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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Daily Life & Legal Status

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University of Toronto St. George
Regina Höschele

Lecture #6 – Daily Life & Legal Status  Life expectancy for men – 45  Life expectancy for women – 35 o Average – obviously some people died earlier and later  In Greece, 30 - 40% of children died in their first year o Half of all children would die before age ten o To ensure that they still had living children, a family would have on average 5-6 children  In Rome, 25% of children would die before 1 o 50% would die before 10  It was not illegal to kill children by exposure if you thought you would not be able to support the child or the child would not live anyways  Exposure was more likely to occur with female offspring o The male children were heirs – females were useless to their parents  Aristotle says that there should be a law against raising disabled children – waste of resources  More female children died then male children – perhaps due to an unfair division of resources  Women were most fertile between the ages of 15-29  While living with their mothers, girls would learn to cook, textile skills, wool-working, how to run the household  Girls were married after menstruation (usually occurred between 13-15) o At this point she was considered a woman and could be married off o The minimum age of a bride in Athens was 12 o The minimum age of a bride in Sparta was 18  Women were never considered legal independent adults or citizens o Always needed to be under the care of a male guardian (husband or father)  Under Augustus’ rule, female citizens in Rome no longer needed sponsorship if they had had 3 children o Freedwomen needed to have had 4 children  There was a separation of the responsibilities of the woman in the oikia and the man in polis  Socrates writes a treatise on household responsibility o Husbands would train their wives (usually around 14) on how to run the household  Benefit of having a wife so young was that the husband could train her from scratch – mold her to be the perfect wife for him o the perfect wife was always wanting to please her husband – willing to do anything her husband asked her to, willing to learn  The distribution of chores o The gods created them to be complementary o Both a positive and negative connotation of ‘yoke’ when referring to marriage  Either as a burden or as joining  The purpose of a marriage was to produce legitimate heirs  The men do all their work outside of the oikia – they provide for their families  The women do all the work inside the oikia – the maintain the household and distribute what the men provide o Women should be like a ‘bee’ – watching and supervising everything o Women were therefore responsible for all the comings and goings in the household  The notion of physis (nature) – women’s bodies are better suited for inside work (smaller and more delicate) while men’s bodies were better suited for the more physical outside work (stronger and more resilient)  In Athens there was strict sexual separation between the men and women o Separate women’s quarters in the house  At the back of the house – as far from men as possible o Female participants at symposiums were prostitutes, not wives  The higher up a family was in society, the more confined the women were o More slaves to do things for you (go to market, etc.)  The most interaction that women had with others was at religious events (funerals, festivals, etc.)  Women were not supposed to have any interaction with strange men o Only direct kin and husbands  In the lower classes, this was not the case – the women often needed to contribute to the income of the household o Market, washing women, wet nurses, textile work, etc.  A woman having a profession was frowned upon – it was a mark of the lower class  Widows could remarry o Difficult unless they were still able to bear children  Because women would typically marry men much older than themselves, they would often outlive their husbands  Univira – a woman only married once  Pater familias – head of the household o The oldest living male in the household o Latin concept – no Greek equivalent o The father had full control over his child until his death (regardless of the age of the children)  Kyrios – the ‘sponsor’ of a woman o Greek term o The male guardian for a woman, either male kin or her husband  If married man has sex with other people it is not considered adultery – it does not threaten the legitimacy of his heirs o Illegitimate children had no claim of inheritance Sparta  Militaristic society  A boy was raised by the mother until aged 7  Afterwards was raised/ trained by male community in barracks until age 30 o Married at 25 therefore did not live with their wives for the first five years of marriage  Girls can be seen in artwork doing physical exercise o May have been done in the nude o Would also perform in choirs  Wife borrowing: o After you had enough heirs from your wife, you could ‘lend’ her to other men so they could produce heirs as well o Not considered adultery o Children considered legitimate heirs o Only purpose was for procreation  Too many children created a problem of inheritance  Marriage = transfer of guardianship from father to husband o It was a religious ceremony or something done out of love – it had a more economical function Parts of a Marriage 1) Engye – the betrothal o Oral contract between the father and the future husband o Father would ‘pledge’ daughter and future husband would accept the pledge o The father would pick the husband, the daughters opinion was not considered o In this stage the dowry was given out 2) Ekdosis – giving out of the woman o Transfer of woman to the household of the husband o Not a sacred ritual  The dowry acted as a kind of pre-death inheritance for the woman o Money would be used to fund her needs in her husband’s household 
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