Women In Ancient Athens

1073 Words 4 Pages
Over the course of human history, there have been variances in the ways women have been treated by society. Some cultures treated women with respect and even sometimes reverently. However, in other cultures, women were deemed weak and therefore inferior and incapable of being in control of their own lives. One of these cultures was the ancient Athenians. Women in ancient Athens were discriminated against in many ways, including the rights they were given and their representation, which affected how they were seen by the rest of the world as well as how they are perceived now.
A great majority of women in ancient Athens lacked the ability to read or write and, because of this, as stated by an article online written by Moya Mason, no documents
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Women were not permitted to vote, they could not own property, and all their transactions had to be made through their kyrios (Thompson “Women, Money and Law”). Thus, women were heavily limited in what they were legally authorized to do. One of the exceptions to this was the hetaera, which translates into “female companions” (Thompson “Prostitutes”). These women were different from common prostitutes; they were mistresses, and they were often free women who, while still not having legal rights, had far more freedom than other women in this time (Thompson “Prostitutes”). However, this freedom came at the price of being able to have legitimate children or a normal family life (Thompson “Prostitutes”). In ancient Greek society, marrying, bearing legitimate children and making a home was seen as women’s main role in life, and by many it was seen as one of the few things for which women were accepted. So for women to have freedom in this society, they would have to give up a core part of what they thought made them worthy women (Thompson …show more content…
Women accepted this because they had no choice. Although many cultures treated women this way, the treatment of Athenian women is particularly upsetting because the ancient Athenians were seen as leaders in democracy and freedom and culture, yet they did not include a major part of their society in their definition of citizenship. How can a society be truly free if half their people are not? How can a culture be truly studied if one cannot understand the true lives of their women? The fact that women in ancient Athens were heavily discriminated against in many ways, including the rights they were given and their representation, shows that there was a major issue with what is perceived as “great Athenian

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