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Law, custom and myth: Aspects of the social position of women in classical Athens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2013

John Gould
University of Bristol


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It is some years now since the Oxford anthropologist Edwin Ardener in his article ‘Belief and the problem of women’ drew attention to the striking lack of progress that had been made in understanding traditional societies as they are seen from the point of view of women: ‘the models of a society made by most ethnographers tend to be models derived from the male portion of that society’. The result, as he pointed out, is that, in considering social structure, ‘we are, for practical purposes, in a male world. The study of women is on a level little higher than the study of the ducks and fowl they commonly own.’ He went on to put forward an explanation of the fact, by suggesting that, since the dominant structure of society is articulated and communicated in terms of a male world-position, women constitute a ‘muted group’, made inarticulate by the lack of a language in which to communicate their particular sense of society and its relationship to the totality of experience.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies 1980


This paper is a somewhat revised version of a lecture given to the Hellenic Society in London in June 1974. Earlier versions had been read at the J.A.C.T. Summer School in Ancient Greek at Cheltenham and at Aberystwyth; later versions to branch meetings of the Classical Association in Manchester, Exeter and Bristol. I was much helped by criticism and comment on all these occasions. Since 1974 the paper has enjoyed a twilight existence, circulating in samizdat form and being referred to, with permission, by Roger Just in his article in the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford (vi 4 [1975] 153–70); in turn I have had the benefit of seeing a revised version of his article. I have also gained greatly from generous help with information and criticism from Jan Bremmer, John Davies, Nick Fisher, Peter Jones, Jack Kells, Margaret Kenna, Mary Lefkowitz, Joe Loudon, Simon Pembroke and Geoffrey de Ste Croix: to all these friends and colleagues I offer warm thanks—and the usual disclaimer that they are not to be thought responsible for my views.

1 Originally published in La Fontaine, J. S. (ed.), The interpretation of ritual (London 1972)Google Scholar and reprinted in Ardener, S. (ed.), Perceiving women (London 1975) 1—17Google Scholar: refs are to this reprint. The article has become something of a classic since publication and has aroused some controversy, notably in an article by Mathieu, Nicole, ‘Homme-Culture, Femme-Nature?’, in L'Homme (July-Sept. 1973) 101–13Google Scholar. Ardener replies to this and other criticism in ‘The “Problem” revisited’, S. Ardener op. cit. 19–27.

2 See the admirably cautious remarks of Dover, K. J., Aristophanic Comedy (London 1971) 158Google Scholarff. But even here we have to remind ourselves that when we talk of ‘the Greeks’ (‘the Greeks…tended to believe that women enjoyed sexual intercourse more than men and had a lower resistance to sexual temptation’), we mean—we have to—‘Greek men’: in this case Hes. fr. 275 MW! Ar. Lys. 160 ff. might suggest a different view of the sexual satisfaction obtained by men and women. See also Dover, , Greek Popular Morality (Oxford 1974) 95102Google Scholar; Greek Homosexuality (London 1978) 87–90, 100–6, 148–52, 171–84 and n. 5 below. In using the phrase ‘addressed to men’ I am not trying to beg the (perennially interesting) question of whether women formed part of the audience at the dramatic festivals: I would however agree with Dover (Ar. Com. 16 f.) that, whatever the actual composition of the audience, it was to male judgment and to male sensibility that fifth-century (and fourth-century) drama was addressed: for the evidence as to fact, see Pickard-Cambridge, , Dramatic Festivals of Athens 2 (Oxford 1968) 263–5Google Scholar.

3 Moreover, of course, it is possible also that there might be a large measure of difference between overt and covert aspects of women's roles in classical Athens: compare Ernestine Friedl's analysis of modern Greek village society in her essay ‘The position of women: appearance and reality’, Anthrop. Q. xl (1967) 97–108; and Bourdieu's, Pierre distinction between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ power in Kabyle society, Outline of a theory of practice (Cambridge 1977) 41–3, 45CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 CPh xx (1925) 1–25, repr. Essays in Greek History and Literature (Oxford 1937) 89–115. Gomme's essay is still clearly the best starting-point for a discussion of this question: his later supporters—e.g. Post, TAPA lxxi (1940) 420–59; Richter, , CJ lxvii (1971) 18Google Scholar—do not add much and are sometimes less perceptive in their treatment of the (chosen) evidence.

5 I would particularly except Dover's trio of articles—BICS x (1964) 31–42; JHS lxxxvi (1966) 41–50; Arethusa vi (1973) 59–73—but they are concerned more specifically with the question of sexual relations, in a more restricted sense. See also Devereux, G., Symbolae Osloenses xlii (1967) 6992Google Scholar. The articles of Arthur, M., Signs ii (1976) 382483CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Loraux, N., Arethusa xi (1978) 4387Google Scholar, suggest that greater methodological sophistication is at last becoming acceptable.

6 Arethusa vi (1973) 141; cf. Goddesses, whores, wives, and slaves (London 1976) 59–60. Pomeroy's book (esp. 57–119) is an important contribution to discussion of women's roles in classical Athens.

7 Even in one of the more sophisticated and perceptive of earlier studies, Vogt's, J. essay on sexual equality (Von der Gleichwertigkeit der Geschlechter in der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft der Griechen, AAW Mainz 1960, no. 2, 78)Google Scholar: less than one page out of forty-three.

8 Gomme (n. 4) 95 f. See also 98; ‘in Attic tragedy women come and go from their houses at will’.

9 And apart also from the fact that tragedy is as selective, and as little concerned (however differently) with ‘naturalistic’ ideas of continuity or consistency, in its presentation of ‘social reality’ as is comedy: for comedy, see for example, Dover, , Ar. Com. 41 ff.Google Scholar, 59 ff; for tragedy, PCPS xxiv (1978) 43–67, esp. 54–8. Women's literacy as presented in tragedy is well treated by Harvey, F. D., REG lxxix (1966) 621–3Google Scholar.

