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Article

Robert Sallares

Abortion was controversial in antiquity. Doctors taking the Hippocratic Oath (see hippocrates (2)) swore not to administer abortifacients, but other Hippocratic texts suggest that prostitutes (see prostitution, secular) often employed abortion. A *Lysias fragment suggests that abortion was a crime in Athens against the husband, if his wife was pregnant when he died, since his unborn child could have claimed the estate. Greek temple inscriptions show that abortion made a woman impure for 40 days (see pollution).The Stoics (see stoicism) believed that the foetus resembled a plant and only became an animal at birth when it started breathing. This attitude made abortion acceptable. Roman jurisprudence maintained that the foetus was not autonomous from the mother's body. There is no evidence for laws against abortion during the Roman republic. It was common during the early Roman empire (e.g. Ov. Am. 2. 14), and was practised for many reasons, e.g. for family limitation, in case of *adultery, or because of a desire to maintain physical beauty.

Article

age  

Robert Garland

The division of life into age-groups was prominently adhered to in antiquity, though there was considerable disagreement as to their precise identification. The Pythagorean philosophers (see pythagoras) identified four (Diod. Sic. 10. 9. 5), whereas Hippocratic writers (see hippocrates (2)) acknowledged seven ages of man, each seven years in length (Poll. 2. 4). Since adult society was primarily organized on a two-generational principle, a threefold division probably served most practical purposes, viz. παῖς, νέος, and γέρων in Greek, puer, iuvenis, and senex in Latin. Mental ability was judged to be strictly a function of ageing, as indicated by the fact that there were minimum age qualifications for administrative and executive posts. So an Athenian councillor had to be 30 years old, as, probably, did a Spartan *ephor (see also age classes). Similarly the Roman *cursus honorum or ladder of office prescribed minimum ages for all magistracies. Belief in the magical power inherent in certain *numbers, notably seven and three, meant that certain ages were believed fraught with danger.

Article

Helen King

Appears in *Hyginus (3) (Fab.274) in a list of discoverers and inventors. She is described as an Athenian girl who lived at a time when there were no *midwives, because women and slaves were forbidden to learn medicine; this scenario matches no known historical period. Disguising herself as a man, Agnodice studied medicine under ‘a certain Herophilus’, and then practised medicine at Athens successfully, challenging the professional monopoly on the part of male doctors. Accused by her jealous rivals of seducing her patients, Agnodice demonstrated her innocence by performing the gesture of anasyrmos, lifting her tunic to expose her lower body. This revelation led to a charge of practising medicine unlawfully, but she was saved when the wives of the leading men lobbied the *Areopagus in her defence. Hyginus claims that Athenian law was then changed so that freeborn women could study medicine.

Article

agōgē  

Stephen Hodkinson and Antony Spawforth

The Spartan public upbringing (never in fact so-called in surviving writers of the 5th and 4th cents. bce). Its reconstruction is bedevilled by poor and conflicting sources and modern debate over how far the reconstituted ‘customs (ethē) of *Lycurgus (2)’ of Roman Sparta reflect continuity with the Classical past. The Classical upbringing seems to have been a public system running parallel (Ducat, below) to any private arrangements for the more conventional education of young Spartans and incorporating archaic elements, especially ones based on *initiation. It was supervised by the paidonomos (‘boy-herdsman’), and embraced males aged 7–29. Only the immediate heirs to the kingships (see agiads; eurypontids) were exempt. There were three general stages, the paides (boys), paidiskoi (bigger boys), and hēbōntes (young men), probably representing ages 7–13, 14–19, and 20–29; among the paidiskoi (for sure), individual year-classes were separately named. The paides were trained in austerity, obedience, and mock battles by older youths within subdivisions of age-mates called variously in the sources ilai or agelai, sometimes with their own internal leadership, sometimes led by older youths.

