Macquarie University
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Gender and death: women on Greek funerary monuments during the Peloponnesian War

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:02 authored by Kathryn White
Thucydides claims that normal burial practices were in disarray in c. 430 and c. 427 B.C. due to the plague. However, this does not appear to be the case regarding the erection of gravestones. Th is raises a question about the validity of aspects of Thucydides' account and the impact of the plague on Athenian society. Furthermore, rather than decreasing, the commemoration of women appears to have flourished in 430 - 427 B.C. This raises a question about the place women occupied in Athens during the Peloponnesian War and its immediate aftermath. This thesis documents the surviving funerary inscriptions and their accompanying monuments set up for deceased women and by living women for deceased relatives during this period, in order to comment on the place of women in Athenian society between c. 430 - 400 B.C. based on how they were depicted on gravestones. This approach also allows for an assessment of the impact left by the plague in c. 430 and c. 427 in regard to gravestones commemorating women. Chapter One reviews the more authoritative studies on women and gravestones in order to determine how the current study fits in with the previous scholarship. Chapter Two provides an overview of classical Athenian mortuary practices, in particular the impact left by Solonian funerary legislation and the plagues of c. 430 and c. 427 B.C., women's roles in funeral rites, and the financial considerations of erecting gravestones. Chapter Three focuses on analysing grave inscriptions so as to determine how women are named and described in the texts. Chapter Four concentrates on analysing funerary reliefs in order to determine how deceased and living women are portrayed in the image. Chapter Five looks at the cor relation between the inscriptions and the reliefs on gravestones to determine whether there is a relationship between text and image.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. The History of the scholarship on women on gravestones in antiquity -- Chapter 2. Mortuary practices in classical Athens -- Chapter 3. Women in funerary inscriptions -- Chapter 4. Women in funerary reliefs -- Chapter 5. Women in funerary inscriptions and on funerary reliefs -- Conclusion -- Catalogue of abbreviations -- Catalogue of women on Greek funerary monuments.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 271-308

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Ian Plant


Copyright Kathryn White 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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