Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 183–213 | Cite as

Aristotle and woman

  • Mary Anne Cline Horowitz


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  1. 1.
    Given the large amount of ink that has been expended by scholars on Aristotle, the dearth of discussion of this topic is revealing. This article is needed because Werner Jaeger, W. D. Ross, and others, have not dealt with it. See future notes for detailed studies of aspects of the topic. The most comprehensive study to date that focuses directly on the topic may be found in F. A.Wright, Feminism in Greek Literature from Homer to Aristotle (London: Kennikat Press, 1932). pp. 202–222.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Many of the documents on which historians have based their views of the position of women in ancient Greece are collected in JuliaO'Faolian and LauroMartines, Not in God's Image: Women in History from the Greeks to the Victorians (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), pp. 1–33. Nineteenth-century historiography defended the view that Athenian women led secluded lives, spending most of their hours in the “gynaeceum,” the women's quarters of the house. See Alice Zimmern, The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks, trans. H. Blumner (London: Cassell and Co., 1910), chap. 4; and James Donaldson, Woman: Her Position and Influence in Ancient Greece and Rome, and among the Early Christians (London: Longmans, Green, 1907). The revisionist school, which views the Greek woman as having some social freedoms, was initiated by A. W. Gomme, “The Position of Women in Athens in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.,” Class.Philo. 20 (1925), 1–25. Too frequently, followers of Gomme's revisionism have been apologists for both the ancient Greek and the twentieth-century English and American treatment of women. Blatant cases in point are H. D. F. Kitto. The Greeks (Harmondworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1951), pp. 219–237 (the position of Greek slaves and Greek women are both excused); Charles Seltman, Women in Antiquity (London: Thames and Hudson, 1956), particularly p. 112 (the author, who finds his title “provocative,” decorated his book with illustrations of dancing girls and flute-players); and Donald Richter, “The Position of Women in Classical Athens,” Classical Journal, October–November 1971, pp. 1–8. The contemporary prejudice underlying the erudition of the last article has been properly pointed out by Marilyn B. Arthur. “Early Greece: The Origins of the Western Attitude toward Women,” Arethusa, 6, no. 1 (Spring 1973), 53, n. 13. A recent balanced account may be found in W. K. Lacey, The Family in Classical Greece (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Recent research stresses the longevity of Peripatetic influence on the University curricula and in the mainstream of European thought. The greatest number of Aristotelian works were produced between 1150 and 1650. See Charles B.Schmitt, “Towards a Reassessment of Renaissance Aristotelianism,” Hist. Sci., 11 (1973), 159–193.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    My use of the term “antifeminist” in relation to aristotle might be questioned by those who associate the feminist movement only with the modern period. However, the limiting of the feminist movement to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries reveals the myth of “historical progress” at work, for the woman question has been a perennial question, rising in importance in particular historical epochs. One such epoch was Greece of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. For evidence that the subject of woman's position was a lively topic for introducing a description of a foreign culture, see Herodotus, History, I, 1–4. For humorous, popular portrayals of the woman issue, see Aristophanes, Lysistrata, Ecclesiazusae, and Thesmophorizusae. In his defense of education, military service, and political leadership for a feminine and masculine elite, the Plato of the Republic was a feminist for his time. Aristotle, in Book II of the Politics, singled out the community of wives and children along with the community of property as the most objectionable notions of Plato's ideal state. He also objected to the Spartan constitution because it was too indulgent to women. Aristotle thus was “anti” the schemes of his day that were challenging the traditional position of women.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Such scholarship would parallel LewisHanke, Aristotle and the American Indians: A Study in Race Prejudice in the Modern World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959). For references to later Aristotelians, see F. E. Peters, Aristotle and the Arabs (New York: New York University Press, 1968); and Charles H. Lohr, S.J., “Medieval Latin Aristotle Commentaries,” Traditio, 23 (1967), 313–413, 24 (1968), 149–245; 26 (1970), 135–216; 27 (1971), 251–351; 28 (1972), 281–396; and “Renaissance Latin Aristotle Commentaries: Authors A-B,” Studies in the Renaissance 21 (1974), 228–289.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Aristotle, The Works of Aristotle, ed. W. D.Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908–1931), G. A., II, 3(737a 27). References accord with the Oxford edition; the Greek text is in the Loeb Classical Library. For the dominant edition of Aristotle during the Renaissance and early modern periods, I have consulted Operum Aristotelis, ed. Issaac Casaubon, 2 vols. (Lugduni: G. Laemarium, 1590), which contains Theodore Gaza's Latin translation of the biological works. Unless otherwise indicated, translations are from the Oxford edition except for Ernest Barker, The Politics of Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948). Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 92, a. 1. Albertus Magnus, De Animalibus, book XXVI, ed. H. Stadler, 2 vols. (Munster, 1916–1921). Joseph Needham, History of Embryology (New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1959), pp. 86–114. Vern L. Bullough, “Medieval Medical and Scientific Views of Women”, Viator, 4 (1973), 485–501.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Freud's influential theory of the female castration complex is one of the most blatant examples. See J.Chasseguet-Smirgel, Female Sexuality (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1970); Clara Thompson, “Penis Envy in Women”, Psychiatry, 1943, pp. 123–125; Karen Horney, “Distrust between the Sexes”, in Feminine Psychology, ed. Harold Kelman (New York: Norton, 1967).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For examples, see notes 61, 62, 75, and 76 below. Albertus Magnus, O.P. of Cologne, De Secretis Mulierum (Strassbourg, 1601). De Secretis Mulierum was analyzed by Helen Rodnite LeMay (SUNY, Stonybrook) in “Some Thirteenth-and Fourteenth-Century Lectures on Female Sexuality”, Third Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Bryn Mawr College, June 1976. “Aristotle”, The Works of Aristotle, the Famous Philosopher, Containing His Complete Masterpiece and Family Physician, His Experienced Midwife, His Book of Problems and His Last Legacy (London, 1976). The forged eighteenth-century work going under the name “Aristotle's Masterpiece”, has been a major source for popular European and early American attitudes to sex and embryology: a part of it, “The Experienced Midwife” directly influenced views of childbirth. In 1931 D'Arcy Power estimated that 10,000 copies were still being sold yearly in England. Many of its ideas, such as the causes for a child becoming male or female, have their ultimate origin in Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals. D'Arcy Power, “Aristotle's Masterpiece”, in Foundations of Medical History (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1931). Needham, History of Embryology, pp. 91–92. Vern L. Bullough, “An Early American Sex Manual, Or, Aristotle Who?” Early American Literature, Winter 1973, pp. 236–246. Currently more available sources of Aristotle's “Old Wives' Tales” are the Problemata IV (a pseudo-work derived from an original) and the authentic Historia Animalium VII.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Arthur WilliamMeyer. The Rise of Embryology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1939), chap. 1. Bronislaw Malinowsky, The Sexual Life of Savages in Northwest Melanesia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1932). Malinowsky discovered that the Trobriand Islanders were unaware of any connection between the sex act and a woman giving birth, and attributed to the female the sole role in child-bearing. This view corresponds to early creation myths and early agricultural beliefs that identify the female with the life-producing forces in the universe. Historical speculation has been concerned with the possible causal link between the discovery of paternity and the emergence of patrilineal descent: Eva Figes, Patriarchal Attitudes (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1970), pp. 33–36; and Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. M. Parshley (New York: Bantam Books, 1961), chaps. 4–6. By almost denying maternity. Aristotle represents an extreme position in the process of the masculinization of procreation. For Egyptian and Greek origins of Aristotle's theory of one seed, see Aeschylus, Eumenides, in Aeschylus II, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936), 11. 658–675, p. 335, n.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    No one can fault Aristotle for his ignorance of the female ovum, which was not discovered until the microscopic studies of von Baer in 1827, but given Aristotle's problems in explaining the empirical observation of resemblances between mothers and offspring, one may well wonder at his lack of openness to the possibility of female formative influence on embryos. Aristotelian embryology dominated in the medieval philosophical schools, while Galenic embryology, which utilized many Aristotelian principles, dominated in the medical schools. Aristotle's influence can be seen in no less a figure than William Harvey. See William Harvey, “On Conception,” Works of William Harvey, trans. R. Willis, M. D. (London, 1847), pp. 575, 577–578. Howard B. Adelmann, ed., The Embryological Treatises of Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1942), “A Brief Sketch of the History of Embryology before Fabricus,” pp. 36–71. Carolyn Iltis (University of San Francisco), “Harvey and Bacon: Views of Nature and the Female during the Scientific Revolution,” paper read at the American Historical Association meeting in Atlanta, December 1975. Needham, History of Embryology. O'Faolain and Martines, Not in God's Image, pp. 117–127. If historical studies of seventeenth-century science were to integrate biology with the physical sciences and mathematics, Aristotle would appear to have a greater role in the emergence of modern science. See Schmidt, “Towards a Reassessment of Renaissance Aristotelianism,” p. 177.