In the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender plays a very significant role, because while women were not the most powerful gods nor the strongest or wisest of all humans, they still had tremendous influence over others around them, and even today, over those who study and learn about the women of the time of Mesopotamia. Though the main characters of the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are male, women did not necessarily play a minor role. One particular issue that is demonstrated among several others in the Epic of Gilgamesh is the status of women. Since this is a story of women's status many years ago, it is indeed an interesting issue to discuss,
* The status of women in Mesopotamia was lower then men. Women enjoyed some protection and liberties, yet not as much as men.
They did not have the right to divorce their husbands, and almost all women were uneducated. In Mesopotamia, women were also treated very poorly. They were taught to attend to all of their husband’s needs, and could be punished severely if they did not do as their husband said. In Babylonia, during Hammurabi’s rule, there was even a law that stated that if a woman did not obey her husband or was unfaithful to him in any way, he was legally allowed to throw her in the river, ultimately drowning her.
Gender roles in ancient Mesopotamia were clearly defined (teachmiddleeast.edu). Generally, men worked outside of the home and women stayed inside of the home while focusing on raising their children and keeping up with work that took place in the home. However, there were exceptions; we know of women who were “bartenders” and even women who were priestesses, but with limited responsibility. Due to the fact that some were from socially higher families and owned large amounts of property, those women were not allowed to marry. Women at the time were given much less freedom than men, however, women were more protected than men, which is seen in Hammurabi’s Code of Law, specifically in his 130th law:
In current times in America, the role of women and the role of men is about equal. When it comes to home life, it’s just as common for women to go out and work as it is for a man to do it. Women have even run for President. However, in the Harappan society in ancient India, and in Sumerian times in ancient Mesopotamia, the equality and respect of women weren’t as strong as it is today. Regardless, women were respected to a certain level. Overall, the respect of women in ancient India was similar to the respect of women in Mesopotamia because goddesses were seen as powerful, young women were admired, and women were highly regarded for being able to give birth.
Women were unable to own land property. They were only allowed to own small personal possessions. Women were not allowed to voice their opinions about public issues. Men were the only ones who could participate in political events. Women were only permitted to participate in festivals, religious events, weddings, and funerals. Women were given free time in which they were permitted to go visit a female friend only for a short period of time. All females were also not permitted to watch the Olympic Games because the contestants did not wear cloths. Chariot Racing was the only event that women were allowed to compete in. However, this was very rare because they had to own a horse. The only way women were able to attain any sort of power is when they became the wife of a prominent man. Women were socially inferior to men.
Throughout history men have been leading the battles, conquering worlds, discovering new lands, but behind every good man is a good woman! So, as I read this week, I learned an enormous amount of information about the diversity of the different roles women play according to where they might live or what era they grew up in. I will address the rights that women had, how they are viewed in society, the comparison between these women and the ones from the New Testament, the evidence to support my claim.
Throughout written history, women have experienced status submissive to the men they lived with. Commonly, most cultures known to modern historians followed a typical pattern of men being given the role of the defender and breadwinner of the family, whereas women were given responsibilities of domestic servitude. The roles of females differed greatly among the ancient societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The most part, ancient women in Egypt enjoyed more rights and privileges than their Mesopotamian counterparts in matters of marriage and property ownership. Women in ancient Egyptian civilization were perceived as liberated citizens with the same potential to operate as part of a legal system as men, and they can even be priestess.
Mesopotamian women did not have very much freedom at all. They were expected to follow the laws of Hammurabi’s code, which were not very fair to women. “The Mesopotamian woman's role was strictly defined. She was the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband. Women rarely acted as individuals outside the context of their families. Those who did so were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status.” (oi.uchicago.edu, 2010) Mesopotamian women were very limited to what they could or could not do.
As Mary Wollstonecraft once said, “I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves.” In this quote, “themselves” is referred to as women of course. It is somewhat customary to pick up a paper in today’s light and perhaps see read about Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, or First Lady, Michelle Obama, even media specialist, Oprah Winfrey. The list could go on and on, but the point remains the same. If King Hammurabi of Babylon were living in today’s world and saw how dramatic the power of women has transformed over the years, he would perhaps declare himself Queen of Babylon. Kevin Reilly accurately depicts the struggling role of women from this early period of civilization through Assyrian
Let’s start out talking about the Mesopotamians. The role of a Mesopotamian woman was strictly defined. She was either a daughter to her father or a wife to her husband. Women rarely acted and were treated as individuals outside of their families. If you were allowed to it was because you were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status.
This led to justifying male domination over females in the Mesopotamian society. Men were in control and held the power, allowing them to abuse their wives, sell them into slavery to pay off debts, and partake in consensual sexual relations even if married, while women were drowned to death as punishment for committing adultery. In Mesopotamia, women were mostly responsible for tending to the children and household. Women did not have the power to make life decisions for themselves and instead, relied on the men in their family to make those decisions for them.
Some aspects of the lifestyle ancient civilizations lived almost seem appalling or intolerable when compared to the very developed and carefully shaped the world inhabited today. One of these characteristics of previous societies that prove to be rather challenging to conceive in current times consists of the lack of rights, privileges, and equity women had. Society maintained this assumption of a man’s superiority up until the women’s rights movement of the early twentieth century; yet with the two sexes essentially equal in America today, imagining a restricted life as a female proves unfathomable. Looking back at the history of human kind, men almost always subdued women and treated them as property. When focusing on the first
The epic genre of literature is notoriously male-dominated. Most traditional “heroes” are male, while female characters are relegated to the background, serving, for example, as villains for the hero to defeat or love interests for him to protect. Vergil’s Aeneid is no exception to this concept - written between 29 and 19 B.C, the portrayal of women in the piece is obviously based in ancient stereotypes and archaic gender roles, which come across to the modern reader as fairly worn out. By nature, the Aeneid tends to minimize the roles of these characters, notably the goddess Juno and Queen Dido of Carthage, and often focuses on how they impact the protagonist, Aeneas, rather than truly exploring the characters themselves. Therefore, from
of a man. Women were able to hold political positions, possess land, and overall enjoy a