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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 1000
Christopher Brown

1 CS 1000 – Week 8 N.B.Athenian Law will be discussed after the break. Lecture 1 October 28, 2013 Women and the Family in Greek Society • History is not just about battles and civic events but it is also about the more private world of the ancients. Historians largely ignore private life but it is as equally as important. o Women and the family in the Classical Period (we will mostly be looking atAthens) The Greek Oikos • Our word ‘family’is derived from Latin familia and this word has its roots in the Roman practice of slavery (the familia were the slaves of the household). • Oikos is the Greek counterpart (oikia is the physical ‘house’) • The Greek family is a co-resident group, many (though not all) members were kin or individuals related by marriage o It is possible to have people living in the household who are not kin o There is a connection and a hierarchy • Patrilateral kinship was more common than matrilateral in the oikos (now we don’t worry whether an uncle or aunt is from the father’s line or the mother’s but to the Greeks this was very important to distinguish between the father’s line and the mother’s line). o Marriage was patrilocal which means women moved from natal to conjugal family  natal home – where you are born  conjugal home – where you live with the person you are married to o In Greece the oikos is about the male side of the family • The nuclear family is the core (plus grandparents) but there is evidence for extended families, incorporating unmarried women (aunts, sisters etc). • There is a hierarchy with the senior male as the kyrios who took charge of relations with the outside world. He has legal authority over the members of the oikos (especially women). o The Greeks had an interesting sense of the household as something separate from the world outside. It was often parallel to the outside world but conceptually it was a different world.  Example: doors and doorways are symbolic because they represent the point in the household where the private world meets the public. Because of this, there were many rituals associated with doors and doorways. 2 o The kyrios is the figure who deals with the interests of the oikos in the larger world of the public community. • Women never severed ties with their natal home, and might move back if the marriage was dissolved. Women appear to be possessions of the oikos, although women play a very prominent role within the household. • Women never lose their ties with their natal home when they move to their conjugal home o Therefore, women lived their lives in two oikoi, men in one. • Households could include non-kin members such as slaves, dependents (freedmen and women), metics (resident alien inAthens who pay to stay inAthens), and lodgers (for those who pay rent to live in the house). • Households (especially wealthy ones) were likely large and the living arrangements would be crowded by modern standards. • The concept of the oikos was rooted in the physical dwelling, but included: o People o Property o Land o Animals • The aristocratic oikos often went beyond the dwelling to include: o Other estates o Farms o Businesses (ex. Shops in the city) • The idea of family and household spirals out from the based nuclear family to include much more • The oikos was the most significant structure of economic management in ancient Greece. o Oikonomika = economics (means ‘household management’). Greek Houses • The oikia, not the oikos (i.e. the building itself). • Private houses had the same basic form, shape, and structure throughout the Classical and later Hellenistic Periods. o The Greeks had an idea of what a house should be and the form remained consistent. • There is a lot of recent scholarship work on the organization of domestic space. o Shows what the Greeks chose to highlight and conceal, and where they could entertain visitors. o There is not a lot of evidence for the Greek hous
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