Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity
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"The first general treatment of women in the ancient world to reflect the critical insights of modern feminism. Though much debated, its position as the basic textbook on women's history in Greece and Rome has hardly been challenged."--Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement. Illustrations.
girls, this foundation, established by a woman, Caelia Macrina, provided monthly allotments to one hundred children at the rate of twenty sesterces for boys and sixteen for girls.48 The shortsightedness of the alimentary programs and doles which favored males would not have induced poor parents to raise the girls who might become the mothers of the next generation of soldiers. Therefore a few public and private funds were created solely for the benefit of girls. In memory of his wife, the elder
state whose hearth they tended. When calamities such as the Roman defeat at Cannae occurred (216 B.C.), Vestals came under suspicion, for it was conceivable that their misconduct had contributed to the disaster.15 The prosecution of the Vestals is a specific example of the firmly established principle of Greek and Roman thought connecting the virtue of women and the welfare of the state. Aristotle, we have noted, blamed Spartan women for the deterioration of Sparta; Theopompus and Livy stressed
only concubines but legitimate wives are considered desirable, and there is little trace of the misogyny that taints later Greek literature. III THE DARK AGE AND THE ARCHAIC PERIOD ANCIENT HISTORY comes to us in a haphazard succession of periods for which we have useful documentation interspersed with periods that remain obscure due to their dearth of written records. The art of writing disappeared at the close of the Bronze Age, with the fall of Mycenae; accordingly, there is little
freedwomen are not noticeably more numerous or diverse than those open to citizens. Although some prostitutes acquired a transitory wealth, few women became rich by working.61 A few metic women did engage in large-scale financial transactions, but it was very unusual for a citizen woman to do so. Women could not buy or sell land. Athenian law restricted women and minors to contracts valued at less than a medimnus of barley (a medimnus could sustain a normal family for six days). In the fifth
now to our homes we bring this primal evil, And—without a choice—drain the wealth from our households. Woman is a great evil, and this makes it clear: The father who sires her and rears her must give her A dowry, to ship off and discard this evil. Then he who takes in his home this baneful creature Revels in heaping upon his most vile delight Lovely adornment, and struggles to buy her clothes, Poor, poor fellow, siphoning wealth from his household. He cannot escape his fate: gaining good