Skip to main content
×
Home

IN HER OWN WORDS: THE SEMANTICS OF FEMALE AUTHORSHIP IN ANCIENT GREECE, FROM SAPPHO TO NOSSIS 1

  • Emily Hauser (a1)
Abstract

What we call things is important—it reveals what we think about the world. What we call ourselves, however, is even more important. It reveals ideas and assumptions about identity, gender, community. It helps us to see where we fit in in society; what we understand our purpose, our role to be; the kinds of activities we undertake. In a history where women have been largely barred from higher-paying, traditionally male occupations, the way in which women in particular use terminology to lay claim to skills and expertise in counterpoint to a generally male-dominant culture speaks volumes about the ways in which women see themselves and their relationship to their work. As Erica Jong puts it in her feminist essay, The Artist as Housewife, ‘naming is a form of self-creation’.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
1.

The idea for this article was developed after hearing a lecture given by Tim Whitmarsh at the Oxford TORCH Lecture on Gender, Literature and Culture, ‘What is Women's Writing?’, at Oxford University on 9 May 2014. My sincere thanks go to Emily Greenwood, Gregory Nagy, Tim Whitmarsh, Irene Peirano Garrison and Joshua Billings for their insightful comments and advice, as well as to the anonymous referees at Ramus for their extremely helpful feedback; any remaining errors are my own.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Alford R. (1987), Naming and Identity (New Haven).
Aloni A. (1997), Saffo: Frammenti (Florence).
Alter A. (2013), Drunk Tank Pink (New York).
Athanassaki L., and Bowie E. (eds.) (2011), Archaic and Classical Choral Song (Berlin/ Boston).
Austin J. (1975), How to Do Things with Words 2 (Oxford).
Bagnall R., and Cribiore R. (2006), Women's Letters From Ancient Egypt, 300 BC-AD 800 (Ann Arbor).
Bakker E. (ed.) (2009), Written Voices, Spoken Signs (Cambridge).
Barnard S. (1978), ‘Hellenistic Women Poets’, CJ 73, 204-13.
Bassanese F. (1989), ‘What's in a Name? Self-Naming and Renaissance Women Poets’, Annali d'Italianistica 7, 104-15.
Beard M. (2014), ‘The Public Voice of Women’, LRB 36.6, 11-14.
Beecroft A. (2010), Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China (Cambridge).
Behme T.D. (2007), Norms of Authorship in Ancient Greece: Case Studies of Herodotus, Isocrates, and Plato (Minneapolis).
Bing P. (1988), The Well-Read Muse: Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets (Göttingen).
Bing P., and Bruss J. (eds.) (2007), Brill's Companion to Hellenistic Epigram (Leiden).
Black S., and Juhn C. (2000), ‘The Rise of Female Professionals: Are Women Responding to Skill Demand?’, The American Economic Review 90, 450-55.
Blondell R. (2010), ‘Refractions of Homer's Helen in Archaic Lyric’, AJPh 131, 349-91.
Bowman L. (1998), ‘Nossis, Sappho and Hellenistic Poetry’, Ramus 27, 39-59.
Bowman L. (2004), ‘The “Women's Tradition” in Greek Poetry’, Phoenix 58, 1-27.
Budelmann F. (ed.) (2009), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric (Cambridge).
Burnett A. (1983), Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho (Cambridge MA).
Butler J. (1988), ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory’, Theatre Journal 40, 519-31.
Butler J. (1999), Gender Trouble 2 (London/New York).
Calame C. (1977), Les chœurs de jeunes filles en Grèce archaïque I: morphologie, fonction religieuse et sociale (Rome).
Calame C. (1996), ‘Sappho's Group: An Initiation into Womanhood’, in Greene (below), 113-24.
Calhoun G. (1938), ‘The Poet and the Muses in Homer’, CPh 33, 157-66.
Cameron A. (1995), Callimachus and his Critics (Princeton).
Campbell D. (ed.) (1982), Greek Lyric, Volume I: Sappho and Alcaeus (Cambridge MA).
Carey C. (2009), ‘Genre, Occasion and Performance’, in Budelmann (above), 21-38.
Carney E. (2000), Women and Monarchy in Macedonia (Norman).
Caroll J., Levinson S. and Lee P. (eds.) (2012), Language, Thought, and Reality 2 (Cambridge MA).
Carson A. (1980), ‘The Justice of Aphrodite in Sappho Fr. 1’, TAPhA 110, 135-42.
