The Women of Athens
Athenian women were not respected by the ancient Greek philosophers. They thought that women had poor minds and, as such, were not fit for any kind of education. In fact, women were not expected to learn how to read or write, or to gain any other type of education. It is interesting to note that this was not the case in the beginning of ancient Greece. Their rights declined during the classical age (500-400 BC), mostly due to more rigorous rules concerning legitimacy of marriage, introduced by Pericles.
The classification of Athenian women can be considered in the following way:
- Slave women viewed as the lowest class, doing domestic jobs and raising their landlady's children, typically.
- Athenian women can be considered as a second class, often like those in the section above.
Hetaerae: these were independent women, often educated, skilled in dance and music and other talents. They were allowed entrance into many places slaves and second-class women could not go.
As was the case with Spartan women, Athenian women were not asked for an opinion when their future husband was about to be chosen. More specifically, the marriage was arranged by the father, and the arrangement was usually made among families that had a good relationship.
Finally, Athenian women could not own property. Their domestic duties depended on the number of slaves that lived inside the house. Basically, their main “duty" was procreation--giving birth to healthy and strong children.