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CLA 219.L10.23.Notes

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Regina Höschele

CLA 219 – Women in Antiquity R. Höschele 10/23/12 Daily lives of Women and their Legal Status in Greco-Roman Antiquity - Average life expectancy of males = 45 years o Females = 35 years - Infant mortality rate high – over a third of babies die (between 30-40% in 1 st year) - Look at tombstone inscriptions, skeleton analysis because no ancient data – no death or birth registry - Most children die before age 10 (50%) - Statistically couples try for kids 6x to see at least 2 children grow to adulthood - Infants can be exposed at birth – not illegal to abandon child in the wilderness or in public spaces (where it might be taken up by other people) o If child is disabled, unwanted parents sometimes choose this option o Not common but entirely possible - Text 249 (?) from textbook: Ancient Egypt, husband’s letter to wife, advises her to expose child if female (wife assumed possibly pregnant at the time) - Sickly children, but especially the female ones, most often exposed o More desirable to have a male offspring than a female because they are costly (feed/raise them, dowry) - Aristotle, Politeia, law forbidding the raising of disabled children - High mortality rate of women in child-bearing ages (between 15-29) o Multiple births in short intervals can complicate things - Girls less nurtured than boys, which is why they die easily o Because they are not taken care of as well as boys - Girls are raised among the female members of the household, trained to run the household – cooking, washing, weaving o How to take care of household based on class – elite women have larger and grander households to maintain than peasant women - Greek elite women can read and write o Illiteracy widespread among women in antiquity - Roman elite and middle class (equestrian) educated their women - Education often stops at 13-15 years old depending on when the girl gets married (marriageable age as of now) - Boy considered a full adult when they finish education at a later age than girls - Girls can be married as early as 12 years in Greece, o Spartan girls married at 18 - Women are never “full” adults – in that they always require guardianship o True for Greek and Roman women o Guardians = father, or closest male kin - Augustus, freedom from guardianship for Roman women with 3 children, freedwomen with 4 - Oikos, polis ~ Xenophon’s Oikonomikos o Sidenote: Socrates’ teachings were made known through Xenophon’s (and Plato’s) works - Ischomachus, training of 14 year old wife o Perfect wife - shape her from scratch, introduce her properly to duties of a wife – able to mould her to his satisfaction (“good wife”) o 7.18, distribution of chores between male and female, and gods making them complimentary to each other, “effective in partnership” o “yoke” ~ marriage – negative and positive connotations  Weight/burden vs. joining together to work together - Ischomachus - marriage occurs to produce children for increasing the citizenry and as old age insurance o What’s at stake is the legitimacy of children in Athens (pass on property and be taken care of in old age) - Ischomachus – gods endowed man and woman with specific qualities that makes them compatible to outdoor and indoor work respectively [7.18] For it seems to me, dear, that the gods with great discernment have coupled together male and female, as they are called, chiefly in order that they may form a perfect partnership in mutual service. [7.19] For, in the first place, that the various species of living creatures may not fail, they are joined in wedlock for the production of children. Secondly, offspring to support them in old age is provided by this union, to human beings, at any rate. Thirdly, human beings live not in the open air, like beasts, but obviously need shelter. [7.20] Nevertheless, those who mean to win store to fill the covered place, have need of someone to work at the open-air occupations; since ploughing, sowing, planting and grazing are all such open-air employments; and these supply the needful food. [7.21] Then again, as soon as this is stored in the covered place, then there is need of someone to keep it and to work at the things that must be done under cover. Cover is needed for the nursing of the infants; cover is needed for the making of the corn into bread, and likewise for the manufacture of clothes from the wool. [7.22] And since both the indoor and the outdoor tasks demand labour and attention, God from the first adapted the woman's nature, I think, to the indoor and man's to the outdoor tasks and cares. [7.23] "'For he made the man's body and mind more capable of enduring cold and heat, and journeys and campaigns; and therefore imposed on him the outdoor tasks. To the woman, since he has made her body less capable of such endurance, I take it that God has assigned the indoor tasks. [7.24] And knowing that he had created in the woman and had imposed on her the nourishment of the infants, he meted out to her a larger portion of affection for new-born babes than to the man. [7.25] And since he imposed on the woman the protection of the stores also, knowing that for protection a fearful disposition is no disadvantage, God meted out a larger share of fear to the woman than to the man; and knowing that he who deals with the outdoor tasks will have to be their defender against any wrong-doer, he meted out to him again a larger share of courage. [7.26] But because both must give and take, he granted to both impartially memory and attention; and so you could not distinguish whether the male or the female sex has the larger share of these. [7.27] And God also gave to both impartially the power to practise due self-control, and gave authority to whichever is the better--whether it be the man or the woman--to win a larger portion of the good that comes from it. [7.28] And just because both have not the same aptitudes, they have the more need of each other, and each member of the pair is the more useful to the other, the one being competent where the other is deficient. ---Xenophon, Oikonomikos - Indoor activities are not devalued – they are regarded as important as outdoor work o Physical appropriateness of the division of labour - Oikos a miniature state – polis can only function properly if individual oikoi ran well by its people - 7.33, wife should think self as a leader bee o Fair disciplinarian, caring and organized - Ancient Athens o Strict sexual segregation – houses, separate rooms for women’s (usually upstairs)and men’s quarters  One entrance, women’s farthest away from it  Symposia are not for women – only hetaera are allowed  (Roman women had more liberties)  The richer, the more confined – go outside only for religious duties and for funerals, not supposed to interact to strange men (even husband’s friends) – Ischomachus recommends walking around the house as wife goes about her duties for exercise o Women from Greek lower classes help out – contribute to the household income – work outside as well (e.g., washerwoman, midwife, nurse, vendors, etc.) – have a profession o Widows could remarry if they are still at child-bearing age  High chances for remarrying if widowed and have children – testament to fertility and domestic maintenance o Not a reality for ancient marriages to last more than 10 years – owing to the age gap between the couple – natural death, accidents, war, etc. o Roman ideal of one-man woman – univira  Woman married once, word inscribed on tombstones  Not a cultural expectation – state wants more citizens = remarrying - Paterfamilias – head of household, “father of the family” – full power over the members of his family till death even through marriage – can even kill, punish them o Children come under the authority of the next oldest male kin when father dies – most likely grandfather - Kyrios, Greek word for guardian – refer to father or husband (Athens) o Upon marriage, father transfer authority over woman to husband - Rome, women can still be under the power of their father even during marriage - Female slaves can be sexually used by their masters o Ok because it is not seen as adultery – doesn’t seen as threat to the legitimacy of his children - Dowry – exists both in Athens and Rome o Money given to woman to ensure financial security in case of divorce o Divorce – return dowry to ex-wife’s father/guardian o Death, with children – dowry goes to husband to support children - Guardianship of children transfers to next of kin when father dies - Sparta – warrior nation, athletic and militaristic society o Boys raised by mother until 7 years old, then leave home to live in barracks (male community) – stays there till 30 years
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