The Roles of Greek and Roman Women Essay

1665 Words 7 Pages
Greek and Roman women lived in a world where strict gender roles were given; where each person was judged in terms of compliance with gender-specific standards of conduct. Generally, men were placed above women in terms of independence, control and overall freedom. Whereas men lived in the world at large, active in public life and free to come and go as they willed, women's lives were sheltered. Most women were assigned the role of a homemaker, where they were anticipated to be good wives and mothers, but not much of anything else. The roles of women are thoroughly discussed in readings such as The Aeneid, Iliad, Sappho poetry, and Semonides' essay.

Most women in ancient Rome were viewed as possessions of the men who they lived
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A man could divorce his selected wife for any reason that he desired, though if the reason was other than adultery then the man was forced to give up one half of his property to his wife. Greek woman were possessions to society as well, they had limited freedom, but could not own any property because they were not considered citizens.

The Greek and Roman societies were a very patriarchal society. This is reflected throughout the myths in classical mythology. By looking at the many pieces of literature involving Greeks and Romans we will see that the roles women portrayed are very different from women’s roles in today’s society. Although there are a few similarities to women’s roles in today’s society, their roles are more like those women in the past. We can see this by looking at the qualities of Greek and Roman female gods and looking at the roles women play in the myths.

In the Aeneid the Roman poet Virgil presents many different people that play roles in the life of Aeneas. From gods and goddesses to mortal men and women, every personality has some precise part to play in Aeneas' impersonal fate. Of the many different characters, several are women. In fact, after reading the Aeneid it becomes clear that women play a particularly large role in Aeneas' life. From Juno to Venus, and Penelope to Lavinia, women seem to directly affect Aeneas' destiny for good or for worse. However, one can also see that