Roles of Men, Women and Slaves and What Their Significance Was in the Life of Athens During the Classical Age of Greece 479-336 B.C.E.

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The population of Athens was made up of four distinct groups: Male citizens, foreigners, slaves and women. For the purpose of this paper my intent is to show the different roles of men, women and slaves and what their significance was in the life of Athens during the Classical Age of Greece 479-336 B.C.E. Athens was and still is known as the original culture to create the ideal of democracy and was the first democracy in the ancient world. (Pomeroy, 2012)(Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011). However; Ancient Athenians were not an equal society, they reserved citizenship for only a select group within the population. Male citizens once reaching the age of 18 and who were “free born” were the only citizens of Athens allowed to participant in the cities political life. No other citizen had the privileges the male citizen did. (Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011) The importance of this became increasingly apparent during the age of Pericles 490-429 B.C.E. The criteria was constricted so that a citizen had to be born from citizen parentage on both sides, those with foreign mothers, were now to be excluded. (Clay, 2005) Primarily, a male citizen controlled wealth, owned land and slaves, had heirs, controlled inheritances and belonged to the citizen assembly which permitted him to have a political voice. The male citizen of Athens was at the highest level of hierarchy of all the populace. (Clay, 2005)(Pomeroy, 2012) Married male citizens were a curious uncertain group within the Athens citizenship. Married men were expected to “control their possessions”. Men were afraid of their wives ability to stay faithful within the marriage; they believed woman had no means of resisting seduction henceforth creating the possibility of bearing illegitimate children. As a result they strictly controlled every aspect of the woman’s life including but not limited to their sexual activity. The married male citizen of Athens believed the” ideal wife should stay out of public site and dutifully obey him” above all, produce legitimate male children to carry on the family name. (Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011) During the age of classical Greece some men, mainly the wealthier members of society believed that since they were unable to have any sort of emotional or intellectual relationship with their wives other male relationships were considered to be suitable. These men would develop relationships with adolescent boys, becoming their lovers and mentors. To a male citizen of Athens this form of behavior was completely acceptable and the attitude is that their wives should accept it as well. (Clay, 2005), (Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011), (Pomeroy, 2012) Contrary to the male citizen the females in Athens were considered citizens but they were not allowed to speak or vote in the assembly, hold any form of public office or serve on juries. For a woman in Athens it was extremely important to marry well and give birth to “legitimate” citizens. In order to marry an Athens male citizen both her parents have to be Athenian born as well. (Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011) Marriages were arranged usually when a woman was beginning puberty and typically to a man who was at least ten years her senior. Married women were expected to manage all the household duties; cook, clean, sew, raise the children, and supervise the slaves. A married women’s life was entirely in the home mainly separated from the rest of the household. Women were largely not permitted to leave the home unless supervised, and their affiliation with men was restricted to their husbands, sons, and close family members. (Levack, Muir, & Veldman, 2011) (Pomeroy, 2012)

Not all women in Athens were married, other roles women played within the society was prostitution, mostly made up of foreign slaves. Prostitution was a legal, taxable institution in Athens suggesting that even these women had a principal role in Athens society. (Pomeroy, 2012) There were however some...
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