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Karen Luedtke
Humanities 314
Professor Morgan
February 22, 2016
Womens Role

The role of women in history has changed considerably throughout time, thousands of
years have passed and societies have evolved, but we continue to see aspects of the roles of
women that are remnant of ancient traditions and customs. From girl, to wife, to mother we will
see how these roles compare. I interviewed my husbands grandmother and during her earlier
years she saw women had very little say in society and were stereotyped to stay home, have
children, and be good home makers and wives. Women in antiquity were not so different; with
women in ancient Greece and my grandmother we see similarities in the customs of marriage,
domestic work, and social life.
Marriage is a realm in which both Greek women and my grandmother share similar
experiences. My grandmother moved to Racine, Wisconsin as a child. She was part of an
immigrant family starting over with a new bakery business in the states. She thanks her ability to
assimilate into this new world because she was young enough to pick up the language quickly.
She lived in a rural area then and was not exposed to too much of a social life. As she entered
high school her father informed her that they would be taking a trip back to their home country to
visit with friends and family. Little did she know that their intentions were to go and meet with
her unknown betrothed boy, she said boy because at first sight he looked not a day over 17.
The same happened in the Hymns to Demeter, Persephone was arranged to be married
unknowingly to a man she had not even met. Demeter cries, She was being taken, against her
will, at the behest of Zeus (hymn to demeter), because like my grandmother Persephone did not
have a say in who she would marry. The reality is that back in ancient Greece the norm was for
women to marry when they hit puberty; there would be an exchange for a dowry or a deal made
with a suitable family and most marriages were irreversible because a divorce meant a reputation
ruined and dowries were lost and they would only occur is their kyrios approved.. Although my
grandmother was initially opposed to her situation her father did not go to the extent that Zeus
did in where Persephone basically experiences a kidnapping. In her own words she states, as for
how it was that he [Hads] snatched me away, through the mtis of the son of Kronos, my father,
and how he took me down beneath the depths of the earthhe took me away under the earth in
his golden chariot. It was very much against my will. I cried with a piercing voice. (hymn to
demeter) Not as traumatizing as what my grandmother experience where she was attracted to the
idea of meeting someone and starting a new life back in a new country.
Women in ancient Greece and my grandmother shared similar duties within the
household. They both found themselves in rather secluded and restricted confines. My
grandmother said that after her short engagement, long distance relationship her husband moved
to the states and his family funded the purchase of a new home for them. She left her parents
home at the age of 18 and entered into an entirely new environment where apparently she was
responsible for maintenance. Her husband worked for an aircraft engineering company and he
travelled often. She was deterred from continuing her education at a university because he
wanted to start a family. Within the year she was taking care of an infant while her husband was
away for weeks at a time. Like my grandmother women in ancient Greece had duties similar to
those of my grandmother. After marriage, a young woman assumed responsibility for the

prosperity of her husband's household and for the well-being of its members.(wcw) Womens
lives revolved entirely around the home, very separate from the duties of her husband. Men
would leave for war and often tend to political agendas outside of the home. Specifically,
women in the ancient world inhabit "women's quarters" in the most remote and protected part of
the house. The wife, other freewomen in the household and female slaves normally lived and
worked in these women's quarters(wcw), this space was called gynaeconitis. Women in ancient
Greece would occupy their time with weaving and the making of clothing for the family. This
was a woman's most important contribution to the economy of the household. (WCW) Women
in lower social economic status would even fetch water and other items needed for the home.
Weaving and spinning wool, educating children, and preparing food were common tasks for
women in antiquity. My grandmother was also responsible for purchasing the clothing her kids
wore, making sure the received a proper education and providing meals just as were the Greek
Women in ancient Greece and my grandmother shared similar experiences and
expectations outside of the home. In ancient Greece respectable women stayed indoors as much
as possible, and it was considered proper for them to keep out of the sun so their skin stayed
white, like the "white-armed Hera." (wcw) Much like the Greeks my grandmother admits to
sharing that her family and husband wanted her to stay within the home, the only exposure she
did receive was when she tended to laundry and gardening in the backyard. She would attend
mass every Sunday with her husband and would promptly go back home to prepare supper.
Family gatherings were few because she was restricted from going out while her husband was
away on business. She did not confide in very many people because after high school the
majority of her friends moved away and she did not live close to anyone to say they had a close
community. My grandmother had her mother to confide in and although this was family it was
her only source for an outlet on her experiences. Unlike my grandmother this would be
something that did differ, there is evidence that women travelled to festivals and had gatherings
withing the home to socialize with other women. INSERT QUOTE

P3: Womens appearance and socializing

Back then: they were not supposed to go out except to visit other women, or to attend
religious festivals. Women did not participate in politics, but they did play an important role in
religion, participating in festivals, and some women served as priestesses

To conclude, womens lives in Ancient Athens were much harder than the lives of those in
America and Europe today, where we get an education, a career, and a say in who we marry.
However, given that many women in certain places today dont get an education and are forced
into marriages by their families, and that the same was true all over the world just a couple of
hundred years ago, Ancient Athens was, overall, quite progressive for the time.

We should not assume that women actually went out in public dressed in transparent clothing,

Pomeroy, Sarah B., Fantham, Elaine, and Foley, Helene P.. Women in the Classical World :
Image and Text. Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, USA, 1994. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 23
February 2016.

Copyright 1994. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.

Overall, the society of ancient Greece, especially in the period from 800 to 500 B.C. preserved
the issues in marriage, inheritance and social life, fostering the debasing roles of women

Women in the Household: The life of respectable women (the wives and female relatives and
very probably of resident aliens as well) within the was secluded, primarily in order to protect
their role as producers of citizens, household of legitimate heirs

Athough thousands of years separated them, my grandmother experienced similar in the 1950s as
did the women of ancient Greece.