Carson A. (2009), If Not, Winter (New York).
Case S. (1990), Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre (Balti-more).
Cavallo G. (1995), ‘Donne che legono, donne che scrivono’, in Raffaelli R. (ed.), Vicende e figure femminili in Grecia e a Roma (Ancona), 517-26.
Ceccarelli P. (2013), Ancient Greek Letter Writing: A Cultural History (600-150 BC) (Oxford).
Chandler A. (1934), ‘The Nightingale in Greek and Latin Poetry’, CJ 30, 78-84.
Cheshire J. (1985), ‘A Question of Masculine Bias’, English Today 1, 22-26.
Cheshire J. (2008), ‘Still a Gender-Biased Language?’, English Today 24, 7-10.
Chrystal P. (2013), Women in Ancient Rome (Stroud).
Cixous H. (1976), ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, Signs 1, 875-93.
Clay J.S. (1980), ‘Sappho's Hesperus and Hesiod's Dawn’, Philologus 124, 302-05.
Cole S. (1981), ‘Could Greek Women Read and Write?’, in Foley (below), 219-46.
Cole S. (2004), Landscapes, Gender, and Ritual Space (Los Angeles).
Corbett G. (1991), Gender (Cambridge).
D'Alessio G. (1994), ‘First-Person Problems in Pindar’, BICS 39, 117-39.
Danielewicz J. (1990), ‘ “Deixis” in Greek Choral Lyric’, QUCC 34, 7-17.
Davies M. (1988), ‘Monody, Choral Lyric, and the Tyranny of the Hand-Book’, CQ 38, 52-64.
de Looze L. (1991), ‘Signing Off in the Middle Ages: Medieval Textuality and Strategies of Authorial Self-Naming’, in Doane A. and Pasternack C. (eds.), Vox Intexta: Orality and Textuality in the Middle Ages (Madison), 162-82.
Degani E., and Burzacchini G. (1977), Lirici Greci (Florence).
Diehl E. (1940), ‘Fuerunt ante Homerum Poetae’, RhM 89, 81-114.
Dion K. (1983), ‘Names, Identity, and Self’, Names 31, 245-57.
DuBois P. (1997), Sappho Is Burning (Chicago).
Durante M. (1976), Sulla preistoria della tradizione poetica greca, parte seconda: risultanze della comparazione indoeuropea (Rome).
Edmunds L., and Wallace R. (eds.) (1997), Poet, Public, and Performance in Ancient Greece (Baltimore).
Farrell J. (2002), ‘Greek Lives and Roman Careers in the Classical Vita Tradition’, in Cheney P. and De Armas F. (eds.), European Literary Careers (Toronto), 24-46.
Ferrari F. (2010), Sappho's Gift: The Poet and Her Community, tr. Acosta-Hughes B. and Prauscello L. (Ann Arbor).
Foley H. (ed.) (1981), Reflections of Women in Antiquity (New York).
Ford A. (1994), Homer: The Poetry of the Past (Ithaca NY).
Ford A. (2002), ‘The Origin of the Word “Poet”’, in The Origins of Criticism: Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece (Princeton), 131-57.
Fortson B. (2010), Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (Oxford/Malden MA).
Fowler D. (1989), ‘First Thoughts on Closure: Problems and Prospects’, MD 22, 75-122.
Fowler R. (1983), ‘“On Not Knowing Greek”: The Classics and the Woman of Letters’, CJ 78, 337-49.
Furiani P. (1991), ‘Intimità e socialità in Nosside di Locri’, in De Martino F. (ed.), Rose di Pieria (Bari), 179-95.
Gentili B. (1988), Poetry and its Public in Ancient Greece, tr. Cole A. (Baltimore).
Gentner D., and Goldin-Meadow S. (2003), Language in Mind (Cambridge MA).
Gigante M. (1974), ‘Nosside’, PP 29, 22-39.
Gold B. (1987), Literary Patronage in Greece and Rome (Raleigh).
Gow A., and Page D. (1965), The Greek Anthology (2 vols.: Cambridge).
Greene E. (1994), ‘Apostrophe and Women's Erotics in the Poetry of Sappho’, TAPhA 124, 41-56.
Greene E. (ed.) (1996), Reading Sappho: Contemporary Approaches (Berkeley).
Greene E. (2008), ‘Masculine and Feminine, Public and Private, in the Poetry of Sappho’, in Blevins J. (ed.), Dialogism and Lyric Self-Fashioning: Bakhtin and the Voices of a Genre (Selinsgrove), 23-45.
