Athenian Women Essay

1975 words - 8 pages

Athenian Women

Athenian society was very dynamic in many areas while it was strict in regard to the treatment of women. Although Athenian women were protected by the state and did not know a different way of living, they were very stifled and restricted. The only exception was slaves, and heteria, prostitutes, and this was due to the fact that they had no male guardians. Since these women were on there own they had to take care of themselves, and therefore were independent. In a more recent and modern way of viewing the role of a woman, independence and freedom to do as one likes is one of the most important aspects of living. In Athens the wives had none of this freedom and the prostitutes did. Who then really had a “better” life, those who had all protection and no freedom, or those who had all freedom and independence?
“Every Athenian girl expected to be married, and marriage and motherhood were considered the fulfillment of the female role.” This was what a woman’s life was headed towards and was thought to be the purpose of life. For a young girl to die before she had children was a fate thought of as being extremely sad. Women did not marry for love; the reason for marriage was usually for economic purposes or for political ties. The marriages were arranged by a kyrios, the man looking after the marriageable woman. This man was required to give her a dowry and then arrange for her marriage, usually a marriage that would in some way benefit him. The Kyrios could not keep or use the dowry, but had to give it to the husband of the female he was looking after, “the absence of a dowry could be used in court as at least circumstantial evidence that no marriage…had taken place.” The marriage was all settled without consultation of the female.
“…Often I pondered the status of women: we are nothing. As small girls in our father’s house, we live the most delightful life, because ignorance keeps children happy. But when we come to the age of maturity and awareness, we are thrust out and battered away, far from the gods of our forefathers and parents, some to good homes and some to abusive ones. And after one single joyful night live, we are compelled to praise this arrangement and consider ourselves lucky.”
Sophocles, Fragment 583 from terus.

A scorned wife spoke this in one of Sophocles’ lost plays. Sophocles has seized the essence of what it means to be a woman in Athens at this time.
The marriage of an Athenian woman and man is hard to define exactly because there has not been an exact word translated that is equivalent to the word, “marriage.” The Athenians have words that translate as physical acts for a marriage for the sake of having a child, they also have words that translate as “cohabit” or “live together.” This leads to the conclusion that our traditional connotation of marriage as a bond is not the way it was in Athens. The reasons for a man and a woman to be joined in marriage were nor for love,...

Find Another Essay On Athenian Women

Characterization of "Lysistrata" Essay

834 words - 3 pages Lysistrata, first produced in 411 B.C. is a play that represents the frustrations that Athenian women faced due to the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata, an Athenian woman is the play's heroine; her name is significant in itself, as it means "she who disbands the armies" (Page 467, footnote 2). With the aide of other Athenian women, Lysistrata organizes a "sex strike" in an effort to cease further violence and bring peace between Athens and Sparta

Athens Excluded: Metics Essay

1448 words - 6 pages . Metics who failed to comply would have their properties confiscated and they themselves would be sold as slaves. Furthermore, during the fifth century, Athens introduced a law prohibiting the offspring of an Athenian citizen man and a metic woman from claiming citizenship. Metic women were allowed to marry an Athenian citizen man, but a metic man restricted from marrying an Athenian woman. If he did marry an Athenian woman, he had to pay a fine of

Pericles Speech Position Paper(Position :Pericles' Speech was not an accurate representation of Athenian society)

1058 words - 4 pages as though they do not exist. He implies that there is equality between men and women, which there is not, and he speaks about every man following every rule, which is an unrealistic reality. He bluntly ignores the presence of slavery, a dark mark for any civilization. Pericles describes the Athenian army as one of the best in the world. Athens did have a somewhat successful military, but the Spartan-like image Pericles creates is not accurate

Athenian definition of democracy

1213 words - 5 pages Athenian verifiable bloodlines. And in the early United States there were property qualifications for citizenship's and slaves and women were excluded today every resident of the United States can qualify for citizenship. Bibliography Martin, Thomas. R. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. New York & London, Yale University, 2000. McEvedy, Colin. The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History. London, England, Penguin Books, &nbsp


647 words - 3 pages In ancient Greece, there was one dominant city-state, or Polis as the ancient Greeks called it, and this was Athens. It was a beautiful society that enjoyed art and literature very much and valued things like wholeness and excellence. However, one thing the Athenians did not value was women. They were deemed inferior by men, and treated more as a decoration rather than a human being. Athenian women spent most of their lives in their home

How Effective was Athenian Democracy?

