Lecture #6: Daily Life and Legal Status of Women
it was ok to commit infanticide, often done to sickly or mentally handicapped babies.
death from giving birth was common, avg age 35 for women due to that
Exposure of female child: husband writes to wife to tell wife that if the baby comes out female, 'expose' it.
it was seen that females cost money, but male continues family lineage, wealth, etc.
Aristotle in Politeia thinks a law should be made to forbid bringing up disabled children
childbirth age women high mortality (15-29)
Growing up and Womanhood
less nourished than boys, and thus many die of malnutrition (different in Sparta/Egypt)
learn domesticated skills usually (cooking, textile, etc)
some educated to write for Greece, though rarely.
Roman society -> aristocratic girls educated in writing, philosophy,
once you can menstruate, you can marry.
Rome, minimum age of marriage was 12, but most married later than that
Sparta - girls have to be 18
Xenophon - How to Train a Wife - gave a more positive portrayal of female role. That female necessary has to be
housekeeper due to physical limitations, but is just as important their role. There has to be marriage to make children
to take care of the old.
oikos = home
polis = city
sex segregation existed, homes constructed with separate quarters for women. If there was a party, lowly courtesans
and prostitutes can attend, but not citizen women.
the richer and more higher up your social status, the more confined
lower class women probably had to work, have professions.
Remarriage - is possible and encouraged usually, no concept of monogamy. Marriage was an economic contract, not
a romantic attachment.
but in Rome. Univira - woman who marries once, was considered ideal, but not expected and not in interest of the
state for fertile women to stay unmarried
Pater familias : Concept exclusive to Rome. Head of household, the male father. Father full control over children
until death. Father has authority to punish and kill children.
o in Athens, female hard male guardians. Marriage is handing over guardianship from father to the husband.
Female slaves, the master man (kyrios) has absolute control over, and can have sex with the female slave anytime he
wants. The children from slave-master relationships doesn't threaten the legitimate heir, so it's ok to be adulterous
Dowry: woman on her marriage comes with a dowry to ensure she be financially secured, and if there is a divorce,
the dowry goes back to father.
athletic warrior, militaristic society
Boys raised by mother til 7, then trained in barracks of male community where they live together to play sports and
train, etc, seperated from household.
Marriage at 20+ for boys, and don't live with family until 30+ years old.
Girls do a lot of physical exercise, running, wrestling that males do, and they do it in nude with male viewers.
Women also sang chorus.
Wife-sharing: It's ok to lend your wife to other males if she consents, they can have sex and have babies with her too,
and it wasn't adultery. Female wasn't monogamous, while men were monogamous. Purpose is for procreation.
Female fertility should be used as much as possible to create more babies. Women still had to do household work. Legal Status of Women
all had male guardians, if father dies, the next of kin like grandfather, uncle, brother etc becomes the guardian.
Marriage not sacred.
Adultery is a problem not because of sacred bond, but only because its violation of property
o Step 1 Engye: means bethroval, father transferring guardianship to the husband. Husband in ceremony
would say "i can" take care of the wife, etc. Dowry given at this stage.
o Step 2 Ekeis: the transfer of the woman to the dwelling of the bride groom, with some rituals and songs, the
The dowry is not property of the daughter, the husband has to take care of the dowry, and if they divorce, the
husband has to give it back to the father, but if can't, has to pay annual interest rate of 18%.
o so couple only has female kids, big problem for inheritance.
o you can adopt a son, the son would marry the daughter.
o So if a male dies without son, only daughter, his wealth attached to the girl, she gets all the stuff, she is
simply attached to the stuff and only usable when she marries. Epikleros = girl + property attached.
o When the girl remarries, the wealth isn't just for the husband, the husband has to make sure the male
descendent of epikleros gets the wealth and the line would be considered the line of woman's dead father.
o Solon made law to make sure epikleros be slept with 3 times a month.
If father dies, usually the girl can marry the uncle, it wasn't considered incest. If the uncle wanted access to the
property, he would have to marry the niece. He can divorce existing wife to be with niece.
o union between concubine and man, the woman doesn't have to come with dowry. The children are still
legitimate if Athenian citizen.
Pericles 451 BC Law - new citizenship law. Only if both parents are Athenian, can get Athenian citizenship. Politis =
citizen. Aste = just another term for female citizen
Metic = resident alien, has socio-economic rights like owning property, but can't engage in political assembly. Also
had duties of Athens.
