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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

women  

Helen King

Almost all information about women in antiquity comes to us from male sources. Some women could read and write (see literacy), at least to the level needed for their role as guardians of the *household stores (e.g. Xen.Oec. 7.5 and 9.10; see housework), but, although there are many references to literary works by women, very few texts survive. The known exceptions to male authorship include women poets (e.g. *Sappho, *Corinna, *Erinna, *Nossis, Sulpicia (1 and 2)), early philosophers (e.g. *Hypatia; some Hellenistic pamphlets are attributed to Pythagorean women; see women in philosophy), personal letters from women, and the 5th-century ce travel diary of Egeria (*Itinerarium Egeriae). Many attributions to women are problematic. Were women's letters written by scribes? Is a text ascribed to a woman simply in order to attack a man (e.g. Aspasia's alleged authorship of *Pericles(1)'s speeches)?The central source problems, and the strategies developed to overcome them, underpin the large amount of work on ancient women produced since the 1980s.