L. Pelike. Woman & slave going to market. R. Woman Washing her Feet.
GREEK RED-FIGURE Anonymous
5th-4th c BCE Greek Attic red-figure Ceramics
(active c. 530 BCE - c. 250 BCE)
c. 450 BCE-300 BCE
5th-4th c BCE
L. Agrigento. Museo Archeologico Regionale.
These two images demonstrate the wide range of quality in 5th century Greek vase painting. While neither is of the high quality of the beautiful image of the Muse by the Achilles Painter we just saw, the are interesting in that they illustrate the life of woman in 5th century Greece and the Greek colonies.
The vase on the left shows a woman attended by her domestic slave on the way to market. On the right is an elegant image of two woman in the women's quarters. One appears to be shaving her legs, but actually she is carding wool. Both working wool and weaving it were very important activities for women. Notice the shape of the chair on which she sits. This elegant shape inspired many neo-classic chairs and was quite popular in the 19th century.
Classical Greece was very much a man's world. Women were either wives who stayed home or hetaira who were educated and could attend various functions with the men, but who served them as prostitutes. Greek houses were divided into the men's quarters and the women's quarters, and while a paid hetaira could attend a banquet, the lady of the house could not. Greek women were not allowed to inherit in their own right. An heiress was obliged to marry her nearest male relative until he found a dowry for her. Because of the homosexual focus of the gymnasium, women were not as highly valued in classical Greece as they were in some other societies. Eva Keuls has written an excellent book on the subject: The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens.
Slaves were employed as domestic servants, in mining, in quarries and in ships, but working the land was usually done by free men accompanied by a slave or two. While the Athenians held slaves, the proportion of free men to slaves was much higher than it was in most societies of the time. However, it was the slave economy that allowed Athenian men to devote themselves to public life.
RED-FIGURE | L. Pelike. Woman & slave going to market. R. Woman Washing her Feet. . | | Greek | Classic