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Women in 4th c. BCE Greece

Lekythos
Attic White Ground Lekythos. Late 5th century BCE

A girl seated on a chair with a wreath in her hands; her wool basket is set to the right. The undulating snake, which appears above, is traditionally associated with the dead from the Geometric period on.

We shall learn what we can from what Athenian men wrote about women in the 4th c. BCE. The situation of Athenian wives at the beginning of the 4th c. is discovered in Lysias’ defence speech for a man accused of the murder of his wife’s lover and in Xenophon’s account of household management. Radical ideas about the political status of women and the abolition of private property will be found in Plato’s Republic, and we’ll read from Aristophanes’ parody of these ideas written (puzzlingly) some years before.

Then we’ll turn to the experience of less respectable women revealed first in the prosecution speech against the notorious courtesan Neaira, then in Menander’s New Comedy The Samian Woman.

This term's dates: 3 Oct - 5 Dec 2017




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