The aim of this work is to recover classical Roman assumptions about women on the basis of the surviving linguistic data. The author provides a control to her study of the connotations of the major Latin words for women in the form of a corresponding examination of how Roman authors use the various words for men. The resulting analysis throws light not only on Roman gender vocabulary but also on Roman cultural perceptions of class, moral worth and nationality. Furthermore, the author's detailed discussions of strictly linguistic evidence enable her to offer several original and persuasive insights about the traditional Latin literary representation of women.
Understanding the connotative range of gender terms such as
mulier also reveals the value judgments made by ancient authors on male and female behaviour and can even be applied as a tool of historical analysis.
Francesca Santoro L'Hoir is Assistant Professor in the Classics Department of Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
L'Hoir has written a book of importance to classicists in philology, history, rhetoric and women's studies. Her extensive survey of gender terminology in all major Roman prose writers demonstrates a remarkable consistency over two and a half centuries of Latin literature.'
Erich S. Gruen, 1992.
...a solid and useful work of scholarship...'
The Classical Review, 1994.
C'est une étude d'une incontestable qualité...'
students and scholars of Latin philology, rhetoric, literature, Roman history, and women's studies.