CHAPTER X
WOMAN AND HER PLACE IN SOCIETY

CONSIDERING that in seven hundred years of Etruscan history scarcely a word about their women has been transmitted to us through the medium of Etruscan writers, whilst only a few scurrilous comments of more than doubtful foundation are contributed by Greek literature, it is surprising that we can invest them with so sure a sense of reality. Our material comes from their graves. In the series of painted chamber-tombs extending from the early sixth to the second century B.C. women are pictured as frequently as men -- sometimes the luxurious lady at the banqueting table, sometimes the dancing-girl who amuses her. In other cases the lids of sarcophagi may take the form of a couch on which is placed a portrait- statue of the deceased, dressed and adorned with her richest belongings. Beside her in her grave are often found the jewels she had worn in life and the toilet-ware she had used. From various other sources we collect scraps of information which can be fitted together to make for us a picture of what she looked like and to suggest her way of living and thinking. We see little of any except the great ladies; of the middle classes and the slaves our knowledge is of the scantiest. If we set out the evidence which has been discovered in approximately chronological order we may detect some stages in the development of women's conditions of existence.

The eighth-century graves are nearly silent about

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