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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

That some girls and in particular Athenian girls in Classical Greece learned to read and write is clear. This chapter discusses Athenian iconography in detail. Through a close reading of the scenes on Athenian vases, which show citizen girls learning how to read and adult citizen women reading from book scrolls, several important themes emerge about women’s literacy in ancient Athens. Some young girls from a wealthy background were educated, probably within their oikos (home) or in small groups, under the direction of literate women, not men. Their literacy did not lead them into any occupations but became in their adulthood an important part of their leisure activities. Aspasia, a hetaira (high-class prostitute) and companion of Pericles, was illiterate, as would have been most of the hetairai of her day. Wealthy citizen women could be literate, which allowed them to interact with each other on an intellectual plane.

Keywords: Aspasia, Athenian girls, Athenian iconography, Athenian vases, book scrolls, classical Greece, hetaira, hetairai, leisure activities, oikos, Pericles, women’s literacy

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