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Review of Sarah B. Pomeroy’s Book: Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece: Representations and Realities

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  1. Introduction
  2. Families: A more detailed account of the Greek family
  3. The focus of Pomeroy's book
  4. The treatment of the dead members of a family
  5. Pomeroy's discussion of the two case histories
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

The study of social history is not a new phenomenon, but some of today's leading historians are shedding some new light on the history of the family. Such is the case with the social history of classical and Hellenistic Greece. Many historians have devoted their time to the issues surrounding the history of the Greek family. They have delved into issues such as how the ?family shapes, structures, values, and behavior? evolved from the archaic to the Hellenistic period. One of the leading historians on the ancient Greek family history is Sarah B. Pomeroy, and in her book Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece she makes it her mission to discuss the evolution of the Greek family without loosing sight of the history of Greek women as well.

[...] They are ?often the only source of information about an individual woman,? and she interprets ?these as further evidence of the increase in women's social role in the Hellenistic world.?[11] However, her perceptions are based on only eight epitaphs, which I believe make her argument slightly credulous. The book then moves from death to the living family and Pomeroy's depiction of what constituted ?families at work.? This section briefly touches upon different areas of work, but it is insightful in showing just how limited the Greeks were in their choice of ?career'. [...]


[...] In her writing, Pomeroy puts a greater amount of effort into giving an account of the history of women in classical and Hellenistic Greece than other historians. She states, working on the Athenian family, however, I found that it was easy to lose track of women,? mainly because respectable women's names were omitted from written records in order to keep them out of the public eye. One of the ways Pomeroy attempts to overcome this obstacle is by adding women into her genealogical charts; where there is a child, she adds a wife.[5] As with most Greek history, Pomeroy's book focuses primarily on the cities of Athens and Sparta. [...]

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