Roles of Ancient Women


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Roles of Ancient Women Journal for Latin 3 4/9/2007

What I Learned

In ancient civilizations, women had defined roles in the family. They were expected to be good, faithful wives and perform household duties without question. They were expected to fill the traditional roles of women. She was supposed to order around the servants, plant a garden, spin cloth, and possibly do side jobs to earn the family extra money.

The ideal wife was seen as one which was attentive to all of her husbands needs and also to be sexually faithful. She was also expected to have many healthy children, preferably boys. If was a very bad thing to barren, and it was her fault.

Prostitution was seen as a women’s crime. Men were for the most part free to sleep around with other women or men. Some could even have multiple wives. However a woman was expected to be faithful to the end. Also women were called prostitutes if they made the littlest mistakes and did not fulfill the stereotype of a traditional woman, one who serves men.

Divorce also was reserved for men. They could even divorce on “light terms” and give up their dowries and agree not to remarry for 2 years. However women could only divorce her husband if he was a murderer or similar disgrace to society.

In addition in the upper class, women were treated as status objects, creating links between political families. They would just be dumped when they were no longer needed.

Women sometimes dabbled in a men’s world and tried to organize and control power. However they would get into a lot of trouble should they fail. The TV series I Claudius shows this.

Lastly writings about women often portrayed them as monsters. Circe, Scylla, and the Sirens, were all seductive female monsters in Greek legends. Medusa and the Gorgons were horrible monsters where it was up to handsome young men to slay.

Personal Response

I like the idea of how you are not allowed to remarry for 2 years if you divorce a woman on little grounds. This restricts you from dumping someone for someone else. We should have that nowadays because today too many marriages end in divorce.

I thought that portraying women who do not follow the perfect path as prostitutes was clever for them to do. This was only one of there tricks to subordinate women. That does not make it right however.

Also the fact that men could get away with anything and women were killed at one little transgression was not right. Why this difference??? It was not fair to the women of that time period.