The Women of Athens
Assuredly the Athenian house mother cannot match her husband in discussing philosophy or foreign politics, but she has her own home problems and confronts them well. A dozen or twenty servants must be kept busy. From her, all the young children must get their first education, and the girls probably everything they are taught until they are married. Even if she does not meet many men, she will strive valiantly to keep the good opinion of her husband. If she has shapely feet and hands (whereupon great stress is laid in Hellas), she will do her utmost to display them to the greatest advantage; and she has, naturally, plenty of other vanities. Her husband has turned over to her the entire management of the household. This means that if he is an easy-going man, she soon understands his home business far better than he does himself, and really has him quite at her mercy. Between caring for her husband's wants, nursing the sick slaves, acting as arbitress in their inevitable disputes, keeping a constant watch upon the storeroom, and finally in attending to the manufacture of nearly all the family clothing, she is not likely to rust in busy idleness, or sit complaining of her lot. At the many great public festivals she is always at least an onlooker and often she marches proudly in the magnificent processions. She is allowed to attend the tragedies in the theater. Probably, too, the family will own a country farm, and spend a part of the year thereon. Here she will be allowed a delightful freedom of movement, impossible in the closely built city. All in all, then, she will complain of too much enforced activity rather than of too much idleness.
Nevertheless our judgment upon the Athenian women is mainly one of regret. Even if not discontented with their lot, they are not realizing the full possibilities which Providence has placed within the reach of womanhood, much less the womanhood of the mothers of the warriors, poets, orators, and other immortals of Athens. One great side of civilization which the city of Athens might develop and realize is left unrealized. This civilization of Athens is too masculine; it is therefore one sided, and in so far it does not realize that ideal "Harmony" which is the average Athenian's boast.
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