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Compare & Contrast Essay: The Role of Women in Ancient Athens

The role of women has changed dramatically over the last few thousand years, and some things are now very different for women from what they were before. However, there are also some similarities between the role of women in ancient Athens and the role of women today.

The people of ancient Athens saw the importance of providing everyone with some level of education, so all women received an education of some sort. The main reason to educate women was so they could bring up and teach their children, the importance of the mother figure being recognized just as much as it is today. Similarly to today, many women got married and had a family, and this was the center of their lives. Furthermore, the people of ancient Greece worshiped female deities as well as male ones, so women did have some level of importance in society.

However, life for women was really tough, and much worse than it is in most civilized countries today. The education they did receive was very limited, and the pursuit of education was deemed unnecessary because a woman’s main role was to look after her husband and family. Nearly all women would marry because single life was just not really an option, and women generally married between the ages of 14-18. These marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, and wives were expected to obey their husbands. A man’s family would not fully accept his wife until she bore him a child, as serving her husband and raising his children were seen as the functions of a wife.

Furthermore, women had no rights and their husband defined their social status and place in society. They had no real legal status, being unable to even own a home, and their opinions didn’t matter. Many women were little more than domestic slaves to their husbands. And while being a married woman could be very miserable, being single could be even worse. There were very few occupations open to women, and the majority involved entertaining. This ‘entertaining’, in the majority of cases, involved at least some prostitution. Even the hetaerae, who were trained in conversation and dancing, were expected to have sex with men some of the time.

To conclude, women’s 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 don’t 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.

Contributors Bio

Contributor photo Lona Glenn
Los Angeles
Lona graduated from Los Angeles City College. While being a lecturer in several high school institutions Lona founded an online educational project Tutorsclass.Read more
Contributor photo Maria Castle
Davis, CA
I studied education and currently work as a tutor for school-age children. I've worked as a volunteer in many different international social projects and as a camp counselor every summer.Read more

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