Prisoner of History: Aspasia of Miletus and Her Biographical Tradition (Hardback)
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Short Description for Prisoner of History Aspasia of Miletus, next to Sappho and Cleopatra, is one of the best known women of the classical world. This study traces the construction of Aspasia's biographical tradition and shows how it has prevented her from taking her rightful place as a contributor to the ancient world.
- Published: 01 June 1997
- Format: Hardback 208 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780195087123 ISBN 10: 0195087127
- Sales rank: 750,643
Full description for Prisoner of History
According to legend, Aspasia of Miletus was a courtesan, the teacher of Socrates, and the political adviser of her lover Pericles. Next to Sappho and Cleopatra, she is the best known woman of the ancient Mediterranean. Yet continued uncritical reception of her depiction in Attic comedy and naive acceptance of Plutarch's account of her in his Life of Pericles prevent us from understanding who she was and what her contributions to Greek thought may have been. Madeleine Henry combines traditional philological and historical methods of analysis with feminist critical perspectives, in order to trace the construction of Aspasia's biographical tradition from ancient times to the present. Through her analysis of both literary and political evidence, Henry determines the ways in which Aspasia has become an icon of the sexually attractive and politically influential female, how this construction has prevented her from taking her rightful place as a contributor to the philosophical enterprise, and how continued belief in this icon has helped sexualize all women's intellectual achievements. This is the first work to study Aspasia's biographical tradition from ancient Greece to the present day.