10 Eur., Phoen. 88 ff.Google Scholar, 193 ff.

11 Eur., El. 341Google Scholar ff.

12 Gomme (n. 8).

13 Soph. El. 516 ff.: compare Chrysothemis' opening words to Electra: τίν' αὗ σὺ τήνδϵ πρὸς θυρῶνος ἐξόδοις / ἐλθοῦσα ϕωνεĩς, ὦ κασιγνήτη, ϕάτιν; (328 ff.).

14 Aesch. Septem 200 f.; cf. 232 σὸν δ᾿ αὗ τὸ σιγᾶν καὶ μένειν εἴσω δόμων See further Orestes' implication of the embarrassment involved in talking to women at the housedoor; Cho. 663 ff, cf. 919, 921.

15 Eur., Med. 214Google Scholar; so (on this point rightly, I think) Reckford, K. J., TAPA xcix (1968) 329–59Google Scholar, esp. 338–9, 357.

16 ‘Un critère de différenciation sociale: les femmes’, in Recherches sur les structures sociales dans l'antiquité classique (Paris 1970) 275–86.

17 Ibid. 282. On the same page Le Gall also asserts, equally falsely, that there is no Greek feminine form of πολίτης: for some examples of πολῖτις see Soph. El. 1227; Eur. El. 1335; Pl. Laws 814c4; [Dem.] lvii 30, 43; lix 107, 112; Isae. viii 43; Arist. Pol. 1275b 33; 1278a 28; Men. Sik. 197.

18 The passages are: Isae. vii 15 ff.; viii 19; xii 9; [Dem.] xliii 81 ff; lvii 54.

19 It can hardly be argued that presentation to a phratry was somehow irrelevant to the question of the legitimacy of women: it was relevant for men, and there would be no point in the case of women in citing the evidence of the phrateres of male kinsmen if this were not a way of establishing an indirect relationship with a phratry.

20 See also earlier in the same speech, 20–3, where the same witnesses are called individually.

21 For the interpretation of this phrase, with its implication that Euxitheos was not a member of a genos, see Andrewes, , JHS lxxxi (1961) 7 f.Google Scholar, whose reconstruction of the composition and workings of a phratry seems much the most convincing on the available evidence.

22 Isae. viii 18–20: cf. 21 ff. the speaker's being allowed to bury his paternal grandfather and to contribute to the cost of the funeral as evidence of his mother's legitimacy.

23 For participation in the Thesmophoria as an index of the legitimacy of women, see also Isae. iii 80; vi 50.

24 Cf. [Dem.] lvii 40–3: the phrateres τῶν συγγενῶν τῶν τῆς μητρὸς καὶ δημοταί and the evidence of his mother's two marriages with the witnesses to the ἐγγυή and the γαμηλία cited by Euxitheos in support of his mother's legitimacy. Contrast 46 ff. where his own status is established by calling his phrateres and by appeal to the demeregister. It is therefore hardly surprising that no female names appear in the extant phratry lists, IG ii2 2344–5; nor that the elaborate regulations of the Demotionidai (IG ii2 1237 = Sokolowski, LSCG 19Google Scholar) should be formulated throughout with reference only to male candidates and to sons. That Plato in the Laws (vi 785a) should specifically legislate for the compulsory phratry registration of female as well as male children is in line with his treatment of phratries as a sub-division of the deme and a part of the formal structure of the community: see Gernet, , Platon: Les Lois (Budé 1951)Google Scholar i p. cxiv f. (‘un organisme de droit public et une subdivision de la cité’); Morrow, G. M., Plato's Cretan City (Princeton 1960) 126–8Google Scholar.

25 Isae. iii 73: the point is made twice more in the speech (at 76 and in the peroration, 79), so that it is not one of those typically Isaean sleight-of-hand arguments which vanish as soon as produced: this one seems intended to be thought about. Phanodemus FGrH 325 F 17 (cited by Harp. s.v. γαμηλία) tells us only that he did not (infuriatingly) explain the γαμηλία a religious ritual and feast in which phrateres took part, as ‘the introduction of women (? wives: γυναικῶν) to the phrateres’. Didymus in one place did (the word used is εἰσαγωγή), but Harpocration found this explanation unacceptable, since Didymus cited no passage in the orators to substantiate it:

καὶ Δίδυμος ὁ γραμματικὸς ἐν μὲν τοῖς ᾿ Ισαίου ὐπομνήμασί φησιν εἶναι γαμηλίαν τὴν τοῖς φράτορσιν ἐπὶ γάμοις διδομένην παρατιθέμενος λέξιν Φανοδήμου ἐν ἧι οὐδὲν τοιοῦτον γέγραπται, ἐν δὲ τοῖς εἰς Δημοσθένην ὁ αὐτὸς πάλιν γαμηλίαν φησὶν εἶναι τὴν εἰς τοὺς φράτορας εἰσαγωγὴν τῶν γυναικῶν οὐδεμίαν ἀπόδειξιν τῆς ἐξηγήσεως παραθέμενος

Jacoby's only reason for accepting Didymus' assertion (Comm. on Phanodemus loc. cit. FGrH iii b, suppl ii 162 n. 4) is that the ‘action…is…not only credible, but even necessary to prove that the mother also comes of citizen stock’—which begs the question.

26 For εἰσάγειν of introducing male children to the phratry, see Isae. ii 14; vi 21 ff.; viii 19; x 8, xii 3 etc.; for ἀποφαίνω Isaeus vi 22.

27 [Dem.] xliii 13 f., with which Harrison, A. R. W., Law of Athens i (Oxford 1968) 92Google Scholar n. 1, following Wyse, links the passage, makes no mention of introducing the epikleros, merely the son subsequently produced by her: note ἐπειδὴ . . . οὐκ ἐγένετο παῖς ἄρρην οὐδὲ εἷς

28 Pollux viii 107: ἐπειδὴ . . . οὐκ ἐγένετο παῖς ἄρρην οὐδὲ εἷς φράτορες εἰς τούτους τούς τε κόρους καὶ τὰς κόρας εἰσῆγον καὶ εἰς ἡλικίαν προσελθόντων ἐν τῇ καλουμένῃ κουρεώτιδι ἡμερᾷ ὑπὲρ μὲν τῶν ἀρρένων τὸ κούρειον ἔθυον ὑπὲρ δὲ τῶν θηλειῶν τὴν γαμηλίαν Pollux' attempt to be tidy produces the wholly improbable assertion that girls were married (or celebrated the γαμηλία) on the day appointed for boys to be admitted to the phratry; Et. Mag. 220.50 s.v. γαμηλία (the latter totally confused).

