Considering femininity is all the rage nowadays, and feminism is in the spotlight, let’s a take a look on the masculine side of things, shall we? The definition of masculinity greatly differs from the past and present times. In modern society, masculinity is seen as a set of traits that both men and women can possess. But what about masculinity in the past? Masculinity was often highly correlated with the male gender, and that the more masculine you were portrayed to be in the past, you were empowered with a higher social status in the society.
We traced back the roots of masculinity to the Roman Empire(no surprise), as they were after all, one of the most influential empires ever.
In the Roman Empire, masculinity was seen as one of the foundational virtues that they strongly adhered to, and this particular trait was known as “Virtus.” Masculinity was seen as a form of power in the Roman Empire and when in comparison with our current times, could be seen on an equal standing with how important wealth is to most people. Virtus was an idea first introduced by Plato, and later further refined by Cicero into four other specific traits that made up what was considered to be masculinity. The four traits are courage, frugality, integrity and self-discipline respectively. It was these four traits that served as the fine line drawn between men who possessed power and uncouth men who simply displayed acts of violence.
The Romans believed that Virtus was what they had against their enemies, and that because they possessed this trait it instilled a belief of invulnerability in their empire.
Cicero stated, “Virtus is the creed that Romans strongly adhered to; all else are superficial and ever changing. Virtus was what kept the Romans true to their beliefs and morals, with this particular trait they conquered several empires and commanded great respect with this value.”
Even in Ancient Greece, masculinity was often associated with manhood and highly referenced to courage. In both the Roman and Greek empire, masculinity in battle was seen as a primary concern. Courage came after masculinity, for how leaders exerted their power and strength was crucial in winning battles against their enemies.
Since women were excluded from battles in both empires, masculinity was never seen to be associated with the gender, and it has been rarely recorded in historical data.
The Roman Empire viewed Virtus, or masculinity as an outstanding value, and that they attributed this trait to most of their winning battles, and even when they lost, they traced it back to the incapability of the leaders that led them in battle, reasoning it out to be the “lack of virtus.”
In a nutshell, masculinity was highly revered in the roman empire, similar to certain existing beliefs in modern society. However, in current society, feminism is taking stand of its own and is regarded as almost as important as masculinity (or we hope so). Food for thought.
What are your views? Agree or disagree?