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Textbook Readings for Lecture 5

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University of Toronto St. George
Regina Höschele

CLA219: Women inAntiquity Texts 1-6 1. Women’s Voices “This stone has heard much lamentation” Female Poets ‘She entered into rivalry with Pindar’ • Men will tell of the legal, social, and physical environments in which ancient women lived • Women’s lives, from birth to death, were set by men • Fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, by the male citizens by whom governments were formed and armies raised Through men we hear of women’s achievements (though presumably selectively) • • Aside from poetry, women’s writing survives only in private letters • And then, only those written on papyri and from Hellenistic and Roman Egypt only really survive (at least in greater quantity) • Much of literature from antiquity only survives through the MiddleAges because it was deemed worthy, or important (by men) • Thus logical and poignant that we should have so little of what women wrote • Intellectual efforts of women were committed to writing • That women in all periods of antiquity could write sophisticated verse indicates that at least some women were educated • But the few works that survive us suggest that such intellectual attainments were exceptional • Sappho in the 6th century BC had profound influence on both the content and form of subse- quent lyric poetry • She put emphasis on emotion and the action of the mind, a distinguishing characteristic Many of her poems describe a world which men never saw: the deep love women could feel for • one another in a society that kept the sexes apart and the intense excitement of rituals in which
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