Article

Amazons  

Ken Dowden

Amazons, mythical race of female warriors. The name was popularly understood as ‘breastless’ (maza, ‘breast’) and the story told that they ‘pinched out’ or ‘cauterized’ the right breast so as not to impede their javelin-throwing (Apollod. 2. 5. 8, Strabo 11. 5. 1). No real etymology is known.Amazons exist in order to be fought, and ultimately defeated, by men in an Amazonomachy (‘Amazon-battle’). Already in the Iliad we hear of *Bellerophon killing them in *Lycia (6. 186), their defeat at the river Sangarios (near *Pessinus, 3. 189), and a tomb of Myrrhine outside Troy (2. 814, cf. Strabo 12. 8. 6). In *Arctinus' Aethiopis their Thracian queen, *Penthesilea ‘daughter of Ares’, arrives to help the Trojans, but *Achilles kills her (and *Thersites for alleging Achilles loved her). *Heracles' ninth labour was to fetch the girdle of the Amazon queen, Hippolyte, resulting in another Amazonomachy (Apollod. 4. 16). .

Article

Luc Brisson

In the modern use, “bisexuality” refers to sexual object choice, whereas “androgyny” refers to sexual identity. In ancient Greece and Rome, however, these terms sometimes refer to human beings born with characteristics of both sexes, and more frequently to an adult male who plays the role of a woman, or to a woman who has the appearance of a man, both physically and morally. In mythology, having both sexes simultaneously or successively characterises, on the one hand, the first human beings, animals, or even plants from which arose male and female, and on the other, mediators between human beings and gods, the living and the dead, men and women, past and future, and human generations. Thus androgyny and bisexuality were used as a tools to cope with one’s biological, social, and even fictitious environment.

Article

Anthropology and the classics currently enjoy a fairly good relationship, but one which has never been stable. In the 19th cent. the interest of evolutionary anthropology in a ‘savage’ period through which all societies must pass meant that studies of contemporary simple societies began to be used to illuminate the classical past. After the First World War, classicists reacted against what were perceived as the excesses of the work of Jane Harrison and the Cambridge school, in which it was claimed that knowledge of ‘things primitive’ gave a better understanding of the Greeks. Meanwhile, in social anthropology, the rise of the static structural-functional paradigm and an insistence on an identity as ‘the science of fieldwork’ combined to cause a rejection of history. In the last 50 years, the divorce between the subjects has been eroded from both sides, with comparative studies increasingly valued as enabling us to escape from our intellectual heritage and the specific—though, to us, self-evident—ways it has formulated questions and sought answers.

Article

Anyte  

Gilbert Highet and Antony Spawforth

Anyte of *Tegea(fl. early 3rd cent. bc), an Arcadian poetess, much admired in her time and thereafter. About eighteen of her Doric epigrams, mostly funerary, are in the Greek Anthology, and one is cited by Pollux 5. 48. Her lyrics are lost, but she translated some of *Sappho's spirit into her sensitive elegiac quatrains.

Article

Artemon (5), of Magnesia (date uncertain), author of a Famous Exploits of Women, from which *Sopater (2) made excerpts.

Article

Baubo  

Nicholas J. Richardson

Baubo belongs to the main Orphic version of the Rape of *Persephone (Asclepiades of Tragilus, FGrH 12. 4; Orph. frs. 49–52 O. Kern; see orphism). She resembles *Iambe in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. She and her husband Dysaules receive *Demeter at Eleusis during her search for Persephone, and their children *Eubouleus and *Triptolemus give her information about the rape. Like Iambe Baubo gives Demeter a refreshing drink (the kykeōn), and when she refuses it Baubo by an indecent exposure makes her laugh and accept it. (Her name can be used of the female sexual organs.) The story may be an aition for a ritual at the *Thesmophoria. Her cult is found on *Naxos in the 4th cent. bce (SEG 16. 478) and *Paros in the 1st cent. bce (IG 12. 5. 227).

