Claudia Aster and Curtia Euodia: Two Jewish Women in Roman Italy

David Noy, Susan Sorek

Abstract


This paper looks at two epitaphs from Roman Italy which commemorate identifiably Jewish women. The deceased are probably the two earliest Jewish women from Roman Italy to have left any individual record. One epitaph was discovered in the eighteenth century, but the other has only been published recently. Claudia Aster was possibly taken prisoner at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, brought to Italy as a slave, freed, and commemorated as a Roman citizen with a Latin epitaph. Her husband, not necessarily a Jew, was an ex-slave of the emperor Claudius or Nero, and most likely gave Aster her freedom. Marcia Curtia Euodia died at 48 after 32 years of marriage. Her epitaph describes her as a “Hebrew” but otherwise follows the conventions of Latin commemoration. Her husband was also a relative, so presumably also a Jew. Her epitaph in all probability dates from the second or early third century CE, and she appears to a descendant of a Jewish family which had been in Italy for several generations.

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