Questions and Answers about Daily Life in Ancient Greece — Set II
Question: How old do you have to be to drink alcohol?
Answer: Apart from water most of the drinks were alcoholic in ancient Greece. This was
mainly because there was no refrigeration. Grapes were harvested in the fall.
Some could be dried, but most grapes were converted into juice before they
spoiled. The juice would only last a few weeks before it started to ferment.
The fermentatation process lasted a few weeks more and the result was wine.
After it was decanted the wine was placed in sealed bottles. Wine was sealed
with a layer of oil in those days. In this condition it would last six
months or more. If you wanted something to drink something beside water most of the
year you got wine. Mead and beer were alternatives involving other juices
that also naturally fermented. Bread is thought to have resulted from beer
Wine did not have as much alcohol as it does today, and it was usually
diluted when drunk. For this reason alcoholism was not as much of a problem
as it is today. And because there were no motorized vehicles or machinery
there were few alcohol related accidents. A few people did drink in excess,
but mainly they just got sick. Distilled alcohol brought more problems,
but that was not available for another 1500 years. Opium was more of a
problem, but it was expensive and few had access to it. Opium seems to have
been used medically while social affairs used wine. There were no laws relating either to opium or alcohol.
Question: was it hard for men or any one to find a job that time? What are the common job that they do?
Answer: Slaves were required to do what they were told. Most slaves
performed menial manual labor or service jobs. Free men usually followed the
work of their family. But many could work as a trader.
Question: What is another article we could write for for our ancient greek education magazine?
Answer: What about memory. Memory was much more important in ancient Greece
because writing was so much more difficult. Legal people had to have the laws
commited to memory because books were too expensive. People had to remember
speaches because there were no newspapers. Messengers had to remember
messages that they delivered after running many miles. Students had to
remember what the teacher said because books were scarce.
Question: How many women slaves did the men have?
Answer: Usually none. In a normal household the men supervised the male
slaves and the women supervised the female slaves. If a man wanted a woman
slave for sex he would have to set her up in her own house. A desirable
woman was so expensive that usually the men had to share a slave. Some
hetaerae got their start this way. By playing one owner against the other
the slave was able to buy her own freedom. This often happened in quite a
short time so these slaves could be quite profitable. But the wives were not
happy when they learned of this type of investment.
Question: What was the life of a wealthy women?
Answer: A wealthy spent her time directing her servants and weaving.
She attended many dinners with guests. She also attended festivals at the temples for women
Question: what do the gods have to do with it?
Answer: Gods were only referenced as needed but the normal person had daily
needs for food and its preparation which suggested a daily reference. Hestia,
the goddess of the Hearth, Demeter, the goddess of grain, and Dionysus,
the god of the vine, are examples of deities that might relate to daily needs.
Question: How did sisters greet eachother?
Answer: Antigone and Ismene just start talking. In Lysistrata the women
just say ‘Hi’.
Question: How do Ancient Greeks heat their homes?
Answer: There was no heat in their rooms. Each house included a courtyard
with a fireplace in the center. Walls and windows may have been covered with
weavings to insulate the rooms.
Question: what happened with homeless people in ancient greece?
Answer: There were a number of possibilities:
- They could become beggars.
- They could be enslaved and sold.
- They could be sacrificed to the gods.
- They could be exposed and left to die.
Question: materails in ancient Greece
- Woven fabrics:
- cotton from Egypt
- silk from China
- Building materials:
- marble and stone
- ships and shipping:
- Wood from the Black Sea
- Linen for sails
- bronze for fittings
- leather for ropes
- clay for amphora to carry things
- tools and utensils:
- precious stones
Question: Why did the Greeks drink more wine than water?
Answer: Ancient Greece was a dry climate and water was scarce. What water
there was did not taste that good. The grapes were tasty and juicy and when
squeezed made a tasty juice. But it did not keep very long. After a week to
several months it always turned to tasty wine. The wine would keep for longer,
perhaps six months or more. Then it turned to vinegar. But the vinegar tasted
bad. The wine had to be consumed before it turned to vinegar.
Though the juice is tasty, sometimes its starts to ferment in your stomach
so some people do not like to drink it. Plus the alcohol is calming and
pleasant. So most people drank the wine. They mixed the wine with water
because the water would taste better and the wine would last longer.
Question: what did girls do to prepare for marriage?
Answer: They tried to be chaste and they attended to domestic duties.
Some learned music and dance. In Sparta they exercised naked in front of the
Question: Is it true that slave woman were forced to give sexual plesure to there masters
Answer: This is certainly true. But the stories one reads about sexual
slavery are not very truthful. A master could abuse a slave, but an abused
slave usually would not work well. A slave was an investment that had to
be protected. Slaves were not allowed to get pregnant because of the
interruption of service this would provide. Sexually desirable slaves would
be very expensive. So expensive that more than one man usually ended up as
owner. If well treated these women could be very profitable. The profit
motive usually restricted the abuse of such a slave. But sometimes such
a slave would be forced into prostitution. But it was not the master who
would get the pleasure, but rather the customer. I say forced because a girl
who did not cooperate might be killed, or sold to work in the mines.
In the mines the slaves were ruled with a whip and those that did not perform
were flogged. Many died underground because the work was so dangerous. A
slave girl was used to prepare food and provide sex as rewards for the miners
and their masters. Being sent to the mines was such a horrible punishment
that slaves usually behaved.
Question: What was the most popular board game, and how was it playes?
Kurke, L. “Ancient Greek Board Games and How to Play Them,” (1999)
Question: What did a mother do after she was done giving birth to a child?
Answer: After giving birth a mother might want to nurse her child. This
would give the baby the best start as the mother passes immunity to her child
through her milk and mother’s milk provides the best nourishment. There is
also some indication that the early care the mother gives the baby improves
the psychological development of the baby. But some mothers were not
confortable with the large breasts that produce milk and others wanted to
get pregnant again soon. Nursing a baby inhibits the ability of a mother to
get pregnant. These mothers would turn their babies over to a wet nurse.