Gubar S. (1981), ‘“The Blank Page” and the Issues of Female Creativity’, Critical Inquiry 8, 243-63.
Gubar S. (1984), ‘Sapphistries’, Signs 10, 43-62.
Gutzwiller K. (1997), ‘Genre Development and Gendered Voices in Nossis and Erinna’, in Prins Y. and Shreiber M. (eds.), Dwelling in Possibility: Women Poets and Critics on Poetry (Ithaca NY), 202-22.
Gutzwiller K. (1998), Poetic Garlands: Hellenistic Epigrams in Context (Los Angeles).
Hallett J. (1996), ‘Sappho and her Social Context’, in Greene (above), 125-42.
Hardie A. (2005), ‘Sappho, the Muses, and Life after Death’, ZPE 154, 13-32.
Hellinger M., and Bussmann H. (2001), Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men (Amsterdam).
Helms W. (2013), Symbolic Capital and the Performativity of Authorship: The Construction and Commodification of the Nineteenth-Century Authorial Celebrity (Lincoln).
Hemelrijk E. (1999), Matrona Docta: Educated Women in the Roman Élite from Cornelia to Julia Domna (London/New York).
Holst-Warhaft G. (1992), Dangerous Voices: Women's Laments and Greek Literature (London).
Hünemörder C. (2006), ‘Nightingale’, in Cancik H. and Schneider H. (eds.), Brill's New Pauly: Encylopaedia of the Ancient World, Vol 9 (Leiden/Boston), 749-51.
Hutchinson G. (2013), Greek to Latin: Frameworks and Contexts for Intertextuality (Oxford).
Irigaray L. (1985), This Sex Which Is Not One (Ithaca NY).
Jong E. (1980), ‘The Artist as Housewife’, in Hedges E. and Wendt I. (eds.), In Her Own Image (New York), 115-20.
Joplin P. (2002), ‘The Voice of the Shuttle is Ours’, in McClure L. (ed.), Sexuality and Gender in the Ancient World (Oxford), 259-86.
Kaplan J., and Bernays A. (1999), The Language of Names (New York).
Kassel R., and Austin C. (eds.) (1983), Poetae Comici Graeci (Berlin/New York).
Kern E. (1961), ‘Author or Authoress?’, Yale French Studies 27, 3-11.
Klinck A. (2001), ‘Male Poets and Maiden Voices: Gender and Genre in Pindar and Alcman’, Hermes 129, 276-79.
Klinck A. (2008), Woman's Songs in Ancient Greece (Montreal).
Koller H. (1965), ‘ΘΕΣΠΙΣ ΑΟΙΔΟΣ’, Glotta 43, 277-85.
Kranz W. (1949), Geschichte der griechischen Literatur (Leipzig).
Kurke L. (2000), ‘The Strangeness of “Song Culture”: Archaic Greek Poetry’, in Taplin O. (ed.), Literature in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A New Perspective (Oxford), 58-87.
Kurke L. (2010), Aesopic Conversations (Princeton).
Lanata G. (1996), ‘Sappho's Amatory Language’, in Greene (above), 11-25.
Lanser S.S. (1992), Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (Ithaca NY).
Lardinois A. (1996), ‘Who Sang Sappho's Songs?’, in Greene (above), 150-72.
Lardinois A. (2001), ‘Keening Sappho: Female Speech Genres in Sappho's Poetry’, in Lardinois and McClure (below), 75-92.
Lardinois A. and McClure L. (eds.) (2001), Making Silence Speak: Women's Voices in Greek Literature and Society (Princeton).
Lattimore R. (1962), Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (Urbana).
Lefkowitz J. (2014), ‘Aesop and Animal Fable’, in Campbell G. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life (Oxford), 1-23.
Lefkowitz M. (1963), ‘ΤΩ ΚΑΙ ΕΓΩ: The First Person in Pindar’, HSPh 67, 177-253.
Lefkowitz M. (1981), Heroines and Hysterics (London).
Lefkowitz M. (2012), The Lives of the Greek Poets 2 (Baltimore).
Lefkowitz M. and Fant M. (eds.) (2005), Women's Life in Greece and Rome: A Source Book in Translation 3 (Baltimore).
Lidov J. (2002), ‘Sappho, Herodotus, and the “Hetaira”’, CPh 97, 203-37.
Loraux N. (1998), Mothers in Mourning (Ithaca NY).
Lord A. (2000), The Singer of Tales 2 , ed. Mitchell S. and Nagy G. (Cambridge MA).
