Matrona docta : educated women in the Roman élite from Cornelia to Julia Domna /

Main Author: Hemelrijk, Emily Ann, 1953-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: London ; New York : Routledge, 1999.
Series: [Routledge classical monographs]
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Review by Choice Review

According to Sallust, Sempronia, a beautiful noble woman, wrote poetry, conversed wittily, played the lyre and danced more skillfully than was necessary for an honest woman. Elite families frequently write the rules, especially for their women, to suit themselves. Did educating their daughters and wives suit them? In a thorough discussion ranging from mid-republic to the late empire, Hemelrijk demonstrates that some women, and honest ones, were indeed educated. Furthermore, in a cautious but convincing argument, she points to the conclusion that the educated woman was not so rare (at least among the upper classes) as the paucity of evidence might imply. Julia Balbilla accompanied Hadrian and Sabina to Egypt and had her poetry (in Aeolic Greek) carved on the Colossus of Memnon, while Terentia, another imperial traveler to Egypt, inscribed her Latin verses on a pyramid. The great stone monuments preserved a record of these otherwise unknown educated women, but how many equally accomplished women entrusted their work to less permanent media? Hemelrijk gives 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. C. M. C. Green; University of Iowa

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.