Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2017

Department 1



This paper considers the similarities and differences in Greek thought concerning female madness among both traditional views of madness and medical views. It identifies three broad types of female madness – Dionysian madness, most often associated with maenads and maenadism; desire-induced madness, associated with Aphrodite or Eros; and the medical views of madness of the Hippocratic Corpus, Plato, and other writers. Divinely-inspired madness was considered an assault on the individual from the outside, while the physicians considered madness to be an affliction from within. However, while desire-induced madness and medical madness were seen as the results of women avoiding men, Dionysian madness prompted women to leave male society. Finally, all three types of madness could be cured or ended through contact, often but not always sexual, with men.


Written for Classics 335 taught by Professor Rachel Lesser.