Lutwack L. (1994), Birds in Literature (Gainesville).
Maslov B. (2009), ‘The Semantics of Ἀοιδός and Related Compounds: Towards a Historical Poetics of Solo Performance in Archaic Greece’, ClAnt 28, 1-38.
McClure L. (2009), Spoken Like a Woman: Speech and Gender in Athenian Drama (Princeton).
Meyer D. (2007), ‘The Act of Reading and the Act of Writing in the Hellenistic Epigram’, in Bing and Bruss (above), 185-210.
Mikalson J. (2010), Ancient Greek Religion (Oxford).
Minchin E. (1995), ‘The Poet Appeals to his Muse: Homeric Invocations in the Context of Epic Performance’, CJ 91, 25-33.
Minchin E. (2011), Orality, Literacy and Performance in the Ancient World (Leiden).
Minton W. (1960), ‘Homer's Invocations of the Muses: Traditional Patterns’, TAPhA 91, 292-309.
Monella P. (2005) Procne e Filomela: dal mito al simbolo letterario (Bologna).
Morgan K. (1993), ‘Pindar the Professional and the Rhetoric of the ΚΩΜΟΣ’, CPh 88, 1-15.
Morgan T. (1998), Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge).
Most G. (2007), Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia (Cambridge MA).
Murray J., and Rowland J. (2007), ‘Gendered Voices in Hellenistic Epigram’, in Bing and Bruss (above), 211-32.
Murray P. (1981), ‘Poetic Inspiration in Early Greece’, JHS 101, 87-100.
Murray P. (2005), ‘The Muses: Creativity Personified?’, in Stafford E. and Herrin J. (eds.), Personification in the Greek World: From Antiquity to Byzantium (Aldershot/Burlington VT), 147-59.
Nagy G. (1979), The Best of the Achaeans (Baltimore).
Nagy G. (1996), Poetry as Performance (Cambridge).
Nagy G. (2007a), ‘Lyric and Greek Myth’, in Woodard R. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology (Cambridge), 19-51.
Nagy G. (2007b), ‘Did Sappho and Alcaeus Ever Meet?’, in Bierl A., Lämmle R. and Wesselmann K. (eds.), Literatur und Religion (Berlin/New York), 211-69.
Nauck A. (1964), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 2 (Hildesheim).
Notopoulos J. (1938), ‘Mnemosyne in Oral Literature’, TAPhA 69, 465-93.
Obbink D. (2011), ‘Vanishing Conjecture: The Recovery of Lost Books from Aristotle to Eco’, in Obbink D. and Rutherford R. (eds.), Culture in Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons (Oxford), 20-49.
Obbink D. (2014), ‘Two New Poems by Sappho’, ZPE 189, 32-49.
Page D. (1979), Sappho and Alcaeus (Oxford).
Parker A., and Sedgwick E. (eds.) (1995), Performativity and Performance (New York/London).
Parker H. (1993), ‘Sappho Schoolmistress’, TAPhA 123, 309-51.
Peirano I. (2014), ‘“Sealing” the Book: Sphragis as Paratext’, in Jansen L. (ed.) The Roman Paratext (Cambridge), 224-42.
Petusi A. (ed.) (1955), Scholia Vetera in Hesiodi Opera et Dies (Milan).
Plant I. (ed.) (2004), Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology (Norman).
Poland F. (1909), Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens (Leipzig).
Pomeroy S. (1975), Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves (New York).
Pomeroy S. (1984), Women in Hellenistic Egypt (Detroit).
Powell J. (1993), Sappho: A Garland (New York).
Pratt L. (1995), ‘The Seal of Theognis, Writing, and Oral Poetry’, AJPh 116, 171-84.
Prins Y. (1996) ‘Sappho's Afterlife in Translation’, in Greene E. (ed.), Re-reading Sappho: Reception and Transmission (Berkeley), 36-67.
Prins Y. (1999), Victorian Sappho (Princeton).
Pucci P. (1998), The Song of the Sirens: Essays on Homer (Lanham).
Race W. (1997), Pindar: Nemean Odes, Isthmian Odes, Fragments (Cambridge MA).
Railton S. (1991), Authorship and Audience (Princeton).
Rayor D., and Lardinois A. (eds.) (2014), Sappho (Cambridge).
Rissman L. (1984), Love as War: Homeric Allusion in the Poetry of Sappho (Hildesheim/Zurich/New York).
