This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

A Look At The How And Why Of Adultery In Ancient Greece

1222 words - 5 pages

The chapter “Adultery, women, and social control” in David Cohen’s book Law, Sexuality, and Society argues that adultery in Classical Athens was not as straightforward as the laws created for it, and that scholars need to start looking at the how and the why of it to truly gain insight.
What Cohen is examining in this chapter is how sexuality and honour are linked. For a man, it’s actively protecting the sexual purity of the women in his care. For a woman, it’s maintaining that purity before the eyes of others. We can see this, Cohen says, in the community standards: the man’s realm being outdoors and the woman’s indoors. Cohen notes how authors (Euripides and Aristophanes in particular) depict women as powerful, yet dangerous. They have the ability to reproduce, but are also aligned with the left (that is, from the devil) and thus the weak link of the family. The family unit, however, does help rein the women in to reach their beneficial side.
He then looks at all the times it was socially acceptable for women to leave the house, and how fear of adultery stems from here. The man is ignorant of what a woman does when she leaves the house, yet the same conventions that dictate that her place is indoors and his outdoors prevent him from staying home to monitor her. In this way, Cohen says that women are responsible for policing their own purity. Because the men weren’t around to do so, they accepted the responsibility of keeping their own names free and clear on their own. Female gossip was a tool used to keep women in line with the social standards.
How then did the Greeks deal with the dichotomy of the ideal (the woman stays indoors) and the reality (her business forces her out)? Cohen says it’s a very fine line, realizing your wife has matters to attend to outdoors and actually catching her outdoors. There’s also some inherent deceit going on, as the woman will tell her husband she went to borrow this or that, and he takes her word for it.
Cohen’s final argument is looking at the “why” of adultery given that punishments were fairly severe. Cohen states that a great deal of men cared for their wives, and so adultery not only broke the external code of honour but also the internal trust built up between the two. But if a woman wasn’t emotionally satisfied at home, it could push her towards this act and that’s why she’d face automatic divorce. The motivations for the man involved are less clear, but could be trying to establish dominance over the other male to his falling in love with the married woman himself.

Overall, I found this chapter an interesting look into the laws of society as they pertain to adultery, and how that society then uses them. I appreciated the idea that just because something is law, doesn’t mean that people are punished to the full extent of it; that a grey area exists.
This chapter addresses some questions I’ve had while learning about women in the ancient Greek world. In particular, why would the punishments...

Find Another Essay On A look at the How and Why of Adultery in Ancient Greece

Title:Choose two of the most moving moments in Captain Corelli's Mandolin and explain why they have this effect on the reader. Look closely at how language is used to create pathos

1249 words - 5 pages Choose two of the most moving moments in Captain Corelli's Mandolin and explain why they have this effect on the reader. Look closely at how language is used to create pathos.L' Omosessuale (1) is a very sensitive and intimate chapter and allows us intoCarlo's deepest and most hidden thoughts. De Bernieres creates sympathy for Carlothrough the fact that his homosexuality has to remain unknown "I have beenreduced to eternal and infinite silence

Reflections on the Ancient Greek Polis: A Look at the Political Structure

903 words - 4 pages [To improve your grade, use some examples of how each field used its power and how it affected the people.]When looking at the Mycenaean age, historians still cannot explain the transformation from Greek war-oriented kingdoms to the polis. There is no history or recollection to explain how or exactly why the Greek polis came into being. One thing for sure, though, is what the Greek polis did for its people. The Greek polis was stabilized by a

To Tell or to Lie, a look at ancient philosophy

833 words - 3 pages For modern students, a training in rhetoric such as that offered by Gorgias is more preferable, rather than learning how to distinguish truth from falsehood. It is the art of forceful language, emphasizing figures of speech and focusing on devices for swaying and persuading an audience, that would be most beneficial for students lives today. Despite the fact that it is simply ornamented language to make a good facade, the rhetoric by Gorgias is

Why did the French fail so often in military battles around the period of the French Revolution? A look at France's military tactics from the 1400s-1800s

848 words - 3 pages . In the early 1400s the offensive attacks had increasingly been carried out primarily with long-range weapons, such as crossbows and longbows. Because of this, iron plated shields replaced the previous leather shields. However, the typical iron armor of this time weighed 130 to 175 pounds, an incredible load to bear (Duby, 155). Not only could a warrior with this armor on walk only straight, but also he could only strike at things directly in

Why Does Poverty Persist?: A Look at International Aid in Sub-Saharan Africa

2053 words - 9 pages reduction of poverty. Instead, this essay argues that in order to achieve poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, international aid needs to be reduced because it reinforces poverty, namely the power and economic disparities. I will first look at theoretical and historical backgrounds in relation to the development and international aid in sub-Saharan Africa and then examine the controversy which international aid generates to the local and

