Girls were a
liability and a worry to their fathers.  A Greek father's constant concern was his daughter's virginity.  Athenian homes were designed with separate quarters for the males and females of the household.   With the female portion of the dwelling being either on a second floor or at the rear of a house, the father could maintain an excellent watch on his wife and daughter.
         An Athenian woman's life was one of seclusion.  Only during certain religious festivals could women go forth from the household and mix freely in the city.  Even at these times, a chaperon was necessary.  Even at mealtimes in the household, the women were not allowed to dine with the men.  A wife's duty was to maintain the household, and her education was limited to domestic training so that she might "see as little, hear as little, and ask as few questions as possible."  Women were viewed as physically, intellectually, and morally inferior to men, requiring constant guidance from their husbands and fathers.  Fathers arranged their daughter's marriages when the girls were around the age of fourteen, setting up a dowry for her husband-to-be, who would easily be twice her age.  Because of this, love rarely figured into marriage.
         If a wife dared to start an affair with another man (which would be extremely hard to achieve in the first place), she was taking an awful risk.  A husband who caught his wife and her lover red-handed could legally put the lover to death--no questions asked.  In other parts of the Greek world, it was even legal for the husband to take an axe to both the lover and his wife.  Needless to say, adultery was frowned upon.  Rapists, on the other hand, only received a monetary fine. 
         The goal of every wife was to produce a male
heir for her husband.  Women could not own property, and if a family failed to produce a male heir, all their wealth would pass to the nearest male relation upon the death of the father.




The Women and Children of an Ancient Greek Household