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Matrona docta: Educated women in the Roman elite from Cornelia to Julia Domna [Unknown Binding]

Emily Ann Hemelrijk
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Matrona Docta presents a unique study of the education of upper-class women in Roman society in the central period of Roman history, from the second century BC to AD 235.
Emily A. Hemelrijk reconstructs women's opportunities to acquire an education, the impediments they faced, the level of education they could reach and the judgement on educated women in Roman society. She examines also the role of women as patronesses of literature, learning and Roman women's writing.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 344 pages
  • Publisher: [E.A. Hemelrijk?] (1998)
  • ASIN: B0000CP96Z
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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"An exemplary and thorough study of the subject."-Holt N. Parker, University of Cincinnati, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "A solid historical and literary account of the evidence, which will be the foundation for all future studies of the education of women in antiquity. All levels."-"Choice, March 2000 "Hemelrijk's greatest contribution ... lies in her precise and comprehensive presentation of the ancient textual evidence, which allows the reader to form her own conclusions.."-Cloelia, Fall 2001 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Emily A. Hemelrijk is a lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Leiden. She has published numerous articles on Roman women in various learned journals --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
When studying educated women in Roman society one is struck by the scarcity of women of learning mentioned in our sources. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid and useful survey (with some flaws) 4 Aug 2012
Emily A. Hemelrijk is a lecturer in the department of history at the University of Utrecht. The hardcover edition of her book appeared in 1999; the paperback edition in 2004. The main text is divided into six chapters (fortunately, each chapter is divided into shorter sections by several subheadings). Here are the chapter headings:

1. The social position of upper-class women

2. The education of upper-class women: opportunities and impediments

3. The education of upper-class women: aims and opinions

4. Patronesses of literature and learning

5. Women and writing: poetry

6. Women and writing: prose

The scope of this study is explained on page 2: the time frame is the second century BC to AD 235. As for geography and language, the focus is on educated women in Rome and Italy, occasionally also on upper-class women of the Latin-speaking western provinces, while "women of the Greek-speaking eastern provinces and Christian women are excluded." As we shall see, this promise is not always kept.

Hemelrijk got some good reviews. On the back cover of the paperback version there are excerpts from four reviews of the hardcover version. Here are two examples:

BRYN MAWR CLASSICAL REVIEW: "An exemplary and thorough study of the subject."

GNOMON: "The author gives proof of sound judgement and sobriety in her way of formulating criteria and providing arguments. She displays a good critical eye in the handling of sources."

I agree.

The review in BMCR is written by Holt N. Parker from the University of Cincinnati. His review (2002.07.32) begins and ends with a positive statement, but in between there are several critical remarks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Hemelrijk has done an excellent job of collecting the evidence we have on women's education and their role within literary society in the period from the C2nd BCE to 235 CE. She covers the opportunities elite women had to get an education, assesses the aims of that learning, and then examines women who operated as literary patrons and writers.

There's nothing here that is actually new to classicists but a volume like this that collates and presents all the evidence in one place is needed.

Hemelrijk is particularly good at teasing out the contradictions in Roman thought about educated women: on one hand matrons such as Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, are revered for their educated influence on their sons; yet, at the same time, women such as Sempronia (Sallust) and Clodia Metelli (Pro Caelio) are stigmatised for being better educated than is necessary for a respectable woman.

This is the kind of enabling survey that in itself doesn't change our view of Roman society and women's roles, but it gives us the facts to ask more searching and analytical questions.
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