In ancient world, men’s and women’s life were highly segregated. Man worked in public places while women were confined to their homes, where they managed the household and raised children with the help of slave. This does not mean that women did not have a social, public and economic life. David Cohen says that Athenian women participated in many activities such as working in fields, acting as nurse and many other activities. Women were considered week in front of men, role’s of men were given more importance than roles of women.
The role of women may differ depending upon the class of the women or the region of Greece she belong. It is believed that Spartan women enjoyed more freedom than Athenian women. Women also participated in religious festivals and in a sacrifice as said by Cohen. The relationship of women with man is made evident through the household, government and in wars. Women also had some political ability which has been made evident through the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes where Lysistrata portrays the political ability by bringing the devastating Peloponnesian was to a end.
The roles played by men and women in ancient Greek society are made evident through the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes. In the play an indication is given of women’s role in the households and their relationship with man. As this play was written by a male playwright it also provides a male point of view towards women. Women role were confined to the house where they produce legitimate children and ensuring that that household activities were executed.
Sarah Pomeroy say, “The primary duty of citizen women towards the polis[city] was the production of legitimate heirs to the oikoi, or families, whose aggregate comprised the citizenry. ” The women place was seen being within the home as Lysistrata provides evidence of this when, Cleonice, states, “…but it’s not easy, you know, for women to leave the house. One is busy pottering about her husband; another is getting the servant up; a third is putting her child asleep or washing the brat or feeding it. Households were the only place in which women have power, as they were in command.
The role of women to produce legitimate children was viewed as a most important duty of women. Women also participated in rites and rituals. The burial rites were most likely the mid ritual women were involved with. The roles of women in rituals are concerned with how Athenian women participated in religious festivals as stated in Lysistrata. This displays that Greek women participated in rites and rituals. The elationship between men and women in ancient Greek society illustrates the role of women was in relation to household duties and everyday affairs. A Women’s actions were expected to be respectful towards men and were dependent upon their husbands. The women’s were not also able to have an initiate communication with one, as it is displayed in Lysistrata when Lysistrata addresses the magistrate who then replies back, “You disgusting creature,” as he is appalled with her nonconformist manner.
Men did not believe that women’s were capable of running the state as their political roles were viewed with contempt; despite the fact that they run the households in an efficient manner. Politics was not the business of women their business was confined to their household activities. This is displayed in Lysistrata when she asks about the affairs of the state and the response she receives is, “Shut up and mind your own business! ” The involvement of women in war is seen in the same way as their involvement in politics. Go and attend to your work; let war be the care of the men folks. ” This is from Lysistrata shows the reply to women’s involvement on the war effort. However, Lysistrata says that women did contribute greatly to the war, “We’ve given you sons, and then had to send them off to fight. ” Women did have power within the households but they did not have any power over men, this is the reason why women did not posses many roles in the politics. The male view of women portrayed throughout the play is degrading of women.
Popular opinion through the play is that women are drunkards and sex-crazed. In Lysistrata it states, “If it had been a Bacchus celebration they’d been asked to attend – or something in honor of Pan or Aphrodite – particularly Aphrodite! You wouldn’t have been able to move. ” This extract shows the opinion as Bacchus was the god of wine and Aphrodite the goddess of love, therefore implying that these are the festivals the women took pleasure in. The men also viewed women as being sub-human as said in Lysistrata, “There is no beast as shameless as a women. The women’s were also believed to be sensitive and emotional. The overall male view about women were seen as insignificant and an annoyance. All these roles played by women were slightly varied between the different cultures. Athenian women were different from Spartan women as their lives were much freer, as is alluded to in Lysistrata when the Spartan, Lampito, comments on her daily activities, “If we were in training. ” There is also mention of the Metic women in Lysistrata who were able to carry out commercial roles.
However, despite these differences, the women of citizen families, whether they were of middle class or royalty, still carried out the same roles and still had very little freedom and rights. It is made evidently apparent all the roles which women played in ancient Greek society and their relationship with men through these roles. Women in ancient Greece were given little to no freedom and rights, and their only true place of power was in the household.