athens daily life of the athenians
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Athens daily life of the Athenians. Economy, Home Family life, Education, Military Service. Economy. Trade was the mainstay of the Athens’s economy.

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athens daily life of the athenians

Athens daily life of the Athenians

Economy, Home Family life, Education, Military Service.

  • Trade was the mainstay of the Athens’s economy.
  • Athenians ships sailed throughout the Mediterranean world. They exported olive oil, wine, and house hold items, and imported grain and other foodstuff.
  • Terracing means carving small, flat plots of land from hillsides where they grew olives, grapes, and figs and grains.
public buildings temples
Public Buildings/Temples
  • Athenians built magnificent temples and other public buildings.
home family life
Home/ family life

The Greek house normally consisted of two stories with rooms built around a courtyard. Two rooms in the Greek house, the andrôn('men's apartment' or 'banqueting hall') and the gynaikônitis ('women's quarters') reveal much about the relationship between the sexes in Greek culture. The following reconstruction, although it is of a house in Olynthus in the northern Aegean area, nevertheless is typical of houses all over the Greek world, including Athens.

home family life1
Home/ family life
  • As a rule women were kept secluded in the gynaikonitis,which was usually located on the second floor of the house, out of way of male visitors whom the husband might be entertaining at a banquet and symposiums in the andrôn. The Greeks believed that there were two different spheres of activity for men and women. 
  • A speaker in Xenophon's The Duties of Domestic Life (7.30.6-31.1) makes this clear:

It is more honorable for a woman to remain indoors rather than to be outside, but for the

man it is more shameful to remain indoors than to take care of affairs outside the house.

  • The household was under the management of the wife. The inner space of the house was her domain, while the husband lived his life, for the most part, out of doors in the Agora, the Assembly, the gymnasium, on the farm, and in time of war, at sea on warships or on the battlefield. 
Because she was viewed as incapable of a rationally informed moral decision, a woman was not trusted to go outside of the house unaccompanied; the husband or a slave did the shopping.She spent most of her time inside the house performing or supervising such domestic chores as spinning and weaving.
  • The only times that a woman could go outside the house without damaging her reputation would be at weddings, funerals, and certain religious festivals that were limited to females, like the Thesmphoria, or that included both sexes, like the Panathenaea and the Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • A woman was always under the control of a man and could not live independently.
  • As a child she was under the control of her father, who in her early teen age years made a marriage contract and agreed on a dowry with a young man, probably in his middle to late twenties.
  • Depending on the inclination of the father, the girl would have little or no input on the choice of a husband. There was no dating, so the bride and groom would not know each other very well because unmarried girls were also kept from any contact with adult males outside the family.
  • The object of marriage was not the emotional satisfaction of the married pair, but the procreation of children, especially a male heir. Once the wedding took place, the young bride was now under the control of her husband and remained so until his death or divorce. 
  • A young bride, who may have been as young as 14 or 15, faced many problems in her new situation in the house of her husband. She had led a sheltered life in the house of her father with little education. It was the duty of the husband to teach her duties, but some husbands may have neglected this responsibility and still blamed their young wives for any mistakes they made. In Xenophon's Oeconomicus, Socrates criticizes Critobulus for not giving his wife the proper training, especially given the youth and inexperience of the wife (3.11-14):
marriage dialogue between two males
Marriage-Dialogue between Two males
  • Socrates: If a wife has been well taught by her husband and still does a bad job of managing the household, then perhaps the wife deserves blame. But if he does not teach her properly  and should find her ignorant of such things, isn't it right that the husband be held responsible? At any rate, Critobulus, you must tell us the truth (we are all friends here). Is there anyone else to whom you entrust more serious matters than your wife? Critobolus: No one. Socrates: Is there anyone with whom you speak less than your wife? Critobolus: I have to admit, only a few. Socrates: And you married her as a very young girl with the smallest possible experience of life? Critobolus: That is very true. Socrates: Therefore it would be far more surprising if she should know what she has to say and do than if she should make mistakes.
1. The women no doubt had the run of the whole house when the husband did not have male guests. 2. The seclusion of women was truer of wealthier families. Women in poorer families no doubt had to help their husbands outside the home by working and performing other tasks. For example, if they did not have a slave and their own well, they would have had to go to a public fountain house in the Agora to get water.  3. In Sparta, women had fewer limitations placed on them. Because the Spartans had an almost obsessive concern about the production of healthy warriors (to preserve the state against the threat of revolt from helots and a neighboring subject population), Spartan women led a more physically active life. Instead of being secluded inside their houses, they practiced athletics out-of-doors to make themselves more physically fit for child-bearing. Women also went so far as to seek male honor by sponsoring entries in chariot races in Panhellenic events like the Olympic festival.
4. How much a pawn a woman was in the matter of marriage can be seen in the situation in which a father died without a male heir. In this case, if he had a daughter, she inherited her father's estate (she was called an epiklêros, 'heiress') but only as a stopgap until she could marry and pass the property on to her sons. The nearest male relative (e.g., a brother of the deceased) was permitted by law to find a husband for her among less closely related males or even marry her himself.  Not even the fact that the woman and the prospective husband were both already married could prevent this new marriage. The most important consideration for the Athenians was that a male heir be provided to inherit the propertyand continue the family. 5. This is a reference to the dowry.
6. In order to divorce his wife, all a husband had to do was to make an announcement of the divorce before witnesses, while the wife had to present in person a written request for divorce to the archon. Of course, a husband could physically prevent her from doing so as Alcibiades did with his wife Hipparete (Plut. Alc. 8):
  • Hipparete was a well-disciplined women who loved her husband, but she was displeased by his [Alcibiades'] disrespect for their marriage, with his affairs with prostitutes, both foreign [Greek, but not Athenian] and Athenian, so she left Alcibiades and went to live with her brother. Since Alcibiades did not care and continued to live the life of a playboy, she had to file a writ of divorce with the archon not through a representative, but in person. When she did this in accordance with the law, Alcibiades arrived, picked her up, and carried her home through the Agora. 
  • Until the late fourth century B.C. the Athenian system of education was entirely private with fathers paying teachers to instruct their children (mostly boys) in various skills.  In such a system it was obviously the wealthy who could provide their sons with the most extensive education (Pl. Prot. 326 c).
  • Most young boys were taught by their mothers until they were 6 at age 6 families would have a pedagogue is a slave that would teach the boy about manners and would go everywhere with the young boy.
  • Aristotle notes that a child should be educated in four areas:
  • reading and writing, "useful and serviceable" for business and household management,
  • gymnastics, to promote health and strength ,
  • music, useful as a leisure-time activity, but not a proper  profession for a free man,
  • drawing - makes a student a better judge of art and more observant of the body's beauty.
  • In the 400s B.C. men called Sophists opened schools for older boys. At these schools the boys were taught government, mathematics, ethics, and rhetoric.
  • Ethics deals with what is good and bad, and moral duty.
  • Rhetoric was the study oratory, or

Public speaking, and debating.

  • At age 18 all male citizens and metics served in the military.
  • Pending on wealth one would become a hoplite and served as the center of the infantry, poorer men would serve on the army flanks or would row the warships at sea.