Greek And Roman Literature: An Analysis

Greek and Roman authors describe female foreigners in almost diametric terms within the same works, creating a contradictory narrative. Due to Greek and Roman gender roles, women were meant to be subservient. To uphold cultural expectations for female characters, authors had to characterize them as weak. However, for the story to uphold cultural expectations regarding foreigners, the very same characters had to be described as violent and unstable. These opposing ideas lead to a dual view of the same characters. This paradox to how non-citizen women are viewed has created two separate personalities with which these characters are described. Rather than a holistic interpretation of foreign women, Greek and Roman authors commonly fall into a trap of separating these identities in such a way to fit their political agenda.
One such author who attempted to equally represent both the foreign and female identity was Hippocrates. In his description of the Scythians, he recounts “…unmarried girls, ride horses, practice archery, hurl javelins from horseback and fight tribal enemies” (Hp. Aer.3.17). In his initial description, Hippocrates simply describes the customs regarding Scythian women. However,
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Their worship of a male god was depicted as violent and crazed. They accordingly had slain their husbands, sons, and priests, to honor Dionysus, who also used them as soldiers. Contrastingly, the Amazons were also warriors, but took pride in celibacy. However, the Amazons led an isolated, matriarchal society. The most popular myths regarding the Amazons are also about the male triumph over these women. This emphasis on the domination of men is indicative of the cultural values of upholding male supremacy in antiquity. Furthermore, portraying both the matriarchal Maenads and the Amazons as out of control and brutish furthers the cultural belief that women must be

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