Famous Women

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Harvard University Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 282 pages
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The first collection of biographies in Western literature devoted exclusively to women, Famous Women affords a fascinating glimpse of a moment in history when medieval attitudes toward women were beginning to give way to more modern views of their potential. Virginia Brown's acclaimed translation, commissioned for The I Tatti Renaissance Library, is the first English edition based on the autograph manuscript of the Latin.

  

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Famous women

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While largely known for the Decameron (c.1351), Boccaccio exercised a profound influence on British and European literature with his Latin De mulieribus claris. Geoffrey Chaucer inserted a translation ... Read full review

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What a horrid piece of work on Cleopatra. If he did not have anything bad to say about her, then he wouldn't have anything to say. Octavian himself could not be more negative and slanderous. Just goes to show you how certain male writers can be so biased. If he is a friend to women; they don't need any enemies.  

Contents

Introduction
xi
Dedication 1
xxvii
Eve Our First Mother 7
xxxiii
x1xxx Orithya and Antiope Queens of the Amazons
41
XXXVII Helen Wife of King Menelaus
70
Penelope W1fe of Ulysses
78
Lavinia Queen of Laurentum
81
Dido or Elissa Queen of Carthage
82
Flora the Prostitute Goddess of Flowers and W1fe of Zephyrus
131
A Young Roman Woman
133
Marcia Daughter of Varro
135
Sulpicia W1fe of Fulvius Flaccus
137
Harmonia Daughter of Gelon of Sicily
139
Busa of Canosa di Puglia
140
Sophonisba Queen of Numidia
143
Theoxena Daughter of Prince Herodicus
146

Nicaula Queen of Ethiopia
90
Pamphile Daughter of Platea
91
Rhea Ilia a Vestal Virgin
92
Gaia Cyrilla Wife of King Tarquinius Priscus
94
Sappho Girl of Lesbos and Poetess
95
Lucretia W1fe of Collatinus
96
Tamyris Queen of Scythia
98
Leaena a Prostitute
100
Athaliah Queen of Jerusalem
102
Cloelia a Roman Maiden
106
Hippo a Greek Woman
108
Megullia Dotata
109
Veturia a Roman Matron
110
Tamaris Daughter of Micon
114
Artemisia Queen of Caria
115
Virginia Virgin and Daughter of Virginius
120
Irene Daughter of Cratinus
123
Leontium
124
Olympias Queen of Macedonia
125
Claudia a Vestal Virgin
127
Virginia W1fe of Lucius Volumnius
129
Berenice Queen of Cappadocia
149
The Wife of Orgiago the Galatian
151
Tertia Aemilia Wife of the Elder Africanus
153
Dripetrua Queen of Laodicea
155
Sempronia Daughter of Gracchus
156
Claudia Quinta a Roman Woman
157
Hypsicratea Queen of Pontus
159
Sempronia a Roman Woman
162
The Wives of the Cimbrians
165
Julia Daughter of the Dictator Julius Caesar
167
Portia Daughter of Cato Uticensis
168
Curia Wife of Quintus Lucretius
170
Hortensia Daughter of Quintus Hortensius
171
Sulpicia Wife of Truscellio
172
Cornificia a Poetess
174
Mariamme Queen of Judaea
175
Cleopatra Queen of Egypt
178
xcvm Faustina Augusta
205
Conclusion
232
Bibliography
257
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Although Giovanni Boccaccio was born in France and raised and educated in Naples, where he wrote his first works under the patronage of the French Angevin ruler, Boccaccio always considered himself a Tuscan, like Petrarch and Dante. After Boccaccio returned to Florence in 1340, he witnessed the outbreak of the great plague, or Black Death, in 1348. This provided the setting for his most famous work, the vernacular prose masterpiece Il Decamerone (Decameron) (1353). This collection of 100 short stories, told by 10 Florentines who leave plague-infected Florence for the neighboring hill town of Fiesole, is clear evidence of the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy. The highly finished work exerted a tremendous influence on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Keats, and Tennyson even as it established itself as the great classic of Italian fictional prose. Although Chaucer did not mention Boccaccio's name, his Canterbury Tales are clearly modeled on the Decameron. Boccaccio's other important works are a short life of Dante and commentaries on the Divine Comedy; Filocolo (1340) a prose romance; Filostrato (1335), a poem on Troilus and Cressida; and Theseus (1340-41), a poem dealing with the story of Theseus, Palamon, and Arcite. Boccassio's only attempt at writing an epic was a work that Chaucer rendered as his "Knight's Tale." Boccaccio's last work written in Italian was the gloomy, cautionary tale titled The Corbaccio (1355). The Nymph Song (1346), as a counterpiece for the Decameron, demonstrates that it is possible to read the Decameron as an allegory, with the plague representing the spiritual plague of medieval Christianity, viewed from the vantage point of Renaissance humanism. Many of the Decameron tales are indeed paganized versions of medieval sermons about sin and damnation with the morals reversed. After 1363 Boccaccio concentrated on trying to gain enduring fame by writing, in Latin, a series of lives of memorable men and women and a genealogy of the pagan gods. Boccaccio died in 1375.

Virginia Brown is Senior Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto.

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