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Running List of Greek Words
Kelos: fame, honor, or glory
Aristeia: Excellence on the battlefield
Homonoia: shared; couple
Geras: the prize
Pudicitia: chastity when you are not married; fidelity when you are married
Lyre: Word for the instrument that we get our word lyric from
Kore: Statue of a young girl; maiden
Muthos: men’s business
Kunopis: dogface
Homilia: Little talk/speech
Parthenos: virgin
Pyxis: little vase, used for perfume/jewelry
Epinetron: used for rubbing the wool to clean it, laid across the knee
Gynaeceum: women’s room in the house
Andron: Men’s room, had restricted access
Teknon: child (gender neutral)
Arete: virtue
Kyrios: guardianship
Oikos: house
Polis: city-sta
Greek History by Ages
Bronze: 2000-1184 BCE
Dark: 1184-776 BCE (there was no writing system, so it was called dark)
Archaic: 776-479 BCE (writing returns! Evidence!)
Classical: 479-323 BCE
Hellenistic: 323-30 BCE
1/22 Introduction Day
Part One: Women in the Archaic Age
1/24: Women, Visible and Invisible, Roles assigned to them
Stele of Mnesarete – 380 BCE (tombstone)
Left a husband, siblings, and grief to her mother, a child, an ageless renown for great virtue
In the chamber of Persephone is Mnesarete, who has arrived at the goal of all virtue
Not found in situ
Mnes: means “remember”
Arete: means “excellence” or “virtue”
Name means remembering virtue
Great burdens were likely placed on her by her family & society
She is associated with her father, not mother
No husband named→ what of the relationship with her husband and birth family ??
Evidence About Women
Letters (written mostly by men)
Rarely things written by women
Material culture (paintings & stuff they had)
Temples (inscriptions & priestesses)
Beard essay 1
The first recorded instance of a man telling a woman to shut up is Telemachus telling his mother,
Penelope, to shut up
This is seen as the first example of western culture barring women from discussion
Because of what occurred in the Odyssey, there is a stigma of female speech in the public sphere
There is further evidence of this stigma in a comedy by Aristophanes
He tells of the “hilarious” idea of a world where only women ruled
More women silenced were Io, who was turned into a cow, and Echo, who was cursed to never
have her own voice
It is found that there have been several women who have spoken in the public sphere, but their
perception was not good
Maesia, “the androgyne” defended herself well, but she was only credited because everyone said
she was a woman with a man’s nature, basically a man trapped in a woman’s body
Africania initiated many legal cases, but people often got tired of her “yapping” and
“barking”(never the word for speaking). It was also told that her death day was much more
important because she was an “unnatural freak”
The only exceptions where women were allowed to speak, was to speak as martyrs or victims
and to defend their homes, children, husband, or the interests of other women
An example of this, is Christian women upholding their faith by shouting before they are led to
Another story is of Lucretia, who was raped and only was given speaking lines to tell of her
rapist before committing suicide
Because of Lucretia’s story there became a trope established in Metamorphoses where the rapist
will cut out their victims tongue
Hortensia is an example of a woman allowed to speak in order to defend
Women could only speak for their own interests or other females interests, but never for men or
the greater community
There was must stress placed on the fact that men had authority because they had deep voices,
whereas women had higher voices therefore could not hold any authority behind them
Men felt that if they had a higher voice they could garner no respect and society could fall apart
In today’s society if women are seen excelling in the art of public speech it is common for them
to compare themselves to the male counterpart or place themselves as male
An example of this is Elizabeth I’s address to the Spanish Armada where she said that though
she had the body of a “feeble woman” so herself has the heart and stomach of a king. Instead of
building herself up as a strong woman she admits that because she herself is a woman she is
weak, but she had the voice of a man
Although rooted in ancient societies, silencing of women in public debates is still seen today
Elizabeth Warren was excluded from a Senate debate when she attempted to read a letter
Ways of undermining women’s speech in today’s society still exist
Often times women will be termed with “whining” or “complaining” in their speaking, but when
replaced by a man the terminology changes
Talk of women’s speaking patterns also still exist, people comment that hearing women speak is
like “the moo of a cow, the bray of the ass, and the bark of a dog” which draws from how ancient
