Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves” as Want to Read:
Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  863 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
s/t: Women in Classical Antiquity
What did women do in ancient Greece and Rome? Did Socrates' wife Xanthippe ever hear his dialogues on beauty and truth? How many many women actually read the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides? When pagan goddesses were as powerful as gods, why was the status of women generally so low? Why, in traditional histories, is half the populatio
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published 1975)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default

4 Stars

My last couple of forays into non-fiction historical writing have been kind of disappointing three-star affairs. This book, however – whether it’s the more academic tone or simply the subject matter – I really enjoyed. First published in the 70′s it probably contains some disputed or out-of-date ideas and evidence by now, but it was one of (if not ‘the’) first academic texts to thoroughly examine women’s roles in Ancient Greece and Rome. So, as a woman who is interested in Ancient Greek a
An informative book, but Pomeroy's feminism shines through so much that I have no faith in her objectivity. Combined with the age of this book, I'd advise everyone to look at Pomeroy's assertions with a highly critical eye.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I found that I couldn't focus well on this book. It isn't very academic because it treats a lot of assumptions about the classical world as fact. This is a common problem with the question of women in the ancient world as remaining literature generally portrays women in epic roles which are quite a bit different from the material evidence that is now used to understand the lives of everyday women. It is disappointing

For a more accurate and thoughtful critical review of women's role in classic l
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my absolute favorite books from college. Note that the list of "types" in the title is also a ranking. In many ways it was better to be a whore in Classical Greece than a wife, especially in the upper classes. Exhaustively researched using primary sources such as laws, legal documents, letters, plays, etc. from the period. Surprisingly engaging and easy to read.
Pomeroy looks at the roles of women in the classical world of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Interesting to see how some attitudes rarely change, even after thousands of years. Well written and researched, worth reading whether you're a feminist or not
Erik Graff
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classics fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Published during the seventies, this is one of the first--if not the first--books in English to discuss the roles of women in classical antiquity from a scholarly feminist perspective. It is written on an introductory level suitable for undergraduates and studious high schoolers.
more like a 3.75. Good, very interesting.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a330
Really enjoyed the chapters about Athens and Sparta but towards the end of the Roman chapters it kind of ran out of steam which is odd as that's where the evidence becomes more available
Catherine Siemann
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now-classic feminist history of the topic; seems fairly obvious, but that means that it did its job.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty interesting account of the lives of women in classical Greek and Roman societies. My main problem with it would be the form or pace of it which made it longer to read than I expected. I enjoyed the material and the way the author made good efforts to take a look at all women, not just the upper class ones, but I did not always have the motivation for this kind of scholar writting; so I often picked up another read instead of continuing this one when the motivation wasn't there.
Kate Boham
In this book, Ms. Pomeroy draws on archeological evidence as well as histories and literature of the times to bring to light the little known stories of women in the Ancient World. It's an excellent read and a recommended resource for anyone with an interest in the Ancient World.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Don't judge me, yes, I'm able to read two books in the same day. This book was easy to read, the font was huge, and I already knew most of the information. I'd recommend it to people just getting into the ancient world.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I really wanted to like this book, but the author jumps around too much to make any sense. There's a lot of 'we'll see that in such and such chapter' or just plain jumping from one culture to another without clear connections. All around disappointing read.
Janna G. Noelle
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book is said to be a ground-breaking text in the realm of Classical Studies in that it seeks to describe the status of women in antiquity from the Bronze Age through to the Hellenistic Period of Ancient Greece and onto the late Republic and early Empire of Rome. What results from this inquiry is utterly fascinating. Other than some surviving poetry by Sappho, the bulk of what the author had to work with was written by men about women – often in a seemingly hyperbolic, idealized view on how ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Poets, Athenian and otherwise, were not uniformly misogynistic, and the literary portraits of women, even when monstrous, show self-assertion, self-esteem, dignity, and rage at injustice—and not all of them were monstrous. I can think of no other literature in which women are such compelling figures, beginning with Andromache and Penelope. These Galateas are so seductive that scholars have chosen to pursue them with greater zeal than they display in their attempts to study flesh-and-blood women ...more
Matt Sautman
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailing the lives of women within Greece and Rome, Pomeroy presents a history that seeks to dismantle the patriarchal narratives casted upon contemporary understandings of classical cultures. While Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves may not be as revolutionary as some of the prominent works of the black feminist authors I have reviewed in the past, there is a cultural value to Pomeroy's approach. Pomeroy presents patriarchy not as something that has always-already existed, but instead as the ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I am a feminist, a Latin teacher, and a lover of anything about the ancient world. Clearly this book is well deserving of its secure place on college curricula, and is a fantastic sourcebook. I learned so much, often about areas of the ancient world I didn't even know I didn't know about. The writing style is direct and organized, and I underlined frequently because I was learning so much.

The only downside was that it wasn't exactly a page-turner. I get that it's hard to
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more things change, the more things stay the same.

