Athenian Marriage

Topics: Marriage, Husband, Legitimacy Pages: 2 (841 words) Published: September 15, 2013
‘Athenian marriages were based on usefulness rather than affection’ How far do you agree with this statement? Give the reasons for your views and support them with details from the Athenian sources you have studied. Marriage was one of the key elements of an Athenian society, alongside the importance of children; the importance of marriage was just as valued and necessary for Athenians. The purpose of marriage in Athens was to represent a business arrangement between the fathers of the women and soon to be husbands, since most marriages were pre arranged, affection and love weren’t a factor for the basis of marriage but could develop in later stages. Firstly, Ischomachus’ conversation with Socrates details the relationship Ischomachus maintains with his wife. Ischomachus claims to of effectively trained his wife to perform her duties brilliantly and without needed his input anymore. He calls her the ‘queen bee’ of the household keeping all the ‘worker bees’ or slaves in line and on task. This is important because it shows how much it meant to Ischomachus how good she was at running the household without his guidance, he could even show off his wife and her capability to Socrates and enjoy not having a troublesome wife who was useless at her duties. Although he claims to love her deeply he is much more preoccupied with the idea that he has trained her successfully in order to be of more use to their relationship and lifestyle. Another example of a relationship in which a man has trained his partner to be useful would be Stephanus and Neaera. Apollodorus speaks of the crimes the two have committed against Athens and aims to prove them guilty in order to ‘preserve Athenian society’. Stephanus and Neaera were parents to the illegitimate child Phano, whom they used to marry off to men in order to fake legitimacy however the couple were not affectionate towards each other, they simply had a business arrangement in which they pretended to be married and Stephanus would...
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