CLCV 1002 B April 5 , 2012
Women in Ancient Greece
- Important in order to create legitimate children/citizens
- Cannot pass on property to illegitimate children (out of wedlock)
- Amount of property (land, coins, etc.) that is legally attached to the girl
- Bigger the dowry, the more suitors you will have
- Different from the bride price (paid by the suitors)
- Property doesn’t go to husband, but is connected to the girl
- Ensures that when marries, she will not be an expense to his household
- Husband administers money but required by law to use it to support wife and later their
Ceremony of marriage and married life:
- Bride taken from parents home to groom’s home
- From that point on , she becomes part of his oikos
- Oikos= “house” or “household”. Includes all the property he owns and all the people
under his guardianship (slaves, children, his mother if father dead, unmarried sisters if
father dead, wife)
- Job when go to oikos is to manage affairs of household of husband
- Why women literate and numerate, because running households
- Ultimate decisions made by man but women manages day to day
- Oikonomia: Rules that govern the household, management of the household. A
woman’s job. Gives us the word economy. Must manage household according to
Inheritance: Proper transfer of property
- Greeks wanted to protect rights of family, make sure property transferred properly
- What if father dies without living male heir? Heir is the grandson.
- Daughters become epikleros
- Epikleros: “a portion upon”. Woman cannot use it, reserved for her son, whenever he is
- Not epikleros if already have a grandson. Money passes to grandson no matter how
young he is. th
CLCV 1002 B April 5 , 2012
- If father passes away, the right to marry the daughter goes first to his brother. If
daughter married but no male heir then uncle can dissolve the marriage in order to
marry her and try to create a male heir.
- Goal of women is to create legitimate children
- Primary emotional bond of a woman is to her children
- Husband is usually double her age. Men usually marry at 30, women at 13.
- Man’s life public and external, women’s is private and internal.
- Childbirth dangerous. Without modern medicine, approximately 10% of women died in
childbirth (infection, hemorrhaging)
- 1 in 2000 women die in childbirth in the west today, in ancient Greece it was 1 in 10
- Doctors don’t attend the birth, only women (midwives)
- Mother has no legal claim to her own children
- In case of divorce, no claim on her children. May lose access to them completely.
- Sent back to father with her dowry but not her children.
- Religion: High sexual content in ancient myth
- Religion involved in 3 sexual aspects in community:
1) Fertility: Ability of women to conceive and bear live children. Continued existence of
3) Security: Male body associated with security of a community.
- Female sexuality= procreation/birth. Associated with Gaia (gives birth without male help),
- Male sexuality: Juices of life (Dionysus)
- Dionysus also worshipped at annual festival: Began with procession through the street called
the “phallus pole”
- Long decorated erect penis carried to sanctuary of Dionysus: Satyr riding the phallus pole,
phallus pole decorated in garland
Herms: squared stone pillars with god Hermes head on top, halfway up the pillar, erect penis
and testicles carved .CLCV 1002 B April 5 , 2012
- Boundry markers
- Erect penis is a symbol of good luck and prosperity and is apotropaic= “turn away
harm/injury” from community
- Male body is eroticized: Especially young boys
- Slight exaggeration of male sexual attributes, overt sexuality everywhere.
- Norm expected of every person in society was that they would marry. Especially citizens.
- Some states had laws from deterring men from remaining bachelors.
- Threat to marriage and legitimate children always believed to be the women
- The problem: Voracious sexual appetite of women
- Women thought to be nymphomaniacs
- Sexual double standard: Women are creatures of passion, no intellectual capacity to
control passion. Men have control over base nature, including sex.
- Moicheia “Adultery” (a public crime).
- Could affect wellbeing of state because can affect inheritance.
- Adultery for women is any extra-marital sex at any time, done willingly
- No reliable birth control, so likely to produce a child. Fear that will try to pass off illegitimate
child as husband’s
- For men: Adultery is if a man has sex with a woman in another man’s (of equal status) oikos,
without his permission. Between equals.
- If couple caught committed adultery, can execute
- Man’s responsibility to ensure women don’t have the chance to have sex outside marriage
Rape: A private crime (can’t pass off/hide child of rape)
- Family has jurisdiction to decide if will pursue court case against rapist
- Can settle out of court (get offender to pay a fine or allow marri