29 Schol. Ar. Ach. 146: λέγει δὲ νῦν περὶ ᾿Απατουρίων ἑορτῆς ἐπιοήμου δημοτελοῦς ἀγομένης παρὰ τοῖς ᾿ Αθηναίοις κατὰ τὸν Πυανεψιῶνα μῆνα ἐπὶ τρεῖς ἡμέρας καλοῦσι δὲ τὴν μὲν πρώτην . . . τὴν δὲ τρίτην κουρεῶτιν ἀπὸ τοῦ τοὺς κούρους καὶ τὰς κόρας ἐγγράφειν εἰς τὰς φρατρίας: the argument from etymology is hardly convincing, and would in any case prove nothing about girls.

30 Busolt-Swoboda, , Gr. Staatskunde ii 960–3Google Scholar pass over the question of the introduction of girls in a single noncommittal sentence. Wyse (357–60, 363–4) adduces more evidence, but comes (apparently) to no conclusion. I would suggest (pace Wyse) that Apollodorus' formulation ([Dem.] lix 122: τὸ . . . συνοικεῖν τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν, ὅς ἄν προσποιῆται καὶ εἰσάγῃ εἴς τε τοὺς φράτερας καὶ δημότας τοὺς υἱεῖς καὶ τὰς θυγατέρας ἐκδιδῷ ὡς αὑτοῦ οὔσας τοῖς) does constitute some additional evidence against the assumption that girls were introduced to phratries: his distinction is precisely in line with the difference in practice which I have already stressed (p. 41, cf. p. 46).

31 Gomme (n. 4) 94.

32 The best full discussion is that of Harrison, Law of Athens i (n. 27) though the structure of the book means that discussion of the juridical status of women is scattered through the volume. See also the lucid treatment by MacDowell, D. M., Law in Classical Athens (London 1978) 84108Google Scholar and the useful brief account in Gomme, and Sandbach, , Menander: a commentary (Oxford 1973) 28 ffCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

33 Dem. xli 4; Men. Epitr. 655 ff., 714 ff. (all refs to Menander follow the numbering of Sandbach's Oxford text); P. Didot 1; Harrison i 30 ff. and 31 n. 1. In the first case from Menander, the ground on which the marriage is to be dissolved is the husband's (supposed) dissipation of the dowry.

34 Harrison i 39 and n. 2, 44, 111.

35 On epikleroi, see Harrison i 9 ff., 132 ff.; Gernet, , REG xxxiv (1921) 337–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The new fragments of Menander's Aspis provide fresh evidence, especially as to attitudes: see esp. 114–46, 168–87, 254–73.

36 It is to be noted that the word ἐπίδικος is used indifferently of the epikleros and of the property that ‘goes with’ her, or perhaps, more revealingly, ‘with’ which she ‘goes’: Isae. vii 3; ii 2; vi 4; D.H., lsaeus 15Google Scholar; Dem. xliv 46; Harrison i 95, 156 nn. 2 and 3.

37 The full anchisteia is set out in order in Harrison i 144–6.

38 Isae. iii 64; Harrison i 11 f., 309 ff. Or a man might divorce his wife in order to lay claim to an epikleros: [Dem.] lvii 41–3.

39 As is the fact that the maintenance of women, like the assignment of epikleroi, is a concern of society in its formal, legal aspect: such concerns are covered by the δίκη and, in the case of epikleroi, by the εἰσαγγελία κακώσεως In the latter case, proceedings could be instituted by ὁ βουλόμενος; that is, society was concerned not only to uphold the right of kinsmen to protect their women, but in this instance widens the boundaries so as to uphold a similar right on the part of any of its members: see Harrison i 117 ff., and esp. Isae. iii 46–7. Conversely, the marriage ritual itself is not an institution in which society is concerned but a matter only for the kin and the phratry: see Bickermann, E. J., Bull. dell' Inst. di Dir. Rom. lxxviii (1975) 128Google Scholar. And bastardy was (in all probability) no bar to citzenship: see Harrison i 63–5; MacDowell, , CQ xxvi (1976) 8891CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

40 The case of Alcibiades' wife, Hipparete, produces an apparent exception: according to Plutarch's version of the story (Alc. 8. 4–6), Hipparete, wishing for a divorce from her husband, whom she had already left, could not be represented by others but had to present herself in person to the archon (μὴ δι᾿ ἑτέρων ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὴν παροῦσαν) but other instances of the procedure (Dem. xxx 15–17, 26, 31; Isae. iii 78) show a male kinsman acting for the woman. It is likely that here too Hipparete's divorce is formally registered on her behalf by her brother, but that the law required her to be present in the archon's office: see Harrison i 40–3; MacDowell (n. 32) 88.

41 See de Croix, Ste, CR xx (1970) 273 ffGoogle Scholar. Schaps, David, CQ xxv (1975) 53–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar, has pointed out that inheritance in Athenian law is not strictly agnatic, since the sons of daughter or sister may inherit and not merely those of a son or brother: the rule is merely that males precede females in the same degree of kinship. But if the test of ownership is the right to dispose of property, then females do not ‘own’ what they ‘inherit’ and are merely transmitters of property to their male descendants.

42 The best attested cases are, of course, those of Demosthenes' mother and sister (Dem. xxviii 15 f.), and of Pasion's wife, married to Phormion (Dem. xxxvi 8) by will.

43 Arist. Ath. Pol. 56. 6; [Dem.] xliii 75; Isae. vii 30; Harrison i 47 n. 2, 57 n. 2, 90 ff., 101 ff.

44 Harrison i 32 n. 1, citing Wolff, , Traditio ii (1944) 51 ffGoogle Scholar. = Beitr. zur Rechtsgesch. Altgriechenlands u. des hell.-röm. Aegypten, 170 ff.

