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Lecture 2

HIS308H5 Lecture 2: Class 2 HIS308

Course Code
Lochin Brouillard

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Class 2: Classical Women 05-11-2017
Structure of Today’s Class
1. Results of the class survey
2. Ancient Greece and Rome: a very, very brief introduction.
3. Women in ancient medical theories
4. Women in ancient philosophy
5. Women in ancient Greek and Roman mythology
Results of the Class Survey
Ancient Greece and Rome: 3.19/5 Christianity: 3.81/5 Medieval Europe: 3.33/5 Islam
and Judaism: 3.18/5 Early Modern Europe: : 3.30/5 Feminist and Gender Theory:
Things you’re glad to see on the syllabus:
Topics: - Diversity, women of different backgrounds (Muslim women, women as artists,
single women, etc.) + virtually every class got mentioned
Readings: - Lots of primary sources - Short readings, accessible online Assignments: -
No big paper - No midterm - Personal essay - Short papers
Things you are concerned about: Topics: - Scope of survey Readings: - Understanding
primary sources - A lot of readings Assignments: - Quick turn-around for assignments -
40% exam - Discussion in class
10% off the final exam and turn this into a class participation mark. This class
participation mark will include: - attendance and participation in class - short written work
(answering written prompts I will distribute in class) As per regulation, vote next class
(Tuesday, 16 May). Vote was successful, 10% participation now in effect.
Ancient Greece and Rome
When? Greece’s “traditional narrative
3000 – 1100 BCE: Bronze Age (Minoan civilization on Crete, Mycenaean civilization).
c. 1180 BCE: destruction of the city of Troy
1100 – 700 BCE: “Dark Ages” of Greece.
700-480 BCE: Archaic period.
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c. 700 BCE: Homer composes the Iliad and the Odyssey.
776 BCE: first Olympic Games.
510 BCE: introduction of democracy in Athens.
490 BCE: battle of Marathon between Athens and Persia, led by Darius.
480-323 BCE: Classical period.
480 BCE: battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans, led by Leonidas, and the
Persians forces, led by Xerxes; battle of Salamis between the Greek and the Persian
477 BCE: League of Delos, led by Athens.
461-445 BCE: First Pelopponesian War opposing Athens and Sparta.
461-429 BCE: Athens’ “Golden Era” under statesman Perikles.
404 BCE: Second Pelopponesian War ending with Athens’ surrender to Sparta.
323-146 BCE: Hellenistic Greece.
323 BCE: Death of Alexander the Great.
146 BCE: Roman invasion of Greece
When? Important dates for Rome
1200 BCE: the Etruscans reach northern Italy.
c. 750 BCE: foundation of Rome.
509 BCE: the Romans revolt against the Etruscan kings and establish a system of
government involving the Assembly and the Senate.
500-265 BCE: conquest of Italy.
265-146: conquest of the Mediterranean, including the Punic Wars against Carthage.
135-31 BCE: end of the Roman Republic period.
58-51 BCE: Julius Caesar conquers Gaul.
44 BCE: Julius Caesar assassinated.
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31 BCE: Marc Antony and Cleopatra are defeated at the battle of Actium by Caesar
Octavian, who becomes Caesar August, the first emperor.  96-180 CE: Pax Romana
or period of the Five Good Emperors.
305 CE: Constantine becomes the first Christian emperor.
330 CE: Constantine inaugurates the new capital of Constantinople (modern-day
Istanbul, Turkey).
476 CE: Last Western Roman emperor deposed.
Women in medical theories
Principles of ancient medicine
Hippocratic corpus: medical treatises by a variety of anonymous authors, most of
whom were probably writing in the late fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Associated with
the figure of Hippocrates, a Greek physician (460-370 BCE).
Eight of these treatises are devoted to women’s illnesses only. The focus is especially
placed on women’s ability to reproduce. Women are treated as a deviation from the
masculine norm.
Most medical practitioners were men, except for midwives who took care of childbirths.
Ancient medicine was based upon a number of principles, which attributed the causes
of good health or illnesses to internal and external factors. External factors might be the
seasons of the year, the weather, the winds, or the geographical environment. The age,
sex, and social class of the patient were also taken into account. As for internal factors,
illnesses were often described as a blockage of a conduit or as an imbalance in the
A common theory was concerned with the humours (fluids) in the body: phlegm, yellow
bile, black bile, and blood. These in turn came to be associated with characteristics like
coldness/heat, dryness/wetness. Women were thought to be cold and wet while men
were hot and dry.
As to Man's growth, first within his mother's womb and afterward to old age, the course
of nature, in so far as man is specially concerned, is after the following manner… When
twice seven years old, in the most of cases, the male begins to engender seed; and at
the same time hair appears upon the pubes… At the same age in the female, the
breasts swell and the so-called catamenia (menstrual discharge) commence to flow;
and this fluid resembles fresh blood. There is another discharge, a white one, by the
way, which occurs in girls even at a very early age, more especially if their diet be
largely of a fluid nature; and this malady causes arrest of growth and loss of flesh. In the
majority of cases the catamenia are noticed by the time the breasts have grown to the
height of two fingers' breadth. In girls, too, about this time the voice changes to a deeper
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