Abstract: Picturing Women on Athenian Pots: The Case of a Vase in Tampa


Since the 1970s, the question of the “status of women” in ancient Greece has occupied a prominent place in classical scholarship and inquiry.  Because of the many images of women and because they are themselves objects of popular culture, Athenian vases have rightly been seen as critical to the discussion.  Some receive more attention than others because of their unusual imagery: one of these, a hydria (water jar) by the Harrow Painter today in Tampa, will be the focus of this lecture.  Is the seemingly modest woman in this scene a proper Athenian housewife or a perfumed prostitute ready for hire?  Can women in Greek art be categorized in such broad terms?  In addition to the scene itself, we will consider such factors as the vase’s shape, findspot, possible audience, and the painter’s output as a whole.  The Harrow Painter’s hydria reveals both the potential gains and potential pitfalls of using vases as a means to understand ancient Athenian society.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,


Fantham, Elaine, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen, Sarah B. Pomeroy,

            and H. A. Shapiro. Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. Oxford:

            Oxford University Press. 1994.

Glazebrook, Allison, and Madeleine M. Henry, eds. Greek Prostitutes in the Ancient

            Mediterranean, 800 BCE-200 CE. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2011.

Lewis, Sian. The Athenian Woman: An Iconographic Handbook. London and

            New York: Routledge, 2002.

Nevett, Lisa. House and Society in the Ancient Greek World. Cambridge: Cambridge

            University Press, 1999.

Patterson, Cynthia B. The Family in Greek History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard

            University Press, 1998.

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