women were silenced or made to seem unintelligent
The “moo” comes from Io, The barking comes from Africania
Women were often not as educated as men, so many would remark on how their speech would
come out sounding broken or with an abnormal accent
Because of these patterns from the ancient world, it has become common for people, mainly
men, to view female opinions as wrong or stupid rather than be open to differences
It is easier for the woman to be called wrong because of the belief that she is less educated and
her voice carries less authority
1/29: Archaic Women: Gift and Curse (Creation of Women, Mortals)
In link
Fantham chapter 1 (focus on creation of women and satire on women)
All we have left from the Archaic Age is arts and archeological remains
Archaic art and literature aims at immortalizing praise or blame of individuals
One thing that women would bring to their marriage was their dowry
Initiation into Adulthood
Sappho’s poems and Alcman’s poems are important sources
Mature women would serve as mentors for young unmarried women
Young women were prepared for marriage and motherhood, rather than preparing for war and
Alcman’s Parthenia emphasized the beauty and desirability of women
Sappho’s poems showed not only the desirability of women and the pleasures and erotic
sufferings, but also the pain of separation over the departure of a member of the circle
Many thought Sappho was a teacher for a school of girls or that she was a priestess of Aphrodite
because of fragment 94
Standing marble statues of young women
Earliest kore is Nicandre
The largest series of surviving korai are those dedicated to Athena that were created 570-480
Many kore are dressed in bridal outfits because they were not able to be married
Transition to marriage
The Archaic Ideal
beauty, virtue, grace, fidelity, ability to run a household, respectful
Not: vain, greedy, vulgar, or arrogant
Religious dedications by aristocratic women
Archaic misogyny
Women mourners in archaic funerary iconography
Non-Aristocratic women
1/31: Archaic Women, further: Creation of Goddesses; also Amazons (In link)
Fantham chapter 4;
powerpoint on syllabus
Gaia: 1st God: she was a goddess; all things came from her; “mother of Earth”
Zeus: father of the Greek Gods
Bestowed order on all the chaos
Matriarchy: rule by women
Patriarchy: rule by men
Lived on Crete
Remains (statues and wall paintings) that show women in positions of authority
Women in Ancient Greece & Rome
Were frightening to the men of Athens because they were women warriors
“A ‘paradoxical’ mixture of youthful attractiveness and danger that must be suppressed”
Female warriors of Greek mythology appear in the earliest epic literature (7th Century B.C.E)
and in visual art beginning in the 6th Century
Always exist
Greeks tend to put them as far away as possible – in Scythia (Black Sea), or in Ethiopia (Africa)
Nobody could prove they didn’t exist
Plato heard of Sarmatians around the Black Sea
Penthesilea: Amazonian Queen
Achilles: she was the only woman he loved, but then she dies
In the Parthenon, Amazons are on one of the walls
Still a sensuous element to them
Their dressings
Not respectable themselves
Feb. 5: Women in Epic: The Iliad
Iliad books 3, 6, 19, and 24 (Briseis and Andromache) and
We have the option to read The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker and For the Most Beautiful by
Emily Hauser
Homer epic was orally composed – it was intended to be performed (singing) to an audience of
Iliad – Ilium = Troy
Women in the Iliad were one of the following:
Prize (geras)
Chryseis: father Chryses comes for her at the Greek camp
Trojan women in the future
Mothers, wives, daughters
Religious participation
Everywhere and were often unnamed
Father was Chryses – he came for her when she was trapped in the Greek camp
But she was won as a prize by Agamemnon, and he refuses to give her up
Chryses, a priest to Apollo, prays for his aid
Soon Apollo comes and brings terror onto the Greeks
Chryseis is then returned to her father
Briseis (she was royal)
Her hometown (in Troy) was taken over by Achilles (Greek)
Her husband and brothers were killed
Women of the town were all enslaved and taken to the Greek camp
Was given to Achilles, it is never mentioned if he cares, only that she is his property
Only scene she is really mentioned is when Achilles best friend Patroclus dies
He dies in Achilles’ armour
Briseis grieves Patroclus simply because he was nice and treated her as not just a prize
Patroclus was going to help Briseis become Achilles’ wife
Prize to Paris
She speaks more than Briseis or Chryseis
Greeks believe she is the ultimate reason for the war
Scene where Priam (King of Troy) is looking over the battlefield and sees Helen; he is drawn to
her and rather than blame her, he blames the gods.
