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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-state
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)
– Inscriptions:
– 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
– Patronymic
– 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)
– Inscriptions
– Tombstones
– 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
– 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

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 death
– 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
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
● Young women were prepared for marriage and motherhood,
rather than preparing for war and diplomacy
● Alcman’s Parthenia emphasized the beauty and desirability of
● 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
■ Korai
● 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
● Orders:

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
● 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 men
Iliad – Ilium = Troy
● Women in the Iliad were one of the following:
1. Prize (geras)
a. Briseis
b. Helen
c. Chryseis: father Chryses comes for her at the Greek camp
d. Trojan women in the future
2. Mothers, wives, daughters
a. Andromache
b. Hecuba
3. Mourners
4. Religious participation
a. 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
● 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
○ 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
● Calypso
○ Traps Odysseus for 7 years on her island
○ Mental obstacle
● Circe

○ Magic
○ 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
○ Helpful
■ 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
● 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
○ Women were also cared for and educated at the state’s expense
● Education
○ 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
○ 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 babies.
There was supposedly a ravine that unfit babies were thrown into, however there is no
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 …
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