A Woman to Know: Aspasia
|Julia Carpenter||May 5, 2016|
To ask questions about Aspasia's life is to ask questions about half of humanity. — Historian Madeleine M. Henry
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
P.S. I'm giving away some of these beautiful Julie Gough postcards depicting famous women in history. Fill out this form here to be entered to win! P.P.S. You should follow Julie's Tumblr, Illustrated Women in History. I'm seriously obsessed with it.
From what (little) we know of her life, Aspasia was probably the Zelda Fitzgerald of her time (440s B.C. is her time, btw). What I mean by that is she was a grand thinker who entertained a torrid love affair with another grant thinker, Pericles, the leader of Greek democracy. And at their shared house in Athens, the two led soiree-like salons that brought together the greatest figures of ancient Greece.
But like Zelda, Aspasia's life and her own contributions to art, philosophy and more would ultimately be overshadowed by her lover's — to Aspasia's own deep despair. Athenian elders reviled her free spirit. Because she had demanded to be treated as an equal to her lover, many politicians led a smear campaign against her, alleging she ran a brothel and trained courtesans (which, we must acknowledge, that the sketchy details of Aspasia's life *do* leave this open as a possibility). When Pericles died, all her children by him were ruled as bastards — and Aspasia herself was exiled from Greece. She never again returned to the lively artistic community she had cultivated there.
Add to your library list:
Prisoner of History: Aspasia of Miletus and Her Biographical Tradition (Madeleine M. Henry)
Perikles and his Inner Circle (Anthony Podlecki)
Women in Ancient Greece (Sue Blundell)
The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Eva C. Keuls)
The Freedom of the Intellectual in Greek Society (K.J. Dover)
The Dinner Party: Aspasia (The Brooklyn Museum)
The Unenfranchised Women (Athenian Agora Excavations)
Pericles Funeration Oration (Thucydides)
Aspasia of Miletus (Society of Ancient Greek and Hellenistic Studies)
Aspasia of Miletus (Livius.org)
Thoughts on Aspasia and Diotoma (Culture Cat)
Aspasia of Athens (The Feminist Ezine)
Aspasia: The Greeks (PBS)
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