The Social Status of Women in Ancient Greece: The Truth Revealed (Part 1)
For various reasons (which we will address later on in the article) mainstream archaeology suggest that women in ancient times were mostly uneducated, that they were oppressed by their male counterparts, that they did not play a vital role in circumstances regarding social life and that human history has been shaped by males.
Studying history (referring to the official records) it becomes more than apparent that females did, indeed, not play a vital role in the making of history as well as that most of them were actually uneducated and so forth.
How can this be some may wonder?
Well, for starters if you observe (the official) historical records of leadership you will see that the striking majority of leaders, and great men, were basically males.
And what does the official side of history say about females?
Summarizing everything in one sentence: “the hell with females…”
Surprisingly enough, this side of history is actually been pushed to the mainstream educational systems… in other words, people are taught to believe that females were, in a sense, inferior to males; and most archaeologists are supporting these ideas...
Makes you wonder why this is the case and what is actually going on here?
Why do the official records of history illustrate females as second-rate beings and why does history present males as wicked people?
Granted, in many time periods of the past (i.e. the middle Ages) women were indeed oppressed by their male counterparts, be it in social life, in sciences and so forth; but do these conditions reflect history as a whole?
Yet, the truth is the exact opposite of what is been taught through the mainstream channels, a truth that gradually reveals itself before the eyes of an investigator when examining the unofficial side of history; a side that constantly remains hidden to most people.
First, we will turn our focus towards Ancient Greece and demonstrate to you that females were, indeed, regarded as equals to men and that they influenced, like their male counterparts, historical events profoundly.
Moreover, mainstream history teaches you that during the renowned Olympic Games only some categories of females were allowed to sit at the stadium tiers, most of them were denied access etc.
Well, this is only one example of twisting historical facts…
Did you guys know that "female" Olympic Games existed and that females did also participate in the Olympic games of males?
No? Keep on reading…
So how will we address the topic?
We will do it with an article that will be divided in three parts…
The first part will give you an overall idea about the status of females in the Ancient Greek society and afterwards, we will tackle a couple and serious misconceptions of historical events.
The second part will focus on the Olympic Games, the true role of women in them, and the existence of the Olympic Games for females; a fact that for some reason is kept hidden from the mainstream history books.
The final, third part of the article will explore the reasons of why women are practically crucified in historical records; and to do so we will not limit ourselves to Ancient Greece only.
That being said… let us begin…
When someone studies ancient Greece the investigator needs to combine information from both history and mythology so as to be able to penetrate the mist of history.
If we were to address the matter in a nutshell, from a historical / chronological standpoint, the status of females, in comparison to males, goes like this:
equal depending on the area: equal or inferior (afterwards females were elevated to the status of equal once again) equal
Confusing? Don’t worry; allow us to clear the confusion by giving you a tour through history…
The Six Indicators that clearly illustrate the fact of women being regarded as equal to men in Ancient Greece…
One, Death and Tombstones:
If you want to study a civilization’s culture one of the things that you should look for are tombstones and what is written on them. This will give you a very good idea of how the specific culture viewed its members, and in this case: the women.
For instance in an Ancient Athenian tombstone about a girl that died at the age of 20, the following text is written on it:
“… the whole Athenian world for me weeps, for my youth and my prudence… but mostly because I took great care of my education and my wisdom… ” The tears of my father’s eyes do not dry, who has lost his life’s happiness and the hands that would take care of him in years to come… The years of my life, twenty” (ΑΘΗΝΑΪΣ ΘΕΟΦΙΛΟΥ ΚΕΚΡΟΠΟΣ)
Is this how uneducated women are? Really?
The above text also illustrates the fact that women, as men, of Ancient Greece awaited death with prudence and dignity.
Moreover, the famous Spartan saying (coming from the same people who also said: this is Sparta!) - “Η ΤΑΝ Η ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ” (with it or on it – referring to the shield) was not said by a man, or the father, BUT by the Spartan warrior’s own mother!
This fact clearly illustrates the status of a woman in Sparta; which was equal of a man.
As a side not: the saying “Η ΤΑΝ Η ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ” (with it or on it) was spoken when a mother handed over, to her son, his shield when he was about to march into battle, and means: return victorious either by holding your shield or return home by being carried on it (aka having died bravely on the battlefield).
Moreover, it also meant that Spartans did not have the “privilege” to surrender or to leave the battlefield. If a Spartan warrior would do it, the shame would be unforgivable. Once in Spartan history, one warrior did leave the battlefield and returned back home to his mother; the conclusion: his own mother killed him!
Makes us wonder: if a woman would not be considered equal to a man, could a woman do such a thing and get away with it?
In Ancient Greece commonly there were two levels of education for females… and usually to go to the second level, a woman had to complete the former level first.
Level One: Mid to Higher education
This type of education generally was addressed to women that were twenty years or younger.
Or, in other terms, this kind of education was given to females until they reached their twentieth year.
So what was this education all about anyway?
In this level, a girl received most of her education by her mother. The skills that a girl had to learn, mostly referred to finance, how to manage the household, weaving, crafts (or handicrafts) and decorative designs (aka how to decorate the rooms, the home etc).
What is more, if a girl originated from a wealthy family then she could also enter a type of private school, in which she would receive additional education about: music, guitar (or a type of it), orchestra etc.
Level Two: Higher education
Many “universities” of Ancient Greece accepted and enrolled a plethora of female students.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that most of history focuses on wars, and with the exception of the known Amazons and a couple of a few other exceptions, historical records are predominated by males; which means that many names of female scientists have been lost in history.
Nevertheless, even if this is the case, researchers can still obtain a large amount of female-names that excelled in various sciences.
For instance some of the famous female scientists were…
Pythagorean School of Philosophy and Math:
Theano (Θεανώ), Theokleia (Θεόκλεια), Asklipigeneia (Ασκληπιγένεια), Periktioni (Περικτιόνη), Philtis (Φιλτύς), Melissa (Μελίσσα), Timycha (Τιμύχα), Millia (Μιλλία), Cheilonis (Χειλωνίς), Kratisokleia (Κρατησόκλεια), Boio (Βοιώ), Theadousa (Θεάδουσα) and many more.
And guess what… the “professor” of the Pythagorean School about the Principles of Ethics was Themistokleia (Θεμιστόκλεια)… a priestess of the Delphic mysteries…
* Please Note: Because there might be translation errors, from the Greek names to their English equivalents, we have included the Greek versions of the names inside the brackets. The same applies for the names that will follow…
School of Epicurus: Antheia (Ανθεία), Leontio (Λεόντιον), Erotion (Ερώτιον)
Ancient Greece’s university that existed for almost 1000 years was shut-down by Justinian so as to save the world from… the Greeks’ sacrilegious madness (Codex of Justinian). In other words, because the Academy was promoting scientific, and free thought, it was burned to the ground for the sake of religious beliefs.
The names of females, that researchers managed to recover, are Lastheneia (Λασθένεια) and Axiothea (Αξιοθέα).
In the Higher Schools of Medicine such as in Cnidus (Κνίδος), Kos (Κως) or Alexandria (Αλεξάνδρεια) some females that excelled were:
Agnodice (Αγνοδίκη), Deinomache (Δεινομάχη), Hermione (Ερμιόνη), Eytyxia (Ευτυχία), Filonila (Φιλονίλα), Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα)… Salpea (Σάλπη) who was the assistant doctor to the famous Ancient Greek doctor Galinous (Γαλήνος) and many more.
By the way, did you know that the famous Greek Pharaoh Cleopatra did not only make poisons but she also made medicines and that she wrote a book about medicine and drugs?
Three, Mount Athos:
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in north-eastern Greece and is considered as an important centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism; basically most (if not all) of its inhabitants are male priests or monks.
But this was not always the case…
Originally it was a mountain that was predominantly occupied by females. Long story short, it was a mountain dedicated to the goddess Artemis. To be more precise, we learn from mythology that this mountain was given from Zeus to Artemis. She in turn, who was a virgin goddess, was revered by females through the various ancient temples that were built there.
In Ancient Greece, Mount Athos was also known as the garden of Artemis.
To be even more accurate, both males and females were allowed to enter the mountain yet, there were various temples specifically dedicated to the goddess Artemis. In these temples females had access throughout the entire year while males were allowed to enter these temples only once a year (Pausanias Arcadia (Αρκαδικά) – 31, 8).
