Introduction to Women's Studies andcolumn.gif (6080 bytes) Classical Studies: 

Historical: What do we know about women from long ago? Where do we come from? How did we get to where we are now?

Evaluation: What was good or bad about women in ancient Greece and Rome--As they, women and men, saw it; as we, women and men, see it?

What are the positive examples? What are examples we want to avoid or improve on? How do these stories show us how problems we might consider unique to ourselves really have consequences for others in our own or different societies?

How can we find the ways to obviate or overcome problems in our own or others' lives? How can we find the beauty and glory in ourselves and others, realize the potential for growth and flourishing, develop pride in what we are and can be, sympathy for what holds us back.

Acknowledge diversity and common concerns: What makes life worthwhile for me? How do I get to where I want to go? How can my goals and yours mesh--not tangle? What are my/your limitations: personal, gender related, racial or ethnic, economic, educational, class distinctions? How can our limitations serve as points of growth?


Interpreting Literature

For the literature: KNOW DETAILS : Who says and does what to whom for what reasons with what consequences?

KNOW CONTEXT: society in which story is placed; for whom the story is told.

a. Literary genre

b. Role of speaker (author or character in story): Amuse, instruct, encourage, outrage, tantalize? Importance of gender, age, social class?

c. Relevance of imagery, metaphores, similes

Know context and authors

Bronze Age, 3,000-1100 B.C.E.: Crete, Mycenae, Argos, Thebes, Troy; (Greek myth setting)

Dark Ages, 1100-800 B.C.E.

Archaic Period: 800-500 B.C.E.: Panhellenic Festivals, Writing, Laws, Colonies; Geometric Art

Homer, Hesiod, Alcman, Archilochus, Semonides, Pindar, SAPPHO

Classical Period 500-323 B.C.E.: Democracy; Persian Wars; Peloponnesian Wars; Athens; Sparta; Thebes; Playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes; Philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle; Physician Hippocrates; Orator Demosthenes, Poets TELESILLA, KORINNA, PRAXILLA

Hellenistic Period 323-31 B.C.E.: Followers of Alexander the Great establish dynasties;

Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Menander, ANYTE, NOSSIS, MOERO, ERINNA

Roman expansion through country of Italy and around the Mediterranean Sea

Roman Period: 31 B.C.E. - 500 C.E.: Catullus, Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Cicero, SULPICIA

Selected Readings

Odyssey 6  (Norton Anthology)

"Mistress, please, are you divine or mortal?
If one of those who dwell in the wide heaven,
you are most near to Artemis, I should say,
great Zeus' daughter, in your grace and presence.
If you are one of earth's inhabitants,
how blest your father, and your gentle mother, blest all of your kin....
But one man's destiny is more than blest--
he who prevails and takes you as his bride....
Mistress, do me a kindness....
And may the gods acomplish your desire:
a home, a husband, and harmonious
converse with him--the best thing in the world
is a strong house held in serenity
when man and wife agree. Woe to their enemies,
joy to their friends. But all this they know best."

Hesiod, Theogony 589 ff (Fantham 40-1)

Then the gods and mortal men were struck with amazement
when they beheld this sheer inescapable snare for men.
From her descend the race of women, the feminine sex:
from her come the baneful race and types of women.
Women, a great plague, makes their abodes with mortal men,
being ill-suited to Poverty's curse but suited to Plenty....
Even so Zeus the Thunderer on High created women
as an evil for men and conspirers in troublesome works.
And in exchange for a good he gave a balancing evil.
Whoever flies from marriage and women's miscievous works,
being unwilling to wed, comes to baneful old age with
no one to care for his needs, and...collateral heirs divide his possessions when he is dead.

Chorus of Corinthian Women in Euripides, Medea (Norton Anthology)

Flow backward to your sources, sacred rivers/ and let the world's great order be reversed.
It is the thoughts of men that are deceitful,/ Their pledge that are loose.
Story shall now turn my condition to a fair one;/ Women are paid their due.
No more shall evil-sounding fame be theirs.

Sappho 31 (Snyder 18)

He seems to me to be like the gods
--whatever man sits opposite you
and close by hears you
talking sweetly
And laughing charmingly, which
makes the heart within my breast take flight;
for the instant I look on you, I cannot anymore
speak one word,
But in silence my tongue is broken, a fine
fire at once runs under my skin,
with my eyes I see not one thing, my ears buzz,
Cold sweat covers me, trembling
seizes my whole body. I am more moist than grass

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