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Article

Helen King

Contraception played a minor role in Hippocratic medicine, where the emphasis was rather on helping women to conceive. (See hippocrates(2).) The exception is a substance called ‘misy’, possibly copper ore, recommended as having the power to prevent conception for a year (e.g. Hippoc.Mul. 1. 76 and Nat. mul.98). It was erroneously believed that the most fertile time of the month was just before or just after a menstrual period, when the womb was open to receive semen. Any attempt to use this information in reverse, in order to avoid conception, would thus in fact have led to intercourse at the most fertile days of the month.However, it has been argued that many of the remedies given as general gynaecological cures (see gynaecology) in the ancient medical tradition did in fact contain substances, mostly of plant origin, effective both as contraceptives and as early-stage abortifacients. Some substances were used as barriers; for example, sponges soaked in vinegar or oil, or cedar resin applied to the mouth of the womb. These could have acted as spermicides. Others could either be taken orally or used as pessaries, and included pomegranate skin, pennyroyal, willow, and the squirting cucumber, which forcefully ejects its seeds. The degree to which these would have been effective is, however, very difficult to assess. The widespread practice of polypharmacy, by which a combination of several different remedies were used at once, together with the use of *amulets, other magical techniques, and non-fertile sexual positions would have made it difficult to judge which method was responsible in the event of a long period without pregnancy ensuing.

Article

Nicholas J. Richardson

Goddesses of fertility (cf. demeter and persephone/kore), worshipped at *Epidaurus, *Aegina, and *Troezen (Hdt. 5. 82–8 and IG 4.22 787; Paus. 2. 32. 2). Herodotus says that the cult at Epidaurus was instituted on the advice of Delphi (see delphic oracle) after a crop-failure, and the cult statues were later stolen by the Aeginetans: cf. J. Haubold in E. Irwin and E. Greenwood (eds.), Reading Herodotus (2007), 226–44. The Aeginetan cult involved sacrifices and female choruses who sang ritual abuse against local women. The Epidaurian rites were similar. The Aeginetan statues were kneeling, probably as birth-goddesses. The aition for this was that they fell on their knees when the Athenians tried to carry them away unsuccessfully. Women dedicated their brooches to them. At Troezen Damia and Auxesia were Cretan girls, stoned to death in a revolt, and honoured in the Lithobolia (stone-throwing festival). This and the ritual abuse resemble what occurred in other fertility cults (cf. N.

Article

Saskia Hin

People’s life courses are shaped by the complex interactions of contextual factors, of individual behavior, and of opportunities and constraints operating at the macro level. Demography studies these processes with a focus on particular transitions in the life course: birth, leaving home, marriage, and other transitions in civil status (divorce, remarriage, and transitions into widowhood), the birth and survival of offspring, migration, and finally the end of the life cycle—death.

Initial work on the ancient world focussed primarily on macro-level data, trying to establish overall trends in population development on the basis of census figures and other population estimates. This approach has received further impetus with the advent of survey demography (see Population Trends). More recently, attention has turned to single events in the life course. Core demographic studies have attempted to establish patterns and rates of marriage, fertility, migration, and mortality. Others have taken a complementary approach with a stronger focus on qualitative data. These support investigation of sociological, cultural, and economic aspects of demographic phenomena. The remainder of this article focusses on a concise evaluation of current understanding of marriage, fertility, migration, mortality, and population trends in the ancient Greco-Roman world.

Article

Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth

Ephēboi originally meant boys who had reached the age of puberty, and was one of several terms for age classes; but in 4th-cent. bce Athens it came to have a special paramilitary sense, boys who in their eighteenth year had entered a two-year period of military training. In the first year they underwent, in barracks in Piraeus, training by paidotribai (physical trainers) and technical weaponry instructors, all under the general supervision of a kosmētēs and of ten (later twelve) sōphronistai, one from each of the tribes (*phylai). In the second year they served at the frontier posts of Attica as peripoloi. They may have had ritual duties.Despite the military amateurism of which Thucydides (2) makes Pericles (1) boast in the surprising ch. 2. 39, it is unlikely that there was no system of training before the 4th cent., and traces of the later ‘oath of the ephebes’ (RO no. 88) have been detected in e.g. *Thucydides (2) and *Sophocles (1).

