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GYNAECO´POLIS

GYNAECO´POLIS (Γυναικόπολις, Strab. xvii. p.803; Steph. B. sub voce Plin. Nat. 5.9. §: Eth. Γυναικοπολίτης), was, according to the ancient geographers, the chief town of the Gynaecopolite nome, and coins bearing its impress in the age of Hadrian are still extant. Many writers doubt, however, whether there was such a nome or such a city. The name seems rather allusive to circumstances unknown than to the proper appellation of a place, and Stephanus of Byzantium relates no less than three legends by way of accounting for it:--(1) The women maintained the town against a hostile inroad, during the absence of their husbands and male relatives. (2) A woman whose sons had been maltreated by a king, took up arms and expelled him. (3) The men of Naucratis were afflicted with the plague; and while all other of the Aegyptian cities, kept them at bay, the Gynaecopolites, through cowardice, admitted them, and were named women for their pains. Each of these stories is palpably an attempt to explain the name. D'Anville conjectures that Gynaecopolis is but another name for Anthylla in the Delta. That city, as Herodotus (2.97, 98) relates, was appointed by the Pharaohs to furnish the Egyptian queens with sandals or some articles of female attire. The tribute of pin-money procured for the place the appellation of Gynaecopolis, or “Woman-ton:” but see ANTHYLLA

[W.B.D]

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