Coming Soon!
Women in the Classical World
A History
by Barbara A. Olsen
October 2024, 400pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5978-6
$107, £83, 94€, A147
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5979-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Athenian democracy was fascinated with the powerful women of Greek tragedy yet denied ordinary women legal and political rights.

A narrative history, document excerpts, and reference entries explore how Greek and Roman women both individually and collectively experienced, navigated, and sometimes challenged the rules, expectations, and limitations of their patriarchal cultures.

Neither Ancient Greece nor Rome’s Republic or Empire granted women full legal or citizenship rights, nor did they grant easy access to social roles outside of the domestic or religious arenas. Nevertheless, women found ways to meet and challenge the expectations of both societies. Moreover, the laws and customs that governed women’s lives could and did vary widely, depending on the century and locality. This reference resource surveys the complex and fascinating history of women in the classical world.

The book begins with a timeline charting the most important events in the history of Greek and Roman women, as well as a narrative history that explores the experiences, struggles, and achievements of women in the ancient world. A selection of primary source documents, each accompanied by an explanatory headnote, provides first-hand accounts of the lives of women. Alphabetically arranged reference entries then give objective, fundamental information about topics related to the history of women in the classical world. The entries include cross-references and suggestions for further reading, and the book closes with a selected, general bibliography.


  • A timeline highlights key events in the life of Greek and Roman women
  • A narrative history explores the lives of women in Ancient Greece and Rome
  • Primary source documents offer first-hand accounts of the life of women in the classical world
  • Reference entries provide objective, fundamental information about topics related to women in the classical world
  • Entry bibliographies and a selected, general bibliography direct users to additional sources of information
Barbara A. Olsen is associate professor of Greek and Roman studies and women’s studies at Vassar College. She is author of Women in Mycenaean Greece: The Linear B Tablets from Pylos and Knossos and has published numerous articles on prehistoric and early historical era Greece. She has been a fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC, and the Vanderpool Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). She is a long-standing member of the Women’s Classical Caucus and is on the ASCSA Managing Committee.
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