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Women in Greek and Roman Mythology

During the Dark Age, or pre-Classical period, Pomeroy maintains that great class struggles and many changes in governmental patterns affected women's role in ancient history. Notably, a women's position as a future wife began to take on increased political and economical significance. Specifically, the view during the mid-seventh century B.C. was that a wife's main purpose was to serve as a bond between her father and her husband, thereby linking the power of her own family with that of her husband's family (34). Therefore, the wealthier a woman's father was, the more desirable she was as a bride. Also, by the sixth century B.C., one Greek writer, Theognis of Megara, wrote, "Even the finest man does not mind marrying the bad daughter of a bad father, if he [the bad father] gives much wealth [to the groom]" (35). Thus, the concept that marriages were influenced more by economic factors than emotional ones seems to have been fully developed by the time the Greeks were marrying.

Unfortunately, during the Dark Age and Archaic Period, women were not thought of as capable of contributing anything of any intellectual or scientific significance to Greek society. In fact, two Greek philosophers (Semonides in the seventh century B.C. and Phocylides in the sixth century B.C.) directly compared women to "species of livestock" (49). At that time, a wife was not considered virtuous if she displayed any interest in sex because she might then be easily apt to commit adultery and therefore make a laughingstock of her husband in his community. Moreover, a frigid wife was thought to be less likely to bear too many children (which would cost a great deal of money to raise). Similarly, women with large rumps were considered desirable because they, it was presumed, would be more able to have anal intercourse, which was a popular method of birth control at the time (49).

By the sixth century, men in Athens were clearly making distinctions betw...

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Women in Greek and Roman Mythology. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:15, August 17, 2017, from
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