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Greece (and Ancient Greece)

  • By: Valerie R. Stackman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Women in ancient Athens were often divided into two main categories: wives and potential wives made up the group with the most expectations and respect; all other women were grouped together, including prostitutes, concubines, and hetairai (women who were known for their entertaining and companionship capabilities). Wives had very specific roles to fulfill, namely to produce healthy male heirs to receive the wealth of the father, to weave cloths and other textiles, and to keep a house in order.

Thought to be irrational, have weak minds and to be completely at the mercy of their strong emotions, women were deemed incapable of controlling the vast majority of their own affairs. As a result, women had kyrios (male guardians) who would oversee any financial or property transactions ...

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