Women in the ancient societies of Egypt and Greece played the roles of wives and mothers. Before the New Kingdom in Egypt, this was more pronounced than in the ancient Greece. Many arts and artifacts that were created in Egypt supported this argument. There is a comparison and contrast between the social status of women of the ancient Egypt and the ancient Greece.
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The specific works of arts, artifacts and myths shows the social status of women in the ancient societies. The claim in this essay is in form of an opinion that women in the ancient Greece and the ancient Egypt are assigned the roles of wives and mothers to the children.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has defined the word art as a skill acquired by the study, experience or observation. In connection to the topic, various arts were created by the painters and artists to portray the characteristics of women and the roles they are to play in the society. An artifact is something created by human beings for practical purposes especially an object remaining from a particular period.
A myth on the other hand is a popular belief or tradition that has developed around something or someone. In the ancient society, people believed the myth that women’s roles are limited to those of a wife and a mother. An antiquity refers to the ancient times before the middle Ages.
The essay focuses on the ancient times in Greece and Egypt. The society is a community, nation, or broad groupings of people having common traditions, institutions, collective activities as well as interests. In connection to the topic, society referred to the community in the ancient Greece and Egypt (Merriam 20).
The roles of Athenian women in 15th Century B.C. were primarily those of a wife and a mother. The myth that was believed by the Athenians required women to stay home and take care of children and the husbands (O’Neal 4). In other words, the culture in the Ancient Greece was that women were not suppose to have other roles apart from those of bearing children and abiding by what the husband has said. They never recognized someone without a husband or children as a woman of integrity in the society.
Women portrayed in the formal tomb paintings of the Old and Middle Kingdoms suggest that their main task was that of a wife and the mother. This traditional myth portrays that the women of the ancient Egypt were left at home to look after the children (Anete 12).
Zeus, the establisher of law and order in the ancient Athens denied women their active roles in the society except that of giving birth and taking care of children. He came up with the moral law and order and took away power from the females. He produced Athena from his head and Dionysus from the thigh to completely take away women’s sole claim as child bearers.
All these vices arose from Ge, the Goddess who gave birth to bad children some of whom were the monsters (O’Neal 4). In case of any bad child being born, the mother was taken to be the cause of the problem.
In the ancient Egypt before the New kingdom, administration and policy making duties were denied of women. However, when the New kingdom came in, the aspect of a woman being the queen was portrayed in artistic work. The idea of the woman being the wife and a mother became a secondary feature (Anete 14).
Men performed political and intellectual rites of the city of Athens. Women did not attend and did not know how to read and write. They were not educated except for the domestic training (O’Neal 6). They were left to perform the household chores. This shows how women were discarded in the community from participating in the day-to-day running of the society.
In the ancient Egypt, the sculptures of women and those of children were smaller compared to men implying that men were powerful and dominant in the society (Anete 15). This artistic work reflects the social difference between a man and a woman in the society where women were to be submissive to men.
In the ancient Greece, the area through which the wife operates according to Xenophon is the house and the care of the household. She was responsible for giving birth and bringing up the children, managing slaves, weaving and teaching slaves how to weave. Penelope was the name given to woman meaning one who practices instructions of the husband (O’Neal 8).
In Egypt, the appearances and lifestyle of women were very important. Hairstyle, dressings, jewellery, make-ups and headdresses portray status and different roles in the society (Anete 15). The decorations of the queen were different from those of the ordinary women. This shows the powers that the queen had in the society.
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The female figure was also portrayed in the art to depict the fertility and the age of the woman. This artistic feature shows that the status of women in the society was that of a mother as they were concerned about the fertility of the women in the society.
The earthy colors of the land such as red, orange and brown influenced the artistic works. Yellow and brown were used to paint the difference between men and women (Anete 16). This traditional myth shows that the ancient Egyptians did not value a woman in the society as they painted their representations with the dark earthy colors.
The dwarfs were treated with utmost respect in the land. They enjoyed high ranks in the society and were buried in nice tombs. The well-known dwarfs were Seneb and the gods, Ptah and Bes. Ptah was associated with regeneration and rejuvenation while Bes protected sexuality, childbirth, women and children (Anete 18). This feature reflects that the woman in the society was categorized as a child
The archetypal Egyptian wife and mother Isis became the symbolical mother of the king. Isis was the link between the deities and the royalty and she was the protector of the young thus often called during injuries and accidents. She was worshipped as the goddess of rebirth, medicine and wisdom (Anete 22).
In conclusion, from the myths, arts and artifacts explained above, it is evident that women in the ancient times are treated as slaves. Various artifacts, arts and myths in the ancient Egypt and Greece portray a woman’s social status as that of a wife and the mother. Women are restricted to the household chores and deprived of the economic, political and administrative duties.
Anete, Olivier. Social Status of Elite Women of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: A comparison of Artistic features. South Africa: University of South Africa. 2008. Print.
Merriam, Webster. Free Online Dictionary. London: Britannica Co. 2012. Print.
O’Neal, William. The Status of Women in Ancient Athens. Toledo: University of Toledo, 2001. Print.