The Woman and the Lyre

The Woman and the Lyre : Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome

4.5 (18 ratings by Goodreads)

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Faint though the voices of the women of Greek and Roman antiquity may be in some cases, their sound, if we listen carefully enough, can fill many of the gaps and silences of women s past.From the beginning with Sappho in the seventh century B.C. and ending with Hypatia and Egeria in the fifth century A.D., Jane McIntosh Snyder listens carefully to the major women writers of classical Greece and Rome, piecing together the surviving fragments of their works into a coherent analysis that places them in their literary, historical, and intellectual contexts.While relying heavily on modern classical scholarship, Snyder refutes some of the arguments that implicitly deny the power of women's written words the idea that women's experience is narrow or trivial and therefore automatically inferior as subject matter for literature, the notion that intensity in a woman is a sign of neurotic imbalance, and the assumption that women s work should be judged according to some externally imposed standard.The author studies the available fragments of Sappho, ranging from poems on mythological themes to traditional wedding songs and love poems, and demonstrates her considerable influence on Western thought and literature. An overview of all of the authors Snyder discusses shows that ancient women writers focused on such things as emotions, lovers, friendship, folk motifs, various aspects of daily living, children, and pets, in distinct contrast to their male contemporaries concern with wars and politics. Straightforwardness and simplicity are common characteristics of the writers Snyder examines. These women did not display allusion, indirection, punning and elaborate rhetorical figures to the extent that many male writers of the ancient world did. Working with the sparse records available, Snyder strives to place these female writers in their proper place in our heritage.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 216 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 13mm | 294.84g
  • Carbondale, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1
  • 0809335964
  • 9780809335961
  • 1,985,106

Review quote

"A much-needed survey of women writers in antiquity."--Rochelle Snee, Religious Studies Review "The discussion of this tradition not only encompasses a vast historical span, but requires a significant degree of both historical and literary reconstruction. Snyder is more than equal to the task, and the result is a volume that is informative, entertaining, and impressive for its command of the scholarly literature. . . . Specialists in the field will want to take this work seriously. General readers will be much enriched by it."--M. B. Arthur, Choice "A fascinating picture of a tradition that has received all too little attention, even among Classicists." --David H. J. Larmour, College Literature "In The Woman and the Lyre, Jane Snyder runs through the main strands of traditional Sappho criticism, pointing out the anachronistic absurdity that underlies most of these reconstructions of her social background and literary context. The tough, warring world of sixth-century BC Lesbos was no place for some prototype of a liberal arts college for young ladies and, as Snyder rightly sees, it is sheer bewildering whimsy to suggest it was."--London Review of Books "Put quite simply, this is a unique book of enormous utility which every Classicist needs to read. The general reader, however, will find The Woman and the Lyre every bit as useful and illuminating." --Judith de Luce, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "This collection, translation and analysis of writings by women from the seventh-century B.C. Greece to fifth-century A.D. Rome argues persuasively against the assumption that our literary and rhetorical ancestors were only forefathers. The Woman and the Lyre seeks to balance a literary heritage addressed in some senses "to the man" by recovering a neglected tradition of women writers. The pages of Snyder's text are filled with stirring revelations about women's achievements."--Susan C. Jarrett, Composition Chronicle "This unique and readable book is a boon for all who want an introduction to the "voices of women writers of the past". --Deborah Boedeker, The Classical Outlook "The Woman and the Lyre is both frustrating and tantalizing. For students of women in antiquity, it will assemble conveniently many unfamiliar texts and provide some broad-ranging comments and extensive bibliography. As an analysis of women's writing in antiquity, the book will provide a useful starting-point for further study which (as Snyder herself acknowledges) is still required." --Maria Wyke, The Classical Review "Snyder's interweaving of literary text and cultural context helps the non-classicist reader grasp the variety of ways that Greek and Roman women writers affirm the value of the female heart and mind. By letting their voices be heard, however faint the echo, Snyder, like Toni Morrison in Beloved, creates a moment for women of future generations and races to experience "rememory" the gaps and silences--and the healing--of the past." --Rosemary M. Nielsen, Pheonix "Replete with readable translations and interesting explications that set the women and their work in a historical context, packed with references to more detailed scholarly analysis, and complete with a map that shows the wide geographical dispersion of women writers in the ancient world, The Women and the Lyre [brings] neglected female tradition and hidden female history to our awareness and increased understanding." --Katherine Callen King, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
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About Jane McIntosh Snyder

Jane McIntosh Snyder, professor of classics at The Ohio State University, is the author of Puns and Poetry in Lucretius, De Rerum Natura and (with Martha Maas) of Stringed Instruments of Ancient Greece.
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Rating details

18 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 72% (13)
4 6% (1)
3 22% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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