Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It is one of the cruelties of history that many of the works you'd most like to hear, see, or read have been lost. For example, in the Hellenistic period we know of several women poets whose work inspired cities, achieved prizes, and awed listeners. Little, if anything, of the works of these women has survived. At least we know from other sources, like this dedication from Lamia, that they lived, that they wrote, and that they had place in the literary culture of their age.

From the Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 3 532.

Decree in honor of Aristodama of Smyrna, 218-217 B.C.E.

Of the Aitolians the strategus is Hagetas, a citizen of Kallion. With good fortune. Resolved [by the city] of the Lamians. Since Aristodama, daughter Amyntas, a citizen of Smyrna in Io[nia], epic poet, while she was in our city, gave several [public recitations] of her poems in which the nation of the Aitolians [and] the People's ancestors were worthily commemorated and since the performance was done with great enthusiasm, she shall be a proxenos of the city and benefactor, and she shall be given citizenship and the right to purchase land and [a house] and the right of pasture and inviolability and security on land and sea in war and peace for herself and her descendants and their property for all time together with all other privileges that are given to other proxenoi and benefactors and Diony[sios], her brother, and his descendants shall have the rights of a proxenos, citizenship, inviolability.

(translation: Women in the Classical World, Fantham, Foley, Kampen, Pomeroy, and Shapiro - 1994)

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