The Status of Women In Ancient Athens

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Jan van der Crabben
by O’ Neal, William J. (Department of Classics and History, University of Toledo)
published on 18 September 2012

The roles of Athenian women in the 5th century BCE were primarily those of wife and mother. The Athenians, in their patriarchal society, selected models for women based on the divine and heroic orders. The divine order subjected the female duties to their male counterparts. The heroic order depicted Penelope as the absolute role model for Greek-Athenian women. Other women of literature, like Clytemnestra and Medea, demonstrated the vices of women and what the Greek female should not be. In addition to the role models, good and bad, the Athenians even devised a certain training or regiment for the “perfect wife” of Hellas.

Greek Woman

The Greeks of antiquity remain an enigma, despite the efforts of scholars who have tried to investigate every facet of their civilisation. Some scholars have condemned the inhabitants of Hellas because of their inability to unite while others, particularly the 19th century CE philhellenists, have glorified the Greeks and all things Greek because of their intelligence and because of their creativity in literature, philosophy, history and the architecture. But, in reality, the ancient Greeks also had special problems.

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International Social Science Review, Vol.68 (1993)

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

Written by O’ Neal, William J. (Department of Classics and History, University of Toledo), linked by Jan van der Crabben, published 18 September 2012. Source URL:

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APA Style

Toledo), O. N. W. J. (. O. C. A. H. U. O. (2012, September 18). The Status of Women In Ancient Athens. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Toledo), O’ N. W. J. (. O. C. A. H. U. O. "The Status of Women In Ancient Athens." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 18, 2012.

MLA Style

Toledo), O’ N. W. J. (. O. C. A. H. U. O. "The Status of Women In Ancient Athens." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 Sep 2012. Web. 26 Apr 2019.

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