Naming women. About the International meeting “Women who matter / Elles comptent aussi”. Paris, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Paris, INHA, Saturday 17th November 2018.
This meeting gave the opportunity to present the Eurykleia database, which is in progress. It aims at reassessing the issue of naming women by overcoming ancient or modern prejudices. Which were the social, economic and political contexts women played a role in? Did specific practices make them more visible than others?
The project encompasses the whole Mediterranean area including both Eastern and Western regions between the 8th c. BCE and the 3rd c. CE, thus enabling comparisons between different eras and societies. The corpus does not intend to be exhaustive, but to gather historical women’s names, excluding goddesses.
The approach focuses on the study of the documents, in any media, where women’s names appear. Why were women’s names mentioned? What were their achievements? With whom did they interact? How did historiography address them? The originality of the database lies in the attention given to modalities of enunciation: it implies not taking statements concerning women literally, but rather understanding why a name is made visible.
The construction of the Eurykleia database is a milestone for future research. It will shed light on less known or neglected documents and provide analytical material for studying the actions and functions attributed to ancient women. The recording of documents will be accompanied by a re-examination of the scientific literature, in order to deconstruct simplistic interpretations based on anachronistic or arbitrary prejudices.
During the Paris meeting, emphasis was put on epigraphy: Dodona lamellae (A. Tatti), land inventories from Larissa (I. Pernin), endowment inscriptions from Hellenistic period (S. Aneziri) and documentation from Roman Lusitania (R. Soutelo Gomes). The presentation given by Claire Taylor’s on the so-called “hetaira names” showed historiographical biases (ancient and modern) that led to hasty deductions on the identification of prostitutes. Glukera, for instance, was a common name, existing in both masculine and feminine forms: it does not signify prostitution.
Sandra Boehringer (Université de Strasbourg/UMR Archimède), Adeline Grand-Clément (Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès/IUF/EA PHL-ERASME), Sandra Péré-Noguès (Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès/UMR Traces), Violaine Sébillotte-Cuchet (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/UMR Anhima) with the collaboration of Daniela Ventrelli.