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Women Of Ancient Greece Essay

1162 words - 5 pages

Women in Ancient Greece

Women’s role in Greece can be seen when one first begins to do research on the subject. The subject of women in Greece is coupled with the subject of slaves. This is the earliest classification of women in Greek society. Although women were treated differently from city to city the basic premise of that treatment never changed. Women were only useful for establishing a bloodline that could carry on the family name and give the proper last rites to the husband. However, women did form life long bonds with their husbands and found love in arranged marriages. Women in Athenian Society Women are “defined as near slaves, or as perpetual minors” in Athenian society (The Greek World, pg. 200). For women life didn’t extend far from the home, which was thought to be their sole realm of existence. Though they ranked higher than slaves did, they were treated in many of the same ways. Just like slaves, their mothers trained women as adolescents what their domestic duties were. They were secluded from all males, including those in their family. They lived in gynaikeion, which were women’s apartments in Athens (Daily Life in Greece, pg. 55). They were kept at home where they were taught the proper manners and duties of a desirable wife. “Marriage was the inevitable goal to which her whole life tended. To remain a spinster was the worst disgrace which could befall a woman” (Everyday Life in Ancient Greece, pg. 82). However, it was seen as more of a disgrace on her father who ‘owned’ her until she was married. Although Athenian women were completely in charge of their household and slaves, they didn’t have much freedom. They rarely left the house, unless they were part of some sort of religious procession. They could only walk abroad in the streets if accompanied by a slave or other attendant. It was improper for respectable women to share the same social entertainments as men. Even if caught in the courtyard of the house by a male visitor, they would return to the seclusion of their own apartments. Pericles once said, “it was their business to be spoken of as little as possible whether for good or ill” (Everyday Life in Ancient Greece, pg. 82). This sentiment describes the extent of the importance of women in society. Marriage was their only major role in the lives of men. Marriage The betrothal was arranged by the parents as a strictly business contract. The parent’s choice of a suitable groom for their bride was a matter of pride and status for the family. The groom’s choice in bride was largely determined by the amount of dowry the bride would bring with her. Although the wedding was a happy ceremony, it was only the beginning of a woman’s loss of independence. Not only did women possess no independent status in the eyes of the law; she always remained under the supervision of a male. If her husband died, she was returned to her father’s or brother’s home where they would take charge of her. After the wedding, the wife’s duties...

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