Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves
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Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves : Women in Classical Antiquity

By (author) Sarah B. Pomeroy

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" The first general treatment of women in the ancient world to reflect the critical insights of modern feminism. Though much debated, its position as the basic textbook on women's history in Greece and Rome has hardly been challenged." --Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement. Illustrations.

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  • Paperback | 267 pages
  • 132.08 x 198.12 x 17.78mm | 272.15g
  • 01 Jan 1998
  • Schocken Books
  • New York
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 080521030X
  • 9780805210309
  • 98,147

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Review quote

"The first general treatment of women in the ancient world to reflect the critical insights of modern feminism. Though much debated, its position as the basic textbook on women's history in Greece and Rome has hardly been challenged."--Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement "Pomeroy's pioneering study on the status and activities of women in antiquity was, and has remained, a milestone in classical historiography."--Peter Green, Univerity of Texas at Austin

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Review text

An intelligent but spotty book that should have been much longer and more rigorously organized. One learns a lot, but Pomeroy's methodological vagueness results in dribs and dabs of seemingly arbitrarily selected information. Scholars will like the author's caution about throwing female-chauvinist brickbats and feminists will find some chilling facts about the origins of modern sexism - but, conversely, both will be annoyed at concessions to the expectations of the other. The weakest and most tentative sections are on Greek mythology (a list of goddesses with a few timid but unprovable psychological and historical speculations) and drama (sketchy, unimaginative descriptions of a few major heroines). On the other hand, things pick up a lot when we get to the actual legal and social position of women. Here Pomeroy gives specific and illuminating detail about dowries, living arrangements, population control (chiefly through infanticide), and the rights of slaves. It's clear that women were much better off under the Romans than the Greeks, and the Roman model of the family distributes domestic responsibilities much more evenhandedly than the modern nuclear family - as evidenced by flexible Roman divorce practices. But throughout antiquity being a woman entailed actual physical hardship we can barely imagine, beginning with the smaller amounts of food given to female children and culminating in an appallingly short life expectancy (five to ten - or more - years less than for men). By way of diversion from these grim truths, the illustrations include some remarkably frank scenes, like masturbation with leather phalluses - remember your Aristophanes? (Kirkus Reviews)

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"The first general treatment of women in the ancient world to reflect the critical insights of modern feminism. Though much debated, its position as the basic textbook on women's history in Greece and Rome has hardly been challenged."--Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement. Illustrations.

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