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First Wave Feminism: Craftswomen in Plato’s Republic

  • Emily Hulme ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal Apeiron


Ancient Athenian women worked in industries ranging from woolworking and food sales to metalworking and medicine; Socrates’ mother was a midwife. The argument for the inclusion of women in the guardian class must be read in light of this historical reality, not least because it allows us retain an important manuscript reading and construe the passage as relying on an inductive generalization rather than a possibly circular argument. Ultimately, Plato fails to fully capitalize on the resources he has for a more egalitarian conclusion than the one he settles on, which regards women as “lesser than” yet “similar to” men.

Corresponding author: Emily Hulme, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, E-mail:

I would like to thank Julia Annas and Jeremy Reid for reading an earlier draft of this paper, and Tad Brennan, Tom Davies, and Bryson Sewell for discussing 5.454c7–e4 with me. I am also grateful to a wonderful audience at the University of Sydney, and in particular Rick Benitez and Anthony Hooper, for comments on the ideas presented in this article. I would also like to thank the anonymous referees for their many helpful suggestions. Translations, unless noted otherwise, are my own.


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Published Online: 2021-09-09
Published in Print: 2022-10-26

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