“Londinium:” The Connection between ‘Romaness’ &; ‘Englishness’ towards Women in “The Emperor’s Babe”

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After reading Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe, I understood how much influence the Roman’s really did have on the people of England today.  I felt that Evaristo did an amazing job at comparing “Londinium” (Rome’s London) to the empire it became. I felt that many of these passage have a great correlation with the two themes of this trip to London that I have been experiencing thus far.  And those are Women in Literature and how they are portrayed and the spatial practices of “Englishness.” To start off with the first theme known as the portrayal of Women is greatly shown in this work.  For example: in one of the proses entitled Osmosis (III), Zuleika, the character all of these proses revolve around, one can see the deceit and betrayal in how her own parents; (especially her father) Of whom became so desperate for money that they would sell their own daughter to Emperor Ceverus:

“Dad looked hurt. They shared

 The same profile, I thought tribal.

‘There are some things

You can only share with your own.

When you’re a slave you dream

of either owning slaves or freeing them.'” (Evaristo 24)

So the question is to this quote would be, what happens when you’re this slave forever? Because I am positive that one would have to be an idiot to not see that this is a slave trade in it’s most depicted definition.

      Another example of this time period’s treatment and portrayal of women can be found at the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London.  Alfred George Steven’s 1855 reproduction of The Rape of Proserpine, depicts the god known as Hades raping the  goddess known as Proserpine.  Showing how disgusting and brutal the Roman system was for Women; and how this abuse of woman would still continue in both depiction and in reality up into more recent years.  With that being said I feel this patriarchy during not only the era of Rome but as well haunted England up into the Middle of the 20th Century is greatly depicted in this amazing work of prose. Furthermore, it discusses a more realistic outlook of the ‘Romaness’ and ‘Englishness’ in terms of their brutal oppression towards women.


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