Role Of Women In Ancient Greece And Egypt

2379 words - 10 pages

The Role of Women in Ancient Greece and Egypt
Throughout history, most societies held women in an inferior status compared to that of men. This was often justified as being the natural result of biological differences between the sexes. In many societies, for example, people believed women to be more emotional and less decisive than men. Women were also viewed to be less intelligent and less creative by nature. However, research shows that women and men have the same range of emotional, intellectual, and creative characteristics. Many sociologists and anthropologists maintain that various cultures taught girls to behave according to negative stereotypes (images) of femininity, thus keeping alive the idea that women are naturally inferior.
In ancient Rome, as in Athens, women’s primary role was to manage household affairs. Women could not hold public office. Men dominated as head of the household. But the Romans developed a system of government based on the authority and leadership of a noble class that included not only statesmen and military leaders, but also the matrons (married women) of leading Roman families. For example, the Roman matron Cornelia, who lived during the 100’s B.C., achieved fame and respect for her managerial skill, patriotism, and good works. In time, such upper-class women gained greater control over their property and over marriage decisions. However, even these women could not vote or hold public office. The lives of most women were centered around their households. For example, in the Greek city-state of Athens from about 500 to 300 B.C., women raised children and managed the spinning, weaving, and cooking in the household. Wealthy women supervised slaves in these tasks, but they also did some of the work themselves. Respectable Athenian women seldom left their homes. Only men could purchase goods or engage in soldiering, lawmaking, and public speaking. The societies of ancient Egypt and of the Greek city-state of Sparta provided a rare contrast. Both Egyptian and Spartan women could own property and engage in business.
In Egypt, women were definitely not looked upon being equal with men in Egyptian society. The lives of most women were centered on their households. However, they had more rights than women in other ancient civilizations. For example, in the Greek city-state of Athens from about 500 to 300 B.C., women raised children and managed the spinning, weaving, and cooking in the household. Wealthy women supervised slaves in these tasks, but they also did some of the work themselves. Respectable Athenian women seldom left their homes. Only men could purchase goods or engage in soldiering, lawmaking, and public speaking. The societies of ancient Egypt and of the Greek city-state of Sparta provided a rare contrast. Both Egyptian and Spartan women could own property and engage in business. According to Dr. Peter Picone, the author of “The Status of Women in Ancient Egyptian” states “the Egyptian women seem to have...

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