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Who was Cornelia Africana and How Did She Become the Prototype of the Virtuous Roman Woman?

Saturday, February 18, 2017 19:11
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Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi (1785) by Angelica Kauffman.

The life of Cornelia Africana could be the basis for a fascinating Hollywood super-production. Since the beginning, her tale was nothing but an adventurous story about a woman whose extraordinary personality made her reach for the stars. Courageous, intelligent, and powerful, Cornelia could be an inspiration for generations of women.

Can you imagine a lady in ancient times who fought like a man, made negotiations like the best politicians, and reached higher than most men in political matters, but who never lost her feminine charms? Cornelia’s life was a story worthy of many ancient poems, but sadly many details about her story have been lost through time. From the resources that have survived, she appears to have been a powerful woman among the most influential people of antiquity.

A statue of Cornelia by Levi Schofield in 1893, now in Ohio, USA.

A statue of Cornelia by Levi Schofield in 1893, now in Ohio, USA. (Steve Grant/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

More Than a Beauty

Cornelia was born the second daughter of a Second Punic War hero. Her father was Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and her mother was a noblewoman named Aemilia Paulla. She grew up in a house full of war stories and pride in her father’s heroic acts. It’s not surprising than, that she also became a brave warrior woman whose life was full of moments when she had to fight for her loved ones. – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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