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G.A., I, 20 (729a 24–32); II, 1 (732a 2–10). Aristotle's terms arrēn and thēlu are neuter in Greek, and sometimes may appropriately be translated as “male and female principles.” However, he constantly supported the distinctions in principle with examples from the differences between male and female animals. Biology and philosophy were intertwined. For a criticism of Aristotle's terminology, see AnthonyPreuss, “Science and Philosophy in Aristotle's Generation of Animals,” J. Hist. Biol., 3, no. 1 (Spring 1970), 4, 10, 18. See quotations in text at notes 38 and 28 below.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Aristotle, Pol, II, 1–6. While Aristotle's Politics was a standard textbook in medieval and early modern universities, Plato's Republic was not widely read in the West until its translation from Greek to Latin during the early fifteenth century. PaulKristeller, Renaissance Thought: Classic, Scholastic, and Humanist Strains (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), pp. 40, 58.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Aristotle, Pol., III, 9 (1280a 1–1281a 10).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Aristotle, Pol., I. Later political theorists defied Aristotle's attempt to view the state as something more than a large household and used the patriarchy, sometimes Aristotle's model, as an analogy for the state at large. For the patriarchal paradigm at work, see JeanBodin, Six Books of a Commonweale, trans. Richard Knolles (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), I, i–v; or Robert Filmer, Patriarcha and Other Political Works, ed. Peter Laslett (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1949), II, 1. Histories of Western political thought generally either ignore the patriarchy and the patriarchal paradigm or uncritically summarize the concepts when found in Aristotle or in later thinkers.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    C. F. Ward, ed., “The Epistles on the Romance of the Rose and Other Documents in the Debate,” Ph. D. diss., University of Chicago, 1911. Christine de Pisan, City of Ladies, trans. Bryan Anslay (London, 1521; British Museum Microfilm, C.13, a.18). For further discussion and references, see Emile V. Telle, L'Oeuvre de Marguerite d'Angoulême, reine de Navarre et la querelle des femmes (Toulouse, 1937); Francis Lee Utley, The Crooked Rib: An Analytical Index to the Argument about Women in English and Scots Literature to the End of the Year 1568 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1944); Lula McDowell Richardson, The Forerunners of Feminism in French Literature of the Renaissance from Christine of Pisa to Marie de Gournay (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1929).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    For an example of the use of Aristotelian arguments to discredit women and of attempts to turn them to women's favor, see the debate between Gasparo and Giulano de Medici in Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, trans. Charles S. Singleton (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959), III, 11–18.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    The topic of Aristotle and slavery has had an extensive literature. Interestingly, given the critical attitude of much of the commentary and the presence in the crucial texts of statements about women's inferiority, the literature has side-stepped the woman question. For Aristotle and antique slavery, see RobertSchlaifer, “Greek Theories of Slavery from Homer to Aristotle,” Harvard Stud. Class. Phil., 47 (1936), 165–204, also in M. I. Finley, ed., Slavery in Classical Antiquity: Views and Controversies (Cambridge: Heffer, 1968); Victoria Cuffel, “The Classical Greek Concept of Slavery,” J. Hist. Ideas, 27 (July–September 1966), 323–342; Ernest Barker, The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle (New York: Dover Press, 1959), pp. 359–373. For the use of Aristotle in the justification of modern slavery, see Hanke, Aristotle and the American Indian; David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca: New York: Cornell University Press, 1966); and Harvey Wish, “Aristotle, Plato, and the Mason-Dixon Line,” J. Hist. Ideas, 10 (1949), 254–266. An exceptional work that analyzes Aristotle's views of women and slaves together is H. C. Baldry, The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Aristotle, Pol., I, 5 (1254b 12–16).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    There is very little historical information about Aristotle's relationship with women. The best up-to-date analysis of the bits of information on his mother, Phaestis, sister, Arimneste, wife, Pythias, daughter, Pythias, and mistress, Herpyllis, with whom he bore his son, Nicomachus, and to whom he willed a substantial income, is Anton-Herman Chroust, Aristotle: New Light on His Life and on Some of His Lost Works (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973), I, chaps. 5 and 15. The fiction may be found in Joseph Greven, Die Exempla aus den Sermones Feriales et Communes des Jakob von Vitry, no. 15, and in Henri d'Andely, Le lai d'Aristotle de Henri d'Andely: publié d'après tous les manuscrits par Maurice Delbouille, (Paris: Societé d'édition “Les Belles Lettres,” 1951).