Historians generally believe that ancient Greek girls did not have as much access to education as ancient Greek boys. But they must have had some, sometimes, because we know of a number of educated women such as Sappho of Lesbos and Diotima, a philosopher and contemporary of Socrates. The lack of documentation on women’s lives in classical Greece makes it difficult to determine exactly how much education girls received, however.
Evidence comes from those women who are mentioned in the records, and from art historians. A handful of artworks depict females studying! A kylix from the 400s BCE depict a female student carrying a tablet and stylus, used to write notes during a teacher’s lectures. A vase from the same century shows a woman reading from a papyrus (above), meaning she had been taught how to read. A water vessel from the 500s BCE show two young girls being taught to dance by a female teacher. Such limited and fragmentary evidence is all historians have to attempt to understand how girls and women were educated in ancient Greece.
Archaeologists from the University of Seville recently completed a review of more than 500 Neolithic burials at 21 archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula. They found that at the 198 graves where the sex of the deceased could be determined, there were 1.5 male graves for every female grave. The researchers said that children’s graves were also underrepresented in the sample. “The quantity of males cannot be natural,” Cintas-Peña said. The study indicates that men were more likely to be buried with arrowheads and other projectiles, and more likely to have signs of injury or violent death, while women were more likely to be buried with ceramics.
However, the researchers added, the most elaborate graves in the cemeteries did not necessarily belong to men. They suggest gender differences, and male predominance in terms of violence, arose along with social inequalities as people accumulated private property. “If we can say that gender inequality began in the Neolithic, or in the Copper Age or in any period, it means that it’s something cultural, it’s not something biologically determined,” Cintas-Peña explained.
Catherine of Aragon was the first-ever female ambassador in Europe. She was named the ambassador from the kingdom of Aragon to England in 1507.
At the time, Catherine was the 22-year-old widow of the former crown prince, Arthur. He had died in 1502, and Catherine had stayed on in England and become betrothed to the new crown prince, Henry. It was not because Henry particularly wanted her. No, Catherine was still in England because her father-in-law King Henry VII did not want to give back Catherine’s very large dowry.
Catherine’s position was precarious.
She had little money, as neither her parents nor her penny-pinching father-in-law wished to support her financially. She had no status, as her husband was dead and her betrothed had remained just that for going on three years. Naming Catherine ambassador, therefore, was less a compliment to her diplomatic skills and more a way to bolster her position and therefore her parent’s.