She herself is sorry to be there (in Troy)
She is all different kinds of the women’s roles**
Calls herself “kunopis” (dog face)
**Narrative authority was not given to women**
Feb. 7: Women in Epic: The Odyssey
In link
Odyssey books 1, 6, and 23
Also two articles on Emily Wilson and
Women in the Odyssey ~ 725 B.C.E
Penelope – Ithaca (helps)
“Geras” – the prize
None of the suitors ever say they want to marry her for her; want her status/wealth
Faithful to Odysseus the whole 20 years he is gone
Weaving and virtue are associated with one another
Weaves every night and the rips the stitches out
One she is done weaving, she is to marry
Suitors never notice
Ran the household by herself for 20 years
Used as the “good” role model
Tests Odysseus towards the end
She tells him his story
Athena – goddess (helps)
Unlike many goddesses
Isn’t about marriage and children
If a god/goddess helps a person, the person gets marked as “special”
Nausikaa – Arete (sort of helps)
Finds Odysseus on their island (Arete)
She is young and of marrying age
She actually speaks, very young woman who speaks directly to Odysseus (rare)
Tells him to go see her mother, who will help him
Odysseus tells her that he hopes she finds a good partner
Traps Odysseus for 7 years on her island
Mental obstacle
Turns Odysseus’ men into pigs
Doesn’t change Odysseus because she wants him
Hera (goddess)
Sirens – monsters
Their songs bring men to their death
Scylla (Charybdis) – monsters
Scylla: on cliff
Charybdis: whirlpool
Slave women – “servants”
Lots of them (household, assistant)
Not faithful to Odysseus
End up paying the price
Get hanged
Always negatively described
Nursemaid for Odysseus (Eurycleia)
loyal/faithful to Odysseus
Helps him clear the house of suitors
Odysseus kills all the suitors in the home
Feb. 12: Women as Singers: Sappho, First Female Poet
First documented female poet of the western world. Only a few surviving fragments of her
poems exist.
Lots of her poems are about lesbian love, one is about her brothers (the “Brothers Poem”
There was a new fragment discovered in 2014. This sparked a lot of excitement within the
community of classicists.(“The Brother’s Poem”)
Sappho Biography:
Born ~620 BC
Lived in Lesbos (an island off the eastern coast of Greece)
Part of an aristocratic family in the city of Mytilene. Had two brothers
There have been thoughts that she was married with a baby and others that claim she was
rejected and threw herself off a cliff. There is no evidence of either.
Her Work:
The Brothers Poem – this fragment shows her filling the role of sister as she worries for the
return of one of her brothers. Her brothers are named
To Aphrodite – in this fragment, Sappho is praying to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
She is longing for her lover to return to her and Aphrodite promises to make her love her again.
Some translations say she “longs for the friendship” of this other woman, but in the original
Greek, it is obviously a romantic interest in this other woman.
It is very likely that Sappho was a lesbian. The word lesbian comes from the word “Lesbos,” the
island where she was born.
Sappho’s work was respected by other male historians and scholars. Plato referred to her as “the
tenth muse.” She was also respected by Antipater, a Greek scholar.
Sappho has been ridiculed in Greek plays and comedies, depicted as an ugly, short, oversexed
creature. These plays were written after her time.
The Poetry:
Erotic poems about love for other women
Make Sappho herself controversial because she is thought to be the first lesbian (of course, we
can’t know this is true. We have evidence from Sappho, but that doesn’t mean she was the first
or only lesbian of ancient Greece.)
Sappho = inventor of personal lyrical, subjective poetry (first person POV). Most other poems at
the time were about mythology
Audience = small, private. Other poems from her time were meant for men in public settings
such as the courthouse.
Her poems transformed the language of poetry.
Introduction of a new meter (Sapphic Meter)
She wrote about women she yearned for or was in a relationship with. Her works tell the story of
women with other women (not common)
Over time, people have logicked away her sexuality and said that her poems were songs for
transitional periods in a girl’s life. They have claimed they are epithalamium (wedding songs).
