Steven Apsley 9/12/07 Chapters 5-6 1. Compare and contrast the role of women in Han China and Rome.

How did women’s situation there compare to that in China in earlier times and with the situation of the Mediterranean women? Women were treated very differently and had very different roles in China during the Han Dynasty and in Rome. Women were seen as household figures in China and had to submit to different treatment based on class. In Rome, women had very few political or legal protections, and fell under absolute rule of the father of the family. However women in both of these countries had a much better life and situation compared to those in Greece and early China, as women there were treated no better than the slaves. The treatment of women in China is not exactly set in stone. Historians have a very hard time determining the exact treatment of women, as there are very few records that historians and scholars have to study. We do know from Confucius that he believed that women should not be a part of public life. He believed that a woman should do her daily duties, raise the children, and not be seen. It is ironic because women of lower classes had fewer constraints than those of the upper classes. Women in the upper class had no choice but to conform to the Confucius teachings, as it was the main philosophy in China at the time, and upper class women were expected to submit to these teachings to set an example and to honor her husband. Lower-class women had no such pressure so they had the luxury of bending, or even at times breaking these rules. It gave the lower class women freedoms that only they could enjoy. Women in Rome started out with very little freedoms at all. Rome’s social system was a Paterfamilias, or in other words, the eldest male of the family ran the estate and controlled every one in it. Roman woman would begin life with almost no legal or political protections and freedoms, and they would fall under the rule of their father or grandfather. At the time of their marriage, they would fall under the absolute power of their husband or his father. Women were totally dependant on a male, as they could not represent themselves in legal hearings or own their own property. As time went on however, their civil rights and status became better and better. They got more economic freedoms and some even became independent. They became independent after they had been married and the paterfamilias and his successor died. These women became artists, poets, and writers. Sometimes women also influenced their husbands to get what they wanted and shaped the Empire. Women in both China and Rome were treated great compared to the women in early China and Greece. Greek women especially were treated like slaves, falling under the power of the head male of the house. The male was allowed to force women to do any sort of work, sexual act, or receive punishment, and this practice was common in Greece. A female had close to no rights and were married as teenagers to much older males, and the female had no say in the marriage or in the relationship. In early China, it was the same, and women were expected to do all of the housework, raise the children, and please her husband. Neither of these countries allowed women to be educated either. Compared to the future women of Rome and China, these women’s lives were a living hell.