As Pericles’ words above demonstrate, women were ideally meant to be neither seen nor heard. This is, arguably, why the authentic female voice is largely absent from the history and literature of ancient Greece. Spartan women had a reputation for being independent-minded, and enjoyed more freedoms and power than their counterparts throughout ancient Greece. While they played no role in the military, female Spartans often received a formal education, although separate from boys and not at boarding schools. Men viewed women as home keepers, loyal to their husbands, and providers of solid male lines. They were not educated like men, who were permitted to study mathematics, philosophy, politics, literature, teaching, etc.
Some, such as Sappho and Anyte, can even speak to us through their own words. However, it is also important to note that the ancient Greek women presented here largely represent those from the elite sections of society. Sadly, the voice of the working woman or even the head of an average Greek oikos is mostly absent from the evidence which survives today. The role of a woman in Ancient Greece was influential in the household and society. Although women had very few rights in contrast with their male counterparts, they made an incredible impact on paving the way for modern-day women’s rights.
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The lives of women in Ancient Greece were very different from women in modern countries today. Although the Greek people worshipped powerful goddesses as well as gods, the role of women in society was mostly confined to the home. Women married to wealthy men were often confined to their homes.
- In both these and almost every other country in the world where it’s used, Styliani is an exclusively feminine name.
- And we have compiled the 4 most common characteristics of spouses from Greece for you to feel more confident making your decision.
- If a man wanted a divorce however, all he had to do was throw his spouse out of his house.
Still, she’s the only female philosopher to be included in Diogenes Laertius’s work, where you can find such names as Plato and Socrates. Although mostly women lacked political and equal rights in ancient Greece, they enjoyed a certain freedom of movement until the Archaic age. Records also exist of women in ancient Delphi, Gortyn, Thessaly, Megara and Sparta owning land, the most prestigious form of private property at the time.
Spartan men devoted their lives to military service, and lived communally well into adulthood. A Spartan was taught that loyalty to the state came before everything else, including one’s family. Although Socrates’ assessment would be controversial, ultimately it became almost commonplace that women had and needed courage in order to protect their chastity. The Dorian Greeks also held different views from the Athenians, and praised women who took decisive action in times of warfare. By the Roman era, if not earlier, a conception of female masculinity that was tied to sexuality became prevalent in Greek literature.
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Not of all time, but among Greeks whose births are registered in the country and who, at the time of writing, still live there. The ancient Greek novel Theagenes and Chariclea tells the story of Charicleia, an Ethiopian princess who is also albino.
Once she was caught and was about to be imprisoned, but the wives of statesmen defended her. This is the opposite of what average, modern-day Greek girls will do.
For example, if a Greek woman was given or willed a piece of property, then it was hers to keep until the man of the house decided he wanted to sell it. A Greek woman also had easy access to divorce if she could convince her father or brothers to go along with it. If they did, they could take back the dowry and much of what had been purchased during the marriage. Women in Athens had few rights because they were not considered citizens, which can be viewed as ironic since Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy. Women who were married and daughters of citizens had fewer rights than freed male slaves. Practically shackled to their role as a wife and loyal companion, giving birth to children in hopes of producing a son was their chief duty. Freed slaves in Athens at least had the opportunity to become citizens and be freed from their roles, something a married woman would never have the chance of.
They were “given” in marriage by their father to another man. Daughter of Aristippus of Cyrene in modern-day Libya, Arete (5th–4th century BCE) is known as the first female philosopher. She learned this from her father, a former student of Socrates, and passed teachings on to her son, Aristippus the Younger. It is said that she took over the School of Cyrene after her father’s death. While none of her teachings have survived, she is mentioned by several historians and philosophers, including Diogenes Laërtius, Aelius, Clement of Alexandria and Aristocles. Women in ancient Greece were very often confined to the home. Here are seven ancient Greek women who impacted the course of history.
She’s considered to be one of the most prominent philosophers of her time. She was attracted by Crates of Thebes, known for his Cynic philosophy that promoted simplicity in lifestyle. When she married him, they spent their lives in poverty. After her husband died, she wrote many works, but her works were lost.