Women of Ancient Greece
Just as a mother nurses a child, the society of ancient Greece, 400 B.C., nurtured and cultivated its demeaning role of women. In ancient Greece, women endured many difficulties and hardships especially in three main areas. The problems women encountered in this era occurred within marriage, inheritance and social life. All three elements shaped and formed the mold of the submissive female.
Marriage, a romanticized idea of being united with a person one loves dearly was the furthest thought from the mind of a woman living in ancient Greece. Marriage was considered one of the most important decisions and events in a woman’s life, but she had no direct control over it. However, in ancient Greek society, females were given little voice, if any, in major decisions. They were denied the freedom to choose whom to marry. When a young woman was to marry, she was “given in marriage by her male relatives and (her) choice had no legal bearing on the contract”). A woman was not allowed to decide whom she wanted to wed, whether she loved her proposed spouse or not. A woman was not given the opportunity or option to select her husband; therefore she “did not marry; she was given in marriage”. Women were not active in making the initial decision, because it was arranged and planned by a father figure or male relative. A woman, such as Medea, often dreaded the day of her wedding rather than looking forward to it as one of the happiest and meaningful affairs in her life.
In ancient cultures, women were seen as objects for they were “given” in marriage by the father to the bridegroom. Thus, “the word for marriage...betrays its function and character. It was called ekdosis, loan, and so marriage was a transaction” between two men (Arthur, p. 86). Marriage was seen as an exchange and another opportunity for men to maintain the superior position. Marriage was seen as a “practical business arrangement, not a love...
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