Taking a closer look at becoming a doctor: Why I have chosen this career

1323 words - 6 pages means tiny incisions, small hand movements, and accuracy at all times must be mastered. This can only be done with years of practice. “Perseverance. Embarking a career that will require formal studies of 10 years or longer will stretch and strengthen your ability to persevere.” (How to become a Surgeon.) There is little to no room for mistakes in general surgery. A mistake could result in the death or serious injury of a patient. This is why

" Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe's An analytical look at why the village of Umofia fell apart

1469 words - 6 pages never met their warlike ancestors, and experiencing only pleasant, peaceful lives in harmony with nature would automatically look to Christianity for the loving creator it provides. Okonkwo and those of his time worked to please their gods in order to survive. For example, there is an annual feast of offering to the goddess of the earth. The eldest, a man of course, would break kola nuts in order to give thanks to his ancestors before they went on to

Where Are You Going Where Have You Been - in-depth look at Connie and why she was swayed by Arnold Friend

578 words - 2 pages family events, she opted to stay at home. The other side of Connie's social life would come into play when she went into town with her best friend, Betty Schultz. The two girls would waltz around town acting older and more mature. It was extremely obvious that Connie liked the attention that she received from older boys. When her mother asker her about a girl who had a reputation, Connie wanted to make it clear that she was not one of "those

Feminism and the Power Struggle of Women in Ancient Greece

1393 words - 6 pages Feminism and the power struggle of women in Ancient Greece Women are a very prominent part of the Greek society. Their role has influenced and shaped the Greek society to a very large extent. Women have been shown in many different lights in the Greek works of Odyssey and Iliad which we have covered in our class. The works that I will be citing in this essay, namely Homer’s poems Odyssey and Iliad talk about many prominent women such as Helen

The Individual in Ancient China and Greece

1012 words - 4 pages honor in the family and how to a respectable person. The family relationship in China was much stricter than the family in China because the Chinese government was very stern, just like the basic family. Art in China was very different from art in Greece and a big reason for this was due to their governments. Document A shows the type of art that was in ancient Greece. Art in Greece was mostly comprised of sculptures and paintings of the

The Meaning of Oracles in Ancient Greece

689 words - 3 pages ambiguous, the answers could never be wrong. Regardless of the ambiguousness of the answers, the Ancient Greeks still relied heavily on the Oracles to make important life decisions. Though Apollo and Zeus had other Oracles in Ancient Greece, Apollo’s Oracle at Delphi was the most famous and important Oracle in Ancient Greece. The Delphic oracle was located in the city of Delphi. “It was believed [that] Apollo … spoke through the mouth of an inspired

Similar Essays

Justice In The Orestia. A Look At The Contrasting Views Of Justice In Greece, And The Transition To A Deliberative For Of Justice

1437 words - 6 pages tenant of Zeus and the Olympians. In the old order of things, family is by blood only. A husband and wife have no blood relation, yet the son is of the same blood as his parents. The Furies right to vengeance cannot be dismissed.Clytaemnestra is one who upheld the laws of the Furies. Agamemnon's murder of Iphegenia at Aulis was pure outrage. 'Yes he had the heart to sacrifice his daughter , to bless the war...' (Agamemnon lines 222-223) Agamemnon

Ancient Greece Why Did The Ancient Greeks Colonise

1650 words - 7 pages Between 800 and 750 B.C. a major colonisation movement began that for 200 years carried Greek settlers to new homes along the Mediterranean and into the Black sea region. Colonisation began as Greece emerged into the Dark Ages period following the disintegration of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations, and was the product of a broad range of political and social disputes, an increase in population and land shortage and commercial interest

This Essay Takes A Look At The Rise And Fall Of The Last City Of The Ancient World, Tenochtitlan. Has A Three Primary Source Bibliography

596 words - 2 pages visitors, lead by Cortès arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519. They traded at first, but then the Aztecs scared the Spaniards with their human sacrifice rituals. At this point the city had a population of over 150,000 people. On August 13, 1521, Cortès' 400 soldiers went up against 40,000 Aztecs, and won. Not only did the Spanish have better war technology, such as the crossbow, but they had smallpox, which severely damaged the

A Look At Why People Choose The Sex Roles They Choose In Life. Specifically Females

891 words - 4 pages , particularly in certain literary works, is that women are inept at handling money or financial matters in general. A prime example of this would be the main characters in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House". In this short story Torvald Helmner treats his wife, Nora, as if she was a child and had no common sense at all. Ibsen also makes it clear in the story that women are not allowed to handle financial matters on their own; they are not even allowed to take