chapter  5
22 Pages

Mary Hays’s classical women and the promotion of female agency

WithIan Plant

For the women from Ancient Greece and Rome included in her Female Biography; or Memoirs or Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries, Mary Hays drew on a variety of eighteenth-century sources. The anonymous Biographium Faemineum was the one of which she made most use, but she also wrote her articles from material she found in Pierre Bayle's Historical Dictionary, C. Rollin's Histoire ancienne, and Thomas Gibbon's History of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. On occasion, she also cited the ancient sources Bayle, Gibbon and the others which drawn upon such as Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Plutarch and Suetonius. In terms of her representations and interpretations of ancient women, Hays defined female agency in several distinct areas. She used exemplary women as tools of education, a specifically female education with a female voice.