Women in Classical Athens—Their Social Space: Ideal and Reality<sup>†</sup>

Christine Schnurr-Redford and Hanne Sigismund Nielsen

in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748613199
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651016 | DOI:
Women in Classical Athens—Their Social Space: Ideal and Reality†

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One path leading to the source of the topos of the seclusion of Greek women takes us back to the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Queen Anne's personal priest and primate of the English Church, John Potter (1674–1747). His Archaeologia Graeca, Or The Antiquities of Greece was published in English in 1699 and, in an unauthorised Latin translation, in Leiden in 1702. In the same year, this version was included in the Thesaurus antiquitatum Graecarum by J. F. Gronovius. The topos of the seclusion of women was brought to the attention of scholars in continental Europe by the much-criticised German translation of Potter's work by the Protestant theologian J. J. Rambach (Halle 1775–1778). In eighteenth-century Athens, there seems to have been a special part of the Greek house reserved for women. As these houses were found closely neighbouring the harems of the Turkish families, it seemed logical for the traveller to equate the gynaeceum and the harem.

Keywords: Athens; Greece; women; seclusion; John Potter; J. F. Gronovius; J. J. Rambach; harem; gynaeceum

Chapter.  2929 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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