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Women Classical ScholarsUnsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly$
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Rosie Wyles and Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198725206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198725206.001.0001

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Ménage’s Learned Ladies

Ménage’s Learned Ladies

Anne Dacier (1647–1720) and Anna Maria van Schurman (1607–1678)

Chapter:
(p.61) 4 Ménage’s Learned Ladies
Source:
Women Classical Scholars
Author(s):

Rosie Wyles

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198725206.003.0004

In 1690, the French scholar Gilles Ménage published his Historia Mulierum Philosopharum (The History of Women Philosophers), in which he collected information about over sixty-five female philosophers from antiquity. He also singled out two outstandingly learned women of his own day: Anna Maria van Schurman and Anne Dacier, calling them ‘doctissima’ (very learned). This chapter explores the significance of Ménage’s publication and his praise of these two women. Ménage justifies Anne Dacier’s career choice and implies that her serious engagement with learning makes her, and women like her, the equal of contemporary male scholars. Ménage’s publication would result in Dacier and van Schurman being used as leading examples in treatises arguing for female education across the following centuries. This case study invites reflection on the nature of biography and the question of who has control over the meaning of an individual’s engagement in classical learning.

Keywords:   Ménage, Madame Dacier, Anna Maria van Schurman, Anne Le Fèvre, exempla

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