In ancient Greece swaddling varied from place to place. A swaddled baby
did not interfere with a mother’s work as much as an unswaddled one, but the
unswaddled one might develop better with more activity of the limbs. In some
communities a mother’s work was restricted to taking care of babies, while
in others they had other tasks to perform.
Question: How did greek city states affect american life today?
Answer: The Greek city-states were a laboratory of political experiment
with the results repoted by the passion of Greek literature. The founding
fathers of U.S.A. were strongly influenced by the writings of the ancient
Question: What were the social classes of Ancient Greece?
Answer: This question cannot easily be answered because the situation varied
according to the different city-states. Some cites such as Sparta and Athens
have records but they have different classes. We have poor records for many
city states and do not have this information for them.
Question: what did Spartans use for transportation
Answer: Ships, the same as the rest of Greece.
Question: Are the women in the Odyssey commen for their time or did some stand out.
Answer: The Odyssey is remarkable for the variety of women presented. Some
of these women are still considered remarkable.
Question: did women and men sleep on the same bed
Answer: Yes they did. This was especially when they were interested in
having sex. But the bed were quite small so when they needed sleep thy might
have slept separately.
Question: im doing a project on noblewomen and i need to know if the noblewome/women treated there salves poorly, or with respect? PLEASE HELP!
Answer: House slaves were treated well because their loyalty was important.
But if they were disloyal they would be killed. Field slaves might be ignored
by the women because they were outside of their realm. But a noblewoman was
under no obligation to treat slaves fairly or with justice.
Question: what kinds of utensils were there and what did they do
Answer: A lot of cooking was done on a spit, especially meat. Pots and
mans were available of brass and copper, but mostly of ceramic. Most jars
were mad of clay. Even some boxes were made of clay. Spoons and knives were
used but no forks. Food was served on flat bread and eaten without utensils.
pins and fibula were used on clothing. There were axes and adzes of several
Question: what did men in Sparta do on an average day?
Answer: The most common activity was war games. The second most common
activity was war itself, usually against the Messenians.
Question: How many rooms are in the farmer’s house? What are they?
Answer: The typical farmer had a house with just one room. A court may
not be counted as a room but most houses had one. A larger house had separate
rooms for men and women of the house with a bedroom for the husband and wife.
Stil larger houses had a meeting room for a symposium. Sometimes there is
a storeroom. Still larger houses had more than one court.
Question: what was a slaves day like
Answer: Some women slaves had to get up very early in the morning to go to
the local well to fetch water for the house. Other slaves got up with the
familt but they did not have to dress because they had no clothes to wear.
Many then faced a day of drudgery. Normally two meals were eaten but the
slaves got leftovers. After the second meal everyone relaxed and listened
to a bard. No one worked after the sun went down.
Question: can u tell me y people like porn so much?
Answer: People want what is forbidden to them. The ancient Greeks could
have all the pornography they wanted. To them it was poor art and they did
not have to deal with it much. In our culture it is forbidden because of its
sexual content. To many of us it is forbidden even though it is very poor
quality art. Our culture tries to keep people ignorant of sex and since
sex is naturally stimulating many people hoard pornography because of the
little information that it does contain about sex. The ancient Greeks did not
have to do this because there was a special class of women called hetaerae who
would happily provide sex education to anyone. Any priestess of Aphrodite
could also provide this information. In our society many kinds of sex
information are forbidden and illegal to communicate. The result is that many
of our citizens are ignorant about sex.
Question: what did they sleep on?
Answer: Most people slept on the ground on skins or pads but some got to
sleep on beds:
Question: Where was cooking done?
Answer: Outside the house in an open fireplace. Some houses had a court
surrounded by a patio. A fireplace was located in the center of this court.
Question: Did the Greeks eat reclining on couches like the Romans did?
Answer: Normally they ate standing up, sitting on the ground, or sitting
on a thre-legged stool. At formal meals one person ate on a chair, while the
others sat on stools. At a symposium, a special party for males only, the
guests reclined on couches and reached for food which they ate in a reclining
Question: can you show me some things like amm what things tit the ancient
Answer: Pictures of ancient Greek food:
Question: Some sources say that the ancient greeks did not eat meat often, yet other sources claim that they did. I was wondering how often the ancient greeks really did eat meat?
Answer: They ate meat during the festival but they preferred fish otherwise.
So they ate meat four to eight times a month.
Question: the association of small boxes and baskets or other everyday
objects with a female and private space in ancient greece
Answer: The world of women was in the home and this is where boxes and
baskets were located. Baskets were used extensively with weaving. The boxes
in the home were more in the form of chests. These would be used for the
storage of clothing and other valuables. A study of these objects can be
made as they appear in vase paintings.
Question: What did the upper class women do during ancient greek times?
Answered: Some were priestesses. Others stayed at home and visited with
friends or commanded servants. Weaaving and baking bread were two activities
that these women did.
Question: What was the schedule like for a greek man (from waking up to going to bed)?
- Up with the sun, dress, and out to the fields.
- Back to a midday meal
- Out to the fields.
- Back from the fields at sunset for washing/
- Supper was a social time
- After supper story telling
- To bed.
Question: I am doing a project about ancdient greece and I need to know if the master wanted something made, whom would he vist? please tell me the answer
Answer: Some things could be obtained through trade while others were made
locally. Metals, precious stones, some foods, were traded for. Timber for
ships was imported. Locally one could obtain ceramics, wine, olives, wool.
Some things required women such as weaving and bread making. Other things men
did such as smithing, or sculpture. In the case of a techinical item there
is the precidence of Daedelus, who crafted difficult things. There were
people who could engineer a difficult item.
Question: what did the money changers do at the agora?
