Women in most city-states of ancient Greece had very few rights. They were under the control and protection of their father, husband, or a male relative for their entire lives. Women had no role in politics. Women with any wealth did not work. They stayed indoors running their households. The only public job of importance for a woman was as a religious priestess.
In Sparta, men stayed in barracks until they were thirty. Since Spartan women did not have this restriction, they had more freedoms and responsibilities in public life. They were able to go out in public unescorted, participate in athletic contests, and inherit land. In the fourth century, over two-fifths of the land in Sparta was owned by women. In Athens, the law required all inheritances to go through the male line and limited property that could be owned by women.
It was the wives who supervised the slaves and managed the household responsibilities, such as weaving and cooking. In affluent homes, women had a completely separate area of the house where men were not permitted. In the homes of the poor, separate areas were not available. Poor women often worked outside the home, assisting their husbands at the market or at some other job. Poorer women often went to the market without a male escort.
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