What is more, during the early Christian years Mount Athos was called “the garden of Holy Mary”. Do you see any connection with the goddess Artemis?
However, nowadays, females are completely excluded from entering the mountain while males are allowed to enter the mountain throughout the year.
Four, Religious beliefs and priesthoods:
Examining how priesthoods were established in Ancient Greece and how they functioned it becomes evident that females did not only play a vital role on the entire belief-system but they also were occupying top positions.
For instance, there were temples solely reserved for females – and as you can imagine most, if not all positions, were occupied by women. Similarly, in mixed-type temples a visitor would not be surprised to see a woman holding the top position.
In sum, the titles that a woman could hold were (in Greek): Ιέρεια, Πρωθιερέα, Μυσταγωγός, Υδρανός (για βάφτιση), Παναγείς (πάναγνες), Ιεροφάντιδες, Ιεαραπόλοι, Αρχιέρεια, Προμάντις.
In other terms, the titles that a woman was able to receive varied from a priestess, to mystagoge up to Arch-priestess…
Bottom line is that women cannot occupy such positions in a society that does not value, and respect, female equality.
Five, everyday (social)-life:
By looking at the daily life of ancient Greek women, it will give a researcher a very good idea about the status of females in their societies.
For example, if females are not valued much by their society than, you would not be able to find many things that would deal with elevating a female’s good-looks etc.
To understand this point better think about what is currently going on in some hard-core Middle-East societies, how women are treated and the way they have to hide their looks… you should be able to get the idea by now.
If so, how were things in Ancient Greece concerning "female-beauty"?
In one sentence: the market was flourishing.
A few examples should be able to convince you.
In Ancient Greece women had their own Coiffeurs, and hairstylists, they had their own makeup tools and kind of makeup-salons and…
Guys, please be sited…
In Ancient Greece they were holding various Beauty Pageant Contests! The most famous of them were performed in Lesbos (to honour the goddess Hera and the contest was called “Καλλιστεία”), in Tenedos, in Ephesus and many more cities…
Did archaeologists find evidence for any of this (i.e. makeup-tools, about the pageant contests etc.)?
What is more, in Ancient Greece women had their own holidays and in some cases their own days (something like we have today the so called mother-day).
Additionally, and to make things more interesting, women of a city called Karyes (an area in Arcadia) had a ceremony called Karyateia (Καρυάτεια) in which they showed of their beauty to men and then, the females decided which one to marry.
… A side note if we may: Some of our group members called these females spiders! When we asked them why they did call them like that, they replied by saying: “Like a Spider, they lured their victims into their spider-net, by showing of their beauty, and then… BAAMMM!!! The next thing the poor males knew, they were married”…
End of side note….
And so as to finish you off... in Ancient Greece they also had Olympic Games for Females!
A-ha, impressive right (we will address that issue later on)?
If you guys believe that we are already done here, prepare yourself for an even BIGGER surprise…
Please be sited…
You know, many of you may think that some provoking type of dress was actually invented somewhere in mid-60’s or mid-20’s of the previous century…
Yep, we are referring to the so called miniskirts, aka mini.
Sorry guys but the women in Greece were wearing miniskirts!!!
And who else could be able to introduce such a provocative type of dressing into Ancient Greek society?
Only the females that were considered in Ancient Greece as the most sensual of all women!!!
Would you like to take a guess?
Hm… having trouble to figure it out?
Let us give you a hint (with a whispering voice we say: This is Spartaaaa!!!)
Yep, the women of Sparta!!!
Who else, right?!
Spartan women where wearing a short tunic that also had a cut to the right side! That is why men sometimes called them as φαινομηρίδες; meaning that their thigh was visible!
And to make things “worse” for men, Spartan women were also wearing a type of belt (called περίδεσμο και στρόφιον -note: these are two words here describing the belt) right below their breasts for "a better support" (aka, a bra)…
So, yeah, it becomes more than obvious that in Ancient Greece, society was not only ahead of its time, in regards to sciences and everything else, but Ancient Greeks also knew how to have a blast; and their society was respectively open minded… surpassing even our own biased society!
Ancient Greeks were definitely amazing!!!
Let us move on to the next point, politics…
Six, political life of females:
It is beyond any shadow of doubt that women had equal rights, compared to men, regarding all events of social-life and religions; even to the point of holding top positions inside the “church”.