Article

Eveline Krummen and Donald Russell

A song (or speech) given ‘at the bridal chamber (θάλαμος)’ ([Dion. Hal.] Rhet. 4. 1); a regular feature of marriages (see marriage ceremonies). Strictly speaking, it is distinct from the general ‘wedding song’ (γαμήλιος), cf. Eust. 1541. 49, and from the ‘*Hymenaeus’, the processional song which accompanied the newly-married couple to their house (Hom. Il. 18. 491–6; ps.-Hes. Sc. 272–85; Eur. Tro. 308–41; Ar. Peace 1316–57; Ap. Rhod. 4. 1160). In literature, however, the title ‘epithalamium’ predominates. *Menander (4) Rhetor (399–405 Spengel) actually uses the term as a synonym for ‘wedding speech’ (γαμήλιος), preferring the more explicit ‘bedding-down speech’ (κατευναστικός) for the ceremony at the bedroom door.The tradition is of course old. *Sappho's wedding songs were famous. Comedy (*Aristophanes (1)'s Peace, Birds) and tragedy (Eur. Troades, Iphigenia at Aulis, Phaethon) provide examples.

Article

Richard Gordon

In the Classical period, religious eunuchs are a feature of several Anatolian cults of female deities, extending across to Scythia (Hdt. 4. 67: not shamans) and to the southern foothills of the Taurus mountains, but independent of Babylonian and Phoenician (Euseb. Vit. Const. 3. 55. 2 f.) practices (see anatolian deities). As a whole the institution created a class of pure servants of a god (Matt. 19: 12). Its significance derives from a double contrast, with the involuntary castration of children for court use and the normal obligation to marry. The adult self-castrate expressed in his body both world-rejection and -superiority.Two forms may be distinguished. (1) A senior, or even high, priest in a temple, e.g. the eunuchs of *Hecate at Lagina in *Caria (Sokolowski, LSAM no. 69. 19, etc.); the Megabyz(x)us of *Artemis at *Ephesus (Strabo 14. 1. 23; Vett. Val., 2. 21. 47); the *Attis and Battaces, the high priests of Cybele at *Pessinus.

Article

E. D. Hunt

To the classical world eunuchs were despised figures who haunted the courts of oriental monarchs. The Persian king employed them prominently as guardians of his harem and loyal protectors of his throne, even exacting boys for castration as tribute from some subject peoples (Hdt. 3. 92). The disgust expressed by Classical authors at the alien customs of Persia was tempered by an acknowledgement of the trustworthiness which the eunuchs displayed to their royal masters (Hdt. 8. 105; Xen. Cyr. 7. 5. 58 ff.).By the time of Augustus eunuchs had begun to enter the households of some leading Romans, notably imperial associates like *Maecenas (Sen. Ep. 114. 6) and *Sejanus (Plin. HN 7. 129). Later the praetorian prefect of *Septimius Severus had a hundred Roman citizens castrated to provide eunuch attendants for his daughter (Cass. Dio 75. 14). The presence of eunuchs around prominent courtiers reflected the trend set by emperors themselves: *Claudius already had a favourite eunuch (Posides) among his freedmen (Suet.

Article

Feminism does not refer to one coherent theory, doctrine, or political movement. The range of movements and ideologies that thrive under the term feminism, however, are all committed to political and social change. Feminism recognises that we live in a patriarchal world, that is to say a world in which women are, and have historically been, oppressed by and unequal to men. It opposes this, and strives to change existing power structures so that people of all genders and races have control over their own bodies, have equal opportunities and value, can participate fully in community life, and are allowed to live with dignity and freedom.

What has this to do with ancient literature? There are several significant ways in which feminism and ancient literature interact. Ancient literature, particularly ancient Greek tragedy and myth, has played a formative role in shaping feminist theory. Feminism encourages scholars to uncover and reevaluate a tradition of women’s writing. Feminism has provided the tools for us better to understand how ancient literature functioned to promote, and sometimes to challenge, the misogynist practices of ancient Greek and Roman societies. Scholars have detected feminism, or proto-feminism, in ancient writing. Queer theory and feminism join forces to mine ancient literature for alternatives to hetero, cisgender, and gender binary models of identity. Feminism has changed the field of ancient literary studies by valuing authors and genres that are sensitive to the perspectives of women of all ethnicities and statuses. Finally, ancient literature is used to serve contemporary activism: Greek and Latin texts are used by modern feminist authors who rewrite and creatively adapt ancient literature, and classicists resist the use of ancient literature to promote misogyny and white supremacy.

Article

gender  

Laura McClure

Gender, the social construction of sexual difference, was central to how the Greeks and Romans understood themselves and explained their world. Classical texts and visual media, almost exclusively created by men, articulate gender norms based on biological sex, representing them as critical to the construction and maintenance of social and political hierarchies. At the same time, they explore the rupture of these categories through gender-fluid figures that challenge the boundaries of anatomical sex and social categories, like the gynaecocratic warrior women, the Amazons; or the Galli, the castrated male followers of the goddess Cybele; and the ambiguously sexed hermaphrodites. The blind seer Teiresias transforms from a man into a woman and back again, experiencing two sexualities in the process (Ov. Met. 3.314). The woman Caenis requests to be turned into a man after her brutal rape by the god Apollo, so that she might never be sexually violated again (Ov.

Article

Helen King

Gynaecology existed in the ancient world as a medical specialism, but its separate identity was not always permitted by wider medical theories. The significant question was this: do women have diseases peculiar to their sex, or are they subject to the same conditions as men, only requiring a separate branch of medicine to the extent that they have different organs to be affected? In other words, is gynaecology necessary?The majority of the surviving gynaecological treatises come from the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates (2)) and probably date to the late 5th and early 4th cents. bce. These treatises include three volumes of Gynaecia (Mul.), usually translated as ‘Diseases of Women’, but which can also mean women's sexual organs, *menstruation, or therapies for women's diseases. In contrast to the rest of the Hippocratic corpus, these texts include long lists of remedies using plant and animal ingredients. The third volume concerns the treatment of barren women. A separate short treatise discusses the medical problems of unmarried girls at puberty (Virg.

Article

Katharine T. von Stackelberg

A physical condition whereby a living organism has both male and female reproductive parts, hermaphroditism is a well-established phenomenon in the ancient world. In Greek and Roman literature and art, hermaphroditism in humans had cultural significance as divine portent, erotic subject, mediating or transgressive condition, and symbol of marital union. The most significant literary accounts of human hermaphroditism are found in Plato’s Symposium and Ovid’s Metamorphoses; the greatest concentration of visual evidence is to be found in the environs of Pompeii and Herculaneum.Hermaphroditism is not acknowledged in Greek texts before the 4th century bce, when it is identified in three distinct ways: as a mythical and philosophical concept in Plato’s Symposium (189d–190c); as a natural phenomenon in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals (770b, 30–35); and as an eponymous figure in the title of a lost play by Posidippus of Pella. The earliest physical evidence also dates from the same period as an Athenian terracotta figurine, probably a cult votive, raising the hem of hir skirt in a ritual gesture (see .

Article

Antony Spawforth

Half-male, half-female divinity, his cult first attested in the 4th cent. bce at Athens, where he provided *Posidippus(2) with the title of a comic play (lost) in the early 3rd. *Diodorus(3) (4. 6. 5) makes him the offspring of *Hermes and *Aphrodite; Ovid (Met. 4. 285 ff.) provides a lengthy aetiology (the prayers of the nymph Salmacis that she and her beloved might never be parted are dramatically granted). A favourite subject of Hellenistic and Roman artists, he is invariably depicted with developed breasts and male genitals, his physique soft and boyish. At republican Rome natural hermaphrodites (androgyni) were considered ill-omened prodigies (see portents) and were liable to ritual drowning at birth.

