Introduction to Women's Studies and Classical Studies:  Victims and Heroes; Antigone, Medea, Neaeramedea.jpg (20835 bytes)

Be able to give examples of how Antigone, Medea, and Neaera are described by male authors living in the city of Athens during the Classical Period. How can they be viewed as heroic figures or as victims? How are they limited by their societies? How do they demonstrate valuable characteristics (e.g., in intelligence, perseverence, love)? What are their goals and how do they work to achieve them? How do they utilize or transform weakness (their own or another's) to realize their objectives? How do their stories indicate the need for society to address women's concerns or else face tragic consequences (e.g., know the negative comments made about women by such men as Creon and Jason and how these men suffer)? How would the incorporation of women's concerns promote the social well-being of men as well as women (e.g., what do other characters say that indicates their support for the positions of Medea and Antigone but also their awareness that they themselves cannot act as those they consider worthy of honor)? What do these stories suggest about men's fears and admiration for women? How do their stories confirm or contradict about what we know about women from the archaeological evidence as seen in the Fantham text or the video "Pandora's Box"? In what ways are their stories valuable as demonstrating the obstacles women have had to overcome and as representing characteristics we still admire? Do you think women authors would provide different visions of the women characters' motives, methods, and achievements? How do these stories compare with the poetry by the women authors: Myrtis, Korinna, Praxilla, Telesilla?

Know what the characters did, what they say about themselves, and what others say about them.

I. In the Antigone know the importance of the following characters: Father Oedipus and Mother Jocastra, Brothers Polyneices and Eteocles, Sister Ismene, Fiance Haemon, Priest Teiresias, King Creon, Chorus of Theban Elders. Why did Antigone insist on burying her brother and why did Creon forbid that action? How did Ismene, Haemon, and Teiresias support her action but also show concern for Creon? How did the chorus support Creon initially but also show concern for Antigone? Why are the gods invoked by both Antigone and Creon and how do these gods show final support for Antigone? How does Antigone fulfill her original purpose but also indicate what she realizes she has to lose or never enjoy because of her decision, i.e., what does she accept as unfortunate consequences of her decision?

2. In the Medea know the importance of the following characters: Nurse and Tutor, King Creon, Princess Creusa, Jason, Aegeus, Helios, the children. How did Medea show herself a loving wife for Jason and how did Jason show concern for her (before they came to Corinth)? Why did Medea become so angry with Jason and why did Jason argue he was really acting on her behalf and that of their children? How do the Chorus, Creon, Aegeus, Jason, the children, and Helios help Medea carry out her plans? For what reasons does Medea persevere in her purpose but also how does she indicate what she realizes that she has to lose or never enjoy because of her decision, i.e., what does she accept as unfortunate consequences of her decision?


3. In the speech "Against Neaera" know what we learn about the life of a woman who is enslaved as a young child but works to buy her freedom and make her way into Athenian society. For what reasons is she accused of acting illegally, and what will the punishment if she is found guilty?

For what reasons are the Athenian Stephanus and a daughter Strybele/Phano involved in her story? What does this account tell us about the (dis)advantages of being a citizen wife and the (dis)advantages of being a free non-citizen? What does the account tell us about the role of women and religion (i.e., references to initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries and participation by a magistrate's wife in the worship of Dionysos)? What does the speaker's concluding remarks about the jurymen's wives suggest about women's "private" voices?

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