Final Exam Review
Women in Ancient Greece and Rome

Final Overview

Multiple Choice Review List Essay Questions


Final Exam Overview

Time and Place:  Tuesday, Dec. 11, 8:00 AM, LH 138 (our regular classroom)

Exam Format:

The final will consist of two parts: An essay (60%) and multiple choice questions (40%).  The multiple choice questions will involve both terms and names and a few visual images, all of which will be taken from the power points linked from the Assignments/ Old Assignments pages.  For the essay, I have given six topics (see below), and on the test I will give you a choice of two of them; you will write one essay. 

This is just like the Midterm, but with one important difference:


Multiple Choice Review:

NOTE: Although these are the terms and names I will draw on, the multiple questions may also draw on more general cultural information, e.g. "which of the following was NOT an ideal characteristic of the Roman matron ..."  Most of the pre-midterm material will be used in comparison questions; otherwise the MC will focus on the later part of the semester.

Eumachia Pompeii Julia Felix



Julia (Augustus' daughter)

Virgil, Aeneid



Ovid, Amores


Lex Julia & Lex Papia Poppaea

Catullus / Lesbia


Clodia Metella

Ara Pacis




Lex Oppia








patria potestas


sui juris







Sabine Women




Vestal Virgins






Penthesilea/ Achilles

Antiope / Theseus

Hippolyta / Heracles


Plutarch (Life of Theseus)

Diodorus Siculus (1c CE ethnology -- role reversal & mutilation)

Herodotus (5c BCE -- Amazons unite with Scythians)

Alexander Romance

Cleopatra VII

Berenice II

Alexandria (Egypt)










Euripides (Andromache, Helen, Medea, Hippolytus, Bacchae)

Sophocles, Tereus (Procne)

kyrios (guardian)

hetaira (courtesan)

erastos (lover)

eromenos (beloved)

Aspasia of Miletus

Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes


Demosthenes, Against Neaera















dowry (proikos)

hedna (bride price)






















Homer, Iliad and Odyssey

Hector and Andromache


Odysseus and Penelope




 Alcman / Partheneia

Homeric Hymns

kore (korai, pl.)













Essay Topics

On the final exam, I will give you a choice between two of these questions, and you will write an essay on ONE.  You may use your ORANGE SOURCE BOOK in answering, so don't forget to bring it with you.

1. Changing Women’s Roles   In both the Hellenistic Period in the Greek world, and the Late Republic in the Roman world, women began to emerge from traditional roles and take on new social roles and exercise new social rights.  You may choose Essay focus A OR Essay Focus B in writing this essay.   Essay Focus A: Compare and contrast the “New Woman” of the Roman world with the “liberated” woman of the Hellenistic era, as both are constructed in the literature of the time.  Consider such authors as Herodas, Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Catullus, Ovid and Propertius (adding others or subtracting some as you please).  Consider things like financial and material well-being, education, sexual and other relationships, types of interest, political activity, and self expression, society’s judgment, and so on.  (These are guidelines only; you can omit some of these areas and consider other things, if it gives your essay a clearer focus.)  Essay Focus B:  Choosing either the Hellenistic world OR the late Roman Republic, discuss how the literary picture of “liberated” women corresponds to more hisorical sources (like written histories, documentary papyri, and inscriptions).  Consider things like financial and material well-being, education, sexual and other relationships, types of interest, political activity, and self expression, society’s judgment, and so on.  (These are guidelines only; you can omit some of these areas and consider other things, if it gives your essay a clearer focus.)

2. Women and Politics   Throughout the time period we have studied, women were excluded from official participation in public policy, such as voting or holding office.  But apparently, some women did make an impact in the public, masculine world.  Choose several examples that show the different ways a women could make a difference in the political and public world, then explain the specific ways in which they affected the public or political sphere, and the social dynamics that facilitated their influence.  Since differences exist over time and in different places, you may focus on one period, or compare and contrast different periods; you may also consider (but don’t have to) the ways in which social class was a factor in how (or if) women influenced the masculine world.  You may EITHER compare and contrast the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, OR focus on one of these societies, just make it clear which you are doing.

3. Marriage   Marriage in the Hellenistic and Roman world could have political and financial motivations, and presumably both parties had absorbed traditional strategies for making such a union work.  But what were those exactly?  Using documentary papyri and literary sources, find some examples of marital relationships that work, and marital relationships that don’t.  What determines which marriages will succeed and which will end in divorce?  You can consider such elements as values, finances, public vs. private relationships, outside pressures, what laws show about expectations, and so on.  You may EITHER compare and contrast the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, OR focus on one of these societies, just make it clear which you are doing.

