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WOMEN IN CELTS, ROMANS AND GREEKS Romans, Greeks and Celts have different cultural and social norms

and rules for governing and determining the place of women in their own societies. While these ancient cultures have similarities in terms of their point of view towards women and their roles, they also have distinguishable characteristics from one another. Such similarities and differences can be found through second hand sources, literature and historical evidences. In an environment where long wars and social and political instability ruled the ancient world, the situation of women proved an important part of the community and its management. Although in an environment like this, it is difficult to notice the differences in the condition of women among various cultures, where class structure is generally the same from the outside; the exceptions would help us to verify the crucial distinctions. In ancient times womens place in general was her home. However, the dynamics of the relationship to their spouses, their marital rights and the maintenance of the family showed both similarities and differences between Celts, Romans and Greeks. As it is in most cultures, Celtic women were associated with traditional values such as virtue, modesty and keeping a good home. The marriages were arranged as a contract with dowry, which generally consisted of cattle, exchanged between the families of the bride and groom. Besides this tradition, there are distinctions in how the Celtic womens status and marital rights are constituted when compared to its other European counterparts. Contrary to Romans and Greeks, marriages in Celts can be polygamous. This did not give all the marital rights to the husband. On the contrary there are rules with varying degrees of connubiality that gave rights to the wives according to their status. In a polygamous marriage, there

was one chief wife which all the other wives were responsible to when it comes to household chores. There were rules however that were in favor of the wives in lesser status. Since the wife of lesser status legal obligation to their husband was less than the chief wife, the wife could choose whether or not to be under the rule and protection of her sons or her husband or any other male blood relative. The chief wife, on the other hand, was obliged to be under the rule and protection of her husband only, unless the husband failed in his marital responsibilities. The role of the women in the Roman society was very fragmented. In a culture where aristocracy was a major deal, there were distinctions between lower and upper class women in terms of rights and their way of life. Since there are almost no ancient sources written by Roman women about their role in the society, the information gathered about them mostly rely on sources written by men about women. Even though there are differences between the upper and lower class Roman women, there is one certain and common role and responsibility that has been given to them throughout the society: child-bearing. The Roman women were generally married very young and these marriages were arranged for the girls to marry an older man. Women were expected to have children as many as possible, since there were no guarantees that the children would live long enough to carry on the family name. This responsibility fell on to the shoulders of the male children. The women from the lower classes were not expected to have as many children because they did not have the means to support them. The main distinction between the upper and lower class women was that upper class women had more children. As well as child bearing, Roman women also played a major role in raising them. This tradition is a clear distinction from that of Greeks, where both cultural education and raising the

male children were left exclusively to the hands of the men in the family. However, in the Roman world, the women were the sole incumbents of raising and educating the male children. They were responsible for teaching them the Roman culture and when they grew up the mothers spent their money and resources to advance their political careers. Roman women were not only viewed as tools of reproduction, but a fundamental instrument of the transmission of a culture. The marriage arrangements and the role of women in the household for Greek women show similarities to Roman society. As Romans do, Greek girls were also married in their teens, most generally to men in their thirties. The marriages were arranged by the father of the bride and if she came from a wealthy family, this arrangement would be done from a very early age. As in both Celts and Romans, there is a dowry (girls portion of her fathers estate) was agreed upon and the bride did not meet her future husband until this exchange took place. As did the Romans, Greeks also put one responsibility onto the shoulders of the Greek women: child-bearing. Contraception existed, although not widely available, it was used after the woman gave birth to several children who were in good health. Husbands also had the right to accept or refuse the children after they were born. They mostly refused the female children or weakly-looking male children, since carrying the family name was the responsibility of solely male offspring. Refused children were put in jars and left on the sides of the roads to die of suffocation, starvation or other causes. Women of the family had no say in this decision-making process. Even thought the most important role of women in those times were bearing children and taking responsibility for the household chore, their existence in the public sphere showed some differences as well between the Celts, Romans and Greeks. In general, Celtic women seem to have more personal freedom and rights under their law to protect them when compared to their Roman

and Greek counterparts. Romans and Greeks put more emphasis on the duty of women to attend and manage their houses. Celtic societies gave more freedom to their women, which allowed them to hold high positions. Although this freedom in the public sphere declined over time as their societies became more patriarchal in nature, they were still superior then Greek or Roman women when it came to their place in the public sphere. Celtic women had the right and freedom to become lawyers, doctors, landowners or poets, besides maintaining more traditional roles of motherhood and spouse. They had also more freedom to choose who they would marry and to divorce than the other contemporary women in other societies. Contrary to Romans and Greeks, female members of the Celtic communities were able to play major roles in the military. They could even lead the other soldiers to battle. They also held positions which allowed them to teach younger boys how to fight because some of them were considered as top warriors, who were taught how to fight from the early days of their lives. In public life, they were free to be involved in business transactions. Even though the patriarchal norms remained throughout the Celts time, women had the sole decision making power over their properties to make deals with others. This aspect of their lives is a clear distinction from the Romans and Greeks, where women were viewed as properties of their fathers and husbands after they got married. As mentioned before, they retained their portion of the dowry after they got married, where in Romans and Greeks; the property went directly under the control of the husband. For Greeks, the prolongation of the city-state was a matter of life and death. It was essential that the men fought side-by-side against their enemies and there is no feud between the different levels of their own society for their existence. The oppression of women, then, was a means to an

end for the survival of the city-state. The women of the ancient Greek were not considered as citizens, let alone having the right to vote or have their voices heard in the political arenas. The public places such as the marketplace, the assembly or the court of law were where the males belonged to discuss, make decisions for the future of the city-state and to learn how to fight and strategize. The only public engagement of women was restricted only to the religious practice of taking an oath. They were otherwise not allowed to speak in public and were represented by a male family member who was considered their legal master. Romans, contrary to their Greek counterparts, gave women of their society citizenship but they were not allowed to vote nor have a say in the political matters as neither the Greek women did. The patriarchal nature of the Roman Empire had its impact on every aspect of the Roman individual, male or female, throughout its history even though some changes occurred during the later times of the empire. Women of Rome had some influence on the politics by shouldering the responsibility of educating their children on the matters of their culture and have always played the role of mediator between the different male members of her family. Overall, the Celtic women had far more rights and protection under their law to protect them in terms of connubiality or the public sphere. On the other hand Greeks and Romans suppressed their women for the benefit of their civilizations. Even though there were some exceptions where Greek and Roman women played key roles in the public sphere, the general consensus was placing them in their homes under the rule of their male family members.

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