Answer: They performed a number of useful functions. In general they
exchange money from one country into money of another. Mostly people want
money from their own country, but in trade they are often paid in money from
another country. But in ancient times most countries issued money in the form
of gold or silver. Gold and silver coins are always valued by weight, but
in a free market, the ratio of a weight in gold to a weight in silver is
never constant. In ancient times silver was even worth more than gold. This
ratio is determined by the relative supply and demand of these two commodities.
The money changers maintained accurate scales so they could weigh precious
metals carefully. They also maintained the relative values so the one could
be changed into another. Some coins are particularly decorative and this
must be taken into account. Then there is the matter of small denominations
of money. Knowing what was involved required a large set of data which must
be maintained. Also skill at arithmetic is required. In many cases a
merchant would not know of his profitability until he visited a money changer.
In order for a money changer to do business properly he would have to have
lots of cash on hand. Though they would not do many of the functions of a
bank, they did do a few of them. They could make loans and they could make
an investment for you. They could also keep your money safe.
Question: Did they say prayers before dinner?
Answer: Prayers were said as needed so they did not just say prayers before
dinner. But things were often needed and prayers were said often for this
purpose. Sacrifices were a special occaision and often accompanied by prayers
Question: is daily life the same as ancient life
Answer: Not exactly. The lives you read about in history books are normally
exciting lives lead by rulers and aristocrats. The concept of daily life tries
to get at ordinary and routine lives.
Question: I need some pictures about life of ancient greece in agora
Answer: I do not know of any. But it probably was just an outdoor market.
I doubt it was for local merchants who had their shops in their house. It
probably was for traders that came to Athens by ship, though many traders
would sell right out of their ship. It would be interesting to know what was
being sold. Most of the stuff was for men as the women remained at home.
Traders would have had to sell door-to-door to sell to the women.
The ancient Greeks did not include images of the Agora in their art.
They preferred images of divinities and ancient heroes.
Question: What was daily schedule for a greek woman? Please make it detailed!
Answer: In most homes women’s tasks were specialized but there were
tasks that had time associated with them. Schedule tasks:
- Fetch water early in the morning while it is still dark:
- get the fire going Click here
- bathe: Click here
- bake bread:
- weave: Penelope at her loom
- Serve food and entertain: Click here
Note: I cannot find an image of men and women eating together. The only
women I find eating are nude hetaerae. Evidently women served the men and ate
seperately from them.
- party and relax: Click here
Question: Do you think the Greek have had greater sway over the development of Western Culture than the Chinese have had? What characteristics that support your opinion are evident today?
Answer: Yes. Alexander spread Greek culture to the east and Rome spread
it to the west. Whole generations of students have studied Greek culture
to the exclusion of other cultures. The fact is that Greek culture is the
basis of our so-called rational side, and suprisingly has much to do with our
irrational side. Freud, when he looked at the subconscious, found a lot of
Greek myth. Oddly, some things we attribute to Chinese culture, came to China
through Alexander. The many type of martial art studies for the east began
an pankratic wrestling in Greece.
Question: How were ancient greek men punished for adultery
Answer: Often they were not punished. If Hera is an indicator the wife
directed any anger at the other woman. If a man had sex with a citizen’s
wife or daughter he could be sued. But a man could contract for his wife to
have sex with another man for the prupose of getting her pregnant. A man
could have sex with a hetaera or a slave without concern.
Question: Were there bandits on the road in ancient Greece and if so what would they do to a traveler?
Answer: The adventures of Theseus include stories about some horrific
bandits. A bandit could steal your goods, torture you,
or kill you.
Question: how to relate the tragedy of Medea(by euripides) to the women’s status at that time?
Answer: This is difficult. The play was written by an author who lived
almost 2500 years ago about a woman who lived 800 years earlier. We can
assume that some of the play reflects conditions at the time of Medea and
some reflects conditions at the time of the author. There were no authors
at either time who had an interest in the conditions of women so there is
little independent confirmation. Archeological studies are the best, but
not conclusive due to the precision of the observations required.
Futhermore the question depends to some extent on the subject of sex and
attitudes about sex. In our culture much information about sex is quite
repressed. This makes the subject that much more difficult to address.
For example: the Iliad contains a story about Zeus stringing Hera from the
clouds, hanging anvils from her feet, and whipping her. Is this to be
considered standard (ideal) behavior of husbands to their wives? Unfortunately
the description of such behavior is considered pornographic in our society.
This effectivly prohibits the study of this behavior in both societies. One
opinion is that such beating improves the fertility of women and thus can
be considered beneficial to their purpose. But how can such behavior be
anything but a negative contribution to the condition of women? And yet
if we leave this behavior out the condition of women will be much improved.
What results is a doubt that we can address the subject of the
condition of women in either culture.
Question: What did ancient Greeks do if someone died? What if a slave died?
A family member?
Answer: During the Homeric period there was a cremation ceremony and the
bones were then buried in a rock cairn. During the classical period all
bodies were buried. Burial ceremonies and mourning periods were likely. Family
members sometime sreceived a grave marker. This could have been a stele or
a ceramic vase.
Question: Can we say that Medea’s murdering of her two children is an
outbreak representing all the women under sexual discrimmination and unfair
treatment in ancient greek?
Answer: No, we cannot. Although the play Medea seems to be warning
men not to mistreat their wives, the play is directed at the men of classical
Athens and not the time of Medea. It is difficult to draw conclusions from
the play about the situation of women at the time of Medea. It is also
difficult to conclude that women in classical Greece were mistreated. Based
on what we know know it seems that women were not treated in the best way,
but in many cases the way they were treated was acceptible to them. Readers
of classical literature get a skewed notion of the treatment of women
because we only read the men’s view. Women were not encouraged to record
Question: What did the Greek house look like?
- Wall of house on left
- Front of the house of Hermes at Delos from S
- Overall view of house of Hermes at Delos on the hill from SW
- Atrium of the House of Ceres. (Restoration.)
