Ancient Greece is known to be the cradle of Western Civilization. Its culture, art, norms of life and policy have always been the best example for other countries in Western Europe. Ancient Greece provided Europeans with literature, philosophy, science, art, etc. However, this civilization could not boast of the healthy social and family relations. The attitude towards women and children was very unfair. Thus, it is possible to say that Ancient Greece was a controversial civilization that oppressed women and propagated the absolute power of men in every sphere of human life. We can analyze the condition of women on the example of several situations.
Let us begin our analysis with the simplest thing. Marriage is the best indicator of the equality of rights in a country. If we speak about Ancient Greece, there is hardly a girl who wanted to get married at that time. Modern women cannot understand the fear of marriage that waited for a girl 2500 years ago. To begin with, women were not allowed to choose whom to marry. Even if they did not love their future husband, they still had to get married with him. A young woman of that time was like a gift or product offered by one man (father) to another one (husband). When two families wanted to become closer, they did it through marriage. A father of a girl looked for a good candidate that was useful for him and offered his daughter to him. Young women did not have any choice and they had to obey the will of their fathers or other influential male relatives. Very often, there were unequal marriages. For instance, a 16-year-old girl could have a 40-year-old husband. Doubtless, this factor was very dramatic inasmuch as the age gap between husbands and wives was very solid. The result of such gaps was clear. Mature husbands did not treat their young wives seriously. They could hardly talk about anything with them. Consequently, the only duties of a woman were childbearing and domestic duties.
Sad to say but childbearing was also very difficult and challenging in Ancient Greece. Since only male citizens were respected, every father wanted a son. What is more, when a woman gave birth to a girl, it was a sign of disrespect towards her husband. Many men did not treat daughters as their own children. When one said that he had two children, he counted only boys. He could have five daughters but he did not count them. Women did not have the right to give names to their children. The name was always chosen by a father. Nevertheless, women had to sacrifice their time and efforts to bring up a child. Fathers did not take part in this process. The problem of childbearing was stressful for younger women who were pregnant at the age of 14 or 15. They did not have childhood and had to become mothers still being children themselves.
If you ask about social life, you will not be surprised that the entire life of an average Greek woman whirled in her own house. She had to cook, wash and fulfil various duties about the house. She did not have the right to participate in any events out of doors. The woman’s place was at home. The outer space was dangerous for her. On the other hand, her life indoors was not cloudless. Nearly every woman was a target of domestic and sexual abuse within the walls of her home. In addition. I dare say that women possessed fewer rights than slaves had. For instance, foreigners and slaves had political right. Women did not have it.
It will be smart to focus on the right of inheritance in Ancient Greece. Although a man and a woman formed a couple, they did not possess common property. The entire house and wealth belonged to the husband. His wife hardly possessed any private things and money. Only some women could boast of their own property. Even when a husband died, his wife did not inherit his property. The entire house and wealth belonged to his male children or other male relatives. The only chance to inherit property was quite unusual. A woman could inherit something from her siblings. Thus, her ‘previous’ family was believed to be more important and closer than the new one.
In conclusion, the role of women in ancient Greece was not quite considerable. They had to bring up children and fulfil domestic duties but they did not have any privileges and rights in social life. They could not vote and possess property. They even could not choose their own husband. However, women were weighty in religious rituals and funerals. In fact, women could not participate in the specific religious ceremonies and festivals.
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