Rosenmeyer P. (1997), ‘Her Master's Voice: Sappho's Dialogue with Homer’, MD 39, 123-49.
Rosenmeyer P. (2006), Ancient Greek Literary Letters: Selections in Translation (Abingdon/New York).
Schmitzer U. (2007), ‘Authors’, in Cancik H. and Schneider H. (eds.), Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, Vol. 2 (Leiden), 399-403.
Sczesny S., Moser F. and Wood W. (2015), ‘Beyond Sexist Beliefs: How Do People Decide to Use Gender-Inclusive Language?’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 41.7, 1-12.
Scott J. (1990), Domination and the Arts of Resistance (New Haven).
Segal C. (1989), ‘Archaic Choral Lyric’, in Easterling P. and Knox B. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, Volume 1: Greek Literature (Cambridge), 165-201.
Skinner M. (1989), ‘Sapphic Nossis’, Arethusa 22, 5-18.
Skinner M. (1993), ‘Nossis Thelyglossos: The Private Text and the Public Book’, in Greene E. (ed.) Women Poets in Ancient Greece and Rome (Norman), 112-38.
Skinner M. (2009), ‘Aphrodite Garlanded: Eros and Poetic Creativity in Sappho and Nossis’, in Rabinowitz N. and Auanger L. (eds.), Among Women: From the Homosocial to the Homoerotic in the Ancient World (Austin), 60-81.
Snyder J. (1991a), ‘Public Occasion and Private Passion in the Lyrics of Sappho of Lesbos’, in Pomeroy S. (ed.), Women's History and Ancient History (Chapel Hill/London), 1-19.
Snyder J. (1991b), The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome (Bristol).
Snyder J. (1997), Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho (New York/Chichester).
Spentzou E., and Fowler D. (eds.) (2002), Cultivating the Muse: Struggles for Power and Inspiration in Classical Literature (Oxford).
Stehle E. (1981), ‘Sappho's Private World’, Women's Studies 8, 47-63.
Stehle E. (1997), Performance and Gender in Ancient Greece (Princeton).
Svenbro J. (1984), La parola e il marmo: alle origini della poetica greca (Torino).
Taplin O. (1993), Comic Angels and Other Approaches to Greek Drama through Vase Paintings (Oxford).
Taran S. (1979), ‘The Art of Variation in the Hellenistic Epigram’, Columbia Studies in Classical Thought 9, 132-49.
Theodorakopoulos E. (1997), ‘Closure: The Book of Virgil’, in Martindale C. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Virgil (Cambridge), 155-66.
Thomas R. (1992), Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece (Cambridge).
Trendall A., and Webster T. (1971), Illustrations of Greek Drama (London).
Treu M. (1963), Sappho (Munich).
Veremans J. (2006). ‘La sphragis dans les Amores d'Ovide: une approche stylistique et rhétorique’, Latomus 65, 378-87.
Vivante B. (ed.) (1999), Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide. (Westport/London).
Voigt E. (1971), Fragmenta: Sappho et Alcaeus (Amsterdam).
Walsh G. (1991), ‘Callimachean Passages: The Rhetoric of Epigraph in Epigram’, Arethusa 24, 77-106.
West M. (2002), ‘The View from Lesbos’, in Reichel M. and Rengakos A. (eds.), Epea pteroenta: Beiträge zur Homerforschung (Stuttgart), 207-19.
Wilamowitz-Moellendorff U. von (1913), Sappho und Simonides: Untersuchungen über griechische Lyriker (Berlin).
Wilamowitz-Moellendorff U. von (1919), ‘Lesefrüchte’, Hermes 54, 46-74.
Williamson M. (1995), Sappho's Immortal Daughters (Cambridge MA).
Winkler J. (1981), ‘Gardens of Nymphs: Public and Private in Sappho's Lyrics’, in Foley (above), 63-89.
Winkler J. (1990), The Constraints of Desire (New York/London).
Winkler M.M. (1987), ‘“Tuque Optime Vates”: Musaeus in Book Six of the Aeneid ’, AJPh 108 (4), 655-60.
Woodbury L. (1952), ‘The Seal of Theognis’, in White M. (ed.), Studies in Honour of Gilbert Norwood (Toronto), 20-41.
Yatromanolakis D. (2009), ‘Sappho and Alcaeus’, in Budelmann (above), 204-26.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ramus
  • ISSN: 0048-671X
  • EISSN: 2202-932X
  • URL: /core/journals/ramus
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 92 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 325 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 28th December 2016 - 20th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.