Except for women in Ancient Sparta, Greek Ancient Greek Women had very limited freedom outside the home. With their husband’s permission, they could attend weddings, funerals, some religious festivals, and visit female neighbors for brief periods of time.
What role did Ancient Greek Women Play?
Women had no role in politics. Women with any wealth did not work. They stayed indoors running their households. The only public job of importance for a woman was as a religious priestess. A woman could own a property, such as clothes, Greek jewelry, slaves, however, she wasn’t able to buy anything, to own a land or to contract. A guardian controlled all aspects of her life. Athenian citizenship enabled her to marry another citizen, to partake in religious ceremonies, but she still had no voting right or financial independence.
In their home, however, Greek women were in charge! Their job was to run the house, make the clothes, and bear children. The main roles of the wives were supervision of the slaves and management of the household responsibilities, such as weaving and cooking. Most Greek women did not do housework themselves. Most Greek households had slaves. They were sometimes expected to take care of the agricultural lands when the men were not present due to wars.
Daily Life of women
The life of a woman was mostly confined within the four walls of the house as it was considered immoral to go outside without a male companion. Raising kids was considered to be their main job while they even had to oversee the work of the slaves as the males were away from their homes most of the time. They looked after the agricultural estates and made sure their slaves were working properly.
Lives of Women in Ancient Greece were closely tied to domestic work, spinning, weaving and other domestic duties. They were not involved in public life or in politics. The Ancient Greek People Life was normally quite confined to the house although one public duty was acting as a priestess at a temple. On bright, sunny days, the women probably sheltered under a covered area of their courtyard as the ancient Greeks believed a pale complexion was a sign of beauty. They did not enjoy any political rights and were considered as the property of the husband.
Status of Women
Women were considered to be the responsibility of men and once they were adults they were required to be accompanied by a male whenever they went outside. So their entire world was mostly the inner household.
Marriage was considered to be one of the important parts of the life of women and their responsibility passed from their father and brother to their husbands after being paid a hefty dowry. The husband was Almost like a master to their wife and domestic violence was considered a normal method to discipline or educate the so-called ‘naïve’ women.
The honor of the women was also very important as a violation by an outside Male was even considered to be the fault of the women which could be seen by the mythologies surrounding medusa.
Education of Girls
The girls were not allowed to go to school and their education took place at their homes mostly from their mothers. They were taught to cook, weave and spin. They remained under the protection of their mother until they reached puberty by the age of 12 or 13 when they were required to leave their toys at the temple of Artemis which signaled the end of their childhood and were then married off with a dowry by the male members of the society.
Ancient Greek Women’s Clothing and fashion
However Spartan women did not have this restriction, they had more freedoms and responsibilities in public life. In Athens, the law required all inheritances to go through the male line and limited property that could be owned by Cloth women.
The most common clothing for women in ancient Greece was the tunic which was known as the tunic along with a cloak known as himation which covered the entire length of their body. It was made by women themselves and usually constructed with wool. They also used belts and girdles to tie their floor-length long chitons according to their desired length. A belt was also tied around the breast and was known as a Strophian, which can be considered an ancient version of the modern bra.
Jewelry made out of precious metals and stones like gold was a great status symbol as well as a fashion symbol for women. Rings, necklaces, and earrings were very common and even sometimes attached to the fabric of the clothing. Long hair was another desired thing among the women and it was gratified by braids, curls, and even headbands or ribbons.
Most women back then or even men, as a matter of fact, were not born with a pale or white skin tone. Hence women learned to fake their skin color with the use of makeup. They would use white lead on their face to make it look white.
This lead had toxic substances in it which in the long run had adverse effects on them. They would use white chalk but it was not very popular as chalk would disappear very quickly. They would mix honey and make a cream to keep their moisturized and sometimes added some drops of olive oil for a glowing skin.
Female roles in ancient Greece
Female slaves cooked, cleaned, and worked in the fields.In affluent homes, women had a completely separate area of the house where men were not permitted. In the homes of the poor, separate areas were not available. Poor women often worked outside the home, assisting their husbands at the market or at some other job. Poorer women often went to the market without a male escort.
Wives and daughters were not permitted to watch the Greece Olympic Games as the participants in the games did not wear clothes. Chariot racing was the only game women could win, and only if they owned the horse.
Girls in Athens got married soon after puberty to much older men. Young Greeks guardian was obliged to provide bride a suitable dowry. However, not much of emotional importance was attached to the institution of Greek marriage and the main aim of the woman was giving birth to children and raising them.
Women in Olympics
Ancient Olympics was much different than what we know today as modern Olympics. The most notable difference being the absence of women in the main sporting events. The women were not even allowed to attend the Olympic sporting events and were considered a crime. But women did take place in the murals around the games for their worship. There were certain cultural events that took place with the great presence of women. There was one event though which consisted of the unmarried women in a foot race which took place in honor of Zeus’ wife, Hera.
Spartan women were quite liberated in competition with women in other ancient Greek states. Women were given formal education like the boys and even some physical training so that they could defend themselves in absence of men.
The spartan men were mostly in wars and all the working of the household including taking care of children and their agricultural estates. They even took part in politics which was not found anywhere in ancient Greece. But still, the most prestige to the women came from nurturing a strong child for the Spartan state.