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Women and Family in Athenian Law 

K. Kapparis, edition of March 22, 2003

page 7 of 11

· Women the Oikos ·

Read about the evidence
Xenophon (Xen. Ways).
Aristophanes (Aristoph. Wasps).

A respectable woman’s place was at home. There she should look after her children and her family, take care of the household, delegate duties to her servants, guard the property of the family, and make sure that domestic life run smoothly (Xen. Oec. 7-10). If a good wife had performed her duties properly her husband would not have to worry about family matters. Thus he would be free to take care of the affairs of the outside world and act as the representative of his oikos in the polis. Ancient authors frequently state that a man’s domain is outdoors, while a woman’s domain is indoors. The leading male of the household (kyrios) had the legal duty to represent in court-cases the members of his household who could not carry such responsibility themselves, such as women, children and slaves. Other adult males of the household, such as unmarried brothers, a retired father, or an elderly uncle were legally independent, but still under the control of the kyrios, as he was the one in charge of the family property, and this sometimes created friction (see Aristophanes Wasps).

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