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Biographical dictionary of ancient Greek and Roman women : notable women from Sappho to Helena /

Main Author: Lightman, Marjorie.
Other Authors: Lightman, Benjamin.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Facts On File, 2000
Series: Facts on File library of world history
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Review by 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

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by 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.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by 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.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

The Lightmans have created a massive, illuminating alphabetical listing of 447 Greco-Roman women, who are each profiled in entries that range from a few lines to a few pages. The intriguing information is often presented in a lively manner, profiling women who influenced the times in which they lived. Through their lives, a picture of this particular era, from 6th-century b.c. to a.d. 476, emerges (with details often omitted from other history texts covering the same period) that powerfully evokes the past roles of women. Sources for the information are given following every entry. The format gives rise to one small problem, in that so many of those included have the same name. The book, by necessity, covers 15 Cleopatras; students seeking information on the one who got mixed up with Mark Antony will have to cover almost a dozen entries before locating her. The same is true for all the Agrippinas, Julias, Livias, etc. The glossary and bibliography will be useful to more scholarly readers; the hope is that less-practiced researchers won't be frustrated by the stumbling blocks of the volume's organization, and barred from its entertaining, solidly educational gems. (b&w illustrations, map, glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.