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 read or write let alone learn anything at all that didn't have to do with tending the household or the family. This is quite contradictory of Athenian society, considering the fact that women played an indispensable role in citizenship, as well as ensuring a proper household and a respectable family. It was a rather bipolar relationship that Athenian men had towards their women; as much as they thought so little of them and wanted them to have no part in society and to keep them at home and out of the affairs of men, women were "indispensable for a settled life and an Athenian woman who was a citizen herself and married to one was allowed to pass on the privileged status to her children," (Freeman 228). In order to understand how the influence Athenian women had, as well as their depiction in the arts and other important elements, we will take a look at the two main groups of Athenian women; the wives, and the mistresses. After analyzing the influence that both groups of had in Athens, their depiction in the arts will be looked at, such as in paintings, sculptures and pottery. After those three elements have been looked at, the role of women in Athenian society will have been revealed, showing the deep ambivalent and contradictory nature of Athenian women.To an Athenian woman, the most important moment of transition in her life would be marriage (Freeman 229). This was when she would be forced to leave her family and lead a life that she may or may not have wanted to take part in. Typically, the Athenian women were married in their early teens, just after puberty, to men usually ten to fifteen years their elder (Freeman 229). This would be an unsettling experience for the women, since the man she would marry was usually chosen by her father, meaning that the wife would not have really known who her husband was at the time of marriage, unless the marriage had been planned out for quite awhile in advance. Similar to the stigma that marriage carries toward men in our times, women back then were considered to be entering a "form of exile" (Freeman 229) when they entered marriage. With this in mind, it is easy to see that women were essentially bargaining chips when it came to their marriage; they would be chosen not based on the love that the would-be husband had for his would-be wife, rather the wives would be chosen based on her family's reputation, and wealth, which would be reflected in the dowry provided to the husbands' family. A woman would only truly gain respect in the household once she gave birth to...

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