CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Perseus Project

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Published on 16 Oct 2011
School
UTSG
Department
Classics
Course
CLA219H1
September 23, 2010
Marriage, Sex, Motherhood, and Death
*Decent translations The perseus Project (online)
Questions from last class:
Methodology?
Resistant reader…refusing to accept that dominant perspective in text is the only
perspective (ie: reading between the lines to get information that would otherwise
be obscure or inaccessible)
Most information on wealthy women and (their) slaves…not necessarily on poor
women—where was the interest?
Exposure of girls (widespread?)
Evidence for lower numbers of women
»P. 103 of Leftowitz and Fant
Naming Conventions
Greek women (and men) usually only have one name
Often taken from character traits (ie: Agape = love)
Often have an additional identifier after (ex: Agape daughter of…)
Athenian women often weren’t referred to by their own name (seen as disrespectful),
but were referred to as ‘daughter of…’
Slaves also only had one name
Roman women also usually had one name
Gotten in a different way…
Roman men got their names by…
Have at least 2 names (first name—limited number of them—and a family name)
Some men also had a 3rd name, often used to differentiate different branches of
(mostly aristocratic) families
Roman names
Gaius (first name) Julius (family name) Caesar (additional name)
His daughter is named Julia (feminine form of father’s family name)
»If there were more than one daughter, often they were numbered, and often
had family nicknames
»There are cases when the daughter does not get their name from her father
His freed slave is named Julia (feminine form of her former master’s family
name)
»Agape (Greek name that she had as a slave)
»Roman slaves often had one name only, that indicated their ethnic origin, or
sometimes were ‘joke names’
Roman women kept their fathers’ names, and did not take on their husbands’ names
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won’t be tested on how Greek and Roman names work…just useful to know
Guardianship and Legal Status of Women
All children born who were acknowledged fell under the guardianship of someone
Usually father; if father died young they get another
Boys eventually attain adulthood and don’t need a guardian anymore; women never
reach legal adulthood—guardianship passed onto male relatives, husband…etc
Women required permission of guardian to do anything, make large purchases,
make wills…etc
Later in Roman history, free women were rewarded by being freed from their
guardians after giving birth to 3-4 children (about first century…)
Even these women were not full citizens, like male members of their family
No right to vote, no right to hold court of law—there were some religious offices
that were held by women…
Marriage
Women married young
Early/mid teens (first marriage)
Men usually married in late 20’s or early 30’s
Women expected to be virgins at the time of their first marriage—chastity very
important
Expected to be faithful to their husbands
Could be killed/divorced if they weren’t
Women’s infidenlity would call legitimacy of their children into question
Men weren’t expected to be faithful, but were expected to honour their wives
Couldn’t bring anyone else into their homes to rival their wives
Could be with prostitutes of either sex without being considered adulterers…
Problems only arose if they had sex with a virgin—their chastity was the property
of her guardian…
Purpose of Marriage
Married for almost anything but for love
Marriage could end if couple were unable to have children—major purpose for
marriage
Necessary to pass on property, to honour fathers’ graves
Hesiod Theogony 603-612
“whoever avoids marriage…and this evil cannot be healed”
another potential reason to marry would be the woman’s dowry
dowry essentially remains attached to woman…goes with her if she remarries, but
while married to her the husband could use it
in event of her death, it would go back to her family/father
Dowry is an inalienable part of the wife (even if she’s unable to use the money,
property…etc.)
Could also be used to keep property within families…
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Could create a bond between families (especially between men)
Marriage contracted between fathers of partners, or between father of bride and
the husband
Women couldn’t rebel against marriage
Familial bonds could also take the form of political support (ie: Caesar married his
daughter, Julia, to his chief rival, Pompeii)
Marriage wasn’t a religious matter (unlike now..)
Ceremony was held at home and didn’t have to be officiated by a priest
Most important part of marriage was the contract between parties agreeing to be
married
Respect offered to gods of home..etc.
No necessity to officially register marriage
Divorce wasn’t a religious matter—not considered a moral problem (unless adultery
was involved)
Could get remarried, complicated once divorce came into the picture
Concubines
Generally acceptable as long as men already fulfilled obligation to have children
by real wife..
Generally from groups that were less legitimate to be married (slaves, freed
persons..)
Generally subject to same limitations as a wife
If a man committed adultery with another man’s concubine, considered serious
A lot more vulnerable to abandonment…
A man who had a wife wasn’t ‘supposed’ to have a concubine…
Won’t be tested on fragmentary lines of poetry…
p. 18 # 33
Written in the voice of a women who’s female lover is about to get married…
Displays erotic sentiments between them; feelings of sadness and loss
Sappho
Gives us an idea of what it’d be to lead the largely female-centred life that she
was living
Girls, for the most part, lived pretty separate lives from boys/men
Specific cases in Athens,
Athens
»Marriage was a contract between the men involved in the marriage
»Responsibility of a girls’ father/guardian to arrange a marriage for her, and to
provide a dowry for her
»Morally wrong, and could be socially outcast if you had a daughter/female
under your guardianship and didn’t provide for them
»Technical term for marriage = “sunoikein”=’to dwell together, or to live
together’
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Document Summary

Resistant reader refusing to accept that dominant perspective in text is the only perspective (ie: reading between the lines to get information that would otherwise be obscure or inaccessible) Greek women (and men) usually only have one name. Often taken from character traits (ie: agape = love) Often have an additional identifier after (ex: agape daughter of ) Athenian women often weren"t referred to by their own name (seen as disrespectful), but were referred to as daughter of ". Have at least 2 names (first name limited number of them and a family name) Some men also had a 3rd name, often used to differentiate different branches of (mostly aristocratic) families. Gaius (first name) julius (family name) caesar (additional name) His daughter is named julia (feminine form of father"s family name) If there were more than one daughter, often they were numbered, and often had family nicknames.

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