The naming of women in Greek and Roman comedy
Starting from the observation of David Schaps that speakers in the Athenian lawcourts did not normally mention living women by name unless pejoratively, this chapter shows that, contrary to what Schaps had thought, the same rule also applied in Athenian comedy and prose literature, if correctly formulated (‘A free man does not name a respectable living woman in public’). Since the rule was based on the principle that ‘if she was a proper woman, the public would not be expected to know her’ (Schaps), it did not apply to the few women who were honoured figures in public life in their own right, viz. priestesses of major cults. It is further shown that the Roman comic dramatists were aware that their Greek predecessors tended to avoid mentioning women by name, but had not understood the precise rule that governed this practice.
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