Women in Greek Society
Dating back to ancient times, the role of women has never reached true equality with men. We can trace this inequality back to as early as the great Athenian society, where life as we know it today started taking form. On the other side of the inequality, throughout the ancient history of the world, the roles and positions that women have had have improved over time. We can see this tracing time from Athens, to Sparta, the Roman Republic, it's Empire and the rise of Christianity. Although some of theses societies lived parallel in time, each one shows a difference in the way they treat women. Each one did not treat women the same, but the end result compared to the beginning is positive for women.
According to Xenophon's "Household Management" in Athenian society the women were looked at as possessions. The Athenian woman would be given to the man by their parents. It was like a business deal and the bride to be had no say in it at all. She was typically much younger than the man. Often times, half their age if the man had a previous wife but was now divorced. To a man, a skilled woman was a valuable tool. The major skills of the woman included cooking, sewing and weaving. The wife simply stayed at home and took care of the house duties. She watched over anything that came in and out of the house. If a woman could tend to the household chores and master sewing or weaving she would be considered valuable. It was her responsibility to manage the house while the men were at work or at war. Once the woman became the property of the man he had the opportunity to control her in any way he liked. She would be kept under
strict restraint so that she would see as little, hear as little and ask as few questions as possible. The relationship between the husband and wife saw little romance, it appeared like more of a business relationship than anything else. The woman should feel lucky to have the man as a husband. They consulted together on the potential birth of a child and their main goal was to produce good offspring. All of the power lied within the hands of the husband. (Xenephon)
In the exerpt from "Antigone", Creon the king represented human law and Haemon, his son represented divine law. Creon was the new King of Thebes and was a strict ruler of the state. On the other hand, Haemon, his son was influenced more by the divine law of gods. They clashed because of their difference in views of women. They disagreed with each other in the treatment of women. Antigone was grieving for her dead brother who broke the law by accidentally marrying his mother and Creon had no sympathy for her what so ever. As punishment, Antigone's brother was left unburied so that his corpse would be further ruined by the weather and animals. If the body was mangled, then it could not be worshipped. Antigone didn't want to leave his side because she felt that she owed allegiance to her family instead of the state. So she tried to bury him...