Women in Antiquity

WST 4-264-97
Cornell College

Web Project

Resources | Web Project | MOO | Profile Template | Building on the MOO

Course Schedule and Readings

Part 1 Theoretical frameworks | Part 2 Archaic Greece | Part 3 Classical Greece
Part 4 Hellenistic world | Part 5 Rome

Student Projects

Julio-Claudian Matron | Young Girl | Antonine Woman as Venus | Syrian Woman

Instructor: John Gruber-Miller, 312 College Hall; phone: x4326; email: grubermiller

Class meetings: M-F 9-11:15 a.m.; three afternoons each week, usually M T W 1-3 p.m.

Office Hours: M W F 11:15-12 noon and always by appointment.

Required Texts:

Elaine Fantham, et al. Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Jane McIntosh Snyder. The Woman and the Lyre. Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome. Southern Illinois University Press, 1989.
Susan Shelmerdine, trans. Homeric Hymns. Focus, 1995.

Recommended Texts:

Sue Blundell.  Women in Ancient Greece.  Cambridge: Harvard, 1995.
Sarah Pomeroy.  Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves.  New York: Schocken, 1975.


  1. Knowledge of contemporary theoretical frameworks for the study of women's history; understanding of the complexity of applying these to the study of women in ancient societies.
  2. Ability to interpret and critique various types of literary and non-literary evidence for the lives of ancient women.
  3. Ability to discuss women's lives in relation to various aspects (e.g. legal, economic, religious) of the societies and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and to describe similarities and differences.
  4. Understanding of the ancient Greek and Roman cultural constructions of gender and how these may have affected the lives and behavior of women in Greek and Roman societies.
  5. Knowledge of the lives of some of the individual Greek and Roman women known to us from history.
  6. Opportunity to improve both your verbal and written communication skills.
  7. Ability to gather, use, and evaluate materials both from the library and the World Wide Web.
  8. Ability to create and publish a project on the WWW using basic HTML code and the MOO.


Class discussion: I hope to foster an atmosphere in which students are free to speak their minds; I pledge never to assign grades on the basis of opinions. (Grades will be based on how well you argue for your positions and support them with evidence.) We all (myself included) bring different backgrounds, preparation, theoretical perspectives, and values to this course. We all will learn from many sources: our common readings, each other, our discussions, and our research. It is, therefore, crucial to the success of the course that everyone show respect and courtesy to everyone else in the class, and a willingness to help each other learn and approach this material from new perspectives.

Informal writing assignments of various types based on class readings (approximately one for each section of the course). These essays are meant to be a chance to examine your own views, values and biases within the light of various readings. These topics will be announced in advance.

Interaction with others on the MOO to discuss specific topics relevant to women in antiquity through role-playing. For example, in discussing the control of women's sexuality in Athens, members of the class take on the specific roles of women mentioned in the orations we will read for class and comment on the cases from that woman's point of view. More details to come.

Project on a life of a woman from the time of the Roman empire: In order to see the lives of women of antiquity "from the inside," students in groups of 2-3 will adopt one woman whose portrait is part of the Riley Collection of Roman Portraiture at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. More detailed instructions will be handed out later, but basically the project will involve the following steps:

  1. research (both library and web-based) on the particular woman represented by this portrait and other Roman women of her class and background.
  2. writing a profile of this person that details her life and accomplishments that are representative of her status and class. This profile will form the basis of a first person narrative that evokes in the reader the life of a real Roman woman. The student will base the first person narrative on factual material but will add a sense of personality and attitudes she thinks her subject might have had and the cultural constraints she might have dealt with.
  3. creation of a web site devoted to this woman as part of a larger web project, A Roman Portrait Gallery based on the Riley Collection. This site will include the first person narrative, perhaps the profile, perhaps a time-line of events relevant to her life. It will also include a page of further links to documentary sources and related materials that illustrate the life of this woman.
  4. creation of this woman's domestic space using the MOO.
Final Exam


Scout Report for Social Sciences                    

Return to Cornell College Classical Studies Home Page

Last updated 17 March 98