Women and Their Roles in History

Topics: Roman Empire, Ancient Rome, Byzantine Empire Pages: 7 (2634 words) Published: October 14, 2006
Most women throughout history have made an impact or had a significant role in the society of their time. These women of ancient civilizations have led us to the roles of women in our society today. They have boosted the standing of women in society and have tried to be individuals. In some time periods, women were controlled completely by men and in others they were moderately controlled by men. This paper will focus on the roles of women in certain areas. The civilizations that I analyzed closely were the Roman Empire, Han China, Classical Greece, Byzantium, Egypt, and Europe during the Middle Ages. All these civilizations had some roles of women in common and others were completely different. We will be taking a look at women's roles in Love/ Marriage, Religion, the Economy/ Business, Politics, Daily Life, Education, Theater, and War. Love and Marriage

In Greece a father or a brother arranged marriages for a woman, and the groom was usually a distant relative. Husbands sometimes paid for the bride, but it was more common for a dowry (land portion) to be given. A marriage ceremony consisted of a procession that took the bride from her house to the house of her husband, and there the marriage was consummated. The marriages in Rome, in the Middle Ages, and in Byzantium are the most similar. In all three places, the father picked the grooms and a dowry was paid. The woman went from authority of their fathers to the authority of their husbands. They would have Church ceremony and a huge party with many guests after the ceremony. The only place that marriages were different is in Egypt. In Egypt men and women actually loved each other, and marriage was a natural state for people of all classes. Love and emotional support were considered to be important parts of marriage. Egyptians also loved children as people and not just as workers. There was no actual ceremony; a woman could chose her husband unless they were nobility and a couple was considered married if they were living together. Marriages in Han China were basically dictatorships. The father would chose the groom depending on social status, and then the husband would pay for the wife. After they were married the wife had to do everything that the husband said. The age of marriage is pretty much the same throughout all the countries. These ages are: 15 in Egypt, 14 in Rome, 12 in Europe, and 13 in Byzantium and 15, in Greece. Also, the marriages in Rome, Europe, and Byzantium are pretty much the same as in Classical Greece expect for the fact that religious events take place in Rome, Europe, and Byzantium. Women in these ancient civilizations could for the most part be thought of as property during the marriage process. The marriages overall are very comparable and mostly have only minor differences. Religion

Even though there was no religious ceremony in Greek marriages, women in Greece, did part in public religious life in Classical Greece. Many of the religious rituals had to be performed by women, women served as oracles and female prophets were also were treated with respect and some authority were the female prophets. In Rome, on the other hand, women were allowed to play little role in public religious life. The only religious role that women could be was a Vestal Virgin. There were only six Vestal Virgins and there main jobs were to make sure that the fire in the Roman Temple never went out, and making a special flour to be sprinkled on public offerings to God. The Vestals were chosen between the ages of six and ten and served for thirty years, ten as students, ten in service, and ten as teachers. Also, if they violated their chastity vow they would be buried alive. In Rome, religious opportunities were quit different for women. They could dedicate their lives to the Church by joining the nunnery. Usually only the high class women joined the nunnery because the common folk couldn't afford it. There were two...
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