Top-Rated Free Essay
Preview

Ancient Greece

Better Essays
1190 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
Ancient Greece
Kristy Hansen 05/01/11
His 126 The West and the World Mr. Hall

The Women of Ancient Greece
Cheris Kramarae once said, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”. In today’s society marriage is a romanticized idea of living a life with the person you love, while in ancient Greece this was the last thing women were thinking about. In ancient vc cGreece women endured extremely difficult situation in many aspects of their lives. From marriage, to inheritance, to social life, lives of women were extremely difficult and these three elements combined created a civilization of submissive women. Although in both today’s society and Ancient Greece a woman’s wedding day was a very important day in her life. Unlike today the women had absolutely no control over who she would marry. Marriages were arraigned by the bride and groom to be. Financial arraignments were made by both family parties in the form of a dowry. Young girls who could not be considered a woman in today’s society married very young, between the ages of 14 -18, while men married in there 20’s and sometimes even 30’s. For a women to be completely accepted into the grooms family, a child must have been conceived from the couples union. If a woman could not conceive a child, which we know in today’s society that any woman cannot, divorce was legally required. Marriage was seen as a business transaction between men ( the men of the families). Very often the issue of property arose. A woman’s property always remained separate from her husband’s” if she had any at all. The husband took total control of the property and if something should happen to the husband control was passed to their children. Once again the male had total power and authority over the wife even if the property was hers. A woman could not engage in transactions involving property valued at over one bushel. This limit prevented women from gaining any influence or authority in “political and economic operations.

Additionally, young girls were restricted from getting married if they “had no dowry” (Lacey, p. 108). Dowry, a form of property or inheritance, was more or less seen as a necessity in order to be considered for marriage. As you can see, the circumstances of gaining inheritance were restricted and limited for women, and the laws were generally more favorable towards men. The inequality that existed between men and women within the society of ancient Greece exemplifies a period of great prejudice and discrimination against females. Along with the problematic issues of property, women came across many boundaries and obstacles relative to social life, maintaining the inferiority among females. The social life of women in ancient Greece often mirrored the submissive female image. Women were restricted from participating in outside events in which men were involved. Since “working out of doors,” was perceived as a place for women to become “potential prey of rapists and seducers” (Pomeroy, p. 21), women were confined indoors. The house was considered a secure place; however, inside the home, women were often raped by their own husbands. A social life for a female was only achieved in boundaries “within her husband’s house and the domain of his power” (Lacey, p. 153). This indicated that a woman was permitted to socialize outside her home if her husband granted her permission and if her husband held a high position or authority in society. While men were outside the house, trading, hunting and working the fields, “women remained in their houses” (Lacey, p. 168). The majority of activities girls were involved in were “basically domestic” (Demand, p. 10). Females were occupied with nurturing their children and carrying out household duties. Restricted and secluded within the household, women were compared to “mere adolescents” (Pomeroy, p. 21). Living and working in the home, various responsibilities were imposed on women: “the functions of wife and mother that women had always performed were now construed as a necessity and a duty” (Arthur, p. 85). The two primary functions for women of the 4th century, were child-bearer and housewife. Bearing children, one of the main roles of women, was especially demanding and stressful. It was distressing because women were not given a choice about carrying on their family’s name. If a mother did not give birth to a male child, her daughter would be compelled to carry on the responsibility of producing a make heir: “When there is no son, a daughter can prevent the extinction of the oikos by producing a son” herself (Pomeroy, p. 25). Giving birth to a girl was seen as an embarrassment and disgrace. After giving birth to a daughter, a mother would “turn her head away” from her husband “in shame” (Demand, p. 6). A father would not even consider his own daughters as his children: “men often do not count daughters when asked how many children they have” (Demand, p. 6). Females were neglected and looked down upon starting the day they were born. The strain and pressure of carrying on the name of the oikos, a household, lead to the following several appalling situations. Early marriages led to shocking and disturbing age gaps. It was seen as the norm for fourteen-year-old girls to marry men of the age of thirty. Because “the average age of death for men” was forty-five, many “fertile women without a husband” were left behind. As a result, many “children would be orphaned early in life” (Pomeroy, p. 27). Furthermore, early marriage and “childbearing” (Demand, p. 102) led to countless “death(s) of a young mother in childbirth” (Pomeroy, p. 27). To give an idea of the great number of deaths that occurred due to early childbearing, “the death rate of women during childbirth” can be “compared to the death rate of men during war” (Carlson). Before newborn babies could reach the age of one, “nearly fifty percent of all infants died” (Carlson). Additionally, all children the women gave birth to would “belong” to the husband’s family more so than to the wife’s side of the family (Thompson). Here, the children can be seen as an issue of property. Other than playing the role of the child bearer, females served as housewives. In ancient Greece, wives were expected to stay in the house and fulfill domestic duties, such as cooking, cleaning, weaving, sewing and looking after the children. The society of ancient Greece enforced that a “woman’s job…was to supervise the household” (Arthur, p. 88). Moreover, in the household, the relationship between the wife and husband was “not equal in terms of power” (Pomeroy, p. 22). Females had a lower social status than males. In ancient Greece, women were mistreated, degraded and controlled. Overall, the society of ancient Greece, especially in the period from 800 to 500 B.C. preserved the issues in marriage, inheritance and social life, fostering the debasing roles of women. The fact that men were denegation superior figures in this society, contributed entirely to the degrading of females. The issues and restrictions ancient Greek women tolerated, maintained the weak and subordinate view of females.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    A women’s role in ancient Greek society was not monumental; they had no political rights what so ever, and are constantly under the control of men in all stags of life. The major statues that women can obtain during their life is; daughter, wife, mother, nurse, and slave. None of these statues are high in rank, unless a woman is married to someone in the high elite, or to an emperor, thus the wife is not able to obtain that high rank by herself, she needs a male to aid and further her status. On the other side of the spectrum of statues is the slave woman, who had a minor amount of worth. As Massey articulates,” Some [people] may have been captured in war, but most from slave-traders who had bought them from pirates and kidnappers. Others…

