Gender Roles in Ancient Culture

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Gender Roles in Ancient Culture

Nora M. Trombley
HUM / 100
University of Phoenix
Professor Carol Culver Rzadkiewicz
December 15, 2006

Gender Roles in Ancient Culture

Human beings have documented the differences in gender roles as far back in history as is currently known. It is very difficult to compare Greek and Roman ideals with those of modern day since the cultures are so socially dissimilar. I will present both the common and uncommon ways in which each culture defined the roles of each gender. In Greek culture the people showed their beliefs in the way they represented the gods they worshipped. The religious cults used female deities to exemplify such things as human and earthly fertility. Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, is a wonderful example of this. The Greeks tradition of storytelling, as a means of passing on poems, is thought to have been the method of transport for much of the information that was passed on in those days. Many of these poems described the sexual / biological differences between the sexes. Females were thought to be insatiable while males had the capability of showing great restraint. Female sexuality was exemplified through the depiction of women like Aphrodite and Helen of Troy. (The Trojan War was said to have been started because Paris abducted Helen from her household.) Heterosexuality had its place in the Homeric society and the roles of men and women were clearly defined. It is not known exactly when but Pederasty, the bonding of mature men and the adolescent males they introduced into society, began around the end of the Trojan War. There have been many explanations given for the origin of pederasty by scholars. “Lyric poetry written after the passing of Homeric age points to the importance of single-sex communal gatherings called symposiums, where participants would share in song, dance and the (homoerotic) expressions of desire that were central to pederast practice.” Adjarian (2006)....
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