Cherchez la femme

Women in Hellenistic History, Historiography and Reception


Eran Almagor (Independent Scholar) []

Borja Antela-Bernárdez (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) []

Marc Mendoza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) []

The growing role of women exercising power - or at least having agency - is considerably evident in descriptions of the political upheavals in the broad Greek-speaking world after Alexander, as compared with previous periods. Seemingly, they were no longer the passive players in the internal and international sphere, as often found in myths, or in the stock - and half earnest - explanations for the causes of wars. Hellenistic queens have been a subject of research. Yet, this panel seeks to address this role of women in the political scene both as a historical phenomenon at large and as a historiographical or literary topos. 

The panel attempts to tackle the question of whether this was a truly significant historical change, and if so, whether it stemmed from real political and structural developments that the societies of newly formed kingdoms underwent. The panel will also focus on the historiographical tradition that began to take shape in the Hellenistic period - roughly from the Alexander era until the dominance of Rome in the Mediterranean. This literary tradition included references to men and women of the new courts, allotting them roles that were known to exist till then in barbaric environs, like the Persian court.  As the Hellenistic tradition is in the roots of our modern approaches, mixed with contemporary influences, biases and commonplaces, we are also interested in the portrayal of women in the Hellenistic era in modern reception (in literature and other media). 

Topics suggested for this panel include, but not exclusively, the following questions:

- The powers of Hellenistic queens.

- Power, agency and sexuality in the Hellenistic period.

- Women in the propaganda wars of the Hellenistic period.

- Women at the crossroads of Greek and non-Greek traditions in the Seleucid and Ptolemaic monarchies.

- Hellenistic queens and Roman politics.

- Queens in the Hellenistic minor kingdoms.

- Women in Hellenistic historiography: the formation of new themes and agendas.

- Depictions of non-royal women and their agency in Hellenistic historiography.

- The relationship between depictions of women agency in historiographical writing and literature or visual arts during the Hellenistic period.

- Modern reception of the image of Hellenistic Queens in historiography.

- Modern reception of the image of Hellenistic Queens in literature and other media.

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