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Women in Ancient Greece

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The social status of women in Ancient Greece in most Greek poleis was about the same, and it was significantly lower than that of men. Today, historians draw information about the lives of women from various tragedies, comedies and rhetorical works of antiquity, as well as from archaeological finds — epigraphs, bas-reliefs and works of pottery.

Women in Greece were restricted in their rights and faced the strongest public censure if they tried to interfere in areas of life that were inaccessible to them. At the same time, strict restrictions were combined with the presence of very advanced rights, for example, with the possibility of divorcing a spouse in the event of his infidelity and getting back his dowry, which in ancient times was not possible in all states.

Many philosophers argued about the status of women in ancient Greek society. For example, Aristotle argued that women are biologically inferior to men, while Plato believed that women are biologically equal to men. The status of women in Greece was a combination of strict restrictions and progressive rights and freedoms.

Greek bas-relief. Praxiteles School. Mantineia, Greece. 4th century BC

Women's clothing

Women's clothing did not differ much from polis to polis, the only exception was Sparta, in which women, due to the peculiarities of the social system and their occupations, wore only a light chiton.

In ancient Greece, women's clothing was more closed, although in an earlier era, bare or almost open breasts were in fashion.

At home, women could only afford to wear a light pleated chiton. To go out, Greek women wore himatii over the chiton , which did not differ much from the male one. In almost all of Greece, the uniform of the female himatium was the same fashion, with the exception of Sparta.

There are two types of women's chiton. The narrower ones were called Ionic, and the wider ones that could cover the head were called Dorian. The shape of a sleeveless blouse, which is characteristic of a woman's chiton, was achieved by turning the upper edge of the chiton away, and this whole design was called a diplodion. Himatii was tied on the hips with a special belt, which gave it a classic Greek look. Shoes Greek women served as either sandals or a kind of half-boots in cold weather. Shoes were made from calfskin or pigskin. For a long time, it was fashionable to braid the leg with thin laces. The sole was usually flat, without heels.

Women wore special bandages on their chests, which in Rome were called strophiums. They served as a bra and prevented breast enlargement to too large a size, since in Ancient Greece the ideal of beauty was considered a small breast. Some women, especially hetaerae, wrapped their bodies with special ribbons to hide their excessive volumes, and according to some sources, to mask pregnancy in the early stages.

Bronze Greek statue of Kalymnos. National Archaeological Museum, Athens. 2nd century BC
Fragment of a Greek bas-relief with a woman and a newborn baby. Found in Troade. Kept in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. 6th-4th century BC
Statuette of Aphrodite or the Muse. Found in Tomb of the Erotes, Eretria, Euboia, Greece. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 300-250 BC

Clothing of ancient Greek women:


A resident of Ancient Greece. Reconstruction

Related topics

Ancient Greece, Chiton, Fabrics in antiquity, Women in Ancient Rome, Samnite women