1905 words - 8 pages each tribe , and competitions at festivals were often arranged by tribe Disenfranchised groups of Ancient Greece- • Fifth-century Athens o 3,000,000- Men, women and children, free and unfree, enfranchised and disenfranchised  Of those 3,000,000 some 30,000 on average were fully paid-up citizens - the adult males of Athenian birth and full status • Of those 30,000 perhaps 5,000 might regularly attend one or more meetings of the popular


1323 words - 5 pages hardships and struggle to establish a meaningful status in their society. Women in Athenian Society are often "defined as near slaves or as perpetual minors" in Athenian society (Powell 209). In ancient Athens, men held all the important positions in society and ran the government, and since most male slaves were viewed as "part of the family" they too held important positions in society (Populace of Athens). They often held positions in law

Different portrayals of women in "Antigone" and "Lysistrata"

1465 words - 6 pages The different portrayals of female characters Antigone and Lysistrata illustrate the fundamental nature of the proper Athenian woman. Sophocles' Antigone allows the reader to see that outrage over social injustices does not give women the excuse to rebel against authority, while Aristophanes' Lysistrata reveals that challenging authority in the polis becomes acceptable only when it's faced with destruction through war. Sophocles and Aristophanes

Differences and Similarities of The Women of Athens and Sparta

2439 words - 10 pages the betrothal details had been worked out. Virginity was an important requirement for women in antiquity, as was fidelity. It was imperative that a man is the father of his children, especially since citizenship in some city-states and countries hinged on the birthplace of the parents. Mason writes, “The very definition of an Athenian involved not only being born of an Athenian father, but also of an Athenian mother properly given in marriage by

Sex as a Means of Agency

1243 words - 5 pages comic portrayal of women in Lysistrata, Aristophanes exploits this domestic power to create a scenario where “the harsh and intractable realities of life, politics and international aggression are transformed so that wives manage to overcome husbands, love conquers war, insignificant citizens manage to discredit powerful ones” (Henderson 36). Aristophanes manipulates the Athenian reality by operating on common stereotypes of women, adding to the

A day in the life of an ancient Athenian

1305 words - 5 pages away from their houses, women dominated Athenian home life. The wife was in charge of raising the children, spinning, weaving and sewing the family's clothes. She supervised the daily running of the household. In a totally slave based economy, plentiful numbers of female slaves were available to cook, clean, and carry water from the fountain. Only in the poorest homes was the wife expected to carry out all these duties by herself. A male slave

Similar Essays

The Lives Of Athenian Women Essay

2413 words - 10 pages Women in classical Athens could not have had an extremely enjoyable experience, if we rely on literary sources concerning the roles of women within the Greek polis. The so-called Athenian democracy only benefited a fraction of the entire population. At least half of this population was female, yet women seem to have had very little influence and few official civic rights. `The position of a subject which has provoked much controversy

The Public Sphere Of Athenian Women

1970 words - 8 pages Women are often excluded from discussion when looking at all periods of history from ancient Greece to our own Canadian history. The lack of sources pertaining to women was likely caused by the traditional view that women are, in some ways, inferior to men. Athenian women are usually studied in two domains: the private sphere and the public sphere. Many studies acknowledge that women are consumed by the family and remain in the home. However

The Role Of Athenian Women In Classical Greece (Mla Bibliography)

2130 words - 9 pages In Classical Greece, Athenian women played an important role in Athenian society, however they were not as highly regarded as one might expect. Perhaps Spartan women may have been more advanced and important in the sense that they were more educated, and had the ability to read, write and defend themselves (Freeman 234), however the women in Athens weren't as fortunate. Athenian women were relegated to household duties and were not allowed to

Athens "Golden Age" Essay

1311 words - 5 pages A "Golden Age" for Athens? The 5th century BCE was a period of great development in Ancient Greece, and specifically in Athens. The development of so many cultural achievements within Athens and the Athenian Empire has led scholars to deem this period a "Golden Age." It is true that his period had many achievements, but in the light of the Athenians treatment of women, metics (non-Athenians living in Athens), and slaves it is given to question