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    The most thorough study of the legend is Jane CampbellHutchison, “The Housebook Master and the Folly of the Wise Man,” Art Bull., 48, no. 1 (March 1966), 73–78. See also George Szabo, “Medieval Bronzes in Prodigious Variety.” Apollo, May 1969, pp. 359–361; and George Sarton, “Aristotle and Phyllis,” Isis, 14, no. 1 (May 1930), 8–19. The last quotation comes from Sarton, p. 9. Unfortunately, the latter article reveals what Sarton said of his account of the tale: “I have retold it partly in the spirit of those who told it before.” I would like to thank Margaretta M. Salinger, Curator Emeritus, Metropolitan Museum of Art, for help on the “Aristotle and Phyllis” theme.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    “Phyllis Riding Aristotle” prints, like “Lillith and Adam” stories, are literal presentations of the masculine fear of women. See LouisGinzberg, The Legends of the Jews, trans. H. Szold (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. 1946–1964), I, 64–69. Women's struggles for equality are all too frequently perceived by men as attempts to “be on top.” Contemporaneously with the “Aristotle and Phyllis” prints that showed Phyllis carrying a whip, men who had been “beaten by their wives” were led through their town sitting backward on an ass in ridiculing ritual. See Natalie Z. Davis, “Youth Groups and Charivaris in Sixteenth-Century France,” Past and Present, 50 (February 1971), 45, 65–66.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Aristotle's biology has been treated with concern for its impact on women generally only in books on the history of women. For an example of what may occur without that perspective, see G.Pouchet, La biologie Aristotélique (París: Germier Baillière, 1885), chaps. 8–10. Pouchet's analysis of Aristotle's genetics and embryology is filled with praise for Aristotle's genius and with questionable, oversimplified confirmation by science of Aristotle's theories. For example, on p. 86 we find: “Pour nous, modernes, les produits sexuels male et femelle portent en eux les deux choses: un substratus material dominant dans l'oeuf, un principe d'énergie dominant dans le spermatozoide. Nous n'avons rien ajouté, comme on le verra à la science d'Aristote.” Aristotle's biology continues to gain praise for its overall contribution. Prominent examples are D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, On Aristotle as a Biologist (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913); and J.M. Oppenheimer, “Aristotle as a Biologist,” Scientia, 65 (1971), 649–658.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    H.A., 1, 3; III, 1 and 22; V–VIII; IX, 1. G.A. For a thorough discussion of the nature and role of “sperma,” see Preuss, “Science and Philosophy.”Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    G.A., I, 20 (728a 18–20). Arren agonos may be rendered “impotent male” or “infertile male.” Gaza's translation discussed woman's “impotentia,” impotence. For support that Aristotle's head differential between male and female was the starting point of the logic justifying antifeminism, see Clarence Shute, The Psychology of Aristotle: An Analysis of the Living Being (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 37. Given the topic of his book, I was surprised to see Shute summarizing rather than critically analyzing the Aristotelian inequality of the male and female psyches in their generative capacities (see p. 15, for example). There are several starting points for Aristotle's views on woman.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    G.A., I, 20 (728a 17), and V, 3 (784a 4–7).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Physica, II, 3. G.A., I, 1 (715a 1–11).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    See, for example, note 28 below. Also, G.A., I, 20 (729a 9–11).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    G.A., II, 1 (732a 3–10). Preuss, “Science and Philosophy,” rightly suggests that this passage is rhetorically designed to appeal to a male audience. This passage is based on a disputed text.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pol., VII, 12 (1335b 17–19).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    G.A., II, 5. For a more subtle presentation, see De Anima, II, 2–5; III.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    G.A., II, 5 (741a 5–10). For other differences between the souls of males and females, see quotation at note 84 below.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    G.A., II, 5 (741a 20–33).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    G.A., II, 5 (741b 4–5).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    G.A., II, 5 (741a 13–16). Peck's translation makes the definition explicit; it is at least implicit. The argument was built up in G.A., II, 4. Particularly see (733a 33-733b 1), (734b 20–24), (735a 8–9), and the definition in (738b 18–27).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    See note 24 above.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    G.A., II, 3 (736b 26–29); (737a 6–11).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    G.A., I, 15–18.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    G.A., I, 20 (729a 25–35).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    G.A., I, 2 (716a 13–716b 1).