City-state "polis" - only adult males citizens

Athens 5th C BC - Golden Age of Greece


350 BC Philip of Macedon

331 BC his son Alexander the Great conquered Near East

-       Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Persia    and part of India

-        new Hellenistic civilization

-        colonies far away as France & Spain & African coast


Alexandria, mouth Nile

-        library, museum (literally "temple of the Muses")


Hellenistic period 323 BC (death of Alexander)

200 BC new political power – Rome;


Greek philosophical ideal

-        search for order & meaning in nature & life

-        form, proportion, relationship of parts to whole.    

Greek natural philosophy

-        attempt to understand natural causes of natural phenomena

-        different elements (earth, air, fire, water)


Socrates (470-399 BC)

Plato (427-347 BC

Aristotle  (384-322 BC)


women's associations (thiasos); 

"Hetairai" - paid social companion;


poets - Sappho;


school of Pythagoras:

-        one list names 17 women out of 235 disciples of Pythagoras,

-        at least 4 credited as authors;

-        Alic says at least 28 female students and teachers – Theano

-        Geometry, cosmology


Aglaonice of Thessaly – predicting eclipses; "bewitches stars and moon and plucks them down from heaven."


school of Plato:

Plato, "The Republic" 380 BC

educate women, or else "thus for the same expense and trouble there arises only half a state instead of a whole one”


Arete of Cyrene

- father founded Cyrenaic or hedonistic school of philosophy

- taught 35 years, wrote 40 books


Aspasia – linked to Socrates


Hypatia of Alexandria:

-        Alic romanticizes her as "the last pagan scientist in the western world

-        father Theon highly educated mathematician & astronomer

-        disciples - Synesius of Cyrene

-        metaphysics & ethics, "divine geometry" & astronomy;

-        commentary on Diophantus (the “father of algebra”)

-        On the Conics of Apollonius



women as “midwife” and “physician”

Athens, 4th C BC, illegal for women to practice medicine

   - Agnodice



school of Greek physician Hippocrates:

eleven treatises on women's health & gynecology

"On the Diseases of Women" (2 parts)

"On Sterile Women,"

"On the Diseases of Young Girls,"

"On the Nature of Woman,"

"On the Seventh and Eighth Month Child".



Popular superstitions repeated:

"hysteria" (Greek for uterus) - womb could move around in body.

"When the womb is drawn down the body, fumigate the woman from beneath with putrid substances and burn sweet-smelling substances under her nose.”



Hippocratic writings - anatomical "proof" men more rational than women.


"There is a thick vein in each [woman's] breast... in one about to go mad, the warning indication is that blood collects in the breast”;


failure to menstruate regularly– young girls especially vulnerable - "prescription: When virgins have this trouble, they should marry as soon as possible. If they become pregnant, they will be cured."