Women in Ancient Greece Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a woman in ancient Greece? Come and learn about their roles in society and at home, a typical outfit, and some famous ancient Greek women who really pushed the envelope.

Ancient Greek Women in Society

Women in ancient Greece had a real struggle. Most of the men did not think much of them or treat them well, and they had no political rights whatsoever. Not only did they not have the right to vote or own land, they also did not have a right to education of any sort. Aside from gathering fruits and vegetables, their main responsibilities were to be a mother and a wife.

Today, when a woman becomes a wife, it is usually the best day of her life. She has found the person of her dreams, has fallen in love and can't wait to spend the rest of her life with her soulmate. In ancient Greece, this was quite a different story. Instead, the woman's father chose her husband for her, and she got married when she was around 15 years old. Most of the time, the relationship between a man and his wife was very controlling and not very loving.

Once married, the women could attend the festival of Thesmophoria, which was an event created to honor some of the Greek goddesses. A festival - that sounds fun, right? Think again. This was no party, as the women were required to fast (not eat food) and say hurtful things to one another. What a bummer!

A painting of Thesmophoria

If you had to be a woman in ancient Greece, you better hope that you lived in Sparta, which was a warrior society. Compared to life in other parts of ancient Greece, it was pretty sweet to be a Spartan gal! For one thing, they were allowed to play sports and go to school. Spartan women had many other freedoms, like the right to own land and eat whatever they wanted.

Ancient Greek Women at Home

Most of the time, the women were expected to maintain the household. This included the cooking, the cleaning and raising the children. Some women had female slaves that could assist with these tasks. The only time a woman could leave the house was to go and visit a female neighbor or to attend a wedding or funeral. Even when the woman was in the house, she could not go wherever she pleased. Instead, she could only stay on the top floor and could not go into a room where her husband was entertaining his friends.

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