    • 263 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ancient Greek

    • 1390 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Chapter 3: Ancient Greek Civilization 1. During the Mycenaean civilization, who was the great poet and what were his two important literary works that influenced the Greeks and formed part of Western literature? Homer, The Iliad, The Odyssey…

    • 1390 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In ancient Greece, women had about as many rights as the slaves. For her entire life, a woman would live under the control of her father, husband, or other male relative. Women did not leave the household but instead spent all day taking care of it. Women with wealth didn’t work and supervised the slaves. The poorer a woman was, the more freedom she had to go outside, ironically. A low-class woman could be seen going to the market or working with her husband, and an even poorer woman could be seen going to the market alone.…

    • 521 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The social hierarchy of ancient Greece places women one tier above slaves in order of respect, alienating and disregarding the value of women in return for maintaining tradition and suppression, “Medea: we [women] bid the highest price in dowries just to buy some…

    • 699 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Women in Classical Athens vs. Women in America Women in classical Athens, according to many of the accounts of women's position in the Greek city-state, lived a life of domestic slavery. Men controlled politics and societal influence in the public setting, so the lives of women were no different from foreigners or slaves who also had no civil rights. The lives of women in classical Athens greatly contrasts the lives of women in America today; however both share similar family obligations. While the obvious differences are that women didn't hold political office, didn't own property, and women didn't work outside the home, similar to women in America today, women were the primary caretakers of the home.…

    • 884 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Women in Ancient Greece

    • 507 Words
    • 3 Pages

    In ancient Greece, a woman who often appeared outside her home would be viewed not much positively. For instance, the wives of citizens wouldn’t attend dinner parties with their husbands. Women in ancient Greece predominantly had to face the same difficulties in aspects of the rights and roles in their family, social and religion life. The main reason of such very early marriages was to preserve the honor of girls. Father would have right to accept and raise or to expose the child. Furthermore, women were free to visit each other in order to borrow a household…

    • 507 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    ANTIGONE The conventionally accepted roles of both males and females in ancient Grecian society were well defined and manifested. Women were considered the weaker of the sexes and, thus, were expected to remain in the home and perform their domestic duties, while the men were to be rulers and bread-winners. The woman’s voice was not heard on any issues affecting the society as her opinions were thought unworthy of consideration. She was required merely to reproduce, to execute her domestic duties well and to submit incontestably to the authority of the men. In essence the Greeks valued their women almost as little as a common slave was valued.…

    • 1895 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Greek historian Xenophon in Oeconomicus described women as things important for “…the production of children.”1 And “…offspring to support them in old age…” Women were always controlled by men, whether it is her father or her husband, and would be expected to keep the house clean and be in control of the slaves and care for the children. This meant that Athenian women had little to no freedoms, and weren’t allowed to leave the house except for religious festivals, funerals, or religious cults. She wasn’t to be seen inside or outside the house by the public, and if her husband had guests over she would be confined to her bedroom.2 If a household had no slaves though then a women would have more freedoms but they were limited to the chores that the slaves would have done like farming and cleaning the property.3 If a household had slaves then she would also be in charge of the slave’s children. The life of an Athenian woman was a harsh one and seems unreal to modern people from a1st world…

    • 1211 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Women in Ancient Greece

