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Book Reviews: Women of Makedon

A painfully neglected area, by the way, so we will also include some general titles that offer a few bits of information to glean.

Women and Monarchy in Macedonia, Elizabeth Carney, University of Oklahoma Press, 2000
Reviewer: Nick Welman
Basically, Beth Carney does for Macedonian women what Waldemar Heckel did for Alexander's men (in his "Marshals"). To me, both books are of equally high standard, though Heckel seems somewhat more fond of footnotes and academic commentary. Beth Carney succeeds in presenting enjoyable, brief overviews of the lives of Olympias, Roxane and many, many others. Her analysis of the 'nature' of the Argead Royal house is very well balanced. I really wished that I had bought this title right when it was published, not two years after.

Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves - Women In Classical Antiquity, Sarah Pomeroy, Schocken Books, 1975 (reprint: Pimlico, 1994)
Reviewer: Forum Contributor
Though a general text, this book gives a relatively fair overview of how women lived in the ancient world.

Reviewer: Nick Welman
Pomeroy wrote her work in the wake of the feminist wave of the seventies. "Modern women are frustrated by being forced to choose between being an intellectual, asexual career woman - or a frivolous sex object", as Pomeroy claims early in her study (p. 9). "Greek goddesses continue to be archetypes of female existence."
I seriously doubt if Western women in our 21st century still feel "frustrated" in the way Pomeroy observed three decades ago. The concept of career women being asexual, has become much outdated. Thus, to today's reader Pomeroy's book might expose itself as a thorough scholarly study, but one that had to fit in with the political agenda of that decade. Obviously, a claim had to be validated that the role of women in Pomeroy's day was in part inherited from Classical Rome and Greece - as these 'celebrated' cultural cradles of the Western world were in fact war-minded, military societies.
I must admit I had quite a hard time reading Pomeroy's study. The book is divided in themes: women in the Dark Age, women in Athens, women in literature, etcetera. But I felt I was reading Pomeroy's same points over and over again. Maybe this repetiveness is directly connected with the political agenda of this book. So it might lack a fluid line to keep it enjoyable for a broader audience. However, to the dedicated reader many pages contain revealing details. And it is probably still the most authorative study on the life of women in Classical Antiquity. But somehow I feel it is time for a new scholar to stand up and produce an updated general study without the seventies' bias.