Classical Studies
CLA 9-264-2006

Women in Antiquity

Writing Assignment: Three Greek sculptures of women

These three sculptures, one each from the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, show women in ways typical of each period. How is each sculpture representative of women in that time period? How do the pose, gestures, clothing, decoration, and other details contribute to our understanding of women's lives during that time period? Reflect on marriage patterns in each period. Consider where each woman directs her gaze. To what extent are the women agents, engaged with the world? Finally, does each piece speak to women? If so, how? How would men respond to it? To what extent does it reflect its time period?

With each piece, it is important to consider the context of each sculpture: who (is likely to have) set it up and for what purpose? Who is intended audience? Re-reading the relevant sections from Fantham et al. would help, plus reviewing class notes and discussions, would help contextualize each work within its own time period.


1. Peplos Kore. Archaic Period c. 530 BCE, dedication (to Athena) on the Acropolis in Athens

Greek sculpture was regularly painted. Here are two reconstructions of the Peplos Kore and one more reconstruction

More information about the Peplos Kore from the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge University.

More images of korai, including close-ups of the peplos kore.

Cf. Fantham et al., pp. 19-22, 34-39.

Peplos Kore

2. Stele of Hegeso. Classical c. 400 BCE. Gravestone from Athens. Part of the family grave plot of Koroibos from the deme Melite. The inscription reads, "Hegeso, daughter of Proxenos."

Hegeso (seated) picks jewelry from a box held for her by a girl.

Cf. Fantham et al., pp. 5-9, 79-83, 96-97

Stele of Hegeso

3.a. Kelopatra of Delos. Marble. Hellenistic, after 138/7 BCE.

Kleopatra (L) stands on a base next to a portrait of her husband Dioscurides in the courtyard of their hosue on the island of Delos, a major trading center.

In the inscription on the statue base, Kleopatra is named as the dedicator of the statue of her husband in honor of his dedication of two silver tripods in the temple of Apollo.

See S. Dillon, "Female Portraiture in the Hellenistic Period." A Companion to Women in the Ancient World. Ed. S. James and S. Dillon. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 273-74. (Moodle)

Kleopatra of Delos

3.b. Aphrodite of Knidos. Sculptor: Praxiteles. Cult statue. Hellenistic c. 340 BCE. At right, a Roman copy now in the Vatican Museums.

Ancient writers recounting various responses to the statue

Fantham et al., pp. 173-79

Maintained by: Last Update: February 11, 2016 10:52 pm

Professor John Gruber-Miller
CLA 9-264-2006
Women in Antiquity

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