How to Divorce?
o Male goes to female, tell her she's divorce, then return dowry.
o Woman has to register with city magistrate for divorce and guardian father has to be willing to take her
back and support her. Someone has to support her in the registration for divorce.
o Men can be forced to divorce, 1) when wife was adulterous, can't forgive, forgive = lose property, 2) If she
became an epikleros, 3) if she was discovered to be non-Athenian
In case of adultery, the adulterous male can be killed in the act, and female would be punished from participating in
religious rituals, and if she did, she could be humiliated legitimately.
Moicheia = rape. Adultery was a better offence.
A husband's defense: Euphiletus kills Eratosthenes and justified because he was sexing his wife.
The past activities of a courtesan: Neaera some foreign sex slave became famous prostitute, becomes free and leaves
with some guy from Athens. He mistreats her, she leaves off to Megara with some property and 2 maids and
children, another Athenian falls in love with her, a pimp-lover Stephanus. Stephanus pretends the children are his
and that they are Athenian. Daughter of Neaera marries Athenian guy, and she has liberating lifestyle like mother, so
the husband after 1 year marriage divorces and dont want to give back dowry, etc. Neeara daughter marries another
dude later, king of Athens, and does secret religious ceremonies which she shouldn't be allowed to, etc.
Women economic contract can't be worth more than amount of grain that can feed a family for 5-6 days. So women
can shop for grocery, but any transaction greater than that is not permitted.
only father can own property, anything the adult son acquires still belongs to father. The son can be emancipated if
father sells the son 3 times. Once emancipated, can't inherit anymore but under his own authority. Manus: woman move from authority of father to husband. In this type of marriage, the wife's legal position is
equivalent to a daughter of the husband. This type of marriage fell out of favor by end of republic.
o 1) Confarreatio (religious ceremony) - priest does the marriage, but only 1 priest in the city so this couldn't
be done a lot.
o 2)Coemptio - symbolic sale of daughter to husband
o 3) Cohabitation - if you stay in household of the man for 1 full year, you become under his authority, if you
want to remain father authority, must sleep at home 3 nights per year at father household.
Tutor: Roman guardianship. If husband had authority over wife, then he can grant her to choose her own tutor after
Divorce: wife can't initiate divorce, someone like brother or whatever has to initiate the marriage. Before Augustus'
marriage legislation, would just ask if she feels married, and if she says no, returns to father household.
Husband initiate divorce 3 reasons early in Roman times.
o adultery - 1/2 dowry stays with husband
o wife was poisoning children - 1/2 dowry stays husband.
o if wife mismanages household (substitutes the key), then in these cases, the dowry stays with husband fully.
These laws became less strict later on.
Marriage Legislation by Augustus.
o try to put some order into who marries who.
o Senatorial class to marry upper class to make legitimate children, keep the lineage elite.
o Senators cant marry prostitutes, adulterers, etc.
o Punishment against those who dont marry when can marry, especially for upper classes.
o If you're man over 25 or woman over 20, and someone dies to want to bequeath something to you but you
not married, then you can't get it, but you have 100 days grace period to marry to get the inheritance.
o More children, more priviledges.
o In election campaigns, the one with more children is preferred
o Infertile woman is good ground for divorce.
A woman who has had more than 3 children can become her own guardian Lecture #7: The Female Body - Ancient Gynecology
all doctors swear the Hippocratic oath, the oath to practice medicine ethically and honestly. This oath is mellenia old.
Oath says you can't have sex with patients, can't expose their medical history, can't initiate abortion, etc.
Corpus Hippocratium - the dozens of work under Hippocrates. Corpus = body of work
Hippocrates born 460 BC
works still read widely today.
Asclepius, son of Apollo is god of medicine, stands for ideal of the doctoral profession
Wrote many treaties about the female anatomy
female doctor in 4th century BC
went to Alexandria to become doctor, dressed as a man and was very successful in helping women.