- Facade of house from E, Knossos, House of the High Priest, Minoan
- Megaron of Early Greek House. (Autenrieth.)
- Aula of Greek House. (Von Falke.)
- Aerial view of houses, from SE, Pella
Question: In medea’s time, can husbands repudiate their wives as they wish ,
just like what jason did to medea? Is it common?
Answer: This seems to be the case. Even in Classical times this was
possible. But it was not a good idea, as the play Medea suggests. The
behavior of Hera suggests some of the havoc that this possibility causes.
And the behavior of Clytemnestra suggests that women are not powerless in
the face of this possibility. Odysseus and Penelope suggest that mutual
devotion is the ideal.
he.was.tryin g.to.reflect.some.facts.in.his.contemporary.society?ed.in? ()
Answer: Plays were usually written for spiritual or political reasons.
Their entertainment value was secondary.
Question: I know one of a Greek woman’s task was clothes washing. How did they
clean clothes? Did they scub them with something? Did they use something as
soap? Help, I’m writing a story set in ancient Greece and I need to know the
Answer: The clothes were rinsed in clear water then wrung or pounded on a
rock. They were then rinsed again. Sometimes olive oil was used as soap.
Scented olive oil was sometimes added to the clothes afterword to give the
clothes a pleasant smell. A stream, a spring, or a spring house was used
for the water.
Question: WHAT WAS DONE WITH UNWANTED BABIES
Answer: A healthy baby could be sold into slavery. An unhealty baby would
be exposed to die. Exposure meant leaving the baby in a lonely place where
it would die of exposure or be eaten by wild animals. But some babies that
were exposed were found by humans or animals who raised them.
Question: What was the role of the “Agora” in the time of Pericles? with
sacred boundaries, political religious and commercial centre of Athens
Answer: The Agora was a market and meeting place. Ship captains came
to trade their load, and Farmers came to market their crops.
Question: did the greeks have aranged marriges and if so who arainged them?
Answer: Anyone could arrange the marriage, but the father of the bride
had to approve it. Sometimes only the one he arranged did he approve.
Sometimes the daughter arranged her own marriage, but her groom had to ask
her father for her hand. Sometimes there were several wooers for a bride.
In this case the Father would establish a method for deciding who was the
most worthy. The father might consult the daughter as to what might be
the best test.
Question: what is the correct ancient greek word (in latin characters) for
someone who fetches water, is a water-bearer, or anything along those lines?
Answer: Hydrophoros. Reference on purification
Question: How old did you have to be to be a citizen?
Question: If women weren’t allowed to be away from their homes except for specific reasons, what do you think the woman in Mark 7:24-30 (Bible) was wealthy and accounted to herself or do you think she was a window. Other than her ddesire to have her daughter healed what would make a greek woman defy her cultural norms?
Answer: This woman was not truely a Greek because Greeks had no concept of
the Devil. Greek women could leave their home if they were veiled. Desperation
often causes cultural norms to be defied. The Bible cannot be counted on for
objective truth about the Greek culture. Rather it is a record of the
success of Christian ideals.
Question: what was the daily life of a noble women in the accient times
Answer: Noble women had slaves to do most of their work. They did bear and
raise their husband’s children. Most of their time they spent in the
courtyard of their home spinning and weaving. They may also have been involved
with religious activities, including the baking of bread.
Question: What is a slaves daily lifstyle?
Answer: Drudgery from beginning to end. Slaves often went without clothes.
Meals were at the same time as the master’s. They slept at the foot of the
master’s bed on the floor.
Question: Were women considered as property in the Iliad
Answer: Yes they were. But they were not all the same kind of property.
Slave women were property in the ordinary sense of a slave. Many women had a
higher status than a slave but they were still a kind of property. These
were the captured women. Wives had a still higher status. They were
possessions but not really property to be bought, sold, or traded. They were
attached to one’s property since they stayed at home. Queens actually owned
their property. When you married the queen you got the property. If
someone killed you they got your queen and her property.
Question: What food are the greeks famous for
Answer: The Greek economy was based on wine and olives.
Question: what utensils did the acinent greek use
Answer: Knives, spits, and pot hooks.
Question: Why did women die at an earlier age than men?
Answer: In the drama Medea, Medea states that childbirth is three
times as risky as going into battle. But how do you know this is true?
Question: What did the Mycenaeans farm?
- Spices including coriander, cumin, fennel, sesame, celery, mint,
garden cress, safflower, gingergrass, cyperus rotundus, and terpentine tree.
- Honey from bees
Question: distinguish between the average women and that of the members of
Answer: There really was no nobility in Greece. The persons of privlege
were the citizens. But in Athens, for example the citizens and all their
relatives amounted to less than one quarter of the city. Another quarter
of the population belong to immigrants who were free but un-represented in the
government. But some of them could have been very well off. Perhaps half
the population were slaves, most of whom were women. Women were more
amenable to the trades, such as weaving, that were so important to the
Athenian economy. You might say that the average woman was a slave while
the women of privlege were wives of citizens. In this case the citizen women
commanded, worked, and confined themselves to their porticoes. The slaves
did all the menian work and drudgery. But in Athens, it must be remembered,
everyone worked hard, and most benefited from this labor.
Question: what was daily life like for weathy women of Sparta??
Answer: They spent their time caring, supervising, commanding, negotiating,
Question: In what way did women worship the ancient gods?
Answer: The ancient Greek gods were not really worshipped. Rather they
were communicated with. Usually ancient greeks went to the gods when
they had a need. They had frequent needs, such as making the fire light
in the morning. A prayer to Hestia was desirable. For rain, pray to Zeus.
At festivals there was libations, sacrifice, athletics, dancing, and prayers.
But all was to satisfy a need. If there was no need, the gods could be
Question: How were the lives of non-citizen women different to those of
citizen women in Classcial Athens
Answer: There were two kinds of non-citizen women, slaves and free. The
lives of the slaves differed markedly. They did much of the drudgery including
the grinding of grain, spinning, sewing, weaving, cleaning, carrying of wastes,
and carrying of water. Some of the women slaves were forced into prostitution.
