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Women Of Ancient Greece Essay

1474 words - 6 pages

Just as a mother nurses a child, the society of ancient Greece, 400 B.C., nurtured and cultivated its demeaning role of women. In ancient Greece, women endured many difficulties and hardships especially in three main areas. The problems women encountered in this era occurred within marriage, inheritance and social life. All three elements shaped and formed the mold of the submissive female.

Marriage, a romanticized idea of being united with a person one loves dearly was the furthest thought from the mind of a woman living in ancient Greece. Marriage was considered one of the most important decisions and events in a woman’s life, but she had no direct control over it. ...view middle of the document...

Marriage was seen as a “practical business arrangement, not a love match” (Demand, p. 11). Additionally, in marriage, the issue of property aroused much conflict, supporting inequality between male and female.

The distribution and ownership of inheritance was quite unfair and complicated. In ancient Greece, “a woman’s property always remained separate from her husband’s” if she had any at all (Lacey, p. 138). The husband possessed total control of the property “while he lived,” and “control passed to their children (if adult) or their guardians when he died” (Lacey, p. 138-139). As you can see, once again the male had maximum authority over the situation. If a relative or child were to pass away, her inheritance would go directly to the husband, instead of being shared between the husband and wife. A woman could acquire property if she “ceased to be his wife without leaving him any children” (Lacey, p. 139). A woman could gain an inheritance under this particular circumstance but she “could not engage in transactions involving property valued at over one bushel” (Arthur, p. 86). This limit prevented women from gaining any influence or authority in “political and economic operation(s)” (Arthur, p. 86). Ultimately, the limit of trading at a fixed low currency can be seen as a glass ceiling, which kept woman from attaining a high position in society.

The only circumstance in which a female inherited property was through a male sibling: “wives did not inherit from husbands, nor daughters from fathers; but sisters could inherit from brothers” (Pomeroy, p. 20). This example indicates that a female only obtained possession of inheritance if a brother passed away and the sister could then claim his property. Essentially, property “was managed by the (husband, father, son)” (Demand, p. 12). 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...

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