Women & The Family – Ancient Greek Society 08



man is by nature superior to the female and so the man should rule and the woman should be ruled a man who teaches a woman to write should know that he's providing poison to a snake much of what we know about ancient Greek women comes from records left by wealthy upper-class Athenian men their records give us the view through their eyes flexing their attitudes they wrote about women they were familiar with domestically wealthy upper-class Athenians who are socially restricted poorly educated and with little power they wrote about the women now familiar with socially by the numerous prostitutes and entertainers of Athens they also wrote about the women they found strange by the confident capable and even promiscuous women of Sparta nowadays we assume the higher up the social scale you are the more freedom and privilege you have and for ancient Athenian man this was true upper-class Athenian women though were treated very differently baby girls were often the victims of infanticide or expensive they couldn't support their parents in old age and in order to arrange a favorable marriage fathers of girls had to find a dowry boys were sent to school and were free to attend the Agora the gymnasium and festivals and they could pursue their interests well into their 30s girls were largely uneducated restricted to the house and were only allowed out in the company of a male relative often while wearing a veil at the onset of puberty girls were married off to men who were often three or more times their age once married a young wife was expected to provide heirs for her husband she was also expected to take over the running of the household coordinating the slaves and working with her husband's concubines she had separate quarters for womanly duties like weaving and needlework the husband had separate quarters for manly activities like holding symposia drinking parties where he would drink with his friends entertain flute girls and dancers and sleep with whomever he wanted Athenian women could technically owned property but had little control over it because they were banned from buying or selling anything worth more than a bushel of wheat they were technically able to divorce their husbands too but this wasn't really a step towards freedom it was simply a return of the woman and her dowry to the guardianship of a male family member in fact if a woman's father died and she was the only remaining heir quite often should be forced to divorce her husband and marry a member of her own family like an uncle this kept property within the family and while a dowry came with her the children didn't children were considered the property of their father what did Athenian men think of Spartan women wealthy Athenian men found Spartan women's strange they were confident assertive nothing like the Athenian women Sparta had a rigid system in which boys were trained to be soldiers they were sent to the ago gay from age seven upon graduation from the ago gay at 21 they were expected to live in barracks training until the age of 30 when they could finally return to their estates even then Spartan men were regularly absent training and fighting constant wars in a system like this much responsibility fell to women and they were treated accordingly spartan girls they took part in sports were taught to hunt to read write and do accounts they were encouraged to be brash and assertive at sporting events or festivals when they did have contact with the boys they treated them as equals being confident and even outrageously flirty no doubt aided by the traditional skimpy clothing for which Spartan women were known Spartan women were usually married in their early 20s to mend their own age but married life led to few changes for them men stayed in their barracks and women ran the estate's husbands had sneaked out of the barracks at night to see their wives but this wasn't a romantic gesture it was for the purposes of creating children in fact on the wedding night women had their head shaved they'll put into boys clothes and waited in a darkened room for their husbands it made the men more comfortable having grown up in the barracks where older men took younger boys as lovers as part of an institutionalized process women were so independent even within a marriage they could take any lover they wished if it helped them conceive strong children to the shock of the Athenian observers rather than being grounds for divorce this was encouraged in Spartan society where the population was always too small and strong children were valued as you may have guessed it wasn't as simple as Athenian women oppressed and Spartan women free within either society experiences very dependent on family and most importantly class but what about non-citizens non-citizens in Sparta were often treated very poorly particularly the helots while the Spartan women led empowered lives hell at women like many slaves elsewhere in the Greek world were forced to do the menial laborious tasks the spotty at saw us beneath them in Athens class made a big difference too while upper-class women were restricted by social conventions and slaves were restricted in just about every aspect of life non-citizens or medics had a much greater degree of freedom medic girls were often educated learning to read write and play instruments they could mix freely taking part in the vibrant city life for which Athens was known and they could also have jobs helping run shops in the Agora or even taking part in the world's oldest profession in Athens prostitution was seen as a normal job for medic and slave women even then prostitutes were divided into classes the porno were lower class and were paid for individual services horn I were often poorer medics and slaves little pay and even less respect the hurt arrow with a higher class known for being beautiful and quick-witted amongst other skills the company was sought after and would often entertain wealthy men at symposia they could command high prices yield fame and wealth and often lived in luxury even as a hetaera aged and an income fell she could negotiate a place as a concubine or mistress with a wealthy Athenian man she could live in his house with his wife and slaves and even bear his children for younger pawn iron hitter Ivo a key tool was sylveon a plant from cerini northern Africa women from all over the Greek world probably used as a contraceptive keeping them from getting pregnant which in this line of work could be disastrous even though upper-class Athenian women were often oppressed some women were able to exert considerable influence through religion women from good families often had the option to become priestesses where they were responsible for the upkeep of temples and statues who preside over ceremonies organized festivals and even make public pronouncements that carried religious and political weight and even if people are aristotle didn't recognize the value of women many other Greeks did Aristophanes the comic playwright often included strong women characters in his plays ridiculing the stupidity of men Plato Aristotle's teacher thought women ought to be educated and even Socrates Plato's teacher venerated some women for their insights although it must be said that Socrates did spend quite a lot of time trying to avoid his wife all of this is not to say that women were completely equal in Greek society they clearly weren't even the boldest of Spartan women still couldn't hold positions in government it's here I could be wealthy and famous but they still relied on men for income and priestesses still didn't carry the same weight as male politicians but it was complicated and there were paths for women to lead extraordinary lives many did like Sappho a well-respected poet from the island of lesbos she was so good that her works praising the female form led her to be associated with female homosexuality in fact it's from Sappho that we derive the term lesbian hidden er of ski on swam ten miles in a storm to cut loose the Persian warships causing them to sink thereby saving Greece well Gorgo the spartan queen who was known for a political ability and confidence when she was asked why Spartan women were the only women that could rule men she replied the Spartan women were the only ones who gave birth to real men free nay of Athens was a santaro I so famous and wealthy that she offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes after they were destroyed by Alexander the Great I wrote a hip Archaea Axia tear and last the nail were all philosophers some even studying at Plato's Academy where they dressed as men and Kanishka who was such a talented horse breeder and trainer that a team won gold at the Olympics twice not to mention a spazio Olympius egg not AC Diadema Tamika Phil Aeneas this video covered the basics of life for women in ancient Greece it looked at the restricted lives of upper-class Athenian women and the different options open to medics and slaves it looked at the much more empowered lives of Spartan women as well as a number of famous women from all over Greece make sure you post this video to Facebook or Twitter or reddit they take a lot of work and I need your help to spread them around who married earlier Spartan or Athenian women what were in Athenian wife's responsibilities within the household what were the consequences for infidelity in Sparta what will porn I and her tier-i how could a priestess exert influence in Athens name one famous Greek woman and why she's famous

