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Women in Antiquity

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Questions for Feb 12th

  • What kinds of evidence do we have for the status of women in Classical Athens that we didn't have for women in Archaic Greece? What is the nature of these new sources? Who were the audiences of these texts and images? What facts can we get from these sources? How would you weigh each type of evidence? What are their limitations? When are they depicting women's acts and when are they advocating norms for women's conduct?

  • How would you describe the position of women in Classical Athenian society? What is the evidence of women's exclusion from public arenas outside religious festivals? What evidence is there that women were not confined to something approximating "oriental seclusion"? What opportunities did they have to interact with other women? With men other than their immediate family members?

  • What can we learn about women's economic situation from these texts? What kind of stake did women have in the Athenian family? How did property-owners provide for female members of the family in their wills? What was an epikleros? What did it mean for women to be in this position? What were the laws of inheritance? In L&F # 87, what was the relationship between Alce and Euctemon? How does the prosecution allege that Alce used her influence over Euctemon? What is the real issue here?

  • What continuities are there, if any, between the status of women in Archaic Greece and Classical Athens? What are some of the differences? What aspect of women's position in Classical Athens seems the most strange to you? How can you account for it?

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