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Greek & Roman Gender Roles

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Gender Roles between Greek and Rome

Gender Roles varied a great deal in both Greek and Rome. In Greece, the gender roles were defined differently then how Rome defined them. Men were treated differently then the women, in both cultures. Women were more or less the keepers of the house and to tend to the slaves and make sure everything ran smoothly; whereas the men worked and tended their people that they ruled over. The men in Greece and Rome had more freedom then the women of that time, meaning they could come and go as they please; whereas the women were kept sheltered.

In the Greek time, the women were kept sheltered by their fathers until they were married, which then they kept house to their husband and children. Once married, the man laid down the rules and stated what was expected of her and she was to obey otherwise. Romans treated their women a little bit differently in the sense that they did not keep them sheltered, but yet let them have some equality outside the home. Roman women still could not vote or hold public office, which has not changed not too long ago.

Greek gender roles were defined as the “… roles of husbands and wives were clearly defined within the family, which was controlled and protected by the legislation. The men would marry at around age 30 to women generally much younger then them, around 16” (Infopublica, 2001).

In different places it was optional to marry, such as Athens; but Sparta it was required for a man to marry. The interesting thing about Athens’s marriage was that the “father gave the groom the bride in sense that the father gives the groom a dowry, the groom accepts; he gives her to the groom to bear children, and again he accepts. Their weddings were typically done in January and took place during a full moon” (Infopublica, 2001). In Sparta on the other hand their women were chosen by the man and forced to sleep on bamboo, dressed in men’s clothing and the women’s hair was cut short. She was only visited after the man ate and spent time with his friends, during the whole time she is laying in the dark.

“Roman law encouraged marriage for the sake of an orderly society with plentiful offspring whose parentage was unambiguous” (, 2004).

The Greek women could own but not dispose of property; whereas the Roman women were allowed to also own property and could also dispose of it as she wished. “The Roman women were valued for piety, modesty, maintenance of harmony, and being a one-man woman” (Gill, 2008).

The duties of the wife, per the Greeks, were described by Isomachos in Xenophon's "Oeconomics" (7.35-37, 10.10-13) "It will be your duty to stay indoors and to send outside those of the servants whose work is outside and to superintend those whose work is inside and when wool is brought to you, you must see that there are cloaks made for those who need them".

When viewing art, you see that most male sculptures were portrayed as heroes, prisoners, or gods. There were many male sculptures and art that did portray the man hunting, and doing other sports or even just posing in the nude; whereas the women on the other hand were always standing by their man, but rarely portrayed as doing anything else, except of course the goddesses.

The Education of the Roman and Greek women varied as well. The Greek women were educated, due to they believed if they were educated they could raise better offspring, compare to just sitting around and making stuff.

“Greek law required each woman to have a guardian, whether it is her husband, father or close male relative. Roman women were not required to have such guardians, due to they lived with their father until they were given away. Greek women were thought of being weak minded and



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