Maternal Conceptions in Classical Literature and Philosophy

Edited by Alison Sharrock and Alison Keith

© 2020

Unlike many studies of the family in the ancient world, this volume presents readings of mothers in classical literature, including philosophical and epigraphic writing as well as poetic texts. Rather than relying on a male viewpoint, the essays offer a female perspective on the lifecycle of motherhood. 

Although almost all ancient authors are men, this book nevertheless aims to unpack carefully the role of the mother – not as projected by the son or other male relations, but from a woman’s own experiences – in order to better understand how they perceived themselves and their families. Because the primary interest is in the mothers themselves, rather than the authors of the texts in which they appear, the work is organized according to the lifecycle of motherhood instead of the traditional structure of the chronology of male authors. The chronology of the male authors ranges from classical Greece to late antiquity, while the motherly lifecycle ranges from pre-conception to the commemoration of offspring who have died before their mothers.

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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Supplementary Volumes
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 400 pages
  • Illustrations: 3
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005513

  • AVAILABLE MAR 2020

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781487532017
  • AVAILABLE FEB 2020

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

Quick Overview

This book explores motherhood in Greek and Roman literature, focusing on images of mothers and their relationships with their children across a variety of genres.

Maternal Conceptions in Classical Literature and Philosophy

Edited by Alison Sharrock and Alison Keith

© 2020

Unlike many studies of the family in the ancient world, this volume presents readings of mothers in classical literature, including philosophical and epigraphic writing as well as poetic texts. Rather than relying on a male viewpoint, the essays offer a female perspective on the lifecycle of motherhood. 

Although almost all ancient authors are men, this book nevertheless aims to unpack carefully the role of the mother – not as projected by the son or other male relations, but from a woman’s own experiences – in order to better understand how they perceived themselves and their families. Because the primary interest is in the mothers themselves, rather than the authors of the texts in which they appear, the work is organized according to the lifecycle of motherhood instead of the traditional structure of the chronology of male authors. The chronology of the male authors ranges from classical Greece to late antiquity, while the motherly lifecycle ranges from pre-conception to the commemoration of offspring who have died before their mothers.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Supplementary Volumes
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 400 pages
  • Illustrations: 3
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Alison Sharrock is a professor in the Department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology, and Egyptology at the University of Manchester.


    Alison Keith is a professor in the Departments of Classics and Women’s Studies and the director of the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto.
  • Table of contents

    1. Introduction
    Alison Keith, University of Toronto, Mairéad McAuley, University College London, and Alison Sharrock, University of Manchester

    2. Uncanny Mothers in Roman Literature
    Mairéad McAuley, University College London

    Section 1: Mothers and Young Children

    3. From Body to Behaviour: Maternal Transmission in the Ancient Greek World
    Florence Gherchanoc, Université Paris Diderot, ANHIMA Centre

    4. Νωδυνία: l’Oubli des souffrances maternelles et le chant théocritéen
    Florence Klein, Charles de Gaulle University

    5. "Nimis mater": Mother Plot and Epic Deviation in the Achilleid
    Federica Bessone, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy

    6. Augustan Maternal Ideology: The Blended Families of Octavia and Venus
    Judith P. Hallett, University of Maryland

    Section 2: Mothers and Their Children’s Marriages

    7. Motherhood in Roman Epithalamia
    Henriette Harich-Schwarzbauer, Universität Basel, Switzerland

    8. The Roman Mother-in-Law
    Alison Sharrock, University of Manchester

    Section 3: Mothers and Adult Children

    9. maximum Thebis (Romae?) scelus/maternus amor est (Oed. 629-30): Amour de la mère et inceste chez Sénèque
    Jacqueline Fabre-Serris, Charles de Gaulle University

    10. Mighty Mothers: Female Political Theorists in Euripides’ Suppliant Women and Phoenician Women
    Giulia Sissa, University of California

    11. Wife, Mother, Philosopher: On the Symbolic Function of Augustine’s Monnica
    Therese Fuhrer, Ludwig Maximilians Universität

    Section 4: Mothers and the Death of Their Children

    12. Virgilian Matres: From Maternal Lament to Female Sedition in the Aeneid
    Alison Keith, University of Toronto

    13. Octavia: A Roman Mother in Mourning
    Valerie Hope, The Open University

    14. Mothers as Dedicators
    Olympia Bobou, Aarhus University, Denmark

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