Thursday March 6th, 2014
Short Assignment #2 (10%)
Women in Athens & Sparta
Considered two of the most notorious cities in Greek history, it is actually one of the few things Athens and Sparta share in common. The two cities took two separate paths towards power. Athens focusing on its politics while Sparta focused on military. These individual ways of life impacted both cities, creating large differences between the two societies, including how women were treated.
Written in the article “Women in Ancient Greece.” by James C. Thompson on the topic of Athenian marriages, he states that it was the fathers task to set up the marriage for his daughter.1 This reveals how Athenian woman do not have as many rights since the father chooses her husband instead of choosing for herself. What makes it even worse is that the father chooses a man based on his needs rather than his daughters. Thompson explains this saying, “marriages in Ancient Athens were arranged at a meeting of the senior men, with little concern for the thoughts of the groom and absolutely none for the wishes of the girl.”2 This seems more like business instead of an actual marriage. It sounds no different than trading a slave, searching for the best deal. Once they are married, the husband is legally obliged to become her guardian or “Kyrios”, passing her from under the protection of her father to her husband.3 It looks as if this benefits a woman by offering her protection, but being a guardian means they “acted on her behalf anytime she needed legal contact with the outside or public world [...] effective control of any money or property that she might posses.”4 This included the dowry given from the father and the husband would take “effective control” over it. There were just as many differences in rights between the men and women of Athens as there were between the two cities of Athens and Sparta. Men could vote and had complete control over the...
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