Women in Classical Athens

The controversy surrounding women in classical Athens and some thoughts about a possible Greek articulation of a doctrine of "woman as Other"

Essay 1987 30 Pages

Classic Philology - Greek Studies - Literature


The text summarizes and examines the five main categories of thought/ research that tried to interpret the man-woman relations in ancient Greece. That is authors that find a ‘patriarchal bias’, feminist and Marxist scholars; authors that used Freudian tools; feminist writers that analyzed some evidence (leaving aside the Marxist and Freudian stereotypes); and finally the thoughts of Foucault on the issue.

Then we discuss issues related to the interpretation or misinterpretations of Plato especially what some authors see as ‘contradictory sides of Plato’s views about women’ that are tied to the distinction he (supposedly) makes between soul and body. We touch the issue of misinterpretation of various Greek myths and also the missing references to the turbulence which characterizes the classical era.

Then we conclude that it is beyond doubt that there exists in Ancient Greece a male-female polarity but as most of the findings tend to show, this does not incite any hostility in the relations between the sexes. We then (and given the lack of serious research done on that issue) we proceed guided only by the Lacanian theory of ‘Other’ to propose a possible Greek articulation of the woman as ‘Other’.



Title: Women in Classical Athens