Pierre Brule's brilliant evocation of how women lived in ancient Greece describes every aspect of their lives, including their religious, familial and domestic duties, their economic importance, and their social, moral and legal status as wives, cohabitees or slaves. He examines their sexual roles, what the status of a woman's body was and what her own and others' attitudes were likely to be towards it. Professor Brule does all this in the context of the development and achievements of Greek civilisation. Women appear not to have been highly regarded in ancient Greece, with female infanticide a common practice. Strains of misogyny can be heard in Greek literature, drama and philosophy: 'The most unintelligent people in the world' is how one character refers to women in Plato's Symposium (which also features Diotima, his best-known female sage). Women had few duties beyond the home, and the evidence that they existed at all is tantalisingly small. Yet by piecing together fragments and clues, the author gives us a vivid account of women's lives in Greece 2,500 years ago.Pierre Brule's deft scholarship and engaging style make this fascinating history always readable, sometimes moving, and often entertaining.
Pierre Brule is Professor of Greek History at the University of Haute-Bretagne in Rennes. His books include La Piraterie cretoise hellenistique (Les Belles Lettres, 1978), Pericles: l'apogee d'Athenes (Gallimard, 1994), La Grece d'Homere a Alexandre (Hachette education, 1997) and Les Grecs et leur monde (Gallimard, 1998).