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    G.A., I, 21 (729b 12–21).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    “Male” is implied by the passage in note 38. G.A., I, 22, clearly refers to “nature.” The analogy of a craftsman making a bed appears in Plato, Republic, trans. and ed. F. M.Cornford (London: Oxford University Press, 1941), X (596–598); Aristotle transmitted the analogy from the context of the theory of ideas to the context of biological reproduction.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    G.A., I, 21 (729b 22)-I, 22 (730b 30). Aristotle also felt compelled to explain away what appeared to him to be a female organ inserted in the male, and regarded such male insects, which needed their material to be brought to them, as weak males. This indicates that Aristotle to some extent did associate male activity with the visible activity during intercourse. Preuss, while rightly criticizing Peck's translation of the quotation in note 34, does not give sufficient credence to the sexual overtones of Aristotle's “male activity.” (Preuss, “Science and Philosophy,” pp. 10–15). Of all the items he might have given his carpenter to build, Aristotle chose a bed.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Diotima's speech in Plato, Symposium, Loeb Classical Library (New York: G. P. Putman's Sons, 1925), 208 D-209 B.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    The distinction between “labor” and “work” is that of HannahArendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), chaps. 3–4.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    It was a common practice in ancient Greece for the male parent to decide by the fifth day after birth whether to expose to death a deformed or otherwise unwanted child. Alfred Zimmern suspects that exposure fell more often on females, while Lacey suspects it fell more often on males. Both agree that the evidence from the Hellenistic period indicates that by then the abandoned pot most frequently contained baby girls. AlfredZimmern, The Greek Commonwealth: Politics and Economics in Fifth-Century Athens (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 330–334; Lacey, The Family in Classical Greece, pp. 165–167.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    G.A., II, 1 (731b 30-732a 1); De Anima, II, 4 (415b 1–9). A common fear of Greeks was that after death the rites would not be performed for them, and that in consequence their souls would wander around restlessly. The happiness of the dead was dependent on the continuity of descendants who would guard and respect the household hearth and ancestral tomb. A female on marriage left her father's hearth for her husband's; fathers sought sons to perpetuate their line. The importance of preventing extinction of the family is indicated by the fact that if the only legitimate heir was a daughter, even if she were married she would be brought home, the marriage would be dissolved, and she would then be married to the nearest male relative. The object was to continue the line through her son. Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City, trans. W. Small (New York: Doubleday, 1956), pp. 1–85. A pertinent case in point of a father whose only legitimate child was female was Aristotle. See his “Last Will and Testament” with commentary in Chroust, Aristotle: New Light on His Life, I, chap. 15. While disregarding the Greek superstitions on the dead, Aristotle agreed to some extent that the fortune and virtue of one's descendants had an effect on one's life. Ethica Nicomachea, I, 11 (1101a 22–1101b 10).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pol., VII, 16. The little legal and literary evidence we have indicates that in Athens men aged about thirty married girls aged fourteen to sixteen. Contrary to Wright's view, Aristotle was not completely conforming to custom, but was pushing the age a few years later in order to increase the number of women surviving childbirth and the number of births of tall, healthy males. Wright, Feminism in Greek Literature, p. 213; Lacey, The Family in Classical Greece, pp 106–107, 163. Given that a major reason for marrying daughters off young was to insure virginity, Aristotle was clever in arguing that girls who marry young develop less sexual restraint. A wife's adultery and hidden bastards were major societal fears.Google Scholar
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    Pol., I, 12. G.A., IV, 2 (767a 13–27).Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    G.A., II, 6 (741b 6–10).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    G.A., IV, I (766b 15–16).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    G.A., IV, 3 (768a 1 and 768b 16–17).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, I (766b 15–26); IV, 3 (768a 6–7).Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    G.A., IV, 3 (767b 24-768a 8).Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    G.A., IV, 3 (768a 8–9).Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    H.A., IX, I (608a 22–608b 18).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, 3 (768a 28–31).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, 3 (768a 12–14).Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    G.A., I, 20 (729a 12–16), 21 (729a 25–35); IV, 4 (771b 26–28). I thank Marilyn Arthur of Columbia University for her stimulating dialogue with me on Aristotle's theory of resemblances.Google Scholar
