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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Agnodice

Perhaps legendary, reputedly flourished circa 300 B.C.E., Athens, ancient Greece

According to the Latin scholar Hyginus (first century C.E.), Agnodice was an Athenian virgin who disguised herself as a man to learn midwifery. Apparently very skilled, her popularity incited the jealousy of male physicians, who accused her of corruption and brought her to court. At trial, Agnodice revealed her sex and, supported by leading women of the city, was acquitted. Then a law was passed allowing freeborn female citizens to practice medicine. Hyginus is the only source for the story of Agnodice, but whether or not she was an actual historical figure, her story inspired midwives from the late seventeenth century onward who saw in it a justification for female practitioners grounded in antiquity.

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). <em>The Dinner Party</em> (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography
Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

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