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The Status Of Women In Ancient Greek Roman And Modern American Cultures

1492 words - 6 pages

The status of women has varied greatly between the ages and from culture to culture. The rights of women, their legal status, and how they are seen by society shaped their lives.
Athenian Women: Just as a mother nurses a child, Athenian society, nurtured and cultivated a submissive role for women. In Athens, women endured many difficulties and hardships in multiple areas including marriage, wealth, and social life. All three elements shaped and formed the mold of the submissive female. In Athens, women had no legal personhood and were assumed to be part of a household headed by a male. Until marriage, women were under the guardianship of their father or other male relative, once married ...view middle of the document...

A woman could gain an inheritance under this particular circumstance but she could not engage in transactions involving property over the value of a bushel of barley. This limited women to petty trading; the low threshold for trading acted as a glass ceiling, which kept women from attaining a high position in society. The only circumstance in which a woman directly received an inheritance was if a male sibling passed away. Additionally, women were restricted from marriage if they had no dowry, which was an absolute necessity in order to be considered for marriage. This created yet another barrier to a woman achieving any sort of independence. Athenian women were also prohibited from participating in the military and had a limited ability to be involved in the hierarchy of any religious organization. Athenian women’s right to property was limited and therefore they were unable to be considered full citizens, as citizenship and the entitlement to civil and political rights was defined in relation to property ownership. The only permanent barrier to citizenship, and hence full political and civil rights, in ancient Athens was gender. No women ever acquired citizenship in Athens, and therefore women were excluded in principle and practice from ancient Athenian democracy.
The social life of women in ancient Greece was much like every other aspect in that it was controlled by men. Women were restricted from participating in events outside their home that included men. Working outdoors, was perceived as a place for women to become potential prey of rapists and seducers, so women were confined indoors. The house was considered a secure place; however, inside the home, women were often raped by their own husbands. A social life for a female was only achieved within the boundaries of her husband’s house and the domain of his power. The majority of activities girls were involved in were domestic. The majority of a woman’s time was occupied with nurturing their children and carrying out household duties.
Freeborn women in ancient Rome were citizens but could not vote or hold political office. While Roman women held no direct political power, those from wealthy or powerful families could and did exert influence through private negotiations. Both daughters and sons were subject the power wielded by their father as head of household. In the early Empire, the legal standing of daughters differs little if at all from that of sons. If the father died without a will, the daughter was entitled to a share in the inheritance equal to that of a son. The male head of household had the right and duty to find a husband for his daughter, and first marriages were usually arranged. A daughter could legitimately refuse a match made by her parents only by showing that the proposed husband was of bad character. In the early Republic, the bride became subject to her husband, but to a lesser degree than their children. By the early Empire, however, a daughter's legal...

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