Women in AncientHistory

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Women in Ancient History: 

Women in Ancient History Primitive cultures Neanderthal – Cro-Magnon Ancient cultures Egypt – Sumer (reading) Babylonia (reading) – Assyria Russian Nomads – Israel Greece – Rome


Greece With the rise of the middle class, the nuclear family, which had previously been only a biological and social unit, became a political and economic unit.

Grecian Justice: 

Grecian Justice Adultery was seen as a crime against the state since it corrupted the oikos Most Grecian women could not even leave their homes without permission from their fathers or husbands.

Grecian Science: 

Grecian Science Doctors came to conclusions about nature and biology based on the social status of women in their culture Women were colder Women were softer Women were more emotional Men were superior

Greek Myths: 

Greek Myths Creation myths: In Theogony, Hesiod explains the creation of the universe: 1. The female goddess Earth (Gaia) generates Heaven (Ouranos), and together they produce the Titans. Ouranos tries to prevent the birth of his children by holding them in Gaia’s womb. Gaia arms Kronos, her youngest son, who castrates Ouranos and declares himself ruler of the gods.


2. Kronos and Rhea generate the Olympian gods. Kronos, fearing his father’s fate, swallows his children as Rhea brings them forth. She deceives him, saving her youngest son, Zeus, who eventually tricks Kronos into vomiting up his swallowed children, Zeus’s siblings. War ensues, the Olympians win, and Zeus establishes himself as ruler of the universe.


3. Zeus and Metis (Intelligence) marry, and Zeus swallows her when she becomes pregnant. He gains control over her powers of reproduction. His first child, Athena, springs from his head, symbolizing the male dominance of the universe.


Goddesses Arthur points out that prior to the Hellenistic period, Athena was the most important goddess.


Athena, although a female immortal, is not a representative of nor very sympathetic to women. was born solely of her father, Zeus — as he swallows his wife Metis and literally and symbolically gains her powers of reproduction identifies strongly with men, championing male heroes, engaging in military pursuits, and siding against women in disputes.


Arthur cites this rationale by quoting Athena from Aeschylus’s Eumenides; Athena says, “There is no mother anywhere who gave me birth, and, but for marriage, I am always for the male with all my heart, and strongly on my father’s side” (82).


Philosophy instructor C. Stephen Rhoades has pointed out that this association with males being the creative force of society was seen as the civilizing and productive force of their society. Arthur points out that part of the cultural ideology held that the men were “conquering” nature, which they clearly identified with the female. The myths, which were very important to their religious rituals, usually identify the world’s evils and society’s destruction with women.


As the culture shifts to democratic notions, however, Aphrodite became one of the most important goddesses of the time and was depicted in many art works as the ideal woman, nude for the first time in history. Love and partnership are seen as more important during the Hellenistic period than containing or controlling women.


Rome Ancient Rome was similar to ancient Greece in that it too began as an aristocracy; however, it was not initially hostile to women and many works of literature from the early republic show that women can and could perform heroic deeds and be active politically and socially in addition to their domestic duties.


Rome was still an intensely patriarchal society, and women were strictly regulated. In Rome, as the middle class developed, the society came to be structured around a concept called paterfamilias, which meant that there was absolute male control in the family.


Women were prepared for a largely domestic role. Women had little rights for divorce early in the republic. And like in Assyria, Israel, and Greece, women who were victims of crime were often held responsible for those crimes.

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