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Week 7: Women and Work Notes on the week's topic, outlining women's various work roles in ancient Greece.

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Melanie Racette- Campbell

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November 11, 2010
Women and Work
Women have ALWAYS had to work outside the home
Held jobs that were usually not particularly prestigious, and were somehow connected
with women’s roles in the home
Food and clothing preparation, cleaning, clothing, children and childbirth,
adornment, jewellery, etc.
BUT, there were also some women in antiquity who were doctors, landowners…
who managed their own estates
A few wealthy women managed to have a great income and manage their own
In this lecture: counting slave workers as workers, though they weren’t usually paid
—in the Middle Ages and later on usually this work was done by poor people who
were paid (ie: servants)
Usually slaves weren’t paid, but there was a particular Roman custom that involved
giving slaves a peculium
Tips or wages that were given to slaves to be used on their own
Could be saved and used to buy their freedom
Was an incentive for good behaviour
Technically all possessions of a slave belonged to their master, many Romans
allowed slaves to keep possessions of their own
Slave labour was widespread, but poor women also held jobs.
Wealthy women did hold jobs too in a way…
Occupations of upper-class men (military and political careers) were closed to
upper-class women, but they could/did manage their own estates and interests,
which were the main source of their income, just as their male counterparts did
»Particularly in the Roman Imperial period
Augustan marriage laws allowed some women (with enough kids) to be
free from guardianship
Sources about women, not-aristocrats, and about poor free people
We know more about slaves than we do about the poor, because their wealthy
masters wrote about them
»Whereas the free poor, nobody much talked about
Sources of working women: writings of professional women, grave markers,
histories/court cases that happen to mention working women, archaeological
remains including artistic representations of women in their work place
What jobs did women do?
Musicians, painters, actresses, dancers, singers
Prostitutes, procuresses, gladiators, acrobats, barmaids, waitresses
Healing Professions
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