Perictione II - c. 450 BCE Athens, Greece
Perictione II - 450 BCE Athens, Greece There is little known of Preictione II. We do not know the names of her parents or that of her husband, if she had one, or the names of any her children if she had any. None of this information appears to be recorded. In her, we have an example of a woman philosopher known for her work but not her family or community relations.
This is extraordinary in the world of Athens between 500 and 100 BCE. At that time women in Athens had no independent existence before the law. They were either wards of their fathers, married and living with their husbands or living in the household of one of their grown children.
It is unclear where or how Perictione II obtained her education. The role of citizen women in Athens was still very circumscribed in 450 BCE. Most were confined to their homes, covered from head to toe and kept from the gaze of other men. True, there were 'free stranger women' who were not Athenian citizens.
Some of these 'strangers' were highly talented and educated women who emigrated from other city states to live in the great cultural center of Athens. These women, like their male counterparts as 'free strangers in Athens' had no protection under the law. Many established liaisons with male Athenian citizens in order to obtain such protection. See:
Aspasia of Miletus and Axiothea of Philesia for two different ways women philosophers from city states outside Athens arranged their living while in Athens.
In the absence of family information, we do not know if Perictione II was an Athenian citizen who established herself outside the normal role for an Athenian citizen woman or if she was a visitor, and Athenian stranger woman, who came to the city and took part in the philosophical community.
Works of Perictione II
Perictione II is known as the author of a text named, On Wisdom, which begins:
"Mankind came into being and exists in order to contemplate the principle of the nature of the whole. the funciton of wisdom is ot gain possession of this very thing, and to contemplate the purpose of the things that are."
Perictione II continues by saying that wisdom is to grasp what belong to all things....it seeks the basic principles...and so the wise person catches sight of god and all that is "separated from him in seried rank and order" [Source: Waithe vol 1 p. 56]
Some claim that this work is akin to "On Wisdom" written by Archytas of Tarentum, who was a contemporary of Plato. Others do not make this connection. This topic could be an area for further research.
Perictine II is also mentioned in, The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 750 B.C.-A.D. 1250 by Prudence Allen
She is mentioned in a recent essay SEE: Perictione II