Women in Greece

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The roles and status of women in ancient Greece are hard to asses since there is very little evidence from that period written or illustrated from a women’s perspective. Most literature and art from ancient Greece comes from men, thus making it hard to evaluate exactly what it was like to live has a women in those times. Sarah Pomeroy states in Goddesses, whores, wives and salves: women in classical antiquity "the study of women in ancient literature is the study of men's views of women and cannot become anything else." . This viewpoint is supported by many scholars in as stated in Ideology and “the status of Women” in Ancient Greece by Marilyn Katz. (pg 79) Pomeroy also suggest that This indisputable fact about ancient sources -of material authored by women we have only the fragments of a few women poets -has even led recently to the recommendation that the study of women in antiquity be refocused away from literature to culture. Otherwise "the study of women in ancient literature is the study of men's views of women and cannot become anything else." (pg 79 Ideology and “the status of Women” in Ancient Greece by Marilyn Katz.) This notion that women did not write literature we assume that women were consider inferior to men, and what they had to say was irrelevant. This idea is also introduced by Pomeroy, The notion that texts authored by men represent a "male" point of view is widely shared. This idea, however, not only introduces an artificial distinction between text and culture, but also implicitly relegates women to an entirely passive role in patriarchal society. (pg 79 Ideology and “the status of Women” in Ancient Greece by Marilyn Katz.) Thus its important when using literature such as Homers epic as evidence of women’s role and status during that time period were are critical of the conclusions we draw. On the other hand there have been many assumption made of the role of women during ancient Greece from the evidence we do have. It was patricidal society in which women were consider property of the men in there lives, and were seen to serve one purpose; to produce heirs. Women had very little to no rights; they were unable to own land or participate in politics. They also hardly had freedoms, they were confided to there homes and company of other women, in some cases they even had separate corers from the men in which was hidden from visitors view. They were unable enter in public rooms or there own homes with male guest unless told to do so by the husbands. They did not choose who they married, the men in there lives made every decision for them in the best interest of the males and the family. Knowing what we do about women during this time in Greece, I’m going to use Homer’s epic the Odyssey to evaluate whether the way women were depicted in the literature is an accurate representation of the lives of women in this time.

Homer is the composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey, he was viewed as the greatest poet, and his work influenced many poets after him. It is likely that Homer learned the poems from generations before him, which dedicated the poems orally. The epic are set in the age of the heroes, which is assumed to be roughly the end of the Greek Dark Age. Thus its important when contrasting the way women were depicted in the Odyssey, and the roles and status of women of that time, to ensure we use the knowledge of women in the dark age. This is important because the role of women, including there freedoms and rights can vary from period to period.

Women were viewed as a males property, firstly as the property of there fathers and brothers, then transferred to the property of the husbands. "Marriage, in reference to the procreation of children, was considered by the Greeks as a necessity enforced by their duties to the gods, to the state, and to their ancestors.... Until a very late period, at least, no higher considerations attached to matrimony, nor was strong attachment a frequent cause of...
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