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Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World

Ross Scaife, Editor in Chief

Reviewed by:
Randolph H. Lytton
George Mason University
December 2003

This site was created in 1995 as a resource on women and gender in the ancient Mediterranean. In addition to course and teaching materials, bibliographies, and links to other online sources (some of which are dysfunctional), such as articles, book reviews, databases, and images, there is an extensive anthology of translated Greek, Latin, Egyptian, and Coptic texts (detailed notes accompany many of the selections). The juried translations by 27 scholars are relatively current. New translations are added on a regular basis. Also within the site are links to Internet resources for Biblical studies and an art collections section that connects the user to major classical image sites as the Perseus Art Databases, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Many of the more than 60 primary texts are useful in the classroom. One example is Sophocles’ Antigone (translated by William Blake Tyrrell and Larry J. Bennett), that includes an excellent introduction with the complete text, enhanced by easily accessible explanatory footnotes. By reading two versions of Alkman’s A Hymn to Artemis of the Strict Observance for a Chorus of Spartan Girls Dressed as Doves to Sing at Dawn on the Feast of the Plow (Partheneion), students could study how primary texts can be translated differently. There is also an example of classical humor. John T. Quinn has translated 45 Jokes from The Laughter Lover, the earliest example of a joke book in Western literature. Selections from Greek and Roman literature include good examples of plays, hymns, epigrams, poems, epodes, odes, and satires. The Egyptian texts, which include wills, property disputes, marriage agreements, and inheritance disputes, are an excellent source for understanding social life in ancient Egypt.

Navigating within the sections and texts is very smooth. In Catullus 16: The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis, the translator, Diane Arnson Svarlien, has linked proper names in the poem to a glossary of mythological terms at the bottom of the text. The reader can then return to the appropriate line to continue reading. The translation of Horace, Epodes 2, 3, 8, 11, 12, 14, and 15 can be read in two electronic versions: by itself or combined with a Latin text. The complete texts of the 10 Selections from Ovid’s Amores can be accessed by book and number, as well as by an introductory quotation.

All primary texts are copyrighted by the individual authors. Following fair use guidelines, teachers, researchers, and students may use this material “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” Certain selections may have more specific limitations and requirements on use.

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