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Other titles in the Ad Feminam: Women and Literature series:
The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome (Ad Feminam: Women and Literature)
Synopses & Reviews
"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 Conclusion
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.
Book News Annotation:
A well-annotated bibliography offering descriptions and assessments of over 1,600 works written 1641-1700. Writings by women include religious and literary works, petitions, journals and diaries, commentaries on women's social position and domestic role, and philosophical treatises. Works for and about women discuss such topics as medicine, sexuality, domestic and religious duties. A survey of women writers in antiquity from Sappho (7th century B.C.) to Egeria (5th century A.D.). Other writers are 5th-century Greek poets Myrtis, Korinna, Praxilla, and Telesilla; Hellenistic poets Anyte, Nossis, Moero, and Erinna; Hellenistic and Roman philosophers Leontion, Hipparchia the Cynic, Theano, Myia, and Hypatia; and Roman writers Hortensia, Cornelia, Agrippina the Younger, Sulpicia, and Proba.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
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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