An older book (published in '75), it's a scholarly discussion of the attitudes and roles of women during Classical/Hellenistic Greek/Roman times. It's a nice book, discussing issues from a feminist point of view, and is one of the earliest/first books looking at how (Mediterranean) women lived during ancient times.

I studied Classical Civilizations as an undergrad, but the professors rarely focused on the lives of women, so it was nice to see
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pomperoy is one of my favourite academics when it comes to Gender in the ancient world, I enjoyed her contribution to 'Ancient Greece: A Political, Social and Cultural History' and her work in 'Spartan Women'.

This book really brings together a lot of her work really highlights both the difficulty and the importance of examining the lives of women in ancient Greece and Rome. She crosses class boundaries, a rare thing for a classicist and talks about the use of goddesses in patriarchal societies,
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book was perfect for a paper I wrote on the sexism and misogyny we inherited from Victorian-age interpretations of pre-Gothic art and artifacts. This is a perspective, since so much of ancient history is left unverifiable, but I enjoyed her perspective immensely. As always, cross-check your ideas with updated research, but this book added a lot of depth and texture to my concepts of women in history, and how skewed things get when we rely solely on the analyses of men long dead in piecing t ...more
Cody VC
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dry in places but still very interesting. It's also a bit fascinating how relevant this continues to be in terms of our understanding the roots of Roman-influenced Western culture - the author observes as much in her preface from 1994 when discussing why she didn't revise the 1975 text, and it's now 2012. She writes that she "would present some of this material slightly differently today" but the crux of it remains the same, which says as much about the strength of her work as it does about our ...more
Bruce Morton
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Pomeroy places students of the New Testament in her debt in this careful study. She provides a view of the ancient cults which sharpens the background detail in Paul's letters to Corinth and Roman Asia. Never again can students of Ephesians and 1 and 2 Timothy announce that we can know little about the ancient religions of the people of Asia. Sarah Pomeroy leads us by the hand on an expedition that finds the facts.
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably had unrealistic expectations about this one, based on how long I've been hearing about it. Informative and fairly easy to read (for an academic book). Some conclusions seem based on Pomeroy's opinions without really explaining to us why/how her opinions are informed, but at least once that was based on my missing an earlier citation (e.g. my own reading comprehension fail). Ends fairly abruptly.
Pomeroy's book about women in antiquity is rich in information, and spans across many historical periods in antiquity to give an in-depth account of women's lives and stories during those eras. It covers views of women in literature, poetry, mythology, and philosophy, as well as legislation pertaining to women and their rights. Highly recommend for people interested in women's history and history in general!
Lisa Kavanaugh
I enjoyed the first half of this book (3.5 stars) as it was a history lesson/refresher as well as a (depressing) eduction into the roles of women throughout these periods. It got bogged down around 55% (near the end since after 76% its all footnotes) with the marital and property laws concerning women in Ancient Rome vs Greece and I never finished it.

I was inspired to read this after reading Fatima Mernassi's Dreams of Trespass: Tales of Harem Girlhood which I highly recommend.
E.j. Kay
A really great source book - perhaps not one you sit down and read from cover to cover. Sarah Pomeroy has done a great job in researching the sources for the book, and paints a vivid picture of the life of women in classical Greece and Rome. It makes me very glad I'm alive now, and wasn't then!
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richelle by: Margaret Toscano
Shelves: latin-and-greek
One of the books I remember best from my undergraduate experience. A fascinating look at how women were viewed and treated in antiquity that makes it very clear how those attitudes continue to manifest in western culture hundreds of years later.
Sarah Schanze
I had no idea Athenian women had it so bad! It was kind of depressing to read. Even Roman women didn't have it easy. Thanks, Patriarchy! Still this was a good book, and felt like a solid overview of the culture and time period, though it's not one I'm familiar with.
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I got this book to use for a paper, and I wasn't expecting it to be super exciting, but it actually was. It's really interesting and informative, and even if one does not need to write a paper on the subject the book is still interesting.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Women's Life in Greece and Rome: A Source Book in Translation
  • Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
  • Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece
  • Caesars' Wives: The Women Who Shaped the History of Rome
  • The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory
  • Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • Women in the Classical World: Image and Text
  • Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt
  • Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
  • A History of the Wife
  • Daily Life in Ancient Rome
  • How to Mellify a Corpse: and Other Human Stories of Ancient Science and Superstition
  • Queen, Empress, Concubine: Fifty Women Rulers from the Queen of Sheba to Catherine the Great
  • Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England
  • The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found
  • Women's Lives in Medieval Europe: A Sourcebook
  • Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays
    $17.99 $2.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
“Misogyny was born of fear of women.” 3 likes
“It is no surprise that the only woman in antiquity who could be the subject of a full-length biography is Cleopatra. Yet, unlike Alexander, whom she rivals as the theme of romance and legend, Cleopatra is known to us through overwhelmingly hostile sources. The reward of the ‘good’ woman in Rome was likely to be praise in stereotyped phrases; in Athens she won oblivion.” 2 likes
More quotes…