    • 1176 Words
    • 5 Pages

    By: Kimberlie Jarvis Women's role in Greece can be seen when one first begins to do research on the subject. The subject of women in Greece is coupled with the subject of slaves. This is the earliest classification of women in Greek society. Although women were treated differently from city to city the basic premise of that treatment never changed. Women were only useful for establishing a bloodline that could carry on the family name and give the proper last rites to the husband. However, women did form life long bonds with their husbands and found love in arranged marriages. Women in Athenian Society Women are "defined as near slaves, or as perpetual minors" in Athenian society (The Greek World, pg. 200). For women life didn't extend far from the home, which was thought to be their sole realm of existence. Though they ranked higher than slaves did, they were treated in many of the same ways. Just like slaves, their mothers trained women as adolescents what their domestic duties were. They were secluded from all males, including those in their family. They lived in gynaikeion, which were women's apartments in Athens (Daily Life in Greece, pg. 55). They were kept at home where they were taught the proper manners and duties of a desirable wife. "Marriage was the inevitable goal to which her whole life tended. To remain a spinster was the worst disgrace which could befall a woman" (Everyday Life in Ancient Greece, pg. 82). However, it was seen as more of a disgrace on her father who ‘owned' her until she was married. Although Athenian women were completely in charge of their household and slaves, they didn't have much freedom. They rarely left the house, unless they were part of some sort of religious procession. They could only walk abroad in the streets if accompanied by a slave or other attendant. It was improper for respectable women to share the same social entertainments as men. Even if caught in the courtyard of the house by a male visitor, they would…

    • 1176 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Athenian Women

    • 264 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Women of that time in other cultures were treated like their father’s/husband’s property. That was the case all around the world, from China to Medieval Europe, to Rome. Women had no rights other than to maintain the house hold and bear children. Greece was a sight exception in this regard. Women who held higher positions in the society had quite independent lives, along with sixth century Spartan women; however, Athenian women did not share the same liberties as their neighbors. Athenian women rarely left their homes, but when they did, it was for religious purposes or festivals. Aristotle best summed up the role of Athenian women with a quote which basically says the woman in meant to bear children and maintain a home. Women were not completely…

    • 264 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Women In Classical China

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages

    One thing that could have influenced women’s roles in society is the philosophy and the religion of the time. The religion of a society can dictate everything about people’s everyday lives, from what they wear, to what food they eat. Moreover, religion can especially influence how people treat and perceive others. The main religion of Ancient Greece at the time was the polytheistic Greek mythology that revolved around the twelve major Olympian gods and goddesses. While women did have a strong presence in the mythology with some of the most prominent gods being goddesses, such as Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the patron of Athens, the women in Greek myths were often very archaic stereotypes. They were usually either trying to stir up trouble for the male heroes or they were undyingly loyal to their husbands. “Myths and literature abound with female characters trying their best to derail the plans of male heroes, from the supreme witch Medea to the deadly, if lovely, Sirens. They can also be represented as ruled only by wild passion and ecstatic emotion such as the Maenads. In contrast, the ideal chaste woman loyal to her absent husband is epitomized by Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey” (Cartwright). Besides religion, another thing that greatly influenced society’s thinking was the philosophy of the time. In Greece, the most notable philosophers were…

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Marriage in ancient Greece was considered one of the most important aspects of a woman’s life, yet she had no control over it. When a woman was to be married she “given” in marriage by her father or other male authority figure. Women were seen as objects, thus they were “given”. They had no say in who they would marry. Marriage was not for love, it was more along the lines as a business relationship between two men, the father and the bridegroom. Men were free to establish…

    • 923 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    All things considered, one may assume that the Ancient Greek society nominated women with secondary role despite the long range of tasks they had to and the respective skills they had to possess in order to meet the husbands' expectations. The girls of the age of fourteen to eighteen years old had to play the role of appropriate spouses to their husbands who were approximately ten years older and more experienced. The original document On a Good Woman written by Aristotle is a guide for a young woman that lists the benefits she will earn from her husband in case she obeys all his wishes. The document also lists two controversial ideas. The first one says that the husband and the wife are partners and the other one is that the woman should always…

    • 173 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    WHAP study Guide

    • 1142 Words
    • 5 Pages

    14 Regarding Alexandria of Egypt, it had …………… 15 In classical india ………………………… 16 A women in classical Greece could……obtain weapons to protect the polis, manage the family shop after her husband dies, file for the husband leaving his child but just be ignored by the court,…………

    • 1142 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ancient Egypt

    • 563 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Theocracy is rule by gods, and the pharaoh, seen as a living god, son of Re (sun god), represented the people under the gods. The pharaoh had absolute power, but he delegated tasks to a variety of bureaucratic positions (nonelected government officials), such as, Viziers, high priests, army commanders, chief treasurers, the minister of public works, Nomarchs, and tax collectors. The Vizier, who was appointed by the Pharaoh, was responsible for the Nomarch (a noble governor of a Nome); Nomarchs, who were appointed by the Pharaoh or inherited the position, ruled over Nomes. There were 42 Nomes (Provinces) -22 in Upper Egypt and 20 in Lower Egypt, which ran along the Nile Delta. Under the pharaoh, Vizier, and Nomarchs were scribes; written by scribes, the archive held administrative records, such as, laws, wills, marriage contracts, conscription lists, tax information, letters, and trial transcripts, etc.…

    • 563 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays