The position of Attic women in democratic Athens

Pritchard, David M. (2014) The position of Attic women in democratic Athens.

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Title The position of Attic women in democratic Athens
Abstract/Summary For the classical Athenians the right place for Attic women was at home. They encouraged their wives to focus on making meals and clothes and on running the oikos more generally. They expected them to produce sons so that their households could live on. The Athenians genuinely valued their wives as homemakers and mothers. But they also constantly worried that they lacked self-control. They were obsessed by the possibility that Attic women might have sex outside marriage. The result was that husbands tried to keep their wives away from unrelated men. They expected male guests whom they had invited into the oikos to keep out of the rooms where their wives were. They built houses which lacked windows for passers-by to look in and wives to look out. At the same time they believed that their wives were better placed than they were to worship the goddesses who controlled the fertility of crops and households. They also relied on them to perform the customary rites for dead relatives. Often too poor wives had to help to keep family businesses or farms going. Thus every Athenian allowed his wife to participate in female-only festivals and funerals and – if his poverty made it necessary – to work outside the oikos. Yet in doing so he insisted that she keep away from men who were not part of the family. Thus as she walked through streets she had to avoid talking with such men and to keep her face well hidden behind her veil.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Date 2014-10-01
Author Pritchard, David M.
Open Access Status Other
Additional Notes D. M. Pritchard 2014 (in press), GREECE AND ROME, 61.2

Document type: Preprint
Collection: UQ Cultural History Project
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Created: Tue, 29 Apr 2014, 16:47:35 EST by Dr David Pritchard on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry