Women in Ancient Greece

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9780674954731: Women in Ancient Greece

To read the history of ancient Greece as it has been written for centuries is to enter a thoroughly male world. This book, a comprehensive history of women in the Archaic and Classical Ages, completes our picture of ancient Greek society.

Largely excluded from any public role, the women of ancient Greece nonetheless appear in various guises in the art and writing of the period, and in legal documents. These representations, in Sue Blundell's analysis, reveal a great deal about women's day-to-day experience as well as their legal and economic position--and how they were regarded by men. Here are women as portrayed in Homer, in Greek lyric poetry, and by the playwrights; the female nature as depicted in medical writings and by Aristotle; representations of women in sculpture and vase paintings. This is evidence filtered through a male view: Sappho is the only female writer of antiquity much of whose work survives. Yet these sources and others such as regulations and law court speeches reveal a great deal about women's lives and about their status as defined by law and by custom.

By examining the roles that men assigned to women, the ideals they constructed for them, and the anxieties they expressed about them, Blundell sheds light on the cultural dynamics of a male-dominated society. Lively and richly illustrated, her work offers a fresh look at women in the ancient world.

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About the Author:

Sue Blundell is a Lecturer for both Birkbeck and Goldsmiths Colleges in the University of London as well as for the Open University. She is the author of The Origins of Civilization in Greek and Roman Thought.

Review:

In her introduction to Women in Ancient Greece Sue Blundell notes how few overviews have appeared among the plethora of books and articles on women's lives and representations in the ancient Greek world...Her book is an admirable response to the need for such an overview. In a concise narrative account incorporating much of the recent scholarly work, Blundell offers a broad survey of the most relevant topics for the study of women in Greece during the period 750-336 B.C....Blundell's narrative is seldom merely descriptive; rather, throughout her exposition, she guides her readers to recognize the ways ancient representations and institutions associated with the female are a production of male issues, concern and power.
--R.J. Schork (New England Classical Journal)

Blundell offers here an excellent, brief survey of women in archaic and classical Greek art, literature, and history. It is the sole comprehensive account in English of women in ancient Greece (as opposed to Greece and Rome). Blundell's reading is wide, her thought judicious, her prose clear, and her insight penetrating. She has a good bibliography, decent notes, and well-chosen illustrations...Recommended for all college and university libraries.
--J.M. Williams (Choice)

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Susan Blundell
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