their houses, without which life is not possible to
free women, but only from their own jewellery, and even these not according to
the fixed valuation, not under fear of informers or accusers, not by force and
violence, but what they themselves were willing to give. What alarm is there
now for the empire or the country? Let war with the Gauls or the Parthians
come, and we shall not be inferior to our mothers in zeal for the common
safety; but for civil wars may we never contribute, nor ever assist you against
each other! We did not contribute to Caesar or to Pompey. Neither Marius nor
Cinna imposed taxes upon us. Nor did Sulla, who held despotic power in the
state, do so, whereas you say that you are re-establishing the commonwealth."
--Appian, Civil Wars 4.32-33 (1913, Loeb).
Close this window after reading.