The citizen women commanded the slaves, did weaving as well as baking, spent
most of the time taking care of their children, and could serve as a
priestess. Free women could probably not serve as priestess but their lives
spanned the duties of citizens and slaves.
Question: What dances did the greeks do?
- satyr dance
- dancing youth
- dancing Horai
- dancing maenad
- silens and nymphs dancing
- two dancing birds
- a draped, dancing woman, a dancing phlyax, and a satyr with torch and tambourine
Question: What were amazons for?
Answer: Their purpose was to stimulate the imaginations of ancient writers
to such an extent that they present a compelling reality, yet there is not
a shread of evidence that has any rational basis. They seem to be testing
our notions of reality and our abilty for historical research.
Question: what were womens rights in ancient greece
Answer: Almost everybody had no rights, especially slaves. Only a few
men had rights, but they did not realize what they had. These were the men
in Greece that voted as a part of the government. Later it was realize that
when you vote you have rights because you control what happens to your
Question: Can you relate Penlope’s daily life to the women of those days?
Did she follow the same standards? or did she have more power?
Penelope was a queen and much more powerful than most women. There were no
more powerful women in Greece and for every woman like Penelope there were
perhaps ten thousand women less powerful. Yet even as a queen she was
exceptionally skilled. To keep all those men at bay for that long time
required exceptional skill. Even queens did not have that musch power. It is
plain that most of the time her power was overridden by the men around her,
if they knew what she was doing. But she kept one or two steps ahead and
controlled men over which she had no claim to control. Penelope has to be
regarded as an extremly extraordinary woman. Judy Cicago ranked the 1000
most significant women of all time and Penelope did not make this list, while
her cousins Clytemnestra and Helen did. I doubt this is fair. Penelope
was overlooked because what she did is what men hope for in a woman, while
Clytemnestra and Helen are more troublesome.
Question: Compare the Atheian to Spartian Youth thougth normal daily life
Answer: Boys of twelve in both communities were sent to school. Some girls
of twelve went to school while others worked beside their mother. At school
the boys studied reading, writing, music, mathematics, and athletics. At
school the girls studied music and dance. At home the Athenian girls spun and
wove, while the Spartan girls toured the properties to check on the activities
of slaves. The Spartan boys lived in a dorm-like atmosphere while the
others lived at home. All probably took a communal meal at mid-day while
only the Spartan boys took a communal meal at the end of the day. Some
youngsters were accompanied to school by a slave who was responsible for
Question: how fairly were slaves treated in ancient times?
Answer: There were many different circumstances regarding the treatment of
slaves. Some slaves were smart and well-trained. These slaves were encouraged
to pursue their professions with a promise of freedom if they would pay for
it out of their earnings. Hetaera and blacksmiths did very well with this
arrangement. Households slaves needed to be loyal to their household and
so thy were often treated well and even provided a retirement for their
old-age. But other slaves were not treated so well. They were given the most
menial jobs and not allowed to think for themselves. Agricultural laborers
and miners were worked pretty hard. Mining was a very dangerous task and
many slaves died. One reason masters did not have much trouble with their
slaves is that if they were bad they were sent to the mines.
Though some women worked in the mines and the fields most women slaves
were household slaves or they were used in the weaving industry. A fair
number were used for sex. Though very wealthy men might have sex slaves,
most were used as prostitutes. A master would hire out the girls and take
the money that they earned. Really popular and talented girls would be
offered the opportunity to buy their freedom. But the girls that had promise
as a hetaera were so expensive that several masters would have to team up
to buy one. Some even became wives. The stories of sex-slavery in ancient
Greece are pretty fantastic. On the one hand a man would have to deal with
his wife to get access to any of his female slaves. She probably was not
happy with his sexual liasons. On the other hand the desirable slaves were
very expensive. Still a slave would not be able to refuse her master’s
advances. Uncooperative slaves ended up in the mines or dead. If a master
choose to torture a slave no one could prevent it. Sexually desirable slaves
did not get tortured simply to protect the investment. Most masters did
not waste their time torturing undesirable slaves.
Question: My first question is if the Greeks built their homes on their own, say,
using the slaves, or was there some kind of constuction company?
Who took part in the construction of a house and in what ways? What was the
procedure of building a house?
Answer: Housing construction requires skills and organization and so would not have
been dome by slaves. There were no corporate organizations. The organizations that might
this task were political, family, or social. As in the American West, people may have come
to build a house. Or the larger faminly could have organized it. In Roman time the military
built the houses.
First masons laid the foundation, then stone walls were built. Then carpenters built the
doors, windows, upper floors, stairs, and rafters out of wood. Finally roofers laid tiles
on the rafters. In some cases plumbers laid plumping though it was often done by masons.
Question: What was the procedure of making flour/bread? were there different kinds of
Answer: Bread was an off-shoot of making beer, meade, or wine. The sediment of one of these
drinks served as levening. First the grain was ground and mixed with water. Then levening
was added and the mixed was allowed to rise. It was rolled out into flat cakes and allowed to
rise again. The result was then fried or baked on a flat pan. The result was flat bread.
Question: I am especially interested in iron.
How did they excavate it, could you describe a mine?
Answer: No Iron was mined in ancient Greece. Iron came from Damascus. Silver was mined in
Ancient Greece. A mine was simply a whole in the ground. Slaves did the mining. It was very
dangerous work and few survived. Picks were used to break up the stone. If a clump was too large
for a pick many paralled holes were drilled in the clump. Very dry sticks were crammed into the stone
and the sticks were soaked with water. When they swelled the rock broke. Slaves behaved in ancient
Greece so they would not be sent to the mines.
Question: How did they grind grain? Did they use stone mills and
how did these operate?
