Women in the Histories of Herodotus.
This thesis examines the portrayal of women in the Histories of Herod at us against the backdrop of two influences, Greek mythology, and the social customs and thought pertaining to women in ancient Greek society. Herodotus' Histories are particularly wide-ranging and, unlike Thucydides' later account of the Peloponnesian War, not confined to the exclusively political and military spheres. As a result. Herodotus' female characters appear naturally in the course of the stories he is telling, stories he has found as the result of his inquiries. Since his researches are so wide-ranging, the information so acquired comes from many and varied sources, both chronologically and geographically. In the course of placing the information he has gathered before his readers or audience, Herodotus has to present it in terms that can be understood and readily assimilated by those receiving it. It is my contention that in order to achieve this end he naturally moulds his stories according to two systems of information with which he and his audience are familiar, that of mythology and that of the social practices and attitudes of his time concerning women, and that these two systems of information act as a backdrop against which the stories he has collected are viewed. When dealing with information from societies very different from the Greek, Herodotus frequently has occasion to define such information in terms of its alterity or 'otherness' in comparison with what for him and his audience is accepted practice. In this way he is able to render strange, alien and foreign customs comprehensible for his audience by expressing them in terms of what they are not and for this purpose he uses Greek societal norms as his reference point. Conversely, he is also able to render stories from foreign lands familiar by recasting his tales using mythological elements well known to his audience, elements which would enjoy instant recognition in the minds of those receiving the information he is imparting. For ease in examining the social context against which Herodotus is telling his stories concerning women, his female characters have been assigned to the categories of daughter, sister, wife and mother, and in each chapter the customs, attitudes and beliefs pertaining to such categories in both societal and mythological terms have been laid out before examining the characters in each category in the text. There is a final category of Women in Power since the women in this category are an excellent example of alterity in relation to Greek thought and practice.