Greek Women's Life

Life as a slave and as a woman of priveledge

Greek Women's Life

By Haley Hardman

Today's feature article in our Daily Living section is about two women who live in a nearby village. Jacob, a land owner and prominent business man spoke to me about the lives of his wife Sarah and her favorite slave, Anna since neither would be permitted to speak so freely with a stranger.

Women here have very few rights and are expected to follow the dictates of their parents and husbands in the case of the entitled and the rules of their masters in the case of those born into slavery. No women have any political rights.

Sarah's primary role is to bear children, and Jacob proudly claimed that she has done an excellent job providing him with four strong sons and only two daughters in the seven years that he and Sarah have been married. If she provides him with another son this coming Winter he will have a figurine commissioned to be made in her likeness as a gift.

Sarah spends the majority of her time supervising the household and the activities of the many female slaves owned by the family. She often sits in the outdoor courtyard of their home, and prefers to receive her female neighbors there over the larger salon that is used for formal occasions. Sarah enjoys outings to visit close family and nearby neighboring women on a regular basis. She makes Jacob proud with her great beauty and mild manners when they attend customary functions like weddings, funerals and state religious functions.

Anna is the favorite female slave of the family and as such spends time as Sarah's companion while they sew traditional clothing for the family out of locally grown wool or linen from locally harvested flax. Sarah is even teaching Anna how to do some of the more elaborate decoration in sewing garments for special occasions.

Anna also has the privilege of working in the orchards to harvest olives and fruit in the fall. This and Spring when she helps with the planting of vegetables are her favorite times of the year because she can enjoy the outdoors while leaving less desirable tasks like cooking, cleaning, scrubbing of clothes and carrying water from the village fountain to other less favored slaves in the household. Jacob comments that his slaves are fortunate indeed that they have a short distance of just half a mile to reach the fountain.

Both women consider themselves lucky to belong to such a wealthy household.