4. Misogyny   We have seen that in the Classical world, women were rarely regarded as the equals of men, but this isn’t exactly misogyny, “hatred of women,” since many authors who describe women’s putative shortcomings  show affection, respect, or benevolence within the limitations their cultures believe apply to women.  Where does true misogyny (visible dislike of women as a group; intention to show women as useless, sordid, evil, or generally bad; narration of a story/event in such a way that one could only form a very negative view of women in general from it) occur in our sources from the first literature of Greece to the end of the Roman era?  Choose several authors you consider particularly misogynistic, explain the nature of their misogyny –  what specifically do they criticize?).  What do they have in common with each other, and where do they differ?  Are their social forces that explain similarities or differences in their assessment of women?

5.  Medical Perspectives  The passage below, from Plutarch, discusses a medical affliction of the women of Miletus.  Discuss the ways in which this text reflects medical beliefs and practices, social realities, and traditional assessments of women’s nature, drawing on other specific texts for comparison.  Include in your essay a summary of what this passage in and of itself shows about women in ancient Greece.

One time the young women of Miletus were afflicted by a dreadful and irrational trouble, of uncertain origin. It was suggested that the atmosphere had become polluted with an ecstatic concoction and poisonous character and so caused them to lose control of their senses. For suddenly all of them were seized with a desire to commit suicide, and there was an insane rush to hang themselves, and many managed to hang themselves before they could be stopped.[1] Neither their parents' arguments nor tears nor their friends' advice got through to them, but they got round every plot and trick their watchers could devise in order to destroy themselves. The affliction appeared to have been sent by some god, and to be more than human ability could handle, until the time when a sensible man proposed an ordinance that the women who hung themselves must be carried naked through the market-place in their funeral procession. This ordinance, once approved, not only prevented, but completely stopped the young women from hanging themselves. Precaution against ill repute is a clear indication of goodness and virtue, and the women who were not afraid of the most dreadful of all possibilities, death and suffering, could not bring themselves to bear the thought of the disgrace that would come to them after their deaths.

6. Porcia   The text below is how Plutarch (1st-2nd c. CE) describes Porcia, who supported her husband, Brutus, in a daring political venture (the assassination of Julius Caesar) during the late Republic (c. 44 BCE).  Through specific references to passages in this text, describe how Plutarch’s description of Porcia reflects (a) ideas of women’s virtues, capabilities, and limitations and (b) facts of women’s lifestyles, during the Roman era.  If you like, you may make comparisons with other Roman texts you have encountered that describe women’s merits (or lack thereof).

Porcia ...was one of Cato's daughters. She had married Brutus, who was her cousin, when she was still very young, although she was by then already a widow, and had by her first husband a little son, whose name was Bibulus. He later wrote a small book entitled Memoirs of Brutus. ...Porcia, who loved her husband deeply and was not only of an affectionate nature but full of spirit and good sense, did not press her husband to reveal his secrets until she had put herself to a test. She dismissed her attendants from her room, and then taking a little knife such as barbers use to cut fingernails, she gave herself a deep gash in the thigh. She lost a great quantity of blood, after which the wound became intensely painful and brought on fits of shivering and a high fever. When she was in great pain and saw that Brutus was deeply distressed for her, she said to him: "Brutus, I am Cato's daughter, and I was given to you in marriage not just to share your bed and board like a concubine, but to be a true partner in your joys and sorrows. I have no reproach to make to you, but what proof can I give you of my love, if you forbid me to share the kind of trouble that demands a loyal friend to confide in, and keep your suffering to yourself? I know that men think women's natures too weak to be entrusted with secrets, but surely a good upbringing and the company of honorable men can do much to strengthen us, and at least Porcia can claim that she is the daughter of Cato and the wife of Brutus. I did not know before this how either of these blessings could help me, but now I have put myself to the test and find that I can conquer pain." At this she showed him her wound and explained what she had done. Brutus was amazed and lifting up his hands to heaven he prayed to the gods to help him to succeed in his enterprise and show that he was a worthy husband of such a wife. Then he did all that he could to bring back his wife to health. (Brutus 13.2-6)