Term 1: Outline

Term 1: Outline
• 1: Who Were the Women of Ancient Greece?
2: Myth & Religion: Athena, maenads
3: Sex Goddesses: Aphrodite, Eos (Dawn) & Lady
4: Seminar: The Hymn of Aphrodite
5: Images of Greek Women
6: Reading Week
7: Women in Greece: A Survey
8: Seminar: Cities of Women: Aristophanes
Ecclesiazusae (Lysistrata), Plato Republic V
9: Marriage and Adultery: Lysias 1, On the Murder of
10: Courtesans and Hetairai: Neaera, Theodote
Sex & Gender in Ancient Greece
Who Were the Women of Ancient
The Beginnings of Scholarship
Pomeroy, 1975 – introduced new era of study –
‘Women in Antiquity’
Evidence – The Challenges
• Textual and material culture
• Bias in sources & in traditional scholarship
• Sources cannot be taken at face value
Literary Testimony
• ‘Grave problems’ with biased sources
• Majority of literature produced by men
• Range of literature: histories, speeches, legal
documents, tragedy, and comedy
Men Praising Women
It was not clothes, it was not gold that this
woman admired during her lifetime; it was her
husband and the good sense that she showed in
her behaviour. But in return for the youth you
shared with him, Dionysia, your tomb is adorned
by your husband Antiphilus
Dionysias, Athens 4th Century BC
Men Hating Women
Talking of Pandora; “From her is descended
a great pain to mortal men, the race of female
women, who live with men, and who cannot put
up with harsh poverty, but only with plenty… the
man who gets a wife of the wicked sort, lives
with undying pain in his heart and his evil is
without cure”
– Hesiod, Theogony, 590-612
Men Hating Women
• “The two best days in a woman’s life are when
someone marries her and when he carries her
dead body to the grave”
– Hipponax, 6th century fragment
When I look at you, fr. 31.G
The man seems to me strong as a god, the man
who sits across from you and listens to your sweet talk
And your lovely laughter – which, when I hear it, strikes
fear in the heart in my breast. For whenever I glance at
you, it seems that I can say nothing at all
But my tongue is broken in silence, and that instant a light
fire rushes beneath my skin, I can no longer see anything
in my eyes and my ears are thundering,
And cold sweat pours down me, and shuddering grasps
me all over, and I am greener than grass, and I seem to
myself to be little short of death
But all is endurable, since even a poor man …
Attic red-figure vase, 470 BC
Female Poets
• Insights into women’s lives – importance of
other women, festivals, household games
• Poems written to goddesses
• Sappho – most famous female poet
Are the women in Aristophanes plays more realistic depictions of women?
Law Courts
Against Neaera, Mid-fourth century
The Murder of Eratosthenes, Fourth-century
Who were the women of Ancient
• You are making a presentation on this topic to
the Coventry History Society – what are the
three most important things they MUST know
• You have 5 mins to prepare!
Material Culture
• Images of women limited in ‘elite’ arts –
sculpture, stela, coins and gems
• More variety in affordable art – vase painting,
small-scale terracotta figurines
• The Greeks didn’t have ‘art for art’s sake’ –
everything had to have a function
Women in Sculpture
The Lady of Auxerre,
mid-7th century
Copy of the Aphrodite of
Knidos, original 350-340 BC
Women on Pots
Attic red-figure skyphos
Attic red-figure cup
Loom weight
Women in Religion
Source Questions
• How does the purpose of this text/sculpture
effect its representation of reality?
• What are the potential issues with this
• What insights into the world of ancient Greek
woman does this source provide?
• “In their manner and customs the Egyptians
seem to have reversed the ordinary practices
of mankind. For instance, women go to the
market and engage in trade, while men stay
home and do the weaving.” The Histories, 2.35