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Title: Gender and responsibility in Athenian legal discourse
Author: Fernandes, E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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The focus of this inquiry is the representation of women in Athenian legal texts and the relationship between gender and responsibility at Athens, centring on forensic oratory and including a discussion of the wider Athenian cultural discourse on gender and politics with a primary emphasis on the analogous public institution of tragedy. My objective is to map the disjunction between imputations of agency and responsibility to women in forensic texts and the actual legal capacities of Athenian women. My interpretative strategy aims to qualify previous positivist or gender-blind approaches to the study of 'women's history' and 'law' and is predicated on a double premise: firstly, that there existed at Athens a gendered analogy between citizenship and access to privileged fora for public speech; secondly, that in a legal discourse over which citizens exercised a narrative monopoly the women represented there are a fictive product of the rhetorical imperatives of litigants. Implicit in this hypothesis is the notion that the assignation of 'real' status to these female characters is radically problematic; my contention is that the appeal to female agency in legal narrative draws on fictional and stereotypical models which are informed by and collaborate in the construction of a standard and normative ideology about woman rather than, or at least as much as, an historical, institutional reality. Chapter I investigates the evidence for the presence of women in court. Chapter II examines women prosecuted, focussing on categories of criminal behaviour and of women accused (primary texts: Antiphon I, [Demosthenes] 59). Chapter III considers women said to prosecute in inheritance cases; it includes a discussion of women's property rights and the relationship between financial and legal responsibility. Chapter IV analyses the commonplace literary topos, standard in 'law' as elsewhere, which defines female agency as seduction, centring on the 'Solonic' law.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available