The Role of Women in Ancient Greece as Depicted in Homer’s The Odyssey
Women as Citizens
For this informative report I will attempt to point out the roles women and how they are viewed in ancient Greece. I will then show how these views are present in Homer’s "The Odyssey." How are women, goddess or mortal, conveyed in "The Odyssey?"
"The Odyssey" was written around 700 BC during the Archaic period (750 – 550 BC). This was a time of great economical and social change in Greek history due to massive migration that led to the development of new city-states (called the polis) as well as laws to govern them. Citizenship and political rights give a good indication of women’s roles in Greek society. In Homer’s time citizens were apparently male heads of households (Adkins, 26). Women married to a male citizen were given the term "female citizen" and had no political rights (Martin, WEB1). The reason for this false citizen ship was to protect them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves (Martin, WEB1). All laws governing the inhabitants of Greece were written and enforced by men. Women could not defend themselves with these laws either. Men regulated the lives of women and "every woman had an official male guardian to protect them physically and legally" (Martin, WEB1). A woman could not receive an inheritance because the law of inheritance were through the male line (Adkins, 28). Although men were only married to one woman, it was not against the law for him to have sexual relations with his female slaves or other free (unmarried) woman (Martin, 69). A woman does not possess these same rights "and adultery carried harsh penalties for wives" (Martin, 69). After reading these laws and rights of ancient Greek civilization, it is very clear that women were considered second class citizens.
Women in marriage
Another indicator of the view of women is the marriage rituals and status in the house. "Upon marriage, woman became the legal wards of their husbands, as they previously had been of their fathers while still unmarried" (Martin, 68). It was common for a father to sell his young daughter into marriage and the young women had no say in her preference of her suitors (Mahaffy, 48). This was done while the girl was in her young teens while the groom was ten to fifteen years older (Martin, WEB2). As the father, or guardian, gave the young girl away he would repeat the phrase that expressed the primary aim of marriage: "I give you this women for the plowing [procreation] of legitimate children" (Martin, WEB2). The woman’s role was primarily in the home. "Households thus depended on women, whose wok permitted the family to economically self-reliant and the male...