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Biographical dictionary of ancient Greek and Roman women : notable women from Sappho to Helena
Lightman, Marjorie.
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Publication Information:
New York : Facts On File, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 298 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm.
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HQ1136 .L54 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Profiles the lives of women from archaic Greece in the seventh century BCE to the fall of Rome in 476 CE, including poet Julia Balbilla, Boudicca, Cleopatra III, Sappho, and Eurydice.

Author Notes

Marjorie Lightman holds a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has led international projects in human rights and women's rights. She resides in Washington, D.C.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Biographical sketches for 447 women living throughout the Greek and Roman worlds from the seventh century B.C.E. to early fourth century C.E. are presented in this volume. The work is intended for all interested readers and is suitable for both popular and scholarly interests. The purpose is to expand the "understanding of circumstances that shaped a woman and her life" in antiquity. Content is organized alphabetically by the names most commonly used in ancient literature, then chronologically in the case of similarly named subjects. Subjects include the familiar, such as Aspasia, Boadicea, and Sappho, and the lesser known, such as the Arete (fifth^-fourth century B.C.E.), a Greek philosopher; and Marcia (first century B.C.E.), wife of Cato the Younger. Entries include the subject's name(s), dates (if known), cultural identity, home, description, citations to source material, and cross-references. Length ranges from a few lines (e.g., Cleito) to several pages (e.g., Cleopatra VII). Twenty-three illustrations appear throughout the text. Access points include a table of contents, "Registry," and index. The Registry is an alphabetical list of all the women covered, with very brief occupational, geographical, and chronological descriptors. Also included in the volume are a glossary and two bibliographies: one of ancient sources and an extensive list of modern sources. Indexes by occupation and cultural identity would be helpful. This is an excellent work, providing not only information about the lives of individual women but broad insight into the circumstances surrounding their lives. Much of the information it contains is unique and not included in other reference sources on the Greek and Roman world. Recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries.

Library Journal Review

Edited by Marjorie Lightman, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history from Rutgers, and Benjamin Lightman, the founder of the Time/Life research library, this contribution to the "Facts on File Library of World History" focuses on women mentioned in classical Greek and Roman historical literature. Each woman in this alphabetical arrangement is clearly identified by her regional affiliation, her time period, and a descriptive classification (e.g., "political power," "reformer," and "ruler"). This makes it easier to distinguish among individuals bearing the same name: there are 15 Cleopatras, eight Julias, and three Clodias among the entries. Many listings are brief or dominated by citations of familial relationships. By contrast, the movers and shakers of Rome's Julio-Claudian period (figures familiar to devotees of the I Claudius television series) receive longer and more detailed treatment. Inexplicably, while some non-Greco-Roman women--including Zenobia, Barsine, and Boudicca--are profiled, others like mathematician Hypathia of Alexandria, physicians Elephantis and Sotira of Greece, and Christian martyr Cecilia of Rome are ignored. Easy to use but limited in scope, this work is recommended only for academic libraries and public libraries where classical studies are popular.--Rose M. Cichy, Osterhout Free Lib., Wilkes-Barre, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Those who have tried without success to find biographical information about women in ancient Greece and Rome will find this a very useful resource. The biographies, arranged alphabetically, describe women from the seventh century BCE to early fourth century CE. The brief entries include presumed dates, where the individual lived, and a short bibliography of classical and modern sources. Included are individuals from Greece, Rome, and other locations absorbed and influenced by the Hellenistic and Roman conquerors. The authors assign descriptive terms meant to modernize the characterization beyond "wife" or "daughter." Some of the epithets are intriguing (e.g., bestowing the soubriquet "self-made woman" on Aspasia, ignoring her career as courtesan). The general bibliography at the end would have been more helpful had it not neglected several recent titles on women poets and writers. Nonetheless, an admirable compilation, recommended for all libraries. M. C. Su; Pennsylvania State University, Altoon



Over 400 A-to-Z entries tell the life stories of women from archaic Greece in the sixth century BCE. to the fall of Rome in 476 CE Hailing from all corners of the Greek and Roman worlds--from Britain to Egypt, Syria to Mauritania, and everywhere in between--these women are notable for their own actions as well as their family ties. Women from all walks of life are represented, from poets, wives, and mistresses to rulers, slaves, and businesswomen. The authors have culled their surprisingly detailed biographies from a myriad of ancient original and secondary sources, bringing these women to vibrant and multidimensional life. Profiles include: Antigone, political wife Artemesia I and Artemesia II, rulers Julia Balbilla, poet Excerpted from A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women by Marjorie Lightman, Benjamin Lightman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.