Women in Athenian Law and Life by Roger Just

By Roger Just

This e-book presents a complete account of the Athenians' perception of ladies in the course of the classical interval of the 5th and fourth centuries BC. notwithstanding not anything is still that represents the actual voice of the ladies themselves, there's a wealth of proof exhibiting how males sought to outline girls. by way of operating via various fabric, from the provisions of Athenian legislations via to the representations of tragedy and comedy, the writer builds up, within the demeanour of an anthropological ethnography, a coherent and built-in photograph of the Athenians' inspiration of `woman'.

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There is, I think, some difference between a woman giving her own evidence and the evidence of a woman being given by her kyrios, which suggests that her evidence was not quite ‘reckoned by an Athenian court to be as good as the men’s’. Certainly it had a different status, since women did not attend the courts. And while Bonner and Smith’s statement is in principle correct, it is worth scrutinizing the sources to see what the evidence given by a woman’s kyrios amounted to. In the Athenian courts a man was his own advocate, and related his version of events.

Respect and loyalty to the family were central to Athenian morality. Furthermore, a woman’s kyrios was normally, though not necessarily a close male relative or her husband. Inasmuch as difficulties for a woman could arise, however, it is worth noting some further legal provisions from which women might have benefited—though their workings are by no means clear. There were two specific charges which could be brought against a guardian: a dike epitropes (‘trusteeship suit’) and a dike sitou (‘maintenance suit’).

Modified) Much of this highly rhetorical address relates specifically to the assumed feelings and interests of Athenian women: their indignation should Neaira be acquitted; the dire consequences for poor Athenian girls should prostitutes and courtesans be placed in competition with them. But behind this dramatic account of the personal interest which Athenian women may have felt in maintaining their position as the wives, mothers, and daughters of citizens, and behind the emotional appeal to the male jurors to defend that position by convicting Neaira, there lies, as perhaps there always must, a further series of considerations which relate not only to the well-being of women, but to the preservation of a social system.

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