Women in Ancient Greece Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein For the Greeks of Athens, the roles of women were actually more complex than Lysistrata would have us imagine. At one point an elaborate system developed wherein married women were not really expected to be romantic partners but were supposed to be breeding stock, though from good families. Marriages were arranged, usually for the purpose of connecting land, titles, or property. These women were not highly educated, and it was not really expected that men would spend much time in their company. Men more often spent their time with another breed of woman, the courtesan or hetaera. These women were highly educated, both intellectually and in the arts of love, and were sought by most of the educated men of the culture. It would be a mistake, however, to consider them as being similar to modern prostitutes—they were far higher in class and in cultural status. In between the legal wife and the hetaera were all manner of divisions of women. James Davidson in Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998) quotes the orator Apollodorus as having said: “Hetaeras we keep for pleasure, concubines for attending day-by-day to the body and wives for producing heirs, and for standing trusty guard on our household property.” But Davidson also indicates that ancient men had a whole list of other labels they used to try to define ancient women and their sexual status: “two- obol woman,” “ground-beater,” “flute-girl,” “companion,” “wage-earner,” “wanderer,” and of course, “prostitute.” Distinctions were important because adultery carried heavy penalties in Athens, and men who lay with another man’s woman could be killed unceremoniously and on the spot. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily