Gorgo: Sparta's Woman of Autonomy, Authority, and Agency

Oliver R. Baker
2022 Athens Journal of Humanities and Arts  
Claims that Herodotus reveals himself as a proto-biographer, let alone as a proto-feminist, are not yet widely accepted. To advance these claims, I have selected one remarkable woman from one side of the Greco-Persian Wars whose activities are recounted in his Histories. Critically it is to a near contemporary, Heraclitus, to whom we attribute the maxim êthos anthropôi daimôn (ἦθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαίμων) —character is human destiny. It is the truth of this maxim—which implies effective human
more » ... t makes Herodotus' creation of historical narrative even possible. Herodotus is often read for his vignettes, which, without advancing the narrative, color-in the character of the individuals he depicts in his Histories. No matter, if these fall short of the cradle to grave accounts given by Plutarch, by hop-scotching through the nine books, we can assemble a partially continuous narrative, and thus through their exploits, gauge their character, permitting us to attribute both credit and moral responsibility. Arguably this implied causation demonstrates that Herodotus' writings include much that amounts to proto-biography and in several instances—one of which is given here—proto-feminism.
doi:10.30958/ajha.9-2-3 fatcat:a6jpuiu3lrbetjoosy4wsyj5wq