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Ancient Greek Attitudes Towards Women

            In Ancient Greece, women were forced to be subordinate to the will of men. Greek women had few rights under the law and were unable to sign contracts of any kind, including marriage agreements. A woman, by law, was under the authority of a man their entire life, starting with her father and later her husband (Grant 7). Women were not only legally dependent on men, but it was a common belief that "a woman of a well-ordered life should consider that her husband's wishes are as laws appointed for her by divine will" (Aristotle). A woman's purpose in marriage was referred to as not being a wife to her husband but, to act as a slave would; according to the Greek philosopher, "she will serve him more assiduously than if she had been a slave bought and taken home" (Aristotle). In fact, Aristotle sometimes spoke of women in relation to slaves, as if they were in the same category: ".no distinction is made between women and slaves because there is no natural ruler among them" (Aristotle 4). The inequality shown towards women was expressed through the speeches and words of philosophers, but as well through theatrical performances. In the many Greek tragedies, women are incapable of succeeding without the assistance of men (Grant 13). Women were forced to be dependent on men legally and morally.
             Aside from being restricted to the will of men, women were also restricted to care of the home and children. A male character from Xenophon expresses that he taught his wide how to manage the household because: "What could she have known when I married her, since she wasn't fifteen years old when she came to me" (Scaife). Greek women were only permitted to leave the home for religious festivals which were solely for women. An example of this would be the festival to ensure a woman's fertility (Grant 7). Men believed women had no reason to be a part of society and out or in the public eye, saying, "let it be her aim to obey her husband; giving no need to public affairs, nor having any part in arranging the marriages of her children" (Aristotle).

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