Role of Women in Ancient Greece and Egypt

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The Role of Women in Ancient Greece and Egypt
Throughout history, most societies held women in an inferior status compared to that of men. This was often justified as being the natural result of biological differences between the sexes. In many societies, for example, people believed women to be more emotional and less decisive than men. Women were also viewed to be less intelligent and less creative by nature. However, research shows that women and men have the same range of emotional, intellectual, and creative characteristics. Many sociologists and anthropologists maintain that various cultures taught girls to behave according to negative stereotypes (images) of femininity, thus keeping alive the idea that women are naturally inferior. In ancient Rome, as in Athens, women's primary role was to manage household affairs. Women could not hold public office. Men dominated as head of the household. But the Romans developed a system of government based on the authority and leadership of a noble class that included not only statesmen and military leaders, but also the matrons (married women) of leading Roman families. For example, the Roman matron Cornelia, who lived during the 100's B.C., achieved fame and respect for her managerial skill, patriotism, and good works. In time, such upper-class women gained greater control over their property and over marriage decisions. However, even these women could not vote or hold public office. The lives of most women were centered around their households. For example, in the Greek city-state of Athens from about 500 to 300 B.C., women raised children and managed the spinning, weaving, and cooking in the household. Wealthy women supervised slaves in these tasks, but they also did some of the work themselves. Respectable Athenian women seldom left their homes. Only men could purchase goods or engage in soldiering, lawmaking, and public speaking. The societies of ancient Egypt and of the Greek city-state of Sparta provided a rare contrast. Both Egyptian and Spartan women could own property and engage in business. In Egypt, women were definitely not looked upon being equal with men in Egyptian society. The lives of most women were centered on their households. However, they had more rights than women in other ancient civilizations. For example, in the Greek city-state of Athens from about 500 to 300 B.C., women raised children and managed the spinning, weaving, and cooking in the household. Wealthy women supervised slaves in these tasks, but they also did some of the work themselves. Respectable Athenian women seldom left their homes. Only men could purchase goods or engage in soldiering, lawmaking, and public speaking. The societies of ancient Egypt and of the Greek city-state of Sparta provided a rare contrast. Both Egyptian and Spartan women could own property and engage in business. According to Dr. Peter Picone, the author of "The Status of Women in Ancient Egyptian" states "the Egyptian women seem to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man". Also he states that legal rights were on a class boundary more than a gender boundary. The Women of Sparta on the other hand were quite different from the women of their neighbor, Athens. As you well know, the women of Sparta were bold, freer, and well educated. Also with the Sparta women, everything depended up money, which would determine your rank in society. While some of the Spartan citizens have quite small properties, others have very large ones; hence the land has passed into the hands of a few. And this is due also to faulty laws; for, although the legislator rightly holds up to shame the sale or purchase of an inheritance, he allows anybody who likes to give or bequeath it. Yet both practices lead to the same result. And nearly women held two-fifths of the whole countries; this is owing to the number of heiresses and to the large dowries that are customary. The Women of Sparta on the other hand were quite...
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