Men became jealous of her, accused her of sleeping with women, she revealed her gender but then was prosecuted
for being women doctor. The women in Alexandria protested and thus women were allowed to be doctors.
female are inferior versions of men.
female is for nutritive functions but the male semen is what provides life
Hippocrates' The Four Humour Theory
Hot and Wet: Blood Sanguine Courageous, Amorous
Hot and Dry: Yellow Bile Choleric Easily Angered
Cold and Dry: Black Bile Melancholic Despondent, Irritable
Cold and Wet: Phlegm Phlegmatic Calm, Unemotional
i.e. Menstruation would be caused by vagina soaked up too much blood from the stomach leading to irrational
male semen is like female menstrual fluids
men are compact and hot, they use up their blood, whatever is left becomes semen
females are spongy and cold, they don't have heat to use up blood
adolescent boys are considered like female, they are too cold and unable to generate semen due to lack of heat, their
body much similar to female bodies.
If women who is menstruating looks at the mirror, the mirror will be stained. During menstruation, the eyes are filled
with blood. The air around the surface of mirror is also affected by the profusion of blood, causing it to stain. Pliny the Elder
if a cycle occurs during full moon and women walks through a field naked, the pests in the field would die due to toxic
coming from the female body
sex during menstruation is toxic to men
Hysteros = hysteria
hysteria is from the womb.
the best way to prevent suicide in women is to marry them, have sex with them and thus keep the womb happy.
if the woman don't marry in time, their hymen is in tact and they're still virgins, then the blood would build up in the
heart and stomach, causing numbness and insanity
they then perform suicide to relieve the pressure of the blood choking them... so women who are going crazy needs
to have sex
The Wandering Womb
The wandering womb is a belief that a displaced uterus (not in place uterus) was cause of the many medical problems
of women including hysteria, etc. It is part of Hippocrates' teachings. When the uterus moves around, it causes
pressures on nerves, arteries, etc, that causes many impairment to the female.
the womb without sex would dry up. The vaginal fluids would travel to other parts of the bodies and cause all sorts of
Plato: Womb as an Animal
the penis is a living animal.
urine and semen are closely related.
the womb is also a living animal, it is eager for conception and if it doesn't receive sex, it becomes angry, blocks off air
and causes all sorts of temperamental and bodily problems.
the womb is uncontrollable, independent animal
Two forms of Treatments
1) utilized scents to calm the womb
2) curses and amulets to calm the female down from hysteria caused by the womb.
-all this is about the woman's uncontrollable organ requiring domestication, the womb as this uncontrollable problem causing
wild creature. Domestication is rationalized like this, and sex is rationalized the same way.
Hippocrates thought both female and males had sperms, the combination of the mixture results in boy or girl baby.
Strong sperms create males, but weak sperms create females.
A pregnant female must have also enjoyed the sexual encounter.
women don't have sperm, only male has sperm
the soul is within the male sperm, the female simply provides the nutritive matter that creatres the form.
soul/breath = Pneuma. A male baby is formed when there is significant 'heated' pneuma
Why men have more hair on chest?
hair grows on the head because there is semen around there
when puberty happens, the semen is agitated as semen travels to affected areas of the body as the sperm travel from head downward to chin, chest etc, they head to the penis area for sex
men become bald because semen is expended, thus the head loses moisture and thus becomes bald
-Best time for Women to concieve? After menstruation cycle
-Avoid conception by holding your breath when the boy ejaculates, then wipe your vagina. Put oils and honey into uterus to
stop the semen from entering.
extremely dangerous for women
thus in hippocratic oath, it's forbidden to
Hippocrates witnessed a prostitute initiate her own abortion by jumping up and down til the embryo came out. Lecture #8: Women and Rituals
Women and Ritual
Euripedes, the captive melanippe
-^explain why females so important for rituals, in holy services, women played the righteous role, which is quite a bit of
contrast to subordinate role we've been used to throughout this course.
-in religious ceremonies, women quite important. Prietess get sacrificial meat, they would even date using priestess name, they
were given rations, salary, etc.
-why is it that women so important? Because female detities, female goddeses etc would have female pritestess.
-analogy of temple and house, so women looks after house just as the priestess looks after the temple.
-a lot of housework had to be done at a temple
-Aristophanes, Lysistrate : priestess talking about her process of different religious roles at different stages of her life...
kanephoros - carry basket, stand at some sacrificial position, carries grains and insigifcant things to sacrifice before the animal,
she would be walking at front of position making her visible, which is contrast to the classical Athens woman who is supposed
to be kept inside, but here she is outside, etc.
-Gentilician priesthoods - restricted to particular genos (family, clanhood).
-Athena Polias - Athena and her role as guardian of the city