Women in Classical Greece

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  • Topic: Sparta, Marriage, Athens
  • Pages : 7 (2306 words )
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  • Published : December 12, 2005
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In Classical Greece, men's domination over women is clearly apparent in each social, economic, and political arena. According to this period, women exist because their existences are necessary in order to produce male heir for the continuity of the state. For this reason, women's roles are limited to procreation and marriage and they are not allowed to have economic and political rights, and their social roles are very restricted. According to Classical Greece, women only exist to produce male heir for the sake of the continuity of the state so women are expected to serve to this aim by being married a male citizen and producing children and their social role is only to be a mother; as a result of that, even if Spartan women have more economic, political and social rights than Athenian women who are totally under control of men socially, politically and economically, patriarchy is a dominant system determining women's lives.

In classical Greece, the unique social role of women is to be a mother. That means women are a symbol and a tool to produce male heir for the continuity of the state. The most important institution is the family and women's social roles are limited to continue this institution and they are just responsible for duties inside home. In this time, only women who produce male heirs are respected. According to Classical philosophers, women have strong feelings but weak mind so their natures are not appropriate to take their own decisions but to produce children and to serve their husbands as a slave. Therefore, women are only one step above slaves.

During classical period, women's social rights are limited. They spend their whole lives in home and try to fulfill their main duties which are to produce and bring up their children and manage to household, "In Athens, then, there was an ideal of an obedient woman, who lived under the protection of her father or husband (or uncle or son), and whose primary responsibilities were to produce and educate children, manage the house, spin, weave, and oversee the preparation of food"1. Moreover, women have very limited freedom outside the home. The more a woman has high status, the less she can go outside, "In ancient Athens, women in wealthy families were confined inside their homes all their lives" (Hughes, S, S & B, p: 82,). Only poor women and slaves women are allowed to work in public sphere, "only the women the poorest clases moved among men with a certain freedom, going to the market to sell bread or vegetables, or working the land" (Cantarella, E, p: 46). A wife cannot go outside without permission of her husband. They only can attend weddings, funerals, some religious festivals and visit female neighbors. They have no right to go to even a market so in order to buy something their guardians or slaves go outside for them. Women and men do not socialize together so if a man has a guest in his home, his wife is expected to remain in the quarter "They were confined to their homes and were expected to stay out of sight if the husband invited guests to their home. There were cults to which women might belong and it was possible to socialize on occasion with other women, but beyond that women were expected to remain invisible at home" 2 Spartan women are less suppressed in social life than Athenian women. Athenian women are required to be invisible to public eye in each period of their lives. Athenian girls are not allowed to go public school but they are educated by tutors in home, "Girls of the Classical Period (500-323 BC) in Athens were not given the same opportunities for education as the boys were. In fact, in H.I. Marrou's wonderful book, A History of Education in Antiquity, there is no mention of education for Athenian girls at all during the Classical Period"2. Their domestic education are generally about household skills, weaving, sewing, cooking and other household jobs and little on mythology, religion. That means from birth, a girl is educated...
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