45 Wolff (n. 44) 50=168.

46 See the comments of Gernet, L., Anthropologie de la Grèce antique (Paris 1968) 83 f.Google Scholar, 354 ff., and especially his words: ‘si les filles sont gardées, c'est qu'elles sont un bien précieux … l'epiclérat classique où la femme, minorisée, est pourtant l'object d'un respect formel’.

47 Thus Nicias' famous gnome (ἄνδρες γὰρ πόλις…; Thuc. vii 77. 7: cf. Eur. fr. 828 N2 (Phrixos); Alc. fr. 112. 10 LP) means exactly what it says.

48 See the examples collected and analysed by Henry, A. S., CQ xix (1969) 298305Google Scholar. The demotic normally agrees with the name of the woman's κύριος where it is used in references in the orators also: [Dem.] lvii 68.

49 The possible explanation, that his mother was a ‘scythian’ (Aeschin. ii 93; iii 172; Din. i 15) and therefore unnamed, will hardly convince: see Davies, J. K., Athenian Propertied Families (Oxford 1971) 121 fGoogle Scholar. The same pattern can be seen in references to Onetor's sister, married to Aphobos, and to the woman that Aphobos later married, who is twice referred to as ἡ Φιλωνίδου τοῦ Μελιτέως (Dem. xxvii 56; xxix 48): neither is named.

50 CQ xxvii (1977) 323–30.

51 The paradigm case perhaps is [Dem.] xl 60. Schaps (n. 41) 330 explains the tendency as involving the conferment of respect indirectly: ‘A “woman” was not somebody to respect; but somebody's mother—or sister, or wife, or daughter—that was another matter’.

52 See Hirschon, R. in Ardener, S. (ed.), Defining Females (London 1978) 74 and 87 n. 5Google Scholar; also Shirley Ardener's own remarks, 21–3. du Boulay, JulietPortrait of a Greek Mountain Village (Oxford 1974) 14Google Scholar n. 1, points out that at Ambeli, though the men celebrate their ‘name-day’, the women have no such celebrations.

53 Lineton, M. J., Mina present and past: Depopulation in a village in Mani, Southern Greece (Ph.D. thesis U. Kent at Canterbury, 1971) 101Google Scholar. Compare the Sarakatsani, among whom a married woman is addressed always by a special ‘andronymic’ form of her husband's Christian name, never by her own: Campbell, J. K., Honour, Family and Patronage (Oxford 1964) 6971Google Scholar.

54 ‘Women, Taboo and the Suppression of Attention’ in S. Ardener, ed. (n. 52) 89–108: quotation from 107.

55 Per. 37. 3: μόνους ᾿ Αθηναίους εἷναι τοὺς ἐκ δυοῖν ᾿ Αθηναίων γεγονότας Elsewhere the technical phrase (almost certainly that actually used in the law) is ἐξ ἀμφοῖν ἀστοῖν

56 Not πολῖτις: the latter exists (see n. 17 above), but it is important to see what it denotes. A woman is a πολῖτις only as the daughter, sister, wife or other kin of a male κύριος who is himself a πολίτης and thus entitled μετέχειν τῆς πόλεως: Arist. Ath. Pol. 26.4, 42.1; Pol. 1278a34; [Dem.] lvii 51; Isae. iii 37.

57 The word occurs only twice: once in a statement of the most restricted form of citizenship qualification in a democracy (μόνον τοὺς ἐξ ἀμφοῖν ἀστῶν πολίτας ποιοῦσιν 1278a34); the other time opposed to ξένοι in a discussion of different types of homicide court; 1300b31 f. One particularly interesting passage (1260b13 f.) opposes women, as ἥμισυ μέρος τῶν ἐλευθέρων to male children who are citizens manqués: ἐκ . . . τῶν παίδων οἱ κοινωνοὶ γίνονται τῆς πολιτείας Cf. τὸ δὲ θῆλυ ἔχει μὲν [sc. τὸ βουλευτικὸν] ἀλλ᾿ ἄκυρον ὁ δὲ παῖς ἔχει μὲν ἀλλ᾿ ἀτελές: 1260a 13 f; ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ὁ παῖς ἀτελής . . . 1260a 31. Paoli, U. E., Studi di diritto attico (Florence 1930) 258–64Google Scholar is still the best discussion of the two terms.

58 To the passages cited in n. 18 above, add [Dem.] lvii 41–3 (evidence of marriage proving the status of an ἀστή).

59 It is relevant here that though a woman could not give evidence in a court of law, she could swear an oath, and that oath could be produced in hear-say evidence, otherwise excluded: Harrison i 79; Shaw, M., CPh lxx (1975) 257Google Scholar n. 11.

60 Pl. Meno 71e–72a: cf. Arist., Pol. 1259b28Google Scholar (the whole passage is of great importance and particularly revealing); Poet. 1454a 16 ff.

61 Lacey, W. K., The Family in Classical Greece (London 1968) 158–62Google Scholar, 167–9 with the nn. on 304 ff.

62 [Dem.] xlvii 35–42.

63 Ibid. 52–61.

64 For towers as part of a farm-building complex in Attica, see Young, J. H., Hesp. xxv (1956) 122–31, 133–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jones, J. E., Graham, A. J. and Sackett, L. H., BSA lxviii (1973) 436–8Google Scholar and fig. 16; and for a general discussion, Pecirka, J. in Finley, M. I. (ed.), Problèmes de la terre en Grèce ancienne (Paris 1973) 123–8Google Scholar, 134–7, 143.

65 See especially Lys. iii 6–7, 23; Dem. xxxvii 45; xxi 78–9. The absence of women from the scenes of house searching described in Lys. xii 8–16 is striking: the probability is that he was married and that his mother was living with him ([Dem.] lix 21–2; Dover, , Lysias and the Corpus Lysiacum [Berkeley 1968] 36–8)Google Scholar. It is also worth noting that on more than one occasion it is the evidence of slaves that is sought to support the assertion that a woman has been living in a house (Dem. xxx 27; Isae. vi 13–16; viii 9–10, 14): in each case it is implied that the point is a difficult one to establish, except through the evidence of slaves.

66 Lys. i 6–27.

67 Lys. i 7: cf. Men., Epitr. 451 ff. 471 ff. (Tauropolia)Google Scholar; Sam. 38 ff. (Adonia), and, presumably, Phasma 93 ff.

68 Lys. i 8, 16.

69 Lys. i 6. Cf. the change of attitude to the wife among the Sarakatsani after the birth of her first child: Campbell (n. 53) 69–71.

70 Lys. i 22, 39–40. Contrast the presence of the pallake at the fatal meal of Philoneos and his friend (Antiphon i 16–20). Again the Sarakatsani provide a close parallel: Campbell (n. 53) 151.

71 For examples, see Isae. iii 13–14; [Dem.] lix 24, 33, 48. It is perhaps worth underlining the fact that Neaira, whose status is in dispute in [Dem.] lix, moves, when in Athens, in very good circles indeed: for Chabrias, see Davies (n. 49) 560 ff; for Phrynion, 143 f. There is no question of her being a demi-mondaine.

72 For the points made in this paragraph, I owe much to work being done by Susan Walker and Ian Jenkins of the Dept. of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, work as yet unpublished but which promises to throw considerable light on the customary norms which define women's roles in spatial terms. For an instructive and detailed analysis of the spatial definition of male/female roles in terms of the house plan in Kabyle society, see Bourdieu's, essay, ‘La maison Kabyle ou le monde renversé’ in Échanges et Communications (The Hague 1970) ii 739–58Google Scholar, rep. in Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique (Geneva 1972) 45–69; in Eng., in Algeria 1960, 133–53 and (shortened) in Douglas, Mary (ed.), Rules and Meanings (Harmondsworth 1977) 98110Google Scholar.

73 Hom. Il. xxii 440 f; A. Cho. 35 ff., 446 ff., 877 ff.; Eur., Med. 395 ff.Google Scholar, Hel. 819 ff. fr. 1063 N2. 3.

74 The door is at all periods the boundary at which women may stand, watching the scene outside and perhaps gossiping: Hom., Il. xviii 495 f.Google Scholar; Men., fr. 592Google Scholar.

75 Hirschon, in S. Ardener (n. 52) 80 f.; du Boulay (n. 52) 130–5; more generally, Rosaldo, Michelle Z., in Rosaldo, M. Z. and Lamphere, L. (edd.), Woman, Culture, and Society (Stanford 1974) 2342Google Scholar.

76 Hirschon (n. 52) 83 f.; S. Ardener (n. 52) 17 f.; Hom., Od. xx 105–10Google Scholar.

77 For example, de Ste Croix (n. 41) 278.

78 For examples, [Dem.] lvii 30 ff.; Ar. Wasps 496 ff., 1388 ff.; Frogs 857 f.; Anacr., PMG 388.4–5Google Scholar; and of course such figures of comic fantasy as Euripides' mother.

79 Friedl, E., Vasilika, a village in modern Greece (New York 1962) 12Google Scholar. Compare Hirschon's experience of how women react to conflict between the pressures of everyday life and traditions of ritual seclusion after child-birth, (n. 52) 81: ‘Nowadays, when women cannot always rely on the presence of close family to help them with their errands, mothers of new babies may have to go out to the neighbourhood shop, but they will always avoid entering it and will stand outside on the doorstep and ask for their purchases to be brought to them.’

80 Dem. lv 23–4, 27: it is again noteworthy that the two mothers are not named. Theoc. xv shows the same pattern of gossip relationships in third-century Alexandria; on women and gossip in modern Greece, see du Boulay (n. 52) 204–13, and on gossip, scandal and slander generally, Campbell (n. 53) 192, 210, 291–2, 312–15.

81 For neighbourly relationships between the men, see Dem. op. cit. 3–5.

82 It is worth noting in passing that even the infamous Neaira, as Apollodorus mentions without remark, left Phrynion because he did not show her the ἀγάπη she expected (οὐχ ὡς ᾤετο ἠγαπᾶτο): compare Habrotonon's misery at her treatment by Charisios in Men. Epitr. 430 ff.

83 This variety of behaviour is reflected in the dramatic world of Menander: contrast the two scenes of giving in marriage in Dysk. (691 ff., 847 ff.), in which a sister and a daughter are given in marriage in their absence and the women are only called out at the end as witnesses, with the argument between Pamphile and her father in Epitr. 714 ff. (above p. 43 and n. 33), and the Didot papyrus.

84 Lys. xxxii 11–18: she is literate and makes use of documents that her sons have found; once again Diodotos' widow remains unnamed throughout the speech. Other passages which show men and women discussing openly the finances of the family include Dem. xxxvi 14; xli 8–21.

85 Isae. ii 7–9. The role of the wife's brothers in this episode is instructive: J. van Baal has called attention to the protection afforded the wife in relations with her husband and affines by her brothers, and has pointed out that this derives from the status of women as objects' transferred by and between men: ‘The part of women in the marriage trade: objects or behaving as objects?’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde cxxvi (1970) 289–308 = Reciprocity and the Position of Women (Assen/Amsterdam 1975) 70–96.

86 Lys. i 11–14.

87 E.g. Aeschin. i 95–9; Andoc. i 124–7.

88 Xen., Oec. 3. 11Google Scholar. As Lacey (n. 61) 163 rightly points out, in the context the admission is meant to be paradoxical—and humiliating to Kritoboulos.

89 [Dem.] lix 110–11.

90 Ar. Lys. 507 ff.

91 Soph., Ajax 293Google Scholar, quoted by Arist., , Pol. 1260a30Google Scholar. Strikingly similar variations between ‘public’ and ‘private’ behaviour occur among the Sarakatsani: see Campbell (n. 53) 151–2, 191.

92 Women act as priestesses in more than forty major cults: see McClees, H., A study of women in Attic inscriptions (Diss. Columbia, N.Y. 1920) 5 ffGoogle Scholar. The cults include those of Athena Polias, the Eleusinian Demeter, Apollo Delphinios, Dionysus ‘in the Marshes’.

93 Burkert, W. F. M., Hermes xciv (1966) 125Google Scholar; Homo Necans (Berlin 1972) 169–73; Gr. Religion der archaischen u. klass. Epoche (Stuttgart 1977) 348 f., 353 f., 395.

94 Ecstatic Religion (Harmondsworth 1978) esp. 72–117: quotation from 121; ref. to the cult of Dionysus 101.

95 It is in keeping with this male ideology that Euripides derives the traditions whereby the priestess of Athena Polias is always drawn from the Eteoboutadae from the ‘heroic’ sacrifice by Erechtheus of his daughter's life to save Athens from the threat of invading foreigners: the first priestess was Praxithea, the wife of Erechtheus, who had joined him in sacrificing her daughter, declaring φιλῶ τέκν᾿ ,ἀλλὰ πατρίδ᾿ ἐμὴν μᾶλλον φιλῶ: cf. the arguments she uses to her husband (Eur., Erech. fr. 50. 14–27 AustinGoogle Scholar), and for the aetiology of the priestesshood of Athena Polias, ibid. fr. 65. 95–7. The role of the wife of the archon basileus at the Anthesteria is clearly presented by Apollodorus as being that of maintaining the sacred traditions of the (male dominated) community and its ideology: [Dem.] lix 72 ff., esp. 74–7. On religion and the reinforcement of status relationships, see the perceptive remarks of Burkert, , Gr. Religion 387Google Scholar f.

96 For the Skira, see esp. Burkert, , Homo Necans, 161–8Google Scholar; Gr. Religion, 349 f.

97 Burkert, , CQ xx (1970) 1012Google Scholar; Homo Necans, 163–5; Gr. Religion, 172, 365–70; Detienne, M., Les jardins d'Adonis (Paris 1972) 151 ff.Google Scholar; 215 ff.; and now esp. Detienne in Vernant-Detienne, , edd., La cuisine du sacrifice en pays grec (Paris 1979) 183214Google Scholar.

98 Detienne, , Jardins ď Adonis 125 ff.Google Scholar, 187 ff.

99 Cf. Burkert, , CQ xx (1970) 11Google Scholar, on the ritual of the Thesmophoria: ‘in mythological fantasy, the separation of the sexes was escalated into outright war’.

100 Kirk, G. S., Myth: its meaning and function in ancient and other cultures (Berkeley 1970)Google Scholar with the review in TLS lxix (1970) 889–91; Vickers, B., Towards Greek Tragedy (London 1973) 166 ff.Google Scholar, 617 ff. Calame, C., Quad. Urb. xiv (1972) 117–35Google Scholar; Perodotto, J., Classical Mythology: an annotated bibliographical survey (A.P.A.: Urbana Ill. 1973) 57–8Google Scholar. For a somewhat different version of his views, see also Kirk, , JHS xcii (1972) 7485CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

101 Op. cit. (n. 100) 186 ff.

102 ‘The Meaning of Myth’, in Leach, E., ed., The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism (London 1967) 60Google Scholar: the essay, indeed the volume as a whole, is a perceptive and sympathetic critique of structuralist method.

103 See above p. 51.

104 The theme is prominent in the Odyssey: as well as Penelope's weaving, notice the first encounter with Kalypso, (Od. v 55 ff.)Google Scholar and with Kirke, (Od. x 210 ff)Google Scholar.

105 Gernet (n. 46) 104 ff., 197 f.

106 Du Boulay (n. 52) 32 f., 208 f.; Campbell (n. 53) 63, 86.

107 See his n. on lines 98 ff. and Appendix III (339–43); also Burkert, , Hermes xciv (1966) 15Google Scholar, n. 3.

108 See esp. Stinton, T. C. W., Euripides and the judgement of Paris, (London 1965) 11 f.Google Scholar, 16 ff. (but the motif of washing at the spring does have a ‘dramatic function’—a profound one) 27 ff., 32 f. 58 ff.

109 Stinton (n. 108) 40 ff.

110 See Richardson, on h. Hom. Dem. 6 ff., 16–17, 19Google Scholar; Padel, R., CQ xxiv (1974) 231 n. 4Google Scholar; and compare the structure of imagery in Eur., Hel. 1301 ff.Google Scholar (pace Miss Dale, this song is not ‘introduced for its own sake’).

111 Od. x 229 ff., 310 ff. 348 ff.: cf. JHS xciii (1973) 91–4.

112 Dysk. 842 ff.; Perikeir. 1013 ff.; Sam. 726 ff.; fr. 682 Körte. Hdt. vi 130. 2 (the marriage of Megakles and Agariste) has ἐγγυῶ παῖδα τὴν ἐμὴν . . .νόμοισι τοῖσι ᾿Αθηναίων cf. Aesch. fr. 50 Lloyd-Jones = 145 Mette. 15–19; Nilsson, , GGR i 3120–2Google Scholar; Vernant, , Mythe et Société (Paris 1974) 149Google Scholar f.

113 Compare χαλινὸν δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπίσταται φέρειν (of Cassandra, , Ag. 1066)Google Scholar: in the context the dominant reference is to the yoke of slavery—but Cassandra is a virgin, and note τρόπος δὲ θηρὸς ὡς νεαιρέτου (1063); also Anacreon's image of the filly and bridle: PMG 417.

114 Eur., Andr. 277 f.Google Scholar; cf. Tro. 924; Hel. 357; Hipp. 1148; fr. 357 N2. It is perhaps significant that at Sparta (but not at Athens) boys before their incorporation into the community as adults are referred to as members of ‘herds’ (of horses or cattle), requiring domestication: Plato, , Laws ii 666eGoogle Scholar; Calarne, C., Les chœurs de jeunes filles (Rome 1977) i 373–6Google Scholar; see further ibid. 411–20, on the metaphor of breaking in horses.

115 Soph., O.T. 1485, 1497 ffGoogle Scholar; 1257; 1211 f.: compare the rain of blood (1276 ff.), and the related image of the marriage-bed as harbour (420, 1208). Cf. also Ant. 569; Taillardat, J., Les Images d'Aristophane (Paris 1962) 101Google Scholar nn. 1–2. For agricultural imagery in the obscene metaphors of Old Comedy, see, e.g. Ar. Ach. 989 ff.; Henderson, Jeffrey, The Maculate Muse (New Haven 1975) 45–7Google Scholar, 166–9. Henderson's distiction (8 f.) between ‘grand’ and obscene metaphor tends to obscure the underlying continuity of imagery.

116 Soph., Trach. 31 ffGoogle Scholar.

117 Hdt. i 8–12; Pl. Rep. ii 359c–360b. The parallelism of the two stories makes it unlikely that we should assume two different Gyges (so, e.g., Adam on Rep. ii 359c and his Appendix 1 on 126 f. of his edn): in structural terms we have one story, and one hero. Burkert, (Homo Necans 178–81)Google Scholar draws attention to parallels in Plato's version of the story with the Trojan Horse, the cult of Aphrodite Hetaira at Abydos, and Pelopidas' assassination of the pro-Spartan polemarchs.

118 We should note Gyges' words: ἅμα δὲ κιθῶνι ἐκδυομένῳ συνεκδύσται καὶ τὴν αἰδῶ γυνή

119 Hdt. vi 137–40: Philochorus, FGrH 100–1Google Scholar provides a rationalising account of the same episode: the Pelasgian exile has political causes, but their revenge is still the seizure of Athenian women from Brauron.

120 Compare the plague of Soph. O.T.

121 Even of women and slaves: the Athenian women go to the fountain because ‘at that time neither the Athenians nor any other Greeks possessed slaves’, Hdt. vi 137. 3.

122 Hdt. iv 145. 1: once more there is a rationalising alternative version, this time in Plut., de mul. virt. 8Google Scholar (Mor. 247a–e).

123 We should compare the Amazons in Herodotus' account of the origins of the Sauromatae (iv 110–17): the theme of the breakdown of kinship solidarity brought about by women is prominent here too.

124 Aesch., Cho. 585 ffGoogle Scholar.

125 The stress on death consciously planned and designed is striking throughout: τὰν . . . μήσατο πυρσαῆ τινα πρόνοιαν (Althaia); προβούλως (Skylla); γυναικο βούλους . . . μήτιδας φρενῶν (Clytemnestra): even the Erinys is βυσσόφρων Cf. Bacchyl. on Althaia (v 137 ff.): Θεστιο῀ υ κούρα δαΐφρων μάτηρ. . .βούλευσεν ὅλεθρον

126 See in particular Vernant, , Mythe et pensée 2 (Paris 1965) 97143Google Scholar; Mythe et Société 57–81, 177–94; Detienne-Vernant, , Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society (Hassocks 1977)Google Scholarpassim; Vidal-Naquet, , ‘Esclavage et gynécocratie dans la tradition, le mythe, l'utopie’, in Recherches sur les structures sociales…(n. 16) 6380Google Scholar.

127 Slater, , The Glory of Hera: Greek mythology and the Greek family (Boston 1968)Google Scholar; see also Arethusa vii (1974) 9–44.

128 On the Lemnian crime, see especially, Burkert, CQ xx (1970) 69, 15–16Google Scholar; Homo Necans 212–18; Dumézil, , Le crime des Lemniennes (Paris 1924)Google Scholar; Detienne, , Jardins d'Adonis 172–84Google Scholar; Slater (n. 127) 164 f.

129 On the daughters of Proitos and the ritual of the Agrionia, , Burkert, , Homo Necans 189–94Google Scholar: he sees its theme as that of women as monsters in revolt.

130 On the daughters of Minyas, , Burkert, , Homo Necans 194–7Google Scholar. Again the myth is recalled in ritual, the Agrionia of Orchomenos (Plut., Quaest. gr. 299e–f)Google Scholar: Burkert draws attention to the inverted symbolism of black and white in both myth and ritual.

131 See the perceptive remarks of Lattimore, , Arion i (1962) 13 fGoogle Scholar. = Rudd, Niall, ed., Essays…from Arion (Cambridge 1972) 27 fGoogle Scholar. We should compare the frustrations of Medea (Reckford [n. 15] 338 f.) and the ‘escape’ choruses of Euripides.

132 Kakridis, , Homer revisited (Lund 1971) 6875Google Scholar. The role of Poulydamas in Il. xviii 249 ff. is comparable: thus not all ‘inhibitors’ are women.

133 See JHS xciii (1973) 87, n. 65; also n. 14 above.

134 Feldman, Thalia, Arion iv (1965) 484–94Google Scholar; Slater (n. 127) 63 ff. Again as has been pointed out to me, not all ‘monsters’ are female: Polyphemus, Geryon, Hades are male instances.

135 Detienne, , Jardins ďAdonis 122 ff.Google Scholar, 148 ff. (Myrrha), 128 ff. (the myths of Phaon and Adonis), 165 ff. (Ixion), and for the rituals, above nn. 96, 97. The offspring of Ixion's attempted rape of Hera were the half-man, half-beast Centaurs, on whom (which?) see Kirk (n. 100) 152–62.

136 Vidal-Naquet (n. 126); Pembroke, , ‘Women in charge: the function of alternatives in early Greek tradition and the ancient idea of matriarchy’ in J. Warburg & Courtauld xxx (1967) 135Google Scholar; ‘Locres et Tarente: le role des femmes dans la fondation de deux colonies grecques’ in Annales (ESC) xxv (1970) 1240–70.

137 Soph., O.C. 335 ffGoogle Scholar. The commentators cite the parallel at Hdt. ii 35. 2 (weaving and staying at home as male roles): cf. the ‘sick’ overtones of Electra's words at Soph., El. 982 f.Google Scholar and Chrysothemis' reply at 997. On sex differentiation as a theme of ancient Greek ethnography, see Trüdinger, K., Studien zur Gesch. der gr.-röm. Ethnographie (Diss. Basel 1918) 13Google Scholar (Hecataeus), 31 f. (Herodotus).

138 Aesch. Ag. 1625: for parallels, see Wecklein and Fraenkel ad loc.

139 On Clytemnestra's role in Agamemnon, see Fraenkel on 256 f., 609, 1636; PCPS xxiv (1978) 58–60; Zeitlin, F., Arethusa xi (1978) 152–60Google Scholar.

140 Eur., Or. 1204 ff.Google Scholar

141 Xen., Oec. 10. 1Google Scholar.

142 Soph., Ajax 367, 383, 454Google Scholar; cf. 79, 303, 957, 961, 1043; Philoct. 258, 1023, 1125, 1235.

143 Aesch., Eum. 789 = 819Google Scholar; Soph., Ant. 839 f.Google Scholar; Eur., Med. 381–3Google Scholar, 404, 781 f., 797, 1049 f., 1060 f., 1354 f., 1362: on the theme, see M. Shaw (n. 59) 261 f.

144 Soph., Trach. 878 ff. (esp. 886 f., 891, 898)Google Scholar; 930 f.

145 PCPS xxiv (1978) 46, 49–50.

146 Slater (n. 127) 138 n. 1, 287 ff., 378 f.

147 Cf. Aesch., fr. 61Google Scholar N2 = 72 Mette; Eur. Bacch. passim, but esp. 453 ff., 493 ff., 748 ff., 811 ff., 912 ff., 1202 ff., 1233 ff.; Slater (n. 127) 292 ff.; Segal, C., Arethusa xi (1978) 185202Google Scholar. Compare the motif of voyeurism in the myth of Perseus: Slater 327.

148 Kirk (n. 100) 201; Brisson, L., Le mythe de Tirésias: essai d'analyse structurale (Leiden 1976) esp. 52 f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 73–7, 108–9 on the complex imagery of bisexuality, blindness and prophetic powers in the Tiresias myth.

149 On rituals of incorporation and their significance, see JHS xciii (1973) 97 f.; Burkert, , Homo Necans 11Google Scholar f. and n. 16, 74 f. and n. 18.

150 Notice the importance given by Herodotus to the role of Atossa—daughter of Cyrus, sister of Kambyses, wife of Dareius (esp. iii 88. 2–3), and mother of Xerxes (esp. vii 2.3–3.4); and to Mandane—daughter of Astyages, mother of Cyrus. Notice too Euphiletos' appeal to the jury to protect the rights of due succession against the threat of adultery: Lys. i 32–3.

151 Pearce, T. E. V., Eranos lxxii (1974) 1633Google Scholar, esp. 22–4, 31–2; Vernant, , Mythe et pensée 97143Google Scholar.

152 But equivocally: Apollo's denial of full parenthood (Eum. 658 ff.: note especially ἡ δ᾿ ἄπερ ξένῳ ξένη ἔσωσων ἔρνος is not unique: cf. Anaxag., fr. A 107 DKGoogle Scholar; Arist., Gen. An. 765b8 ff.Google Scholar; Peretti, A., Parola del Passato xi (1956) 241–62Google Scholar; Lebeck, , The Oresteia (Washington D.C. 1971) 124–30Google Scholar with nn. on 203 f.

153 There is an interesting echo of the ambiguity of this situation in Men., Dysk. 384 ffGoogle Scholar.

154 See n. 165 below. Once more there is an analogy with the Sarakatsan association between men and sheep, on the one hand, and women and goats, with the distinctions in social role that result: Campbell (n. 53) 26, 31 f.

155 ‘Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?’, in Rosaldo-Lamphere (n. 75) 67–87; cf. Rosaldo, ibid. 17–42.

156 See, e.g., du Boulay (n. 52) 10–14, 36 f., 38 f.

157 Purity and Danger: an analysis of concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London 1966); quotation from p. 145 of the Penguin edn.

158 I hope to develop these points in a subsequent essay.

159 Vernant, , Mythe et Société, 177–94Google Scholar; see also Kirk (n. 100) 226–38.

160 ἀμήχανον ἀ νθρώποισιν (Hes. Th. 589): cf. 551 f. κακά. . .θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποισι but significantly also 592 πῆμα μέγα θνητοῖσι μετ᾿ ἀνδράσι; 600 f. ἄνδρεσσι κακὸν θνητοῖσι γυναῖκαζ Ζεῦς. . .θῆκε.

161 See especially Lloyd, , Polarity and Analogy (Cambridge 1966) 4851Google Scholar, 58 f., 348 f. etc.; Burkert, , Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (Cambridge Mass. 1972) 32–4Google Scholar, 51–2, 467–76.

162 In the second of his Cambridge J. H. Gray lectures, to be published as The Class Struggle in Ancient Greece.

163 Prof. J. K. Davies has underlined for me the seriousness of this omission: a group of women on the margins of culture, whose weaponry, as mounted archers, defines them as opposite to males (hoplite panoply) and whose pretension to self-sufficiency as a society without males is ‘paid for’ by the loss of just that attribute which indicates their femininity and which is the sine qua non of a maternal role, they invade the territory of ‘culture’ and are defeated and ejected by Theseus, after Heracles has stolen their queen's girdle.

164 Thuc. ii 45. 2, on which see Walcot, P., Greek Peasants, Ancient and Modern (Manchester 1970) 71–5Google Scholar; Xen., Oec. vii 56Google Scholar.

165 In particular, recent work on the symbolism of classification in traditional societies: as well as the work of Mary Douglas, see Turner, V. W., The Forest of Symbols (Ithaca 1970)Google Scholar; Bourdieu's major theoretical study, Outline of a theory of practice (n. 3) and the articles of Tambiah, S. J., Ethnography viii (1969) 424–59Google Scholar, and Bulmer, R., Man ii (1967) 525CrossRefGoogle Scholar, both repr. in Douglas, M., ed., Rules and Meanings (n. 72) 127–93Google Scholar. Leach, Edmund, Culture and Communication (Cambridge 1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar may serve as an introduction to this work.

166 Gomme (n. 4) 113.

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