36 thoughts on “Women & The Family – Ancient Greek Society 08

  • Full face veil was worn by virgin priestesses. Not by women in public. And they did not need male company in public. Athenian women organised their own festivals where men were not allowed to participate(e.g. Thesmoforia). They had their own Games, dances and theatres. Pausanias wrote the names of female winners of Olympic Games
    Dowries were not a problem, because according to the Laws of Solon, the only stuff a woman had to bring to marriage were dresses.
    Guardians and ownership. In Athens, anyone except hoplitai (bearer of arms) needed a guardian. People who did not bear arms could not protect neither themselves nor their property, so they could not own anything. Most women, children and the elderly needed guardians. This changed after the Peloponnesean War. According to Plutarch, women practically ruled Athens during the war and their position changed dramatically afterwards.

  • 03:56 "men would take younger boys as lovers". That is a major inconsistency that you can even read about on wikipedia. In Sparta homosexuality was forbidden and seen as unsuitable for Spartan way of life. Is your video even serious? State your sources at the end of the video if you want to be taken seriously

  • What's your source for the pederastic/homosexual relationships in the barracks as an institutionalised process? Awesome video as usual

  • Talking about social hierarchy and the position of women and children in the ancient society: Just as like in Confucianism, where and when women, children, and common men were treated like livestock because of the hierarchical notions of Confucius in which first shaped Chinese politics and Society and eventually the Whole Ancient World when the silk road was globalized and commercialized, when soon trading, the spread, and the propagation of Classical Far Eastern and Western Ideas soon flourished in the Ancient World.

  • Want to know what did grant woman power in Athens? Being Priestesses. They could honour a god or goddess and even be the head of that God or goddesses temple
    (Oh didn't know you said this in the video. Commented before I finished the video)

  • …and look how good empowering women ended up for the spartans…Additionally the quote by Plato featured in the video is explained in a misleading way. It could be said that Plato was engaging in mockery, meaning, only if women were expected to and could do the same things as men should they be taught the same. Obviously we know women can't do the same thing as men.

  • Thank you for your great work! This video was a great way for me to provide cultural context for my Theatre History students!

  • I am so glad that I fond this channel in the early stages of this growth- very very solid stuff, subbed, liked, etc

  • Nice work. I would like to see some work detailing the lives of other Greek-Hellenic city-states, not just Athens and Sparta (and Macedonia)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *