Paper on None Provided7

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None Provided7



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 return to the seclusion of their own apartments. Pericles once said, "it was
their business to be spoken of as little as possible whether for good or ill" (Everyday
Life in Ancient Greece, pg. 82). This sentiment describes the extent of the importance of
women in society. Marriage was their only major role in the lives of men.


MARRIAGE
The betrothal was arranged by the parents as a strictly business contract. The parent’s
choice of a suitable groom for their bride was a matter of pride and status for the
family. The groom’s choice in bride was largely determined by the amount of dowry the
bride would bring with her. Although the wedding was a happy ceremony, it was only the
beginning of a woman’s loss of independence. Not only did women possess no independent
status in the eyes of the law; she always remained under the supervision of a male. If
her husband died, she was returned to her father’s or brother’s home where they would take
charge of her.


After the wedding, the wife’s duties were centered on the management of the home. She
would overlook the slaves, mend and make clothing for her family, usually done by spinning
or knitting, weave rugs and baskets for the home, or just fold and refold the clothing
kept in the family chest. The wife was also responsible for maintaining her
attractiveness for her husband. A proper Athenian wife would adorn herself with jewelry
and use rouge upon her husband’s arrival home. Sometimes she might spend an entire
evening sitting next to the couch where her husband lay reclining.


Most importantly the Athenian women were seen as "fine upstanding matrons" fit to bear a
race of excellent athletes" (Everyday Life in Ancient Greece, pg. 86). An Athenian man
married primarily to have children. These children were expected to care for him in his
old age, but more importantly to bury him with the "full appropriate rites" (Daily Life in
Greece, pg. 57). Moreover, Athenian men married to have male children in order to
perpetuate the family line and guarantee him honors when he died. It was also a large
disgrace for a man to be unmarried. Basically, Athenians married not out of love for each
other, but for religious and social convenience.

Continues for 3 more pages >>




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