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Women in the Ancient Mediterranean - Research Paper Example

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The most dominant bodies on thought, which have impacted on western society’s perceptions and treatment of women, include Greek philosophy, Judeo-Christian cultural beliefs, and western legal code. The outlined traditions have viewed patriarchal as natural in which male domination came out as healthy, with few exceptions such as Plato’s Republic…
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Women in the Ancient Mediterranean
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"Women in the Ancient Mediterranean"

Download file to see previous pages Implicit within the patriarchal ideology was the perception that those outside the hegemonic male were losers and inferior to males. The paper explores the status and role of women in ancient Mediterranean. A review of women’s agency in ancient civilizations such as Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Rome demonstrates the social, political, and cultural factors that propelled female empowerment. In addition to the powerful images of goddesses and women’s roles within the religious sphere, women’s activities manifested within other social realms including economic, health, war, poetry, governance, and philosophy (Rutland 16). Largely, the sphere of religious practice can be regarded as an opportunity for exceptional women to attain their own value within a culture that concisely defined feminine roles as subservient to masculine models. Hence, historians highlight the Minoan civilization that appeared to manifest several of female deities backing the assumption that women in Knossos benefited from religious gender democratization. In most cases, only exceptional women who are atypical of the mainstream impacted on the politics of the day, mainly through their husbands as was the case of Olympias (Alexander the Great mother). This observation also applies to Cleopatra VII, who was the final Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty. This was also true of the egalitarian early Christian church that largely relegated women to the home to serve their husbands (Walcot 163). Discussion In ancient Mediterranean, women ranked along property rather than separate legal persona. As a result, the control of women remained a male prerogative; hence, adultery or rape remained sins against the male members of the family (husband, father, and brothers), and only incidentally against the victim (woman). This is well captured in the book of Deuteronomy (22:25-8), whereby if a married woman is raped within the confines of the city and is not heard to cry out, the ordeal is not considered rape but adultery, and as such, should be castigated accordingly. In the ancient Mediterranean, prostitutes were depicted as dangerous, capable of stripping men their virtue (at worse their masculinity) since they were not within the confines of a dominant male. Women came out as irrational, prone to hysteria, and sex-obsessed. Women, especially virgins formed a section of the limited good of the society as limited resources to be pursued and acquired by men of prestige, power, and wealth. Men epitomized status and honor while women epitomized decorum and purity and lack of these meant the presence of shame. The social stigma heightened the powerlessness of the woman (Walcot 163). For instance, upon registration, a prostitute lost her healthy liberties as a citizen and listed for life and marriage or motherhood could not eliminate her name from the list. This highlights that a prostitutes occupation was the core determinant of her entire life-style and the stigma associated with the occupation could not be eliminated. There is ample literature on the social structures of honor and shame and how they affected women within Mediterranean antiquity. Honor and shame acted as coordinates in an intricate matrix of other societal factors such as kinship, economic control, social networking, and social hierarchy. The honor code derived from gender roles linked to sex, whereby honor can be ascribed to men while shame to women. In this model, the honor of the family resides in its women (women embody the possibility for shame via their sexual conduct); however, men carry the responsibility for protecting women (considered as the “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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