The role of women in classical Athens was considered to be insignificant compared to that of men. However, in the tragedies of the fifth century, women were dominant major characters that were seen as heroines.
In many tragedies of fifth century Athens, the women characters appear as strong, defiant women who are able to carry out matters that would take a lot of courage. However this picture of the fifth century Athenian woman that the plays show, do not concur with what is known about the women that lived in the time that these plays were written. In the Athenian polis, women had their specific place, which was often in the home and were denied many aspects of public life. They were not allowed to own land and were married off very young to total strangers. From childhood the divide between the two sexes can be seen. Young boys would attend private schools while girls women were forced to stay home with the mother. However the plays of that time do not reflect the evidence that we have about the women in classical Athens. The tragedies of Medea, Antigone, Electra, and even Agamemnon, show women are strong and free willed and are capable of doing things on their own. In Euripides" Medea, Medea is constantly talking about the conditions that women face in her time. Sophocles Antigone is a very impressive portrayal of a woman in fifth century Athens, and she is able to produce sympathy from the audience, making the audience aware of her and other women's plights in that time. The character of Clytemnestra in Aeschylus" Agamemnon is very masculine and is shown posses some male traits. In these plays there is a sense of role reversal, showing the women to be stronger and more intelligent then men and on some occasions is shown to feel less emotion the men.
Women in fifth century Athens were very restricted in many different ways. As a young girl, the father would be their legal guardian until they were married, when this would happen, the husband would take over that role.