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The Two Choruses Become One: The Absence/Presence of Women in Philo's On the Contemplative Life

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Philo is not known for his positive portrayals of the feminine. Consequently, many scholars have puzzled over his seemingly glowing account of the Therapeutrides, a group of celibate, female ascetics described in On the Contemplative Life. While it is tantalizing to consider that Philo included the Therapeutrides in his work to prove that mystical union with God was just as viable an option for women as it was for men, by examining the textual allusions to other female figures such as Miriam, Sarah and Diotima, this paper asks whether the piece is meant to depict any real women at all.

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