The meaning and use of the word vidua in Latin literature of the 2nd and 1st century B.C.
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The primary role of this report is to provide an in-depth analysis of all the instances of the word vidua, its meanings and uses in Latin literature from the last two centuries B.C. This close examination of the word vidua in the literary sources of this period has resulted in a number of important modifications to its definition. The word vidua, which is commonly translated by ancient scholars as widow, is not sustained by the contextual evidence of the majority of the passages that do no state explicitly the reason for the women's deprived status. Instead the word is most commonly used to mean a much broader social group of Roman women, all no longer married women, a category which includes various groups of women such as widows, divorcees, abandoned women and women whose husbands have been away for long periods of time. Furthermore the English word unmarried should not be used to translate the Latin word vidua since, as I demonstrate throughout my paper, there is a clear distinction in the Roman minds between women who are no longer married, vidua, and women who are not yet married, virgines an important distinction that gets lost with the more inclusive and broader social category meant by the word unmarried.