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Athenian Women in Ancient Greece

..there is one act that swings scandalous speech their way beyond all else: to leave the house and walk abroad. I longed to do it, but put the longing aside, and stayed always within the enclosure of my own house and court" (Cohen 3). Flacelière later picks up this quote as evidence that "adolescent girls were lucky if they were allowed as far as the inner courtyard since they had to stay where they could not be seen-well away even from the male members of the family" (Cohen 4). Aristophanes portrayed Athenian women quite differently but thought this was due to changes in women's freedom toward the end of the fifth century (Cohen 4). A social anthropologist studying the modern Greek village of Methana found a disconnect between the characterizations of ancient Greek women and those of the women he was encountering (Cohen 4). The social anthropologist states, "While we had read about powerless, submissive females who considered themselves morally inferior to men, we found physically and socially strong women who had a great deal to say about what took place in the village" (Cohen 4). Moreover, women also had a strong voice in the village, and in some cases older women dominated the affairs of their households (Cohen 4).

Primary sources do not always clarify the issue. Euripides' artistic license in his works results in a conflicted view of women. For example, in Melanippe, one of the characters states, "The wo


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