Article

Gordon Willis Williams and Mark Golden

Greek betrothal, ἐγγύη, was a contract between two men, the groom and the bride's father (or other κύριος, ‘controller’, male representative at law) which established that a union was a fully valid marriage. In Classical Athens, this contract was oral, more or less formulaic (judging from examples in *Menander (1)), aimed at assuring the legitimacy of children, and accompanied by an agreement concerning dowry; the bride herself need not be present, or even of an age to understand the proceedings, and the celebration of the marriage and cohabitation might be long delayed or in the end not take place (*Demosthenes (2)'s sister was betrothed at 5 to a man she never married). Marriages at Sparta too might involve betrothal; sources speak as well of another custom, abduction marriage (conceivably with the complicity of the bride and her family). Scattered references to betrothal in Hellenistic documents from a number of cities go some way towards confirming the suggestion that most Greeks practised ἐγγύη (Diod.

Article

Gordon Willis Williams and Antony Spawforth

In the republic consisted of reciprocal sponsiones, and breach-of-promise actions (in the form of actions for damages) existed. The movement of classical Roman law was in the direction of removing constraint, and the term sponsalia came near to an informal agreement to marry, voidable at will (except that the intending husband was required to return such dowry as had been given to him and the intending bride was expected to return the much more usual gift from her intending husband, the donatio ante nuptias, for gifts after marriage were excluded). The betrothal was solemnized with a kiss and the intending husband put an iron *ring (anulus pronubus) on the third finger of his partner's left hand; it was the occasion for a party (also called sponsalia).

See also marriage law, Greek and Roman.

Article

body  

Helen King

The history of the body is a discipline which emerged in the 1980s; it questions the extent to which the body is “natural,” and asks whether all societies have experienced the body in the same way. Recent developments include approaching the body by studying its parts––examining changing understandings and representations of one specific body part across time––or looking at the experience of the body by its “users.” The combined classical and Christian heritage of western civilization has assigned the body a subordinate place in its value systems, but dichotomies such as mind/body and soul/body are by no means universal. The subject is associated in particular with the work of Michel Foucault, although his studies of the classical world have been criticized for relying unduly on élite philosophical texts, neglecting Rome, and ignoring female sexuality. In a widely challenged book, Thomas Laqueur presented the period before the 18th century as dominated by the “one-sex body,” in which the female and male genitalia were seen as the same organs, but positioned either inside or outside.

Article

Boeo  

Ken Dowden

Boeo, short form of a woman's name (based on ‘Boeotian’ ?).(1) Legendary Delphian (see delphi) author of a *hymn mentioning *Hyperboreans and the prophet *Olen (Pausanias 10. 5. 7–8).(2) Either Boeo (fem.) or Boeos (masc.), author of the Hellenistic Ornithogonia (‘Origins of Birds’, cf. ‘Theogony’) used by *Ovid in his Metamorphoses.

Article

Gillian Clark

Breast-feeding was a proof of maternal devotion and, according to some philosophers, a good woman's duty (there is a detailed discussion in Gell.NA 12. 1). It was acknowledged to be tiring, but it increased the mother's affection for the child, and the baby was thought to be morally, as well as physically, influenced by the milk it drank and the milk's provider: breast-milk was explained as a further transformation of the blood which had gone to form the embryo (see embryology). Mothers who were unwilling to breast-feed might be blamed for laziness, indifference, or vanity about their breasts. But wet-nursing was a standard practice. The Greek and Latin words for ‘nurse’ (titthē, trophos; nutrix) have the primary meaning of someone who feeds the child; the bond between nurse and nursling was acknowledged to be strong and is often commemorated in inscriptions. There has been extensive recent discussion on the psychological effects of shared child-rearing.