Other people have claimed she was a teacher of young girls. This explanation was used to strip
away the fact that she was probably gay.
Important Sappho poems:
Fragment #1 – Hymn to Aphrodite
As mentioned before, this poem calls upon the goddess to fight the battle of love. (poems
generally called upon various gods in wars or battles)
Themes: heartache, pain of separation
Fragment #31 – classified as love poetry
Sappho is looking at a man who is talking to another women. She’s basically saying “how does
he sit so calmly and easily? I’m a wreck when I look at her.”
This poem was recreated by Catullus (Roman, 84-54 BC)
His version was definitely heterosexual. It is used to read backwards into and regender Sappho’s
original poem.
Held up as a wedding song
Fragment #16 – To Anaktoria
This fragment is a mostly complete poem(missing only 3 lines in the middle)
Claims the most beautiful thing is who you love (as opposed to warships and weapons and battle)
Names a woman and characteristics of that woman.
We see a concept of beauty that is not present in poems by Greek men, who were more attracted
to weapons and power
There is a vase depicting Sappho and a male poet. In the museum it is displayed in, the vase is
oriented so he is the center of attention, not her. In every piece of art with Sappho in it, she is
holding a lyre (harp-like instrument, origin of the word lyric).
There are questions as to whether or not her poems were actually written from her
perspective or if she took on a persona. However, she does name herself, pointing to the idea that
it is her own voice and the questioning may just be another way to strip away her gayness.
Feb. 14: Spartan Women
99% of evidence was not written by Spartans. Most was written by Sparta’s rivals
There is little to no tombstone evidence because
Women only received a tombstone if they died during childbirth
Men only received one if they died in battle
People weren’t allowed a lot of property/stuff
Lycurgus = founder of the coed Spartan training program
Program was controlled by the state (Funded, promoted. Invasive in everyone’s lives)
Women were also cared for and educated at the state’s expense
PE: physical strength. Women did the same workouts as men because they believed a strong
woman would bear strong children.
“Freed them from softness…and all female habits” – Plutarch
Plutarch: (Charronia Greece, 2nd century CE) Historian
Wrote Life of Lycurgus and Sayings of Spartan Women
Aristotle: (Athens, 4th century BCE) Philosopher
Wrote philosophical treatises
Wrote about what a government should look like and what a woman’s role should be
Wrote on why women were biologically and mentally predisposed to subservience
Alcman: (Sparta, 7th century BCE) Poet
Sappho’s Spartan contemporary
Wrote a puberty ritual song
Speaks of Spartan women and beauty
Helen is from Sparta and called the most beautiful woman (“the face that launched a thousand
ships”). She married Menelaus, who never appears in Homer’s epics
Marriage in Greece is patrilocal, meaning the wife moves to her husband’s family. With
Helen’s marriage to Menelaus, it was matrilocal (husband went to Sparta).
Xenophon – Athenian historian, 4th century.
Epigraphy = study of writing on stone
Cynisca = “only woman from Greece to have won this crown” Inscription about her victory is in
her voice. Spartan woman.
Invasive role of the Spartan state:
Public displays of affection were frowned upon between married couples, in order to increase
their desire and produce stronger offspring
Nutrition was emphasized for both genders. They believed healthy women would have healthy
There was supposedly a ravine that unfit babies were thrown into, however there is no evidence.
All of this evidence is about upper class women. We know there were also slave women as it
was stated that upper class women could exercise because “slave women could make sufficient
Feb. 19: Catch Up Day
Other women writers of Archaic Age (776 BCE – 477 BCE)
All of these women do not have much information on them, but were remembered in some way
Name means Mega- (great), -strata (army)
Came from Sparta
Only mention of her is from Alcman
We know that she was from the Archaic Age and that she was a poet, but we have none of her
Has the most surviving literature
Came from Tanagra, which is famous for its sculptures of women that depicted movement
Pausanias also saw a monument and painting of her
In the painting she is shown dawning a wreath made for winning a competition, which was most
likely a literary competition
This painting was interesting because the location that is was found at was thought to be the local
She was known as being very different from Sappho
Her writings were very public and talked of public themes, Sappho wrote about very private
They were also written in the third person rather than the first person, which Sappho often used
She often used local dialect and write of local stories
She wrote about topics that traditionally only w …
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