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Syllabus HIA 311

Women in Antiquity

"Women have received from the gods the same ability to reason that men have. … Since that is so, why is it appropriate for men to seek out and examine how they might live well— that is, to practice philosophy—but not women? Is it fitting for men to be good, but not women?" — MUSONIUS RUFUS

Course Info

HIA 311, section 01W
WST 311, section YL01
Fall 2014
Room CA-209
Fridays 9:00 – 11:40 a.m.

Mark Wilson
(718) 960-8288

Office Hours
Room CA-292
Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Drop in Thursdays 12–6 p.m.


The written evidence from the ancient world is dominated by the actions and perspectives of men, who both ruled public life and created most of the cultural expression that has endured. Increasingly over the past several decades historians have sought to overcome this evidentiary bias by striving the represent women’s perspectives both in the narratives of individuals cultures and times and through the specific exploration of the voices, deeds, and representations of women of antiquity, as a pathway to understanding both the meaning of womanhood in any given society and the mores of the cultures they helped bring about and shape for posterity.


The course examines the image, role, and status of women in ancient societies, with some emphasis on Greece and Rome. Its focus is twofold: myth and symbol, analyzed in the literary sources available; and what we can discover of the reality, through discussion of demographic evidence, the law, status and legal capacity, marriage and divorce, work, education, and religion. By this means we’ll attempt to draw conclusions about the cultural, social, economic, political, and religious roles of women in ancient societies.

Specific Learning Objectives

In this course we'll be pursuing a number of goals, including:

Course Readings

The following book is required:

There is also an optional book:

Pomeroy, Sarah B.
Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves:
Women in Classical Antiquity.

New York: Schocken Books, 1995.
ISBN: 978-0-805-21030-9.

Hawley, Richard, & Barbara Levick.
Women in Antiquity: New Assessments.
London: Routledge, 1995.
ISBN: 978-0-415-11369-4.

  • The 1995 edition has a new preface by the author and has a few updates, so you should try to find that rather than an older version.
  • This book is also available as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, Adobe Digital Editions, and other e-readers. See the links on the “Getting the Books” page.
  • The essays in this collection are included in the pool of articles from which you picking additional weekly readings.

All are available from Lehman College Bookstore, either in person or online. (The website URL for the bookstore is http://www.lehmancollege.bkstr.com.)

These books are also available from Amazon and other online retailers. (There are links on my website—see the “Getting the Books” page on the course web page.) If you order online, make sure you do so enough in advance that you’ll receive the books in time for the assignments.


Class attendance is required. Missing classes will damage your grade. The textbook is designed to give you the basics; it's in class that we try to make sense of things and sift out what's important. Missing classes means you miss out on a key part of our trying to put things together. Plus, if you miss classes or habitually arrive late, you'll miss quizzes, which will put a big crimp in your grade for the course.

Religious observances that affect your class attendance should be discussed in advance.

Make-up exams are given only in cases of documented medical emergencies.


Your grade for the course will be determined from the following:

Position Paper   30%
Presentation & Write-Up (2)   20%
Representations & Images Essay   15%
Final Exam   35%

I do not give extra credit opportunities except to the entire class. I do not grade on a curve.

Position Paper

Presentation and Write-Up on a scholarly Source (2)

Interpretive Essay on representations and images

Final Exam

Submitting Assignments

You may email me your written assignments, but it doesn't "count" unless you get an email back from me saying I received it. Unless I reply back to you, I didn't receive it. If there's any question about whether I'm receiving your emails, please talk to me about it in class. I will accept only the following file formats: DOCX, DOC, RTF, ODT, and PDF.

Late assignments will be marked down. Written assignments will be marked down one letter grade per class meeting after the assignment due date, up to a maximum of 30 points. That means you're still better off turning in your paper late, and having it be marked down, than not turning it in at all.


Don't waste this opportunity! Make the most out of this class.

Please use me as a resource. Come to my office hours, talk to me after class, or send me emails with any questions you have-whether they relate to the requirements of the course or ideas we're reading about or discussing in class.

Be on time and prepared. By prepared, I mean you should come into class having done the readings for that day and thought about them. Come in ready to talk about your reactions to the readings and the questions they raised in your mind.

Check your email. Make sure I have a good email address for you and check it, as I occasionally send information and updates by email. If you have not gotten an email from me within the first week after school begins, check your spam folders. If you can't find an email from me, email me to let me know.

Cell phones and electronics need to be silenced and stowed. A phone ringing during class is hugely disruptive. Texting during class is just as rude and insulting as talking on the phone.

Talk to me if you're struggling. Come to me in office hours or after class, and the sooner the better. Don't wait until it's too late to turn things around.

Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

Lehman College is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include-but are not limited to-plagiarism (in drafts, outlines, and examinations, as well as final papers), cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages in them is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action. Plagiarism includes the incorporation of any material that is not original with you without attribution, whether from a book, article, web site, or fellow student, in any paper or assignment. Assignments that include any plagiarism will receive a zero and the offending student will be subject to additional action by the College. Students engaging in repeated instances of plagiarism will fail the course outright and will be remanded to the College for disciplinary action. For more: http://www.lehman.edu/undergraduate-bulletin/academicintegrity.htm

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238; phone number: (718) 960-8441.