Answer: Stone mills were developed during the middle ages. Grain
was ground between two stones: A smaller round stone and a larger
flat one. “Before the first actual grinding mill came into existence,
grain was merely shelled or husked by pounding. This simple kind of a
“first break’ was effected by spreading the grain upon a slab or block
of stone and beating it with a hand stone; a subsequent development of
this rude apparatus being a hollow mortar and an improved hand stone.”
Question: How did they press the oil out of olives? Did they use
common mills for grain and oil?
Answer: Olives were placed in a bag and pressed with a lever press.
Question: Is there any source in the Internet with pictures
(sketches, of course) of how mills / oil presses / fountains might
have looked like?
Question: Did they have a system of watering the trees or were they
completely dependant on rain water?
Answer: Water that drained off their roofs went into a cistern.
This could be used to water trees.
Question: How did they catch fish? Did they have nets for example?
Answer: They used both hooks and nets. Some fish were probably
Question: How would they put a fire out?
Answer: They used a human chain with buckets, passing buckets from
hand to hand.
Question: You told me that they had to import iron, so i guess all
they had to do was heat it (where?) and form it to a tool/weapon with
a hammer or was there another procedure?
Answer: Most tools were imported because iron really is not very
strong. In order to make tools the iron needs to me made into steel.
This is done by heating the iron in a forge and hammering it. A forge
involves a fire stoked with charcoal and a bellows to provide forced
I am writing a story that begins with a girl that lives in ancient Greece.
At some point, I want this girl (I’ll call her Tienette) to meet a group of
people in her town that consists of people of different ages. My question is
this: Would it be possibly for a girl to go into a town and meet people? I
have heard that women were secluded, and she is sixteen. Is there any decent
reason for an unmarried sixteen year old to go into town by herself on an
errand, or would this be strictly prohibited? She is not a slave or a
prostitute. Also, would there even be a group of people that no one
particularly likes mingling in town?
Answer: Girls of sixteen were more responsible in Ancient Greece than they are
today. She may have been a married woman. If her family was poor she
might go out to fetch water or to dispose of wastes. The fountain house
was a common place for women of all ages to meet. They would often go
early in the morning even before sunrise. This was dangerous for a young
girl because she would risk being raped. In a richer family the slaves
would do this task. Women of all ages would leave the home to attend
festivals. Some were for everyone, while some were just for women.
Festivals were very common and occurred every 5 to 10 days. Though there
is much talk of women being isolated there is some indication that they
went out in the streets anyway. When they did not have a proper reason
for being in the streets they were veiled. In this case they were assumed
to be invisible. It is entirely possible that Greek men properly
reported veiled women as being absent. Because of the danger for women
outside the house they would rarely leave their home alone. They usually
went with their slaves or other relatives. Nausicaa even had slave girls
that slept with her, one at the foot of her bed and the other just outside
Question: Who is a famous Greek person that an average Athenian female could come
into contact with and why?
Answer: The most likely point of contact between a female and a famous person is if the
famous person comes to the female’s house because of business or entertainment. If business then the famous person would come because of some need that a man of the house could satisfy through his profession or possessions. The females of the house received the patrons and entertained them while they waited. Also the men of the house would extend to others invitations to a symposium in the andron of the house. The females of the house would receive the guests and might also serve the food at the symposium. They may also provide musical and dancing entertainment but they would not compete with the hetaerae. If there was an overnight guest the female might even bathe the guest as well as well as service their room or space. Most guests would not occupy a room but would share it with other family members of the same sex.
Question: Sanitation — Are there hard facts that Greeks had and used chamber
pots to defecate in?
Answer: In the Odyssey is this passage:
"Till then in every sylvan chase renown'd, With Argus, Argus, rung the woods around; With him the youth pursued the goat or fawn, Or traced the mazy leveret o'er the lawn. Now left to man's ingratitude he lay, Unhoused, neglected in the public way; And where on heaps the rich manure was spread, Obscene with reptiles, took his sordid bed." (Odyssey BOOK XVII)
Evidently in the Palace the excrement was collected in pots and dumped by
the front door in a manure pile to await a farmer to transport it to the
fields in a oxcart.
There is a kylix showing a prostitute urinating into a chamber pot.
“lasanon is the Greek word for pot, albeit the under the bed type. A lasanophoros was a slave who had charge of the night stool. So we find that the chamber pot
(lasanon) was placed under the night stool (lasana) and was removed by a
slave (lasanophoros). This is from Liddell and Scott.
Question: Did royal couples share a bed/bedroom?… I need to know if Hecuba shared a bed with Priam etc.?Also What were the beds like in royal palaces and the bedrooms? I need to know I also need to know about an estimate for how big the Palace of Priam was?
Answer:The bed that Odysseus describes building for Penelope seems to be big enough to share. But no beds or pictures of beds that have come down to us are big enough to share when sleeping. They were large enough for the couple to have sex on however and we seem to have pictures of that. At that time most people did not have their own room, let alone their own bed. Notice that Odysseus seems to sleep on the floor as a guest in his own house when he returns from his travels. Illustrations of beds of the classical period show a cot on high legs called a klein. These beds were used in the symposium. There is every reason to believe that these are the beds royalty slept on even during the bronze age as these beds were similar to ones in ancient Egypt used by the Pharoahs. So royalty probably slept on beds in the same room or in separate rooms. But they probably did not sleep alone. At the foot of each bed a slave slept. And another slave slept at the door. This was their security.
In the Illiad VI 237 Homer mentions the palace of Priam thus “But when he was now come to the beauteous palace of Priam, adorned with polished colonnades — and in it were fifty chambers of polished stone, built each hard by the other; therein the sons of Priam were wont to sleep beside their wedded wives; and for his daughters over against them on the opposite side within the court were twelve roofed chambers of polished stone, built each hard by the other; therein slept Priam’s sons-in-law beside their chaste wives..” If each chamber were 3 meters by 4 meters then side by side they would be 150 meters at least. But the central court at Knossos is about 25 by 50 meters. The whole palace of Pylos is just 60 by 70 meters. More than likely the palace had several stories and so the rooms were stacked on top of one another apartment style. Three stories would accomplish the same task in 50 meters. Palaces of both the Mycenaeans and the Minoans had apartments surrounding a central court. Beside the bedrooms there might be meeting rooms, sanctuary rooms, and storage rooms. Food preparation was done in the court over an open fire. Most of the daughters probably did not live in the palace and the remaining ones may have shared just one room. But if each room also had three slaves then this means 250 people plus perhaps six daughters and servants for each of them and 5 for the king plus perhaps a dozen more servants in a man’s quarter and a woman’s quarter you have a palace of 277 souls. Notice that neither Schlieman, nor any of the other later archaeologists of recent times, has discovered anything of this magnitude in the area thought to be Troy.
Question: What was the average citizen like during Ancient Greece? (Did they have a job? What was their income?)(What were their interests?) What was the common religion back then?
Answer:Most citzens were involved with farming. In the Bronze age this was more true than in the Classical period. Even craftsmen would have an involment with farming to back up when their craft was weak. In Ancient Greece people were pretty gregarious and met frequently in the market, at the temple, or at others homes. Women worked together in the court of the houses. They also met at the fountain house or spring. In their spare time mostly they told stories or listened to them. One of the Athenian innovations was coinage. This was helpful in trade but since most activity was farming the average income of the Athenian would not be easy to determine. In spite of what we hear about the houses courts and androns the average person probably slept in a one room house with 12 or more other people.
Neither in the Bronze age nor in the Classical period was there what we would call a religion. The deities were treated as natural objects that you dealt with if you had to. There was no concept of faith or belief. People participated in cult activities for community benefit. For example, the most commonly needed deity was Hestia. If you needed a fire in the morning you had to deal with Hestia. If your coals died during the night you had to go the the local altar to Hestia where a fire was maintained to get a light. Farmers had to deal with Demeter. Craftspeople dealt with Athena. If your spring dried up you had to deal with the Nymph of the Spring. Sometimes the trick was knowing which deity to deal with. To find out you called in a seer. The seer would, hopefully, be able to get some communication that would help. A seer could use the flights of birds, the entrails of birds, or other methods to communicate with the divine. He would try to find which deity was involved and what might be done to change the situation.
Question: You said that the female Greeks could have tatoos. What kind of taboos and prohibitions did the Greeks have?
Answers: Tatoos and taboos are both important in many so-called primitive societies. Tatoos are scars on the skin made dark with carbon powder and other substances that are rubbed into a small cut in the skin. In these primitive societies the designs formed have religious significance. The ancient Greeks did not have tatoos.?
Taboos are rules of behavior that relate to the structure of primitive societies. They are usually prohibitions relating to behavior that seem to arise from a perceived relation between one’s society and the natural world. This relation is considered spiritual and may or may not relate to divinities. Primitive societies are thought to be simple but the structure of taboos in those societies are usually quite complex. The ancient Greeks seem to have lost many of these prohibitions and this complexity. The ancient Greeks seem to have shifted the focus from custom to laws. In ancient Greece even the deities had to obey laws. Then they realized that laws could be legislated. Through prayers they believed that this system of laws could be appealed even to the gods. This process seems to have destroyed the notion of taboos forever. ?
The ancient Greeks did have prohibitions but they viewed them in a different way. Many of the prohibitions were the result of the laws of mortals. Many were simply laws of nature. Others were divine laws. The ancient dramatists deal quite a lot with divine laws relating to burial of the dead. More common are behaviors demanded by divine prophesy. Cult and temple practices can be in this category. The prohibition of not marrying within one’s immediate family is an example of a primitive taboo that persisted in ancient Greece. Hesiod’s Works and days contain many rules that can be considered natural laws. There are numerous example of constitutions of ancient Greek governments which contain mortal laws which can be very like primitive prohibitions. For example the ancient Greeks decided that certain funeral celebrations were prohibited because they wasted too many community resources.?
It is interesting to study how primitive taboos evolved into laws in ancient Greece. This process seems to have been very liberating and is, in fact, an important difference between the cultures of today and primitive societies. Because of what happened in Greece, and because the culture of today is heavily dependent on ancient Greece, the culture of today is perhaps 3000 years away from being a primitive culture. But the change from primitive to cultured happened in ancient Greece after only a few hundred years. Now we realize the quality of life in ancient Greece was really quite high. Few of our contemporary cultures have reached this level even today. Many people think progress is being made. Yet progress since ancient Greece is almost trivial. In essence, what we are doing is only recovering the past.?
Question: While women have to visit tombs, did the men have or can visit tombs??
Answer: In ancient Greece women were more involved with mouring than men but both were involved. Hero worship was fairly common and the tombs of heros were often the object of ceremonies involving men and women.?
Question: While there are a lot differences between Athen and Sparta men, did women in Athen and Sparta have that much differences on their daily life??
Answer: I think the differences between the women were greater than between the men. Spartan women were freer in what they could do. They were more in control of their families, and they could own property. There is a suspicion that some of them actually directed family businesses. ?
Question: As women could attend public speeches, could they MAKE public speeches??
Answer: In ancient drama many women make very public and important speeches. But in real life in classical Greece there are none.?
Question: Could women become soldiers? If not, why?
Answer: Women could become soldiers if they joined the Amazons.
Atalanta fought as a soldier against the Boar of Caledonia, and she may have gone on the Voyage of the Argo.
Artemisia of Helicarnassus was a queen who led a contingent of ships for the Persians against the Greeks. It was of her that the Persian emperor at the battle of Salamis said, “My men fight like women and my women fight like men.”
Antiope is said to have fought by the side of her husband Theseus as the Amazons attacked Athens.
Question: What clothes did the women in Athens wear?
Answer: During the Classical period women wore chitons, peplos, and tunics. These clothing choices result from the fact that the loom had been invented and it was easy to weave rectangles of cloth. Both the chiton and the peplos was made of rectangles of cloth entirely. The tunic was cut and sewn to loosely fit the body. Everyone seems to have worn similar clothing in the world of the Hellenes. Foreigners wore the clothing of their origin and were thus distinguished from the Hellenes. Slaves may have been distinguished from Hellenes by not being allowed to wear clothing or by having their hair shorn. Status was further distinguished by the quality of the fabric. Silk was at the top followed by cotton wool and then linen. But in the case of some of the fibers such as wool it was possible for the fibers to be sorted and higher and lower quality pieces formed. Colors made a difference to status too depending upon their cost to produce. Purple was the highest status, followed by red, then yellow and other colors which were not so bright. The most obvious indicator of status was jewelry. In the Classical period silver was actually more valuable that gold but Athens had a siver mine that was one of the sources of their wealth. The highest status was gold and silver jewelry. Ivory was also popular.
Question: I know that there are changes of the clothes of thw women of ancient Greece. Can you tell me the changes with time data please.
Answer: During the Minoan period (before 1400 BCE) clothing was made with hides and string. Until the loom was invented string garments could be knoted like lace. The Mycenean Period the loom was introduced and women and men wore robes. The looms produced rectangles of cloth which influenced styles. The himation is just a rectangle of cloth wrapped around the body. This seems to be the oldest style as the word has Indo-Eouropan roots. Both the peplos and the chiton were made of two rectangles of cloth but neither of these words are Indo-European. The suggestion is that these styles came from either the Minoans or the Phoenicians. Of these two the peplos is the older. The polos was an older style headress which appeared only on goddesses during the classical period. The oldest fabrics seem to be flax as suggested by the derivations of words from Indo-European. By the Mycenaean period both wool and linen were common materials. During the classical period cotton and silk were available as a result of trade with Egypt and China.
Question 1: I recall one of my classics professors saying that if a women reached the age of 60 she was known as “crone” and allowed more freedoms. For example a crone could go outside the house to market. Can you provide any resources that support my memory?
Answer: Immediately I want to know the word used by the ancient Greeks to so classify women. Is it ‘γραῦς’ or some other word. Women had the opportunity to be priestesses at various times during their lifetime and these honors lasted only a short time. No doubt there were priestesses that were older women. Priestesses of Hecate may have been older women. But the priestesses were all allowed the freedoms that you mention at all ages. Aethra had to have been classified as a crone but I find nothing special about her. Aethra is a character in the play by Euripides, The Suppliants. She is involved with four generations: Aegeus, Theseus, Acamas and Munitius.
Question 2: I believe there is a calculation to support the belief that women in ancient greece needed to have 6 or 7 pregnancies just to keep the population stable. Do we have any estimates about infant mortality,deaths of individuals before typical marriage age etc to support such a statement? What was the typical life expectancy of a citizen woman? Assume a women in a family with enough status to own slaves to do heavy labour.
Answer: Some demography has been done using archaeological data such as click here which you can consult. I think though that your statement should be not related to stability but to growth. Greece demonstrated tremendous growth in the period just before the classical period and there can be no doubt that the fertility of women helped with this. I have read that the average woman bore five children and this is not different from your data. I also uderstand that the average lifespan was about 35 years and that the reason it was so low was the large infant mortality. A reference about this is Encyclopedia of ancient Greece By Nigel Guy Wilson, p 214 Also relevant is click here. This work lists a number of other references.
Comment: The references on classical population estimates are very interesting and useful. The support my own memories from my studies of high birth rates being needed due to the high death rates from natural causes and from the almost constant warfare of classical times.
I cannot supply any more information about the actual word used to classify old women, because my memories are from classes held 25 years ago and because I have forgotten the little ancient greek I managed to learn at the time. I am quite sure my professor used the word “crone” and the age of 60. We were studying Euripides plays so the comments probably came about from The Supplicants.
I would think that few women would have reached the age of 60. Running a household in ancient times would have involved a lot of hard labour and the multiple pregnancies would have also undermined health. Additionally women would have been at the end of the queue for what food there was, especially poorer women past their child-bearing years. A lot of the classical plays mention mothers, but few mention grandmothers.
Reply: I have been thinking of other women of myth that might have been very old when they died. In addition to Aethra there is Alcmena. She was more active than Aethra even in old age. Hecuba was a grandmother. Danae and Medea probably lived to old age. There may have been others. You seem to have forgotten that families stayed together and there were heirachies in the family. There were probably plenty of old women who were in charge of the women of the family. They gave the instructions and the other women did the work. The isolation of the women did not mean the men told the women what to do. Most women were under the control of other, older women. There would have been a matriarch who answered only to her husband, the patriarch, and really kept the family unit organized, particularly within the home compound where the women worked, ate, and slept. This organization was complicated by the fact that that the women of the family may have had slaves that they controlled. Some inkling of this structure is illustrated in Book 4 of “The Odyssey” Mention is made of maids and housewives, but the servants of Helen are named. They were probably ladies-in-waiting with their own servants. At least some of the women did not have to work that hard. But there were plenty that were cast aside as you suggest.
The problem with the word ‘crone’ is that it suggests ugliness. Maybe the old women who were ugly were left alone and so could wander the streets without being bothered. It also suggests witchcraft. Medea practiced witchcraft when she was young but as time has passed witchcraft is increasingly associated with a crone. Perhaps this is because women were involved not only with cooking, cosmetics, and domestic drugs. But here again the notion of priestess is related. The word ‘crone’ is important in western culture and it has Indo-European roots in ‘sker’, ‘to cut’ and seems to refer to cut flesh. But it does not seem to be the root of a Greek word. There are modern associations with Hecate who is a triple goddess sometimes styled as maiden, mother, and crone. But the ancient writings do not seem to make this association. So the idea that special privileges were given to crones in ancient Greece is suspect.
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