Article

Christopher Rowland

Christian Celibacy and asceticism are endemic to Christianity and are typical of the distinctive outlook on life which runs throughout much of early Christian literature. The practice of holiness, which, at least in general terms, Christianity inherited from the Hebrew Bible, required the fulfilment of certain norms of sexual and marital behaviour, though abstinence was not typical of Jewish life, except in certain circumstances, e.g. ascetic practices were a central part of the apocalyptic tradition of Judaism (e.g. Daniel 10). The level of purity demanded by the Qumran sect reflects the regulations with regard to sexual activity in Leviticus, and the requirements laid upon men involved in a holy war in Deuteronomy 20–21 probably explain the reference to virginity in Revelation 14.4.The life-style of John the Baptist, and the canonical gospels’ portrayal of the apparent celibacy of Jesus, set the pattern for subsequent Christian practice. While the influence of Greco-Hellenistic ideas cannot be ruled out, the background of this form of religious observance is to be found in the ascetical practices of certain forms of sectarian Judaism. The centrality of eschatological beliefs for Christianity meant that from the earliest period there was a significant component of Christian practice which demanded a significant distance from the values and culture of the present age. The hope for the coming of a new age of perfection, in which members of the church could already participate, meant that baptized men and women thought they could live like angels (cf. Luke 20.35), putting aside all those constraints of present bodily existence as well as the institution of marriage. Paul's approach in 1 Corinthians 7 in dealing with the rigorist life-style of the Corinthian ascetics is typical of a compromise that evolved in which there is a grudging acceptance of marriage and an exaltation of celibacy. The emerging monastic movement, therefore, drew on a long history of ascetical practice, which was taken to extremes in some Encratite circles. See asceticism.

Article

Helen King

Chastity was not recommended in classical Greek *medicine before *Soranus. In pagan religion, certain goddesses chose to remain virgins (e.g. *Hestia/*Vesta,*Artemis/*Diana) and some priestesses—nor necessarily those serving virgin goddesses—remained life virgins. (e.g. Artemis Hymnia in Arcadia, Paus. 8.13.1) while others could only hold the position until the age of marriage (e.g. *Poseidon at *Calauria, Paus. 2. 33. 3). They did not support their other human followers who emulated this behaviour (e.g. *Euripides’ *Hippolytus (1)).In contrast to the Hippocratics (see hippocrates (2)) who believed a girl must be ‘opened up’ for the sake of her health, Soranus recommended perpetual virginity as positively healthful for both men and women (Gynaceceia 1. 30–2). These chapters were omitted in the Latin versions of his work compiled in late antiquity. He argued that desire harms the body, and loss of seed is damaging to health, while pregnancy and *childbirth exhaust the body.

Article

Gillian Clark

Childbirth was generally the concern of women, either family and neighbours or experienced *midwives who were sometimes ranked as doctors, but male doctors expected to be called in for difficult cases. Several treatises in the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates (2)) include some discussion of childbirth. On the Nature of the Child ascribes the onset of labour to the movement of the foetus, which breaks the membranes. Diseases of Women says that prolonged and unsuccessful labour usually means a difficult presentation, stillbirth, or multiple birth. Suggestions include vigorous shaking to stimulate delivery, and drugs to speed labour (ōkytokia); if all else fails, the doctor may resort to embryotomy, the extraction by instruments of a foetus which is stillborn or impossible to deliver alive. The uterus is envisaged as a container rather than as a powerful muscle, and labour is described as pains not contractions. *Aristotle (HA 586b) notes that pains can occur in the thighs and the lower back as well as the lower abdomen, and that women can help delivery by effort and correct breathing.

Article

Robert Garland

In Greece the decision whether to raise a child normally rested with the father except in *Sparta where ‘elders of the tribes’ were required to pronounce upon its fitness to live (Plut.Lyc. 16. 1). In Rome a law attributed to Romulus allegedly required all parents to ‘bring up all their male offspring and the first-born of the girls’ (Dion. Hal.Ant. Rom. 2. 15. 1). The exposure of infants is frequently commented upon in both Greek and Latin authors but this does not help us to determine how frequent it was in practice. Categories at high risk, however, include girls, those with a *deformity, illegitimate offspring, and slave offspring. Being less ‘popular’ than boys (e.g. POxy. 4. 744), many girls may have been undernourished (cf. Xen.Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 1. 3). Whether this led to a marked imbalance among the sexes, as has sometimes been alleged, is unknown. From the time of *Trajan onwards some families in Roman cities were given financial aid called *alimenta to help defray the cost of raising their children.

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.