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The Role of Women in Greece

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Greek women, as depicted as in their history and literature, endure many hardships and struggle to establish a meaningful status in their society. In the Odyssey, Penelope's only role in the epic is to support Odysseus and remain loyal to him. She is at home and struggles to keep her family intact while Odysseus is away trying to return to his native land. The cultural role of women is depicted as being supportive of man and nothing more. Yet what women in ancient Greece did long ago was by far more impressive than what men did.

Unfortunately though, they were still placed at a level that was below man because he is depicted as being the root

of the family. This fact not only holds true for The Odyssey but in the ancient Greek way of life, too. For example, women did not have such a meaningful role in Greek drama as the men did. The parts of women would be played by men in the majority of the plays. The reason this took place was because all of the playwrights were men. There were cases in which women were used in plays but they were used solely as models. Nonetheless, all of the types of women that lived in ancient Greece were depicted in all of the playwrights. The women in these plays were depicted by the role of a sinner, saint, poetess, coward, heroine, and

many more. This was purposefully done in an attempt to make the audience relate to a certain character. In doing so, they could imagine that they were indeed a part of the play to some extent. As a result, these characters have significant religious meanings and serve as a form of inspiration to other women. This would mainly apply to those women who were in attendance. This would include women of all classes that simply wanted to watch a play.

Their limitations amongst society can also be noticed by the amount of education that they are entitled to. Plato's Republic mentions how the role of women is determined by the status of their spouse. For instance, if a woman were to be the wife of a guard, then she would be expected to live at the level of that status, too. She is expected to be able to contribute to society a great deal more rather than stay at home and take care of her children and household. Plato points out that although women are not as strong as men, they are still strong nonetheless.

The same procedure could be said that takes place for women of the ruling class. All the women of the ruling class had to be educated in the areas of music, gymnastics, and even trained for war. The general concept was that there was not a single task that either sex could not do. However,

man was still believed to be able to accomplish tasks more proficiently as described by Plato himself. "Man's superiority means that he is better than woman in every sphere" (Plato 245). This further enforces the idea behind having a male ruler as opposed to a female.

Marriage in ancient Greece was considered to be a very significant occasion as in most religions and societies. Marriage could take place only by obtaining formal permission from the officials. Women during a marriage were mainly in charge of the children and of the household. They would raise their children, take care of them, and teach them everything that they have learned themselves. In addition, the woman would also support her husband and remain loyal to him regardless of what happens.

Another example of the hardships and sacrifices made by women include property rights. When a woman marries, she does not inherit or hold any property whatsoever. Instead, it is the male who in fact inherits and owns everything in the household. The same concept applies to the children of the family. The son would inherit most of the parents' wealth, and the daughter would receive whatever was really left over. In the event that the parents should die, the daughter would be considered as

being and would go to a relative. Also, the daughter would even marry a relative and bear a child with him in order to keep her family roots intact.

Some of the people from ancient Greece had similar views on the status of women in their society. They felt that a woman's place was to be at home and nowhere else. If the woman were of an upper class family, then she would not be allowed to go out unattended by somebody. On the other hand, if the individual was a poor woman, then she simply would not be allowed outside at all. Males were the only people that were allowed to attend public events. Any woman that did go to these public events did not partake in any of the events or celebrations that were being held. That could be another reason as to why many of the women decided not even to go in the first place. It was a waste of their time going if they could not have the luxury of enjoying the occasion.

A portion of the women in ancient Greece were not able to live their lives they way they had intended to. As mentioned earlier, their jobs and routines were solely based upon what their husband's status was. Therefore, in some cases, this would limit them in their daily routines and any other activities they desired to participate in.

That is why it could be stated that they lived their lives in a state



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