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    G.A., II, I (731b 24–732a 12); IV, 3 (767b 9–13).Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    See note 46. Pol., VII, 16 (1335a 11–14). “In the whole of the animal world the descendants of young parents have imperfections. They tend to be of the female sex, and they are diminutive in figure.” Also G.A., IV, 2 (766b 28–32).Google Scholar
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    Pol., VII, 16 (1335a 40–45).Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    G.A., IV, 2 (766b 28–767a 35). The statements are worded as observations, not as prescription.Google Scholar
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    G.A., II, 4 (740b 21–25).Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    De Partibus Animalium, I, 1 (640a 23–28; 641b 24–35).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, I (766a 30–766b 2); II, 1 (734a 18–33); P.A., III, 4.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    See note 24. G.A., I, 18–20.Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, 3 (767b 6–10).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, 3 (767b 10–15).Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Records from the Hellenistic period indicate that females were frequently left exposed, as were deformed children. One might speculate on the possibility that Aristotle's views of mutilation were known beyond the Lyceum and that at the least they made parents more open about the exposure of female infants. See note 45.Google Scholar
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    G.A., II, 3 (737a 25–30).Google Scholar
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    G.A., IV, 1 (766a 25–30).Google Scholar
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    G.A., V, 3 (784a 5–11).Google Scholar
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    G.A., II, 4 (738b 1–4).Google Scholar
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    See note 46. If more biographical information were available, Aristotle's personel feelings about his own line of descent would be an interesting topic for a psychoanalytical historian to study. I would guess that Aristotle believed that biologically he had continued his line through his son, Nicomachus. However, since an illegitimate son even if adopted could legally acquire only a life estate, he must have looked forward to the birth of heirs through his daughter, Pythias. Aristotle's will did not indicate whether the men chosen by him as prospective mates for his daughter were relatives or friends; given his biological views, I think that if there were relatives available, Aristotle would have chosen them. It would be fascinating to know whether or not Aristotle, his father, Nicomachus, the namesake, and the daughter Pythias resembled one another. If they all did, then Aristotle's biological treatises would serve to “prove” that maleness dominated in Aristotle's family.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    G.A., IV, 6 (755a 5–10).Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    G.A., IV, 6 (775a 18–23).Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    G.A., IV, 6 (775a 16); also see H.A., VII, 3 (583b 2–29).Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Plato, Timaeus, trans. R. G. Bury, Loeb Classical Library (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1929), 91 A. While recent research has questioned the attribution of this work to Plato, and his dialogues are of more current interest, in the formative medieval period the Timaeus meant Plato. In fact it was the only work of Plato available in Latin before 1100. This partly explains Plato's medieval reputation for misogyny. R. R. Bolgar, The Classical Heritage and its Beneficiaries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954), p. 175.Google Scholar
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    Met., X, 9 (1058a 29–31).Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Met., X, 9 (1058b 22–24).Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Met., X, 9 (1058b 1–15).Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    See, for example, note 38.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Arthur O.Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936). The topic of sex differentiation is not mentioned in this superb work. Nor has it been followed up by researchers who continued Lovejoy's topos. This paper suggests that later believers in the great chain of being need to be studied to determine the impact on them of Plato's and Aristotle's views on the hierarchy of sex.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Pol., I, 13 (1260b 28–31), translation of B. Jowett in the Oxford edition.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Recent scholars have rarely quoted this passage in full or commented upon it at length; even articles on Aristotle's concept of the “natural slave” discreetly pass over the point about women (see note 17 above).Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    De Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, 36 (1443b 28); Rhet., I, 15 (1376b 27 and 12).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Anne Cline Horowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryOccidental CollegeLos Angeles

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