Article

Allison Glazebrook

Hetairai (“female companions,” sing. hetaira), according to Plutarch, is an Attic euphemism for women who were paid for sexual favours (Plu. Sol. 15.3; see prostitution, secular). The term first appears with modifiers (Hdt. 2.134.1, hetaires gynaikos “woman companion”; 2.135.5, epaphroditoi hetairai “especially attractive companions”—a word derived from Aphrodite; Metagenes, Aurai fr. 4 K–A, 411 bce, orchestridas hetairas, “entertainer companions”). Aristophanes (1) is the first to use the word without a modifier (Pax 439–440, produced 421 bce; Thesm. 346, produced 411 bce; but cf. Hymn. Hom. Merc. 31–32). The hetaira emerged as a feature of the status display of elite men in the archaic period in the context of the symposium (all-male drinking party) from which wives were excluded. Hetaira echoes hetairos (male companion) and suggests these women reclined and drank with the male symposiasts. Representations of the symposium on black-figure and red-figure vases portray women in such fashion (see sexual representation, visual).

Article

Theodore John Cadoux and P. J. Rhodes

Associations of hetairoi (‘comrades’). In some, perhaps most, *Cretan cities the citizens were grouped in hetaireiai as part of the military system; each had its table in the city's andreion (‘men's mess’: cf. the messes, *syssitia, at *Sparta). There is some evidence for the use of the words hetairos and hetaireia by associations of a wholly private character, as professional guilds. However, the hetaireiai best known to us are associations in Athens, particularly of young, upper-class men, which combined a social function with a political: the furtherance of the ambitions of their leading members, and mutual assistance in the lawcourts and at elections. They are sometimes called synōmosiai, ‘sworn groups’, from the oaths of loyalty which might be required. The mutilation of the *herms in 415 bce was said to be the work of a hetaireia to which *Andocides belonged; and the informal political activity which led to the oligarchic regimes of the *Four Hundred in 411 and the *Thirty Tyrants in 404 was conducted in part through the hetaireiai.

Article

Holt Parker

Heterosexuality and *homosexuality are not strictly applicable to the Graeco-Roman world (this remains controversial). Discussions of sex could focus on either pleasure or procreation. Pleasures were categorized and valued on the distinction between active (penetrating an orifice with a penis) and passive. Heterosexual acts (not people) were distinguished from homosexual not as radically differing pleasures but primarily on the basis of social consequence: only the former produce children.What was most important in heterosexual acts was the status of the woman and the man's degree of responsibility towards her and her offspring: wife, concubine, hetaira, prostitute, slave ([Dem.] 59. 112, 122). The purpose of wives was to produce legitimate children (Xen.Mem. 2. 2. 4; Men.Dys.842; FIRA 3. 17). Marriage was primarily a nexus of social and economic exchange (see marriage law). Love between husband and wife was neither necessary nor expected (Lucr. 4. 1278–87; but contrast Cimon and Isodice, Sulla and Valeria). However, mutual respect, affection, passion, and love could and did arise (IG 22.

Article

Craig Williams

The textual and visual material surviving from ancient Greece and Rome is informed by systems for categorizing and evaluating sexual desires and acts in which, rather than the question of whether partners are of the same or opposite sex, various gendered criteria are of fundamental importance. Masculinity is associated with the penetrative role, regardless of the sex of the partner; the penetrated role is coded as feminine; performing oral sex, whether with female or male partners, is seen as disreputable. The assumption that men, as a group, will naturally and normally experience desire for beautiful and preferentially young people of both sexes goes unquestioned. While a handful of philosophical texts urge that sexual acts be limited to the procreative, no surviving text condemns desire of male for male as such.

