When the war ended, the State paid back the money it owed and men began to display their wealth once more. The Oppian Law, however, remained in effect, restricting women’s wealth and their display of it. In 195 BCE, twenty years after the law had originally been passed, the wealthier women of Rome had finally had enough. They flooded into the streets to protest, supported by tribunes of the plebs Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius who introduced a motion to repeal the law.
[Bust assumed to be Cato the Elder, 2nd century BCE, source: Wikimedia Commons]
It is important to remember that this law exclusively affected relatively wealthy women. Most Roman women probably didn’t care. I would also like to highlight something Livy notes only in passing: the men’s speeches in the senate changed nothing. It was the women’s actions, outside the proper ways of doing things perhaps, that brought about the repeal.
*It must be remembered that everything Livy wrote had a political purpose. The exact contents of the speeches he records must be taken with a grain (or possibly a whole handful) of salt due not only to his own agenda, but also to the fact that he was writing a century after any of this happened.
**Go read the speeches themselves. They’re worth it. And they’re short.