Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World

ABC-CLIO
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When did women first become rulers, athletes, soldiers, heroines, and villains? They always were, observes historian Judith Salisbury. From Mesopotamian priestesses and poets to Egyptian queens and consorts, "there was never a time when women did not participate in all aspects of society."

Salisbury tells the stories of 150 women from the ancient world, ranging from the very famous, such as Cleopatra VII, immortalized by Hollywood, to the barely remembered, such as the Roman poet Nossis. Writing for a general audience, Salisbury begins by painting each woman into her historical context, then recounts each woman's story, describing the choices she made as she looked for happiness, wealth, power, or well-being for herself and her family--stories much like our own. In entries on general themes--clothing, cosmetics, work, sexuality, prostitution, gynecology--Salisbury analyzes the commonalties in the lives of these women of antiquity from a cross-cultural perspective.

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About the author

Joyce Salisbury is Frankenthal professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, WI.

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Additional Information

Publisher
ABC-CLIO
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
385
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ISBN
9781576070925
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / General
History / World
Reference / Encyclopedias
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Information about women is scattered throughout the fragmented mosaic of ancient history: the vivid poetry of Sappho survived antiquity on remnants of damaged papyrus; the inscription on a beautiful fourth century B.C.E. grave praises the virtues of Mnesarete, an Athenian woman who died young; a great number of Roman wives were found guilty of poisoning their husbands, but was it accidental food poisoning, or disease, or something more sinister. Apart from the legends of Cleopatra, Dido and Lucretia, and images of graceful maidens dancing on urns, the evidence about the lives of women of the classical world--visual, archaeological, and written--has remained uncollected and uninterpreted. Now, the lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched Women in the Classical World lifts the curtain on the women of ancient Greece and Rome, exploring the lives of slaves and prostitutes, Athenian housewives, and Rome's imperial family. The first book on classical women to give equal weight to written texts and artistic representations, it brings together a great wealth of materials--poetry, vase painting, legislation, medical treatises, architecture, religious and funerary art, women's ornaments, historical epics, political speeches, even ancient coins--to present women in the historical and cultural context of their time. Written by leading experts in the fields of ancient history and art history, women's studies, and Greek and Roman literature, the book's chronological arrangement allows the changing roles of women to unfold over a thousand-year period, beginning in the eighth century B.C.E. Both the art and the literature highlight women's creativity, sexuality and coming of age, marriage and childrearing, religious and public roles, and other themes. Fascinating chapters report on the wild behavior of Spartan and Etruscan women and the mythical Amazons; the changing views of the female body presented in male-authored gynecological treatises; the "new woman" represented by the love poetry of the late Republic and Augustan Age; and the traces of upper- and lower-class life in Pompeii, miraculously preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. Provocative and surprising, Women in the Classical World is a masterly foray into the past, and a definitive statement on the lives of women in ancient Greece and Rome.
In Rome’s Christian Empress, Joyce E. Salisbury brings the captivating story of Rome’s Christian empress to life. The daughter of Roman emperor Theodosius I, Galla Placidia lived at the center of imperial Roman power during the first half of the fifth century. Taken hostage after the fall of Rome to the Goths, she was married to the king and, upon his death, to a Roman general. The rare woman who traveled throughout Italy, Gaul, and Spain, she eventually returned to Rome, where her young son was crowned as the emperor of the western Roman provinces. Placidia served as his regent, ruling the Roman Empire and the provinces for twenty years.

Salisbury restores this influential, too-often forgotten woman to the center stage of this crucial period. Describing Galla Placidia’s life from childhood to death while detailing the political and military developments that influenced her—and that she influenced in turn—the book relies on religious and political sources to weave together a narrative that combines social, cultural, political, and theological history.

The Roman world changed dramatically during Placidia’s rule: the Empire became Christian, barbarian tribes settled throughout the West, and Rome began its unmistakable decline. But during her long reign, Placidia wielded formidable power. She fended off violent invaders and usurpers who challenged her Theodosian dynasty; presided over the dawn of the Catholic Church as theological controversies split the faithful and church practices and holidays were established; and spent fortunes building churches and mosaics that incorporated prominent images of herself and her family. Compulsively readable, Rome’s Christian Empress is the first full-length work to give this fascinating and complex ruler her due.

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