Specifically characteristic of Greek culture are pederastic relationships joining bearded men and younger, beardless males; allusions to other kinds of male-male relationship represent them as scandalous or exotic departures from a norm. A Roman code of sexual behaviour protecting the integrity of freeborn citizens means that pederastic relationships on the Greek model can be described as disgraceful, but this is not because they involved sexual desire or acts between males. Even in the quintessentially masculine sphere of the military, it was taken for granted that soldiers might experience and act on sexual desire for males as well as females, and Roman writers of the classical period assume that these understandings of masculine desire were shared by their venerated ancestors.

Article

Sandra Boehringer

Sexual and amorous relationships between females constitute, as a heuristic category, an illuminating field of research for the construction of sexual categories in antiquity, as well as for the prevailing gender system of the time. In Greece and Rome, sexuality did not have the identity function that we attribute to it today: in these societies “before sexuality,” the category of female homosexuality, like those of heterosexuality or homosexuality in general, did not exist per se. Yet we have access to over forty documents (containing both substantial treatments and brief mentions), along with the terms hetairistria and tribas, associated with this semantic field.In Archaic Greece, the privileged expression of erotic desire between women can be found without ambiguity in the verses of Alcman and Sappho. In this community context, the force of eros is celebrated, and the joys and pains generated by its power are sung without differentiation based on gender categories. In Classical and Hellenistic Greece, the sources become rarer: female homosexuality disappears from our evidence for the possible configurations of eros, with the notable exception of Plato’s account (Symposium, Laws).

Article

Lin Foxhall

The household (oikos) was the fundamental social, political and economic unit of ancient Greece (Arist.Pol. 1. 2), though its precise links into larger political and economic structures changed regionally and over time. At one level it was a co-resident group, many (though not all) of whose members were kin or affines (related by marriage). Patrilateral kinship was probably more common than matrilateral in household settings, since marriage was patrilocal, i.e. women tended to move into their husband's house and household on marriage (see matrilocality). Though a nuclear family (parents and children) might form the household's core, there is considerable evidence for the regular appearance of stem families (nuclear family plus a grandparent) and various kinds of extended families, especially incorporating unmarried female relatives (aunts, sisters, nieces, cousins, etc. ). The senior man in the household usually took charge of ‘official’ relations with the outside world and acted as the head of household (kyrios).

Article

Keith Bradley

‘Household’ is the usual English translation of Latin familia, a term to which the jurist Ulpian (Dig. 50. 16. 195. 1–5), understanding its application to both property and persons, assigned several meanings: the physical household; the persons comprising a household (e.g. patron and freedman); a body of persons united by a common legal tie such as all kin subject to a living *paterfamilias, or a body more loosely connected such as all agnatically related kin; a body of slaves, or slaves and sons; and all blood descendants of an original family founder. (To some degree familia overlapped with the term domus.) Accordingly, study of the Roman household can range from archaeological investigation of the physical structures in which Romans lived (see houses, italian) to the exclusive history of *slavery. But it is now primarily associated with the field of family history, the principal constituents of which are the composition, organization and evolution of the family through its life-course. Understood ideally to comprise a married couple, their children, the house in which they lived, and their common property (which could include human property), the household in *Cicero's view (Off.

Article

Gillian Clark

Housework, a specifically female task, was evidently not of interest to male authors, and there are no surviving household accounts or instructions. ‘Women's work’ meant weaving and the other tasks required in fabric-making: cleaning and carding wool, spinning and dyeing thread. *Xenophon(1), in the Oeconomicus, envisages a young wife whose only domestic training is in fabric-making: he suggests that she can train slaves to make fabric, supervise household supplies, equipment, and labour, and, for exercise, fold clothes and bedding and knead dough. *Columella (Rust. 12. 1–3) says that the bailiff's wife on a Roman estate should supervise wool-working and preparation of meals, and should ensure that the kitchens, the shelters for animals, and especially the sickroom are clean. But there is silence on the details of ordinary daily tasks: providing meals and washing up; washing and drying clothes and household textiles; cleaning the house and its equipment, including fireplaces, braziers, and *lamps; and, in many households, tending plants, poultry, and domestic animals.