However, regarding the so called political-rights (aka becoming a politician) females were basically excluded from it…
Same during the roman-period, same during the Byzantine Empire, same during the middle Ages etc... Think for a moment, when did women actually receive the political rights that they are holding today (for most of today’s societies at least)? To make things easier for you, the number you seek has two-digits…
To conclude, if you were to seek out the names of females, in Ancient Greece, that participated, and many times even excelled, in sciences, religions, medicine, philosophy, math, astronomy etc.; you will compile a huge list of names.
The question is: why on earth are still all the names of women (and not only referring to Ancient Greece) kept away from mainstream literature reviews?
We obviously know many things about great men of the past, and their biographies, but for some reason females are kept-out from most historical records.
As if females never played a vital part at all in shaping history… Why is that?
In the third part of the article we will discuss the entire matter in more detail but what you guys need to know for the time being are the following facts:
One: the “Ancient Greek Culture” that is promoted in mainstream history books is NOT the one of Ancient Greece but mostly reflects the society of Athens! That means that women were not divided in groups such as Heteras (aka courtesans, something like the Japanese geisha), the common prostitutes and the wives that were to sit quietly at home. This does NOT represent Ancient Greece but Athens. Yet, surprisingly that notion is promoted in mainstream history books and by the striking majority of the so called archaeologists. Generally, the exact opposite occurred in Ancient Greece… whereas women were not only considered equal to men but they also played a vital role in shaping history.
Two: Similarly, it is falsely believed that Ancient Greeks supported homosexuality. On the contrary, the striking majority of Ancient Greeks were against homosexuality and they even had laws that condemned homosexuals. Yet, once again mainstream historians twist all facts.
Three: The meanings of (Ancient) Greek words have been totally twisted and lead contemporary researches to completely misinterpret words, and texts… and in turn it created a perverted idea of Ancient Greek culture. For instance, the known word orgies! Today when people hear that word, what they have in mind is something like sex-parties, gangbang style… consequently, people of today think that: since Ancient Greeks had many orgies, they must have had many sex-parties… Or so people believe that it should have been…
In previous articles we did criticize that people talk about ancient Greece without even knowing anything about either the Ancient Greek Culture or the Ancient Greek Language.
One of the most important things that a researcher learns when exploring Ancient Greece is that, Ancient Greeks when they said something they literally meant it. In other terms, each word had its specific and clear meaning without leaving room for any speculations… hence, no misinterpretations were possible.
For instance, the TRUE meaning of the word orgy is: participating in acts of cleansing the body and the soul! In other words, and as any esoteric student should know, this means a total absence of anything that is related to the flesh or could taint the mind (aka no sex, no alcohol, no drugs, no dirty or ill thoughts and so forth).
Similarly the word mysticism means: the act of guiding someone to the esoteric (or hidden) truths.
Consequently, the TRUE meaning of the famous term “mystic orgies” is: the act of pursuing inner (aka esoteric) truths, through the purity of mind and body (this also includes meditation, specific diets etc.).
Here is a question for you guys? Is any of that taught in the mainstream books? Nope…
By twisting historical facts what do they accomplish? To make women appear as nothing more than just common prostitutes (we make use of a polite term here)… And how did this affect human history? For example, take a look at the middle Ages, and how women were treated, or, even today, in many parts of our world women get blamed for everything that men do wrong… Women get raped, they get murdered but… females are to be blamed for anything that is done to them!
So, once again, the question appears: Why are women been crucified in the historical records?
Before we will address that topic, we will talk about another matter first: namely, the Olympic Games of females in Ancient Greece!
For Part 2 of the article Click Here: Part 2: The Olympic Games for Females
What do you think about "The Social Status of Women in Ancient Greece: The Truth Revealed"?
Let us know your thoughts of the article by visiting our Forum.
For more articles go to our Brainstorming Section or click here: Brainstorming
Published: November 14, 2016
Written For: Ancient Greece Reloaded
Moreover, if you wish to reproduce the article you are more than welcome to do so as long as you cite the source, which in this case is:
Site: Ancient Greece Reloaded
Author: nikvas and the Ancient Greece Reloaded Team
Date: (the date you guys retrieved the article)
Our Mobile Application
Check out Our Mobile Application "Ancient Greece Reloaded"