« PreviousContinue »
Salique law . . . 151
forms of . . 189/Scandinavians . . 77
holy ... 76,116 Sibyl of Cumæ . .
men . . . 121, 209 South Sea islands.
Northern nations that Swedes ..
conquered Rome. 77 Swiss . . . . . 169
Tournaments . .. 100
Tricks, trying . .
180, 187 United States . . 255
PLUTARCH Speaks with disapprobation of the Per sian manner of treating women ; yet the Greeks themselves kept them under very strict discipline. They had distinct apartments, in the highest and most retired part of the house, and among the wealthier classes these rooms were often kept locked and guarded. Women belonging to the royal fami. lies were not even allowed to go from one part of the house to the other without permission. When Antigone, in Euripides, obtains her mother's permission to go on the house-top to view the Argian army, her aged guardian insists upon first searching the passage, lest the profane eyes of a citizen should dishonor her by a glance.
Young girls were more rigorously secluded than married women ; yet it was considered highly indecorous for the latter to be seen beyond the door-step until they were old enough to assume the character of matrons. Menander says:
" You go beyond the married woman's bounds,
Farther than to the outer door to go." Maidens were rarely allowed to appear in the presence of men; and never without veils. This covering was probably made of transparent stuff; for Iphigeniu speaks of seeing her brother through “ the veil's fine texture.”
Eustathius says, “Women should keep within doors, and there talk.” Thucydides declared that "she was the best woman of whom the least was said, either of good or harm;" according to the Grcek proverb it was considered extremely dishonorable to be governed by a female ; and Plato rejoiced that he was not born a woman.
In order to prevent assignations, Solon enacted that no wife, or matron, should go from home with more than three garments, or a basket longer than que cubit, or more food than could be purchased for an obolus ;* or travel in the night-time without a lighted torch carried before her chariot. Lest pride should seek to exhibit itself in a pompous retinue, he ordered that no woman should appear attended by more than one servant, except when she was drunk ! On the death of a husband, the oldest son became the guardian of his mother. A woman was incapable of appearing in court without her guardian; therefore the words of the proclamation always were, “ We cite — and her guardian.” No property could be disposed of, either by will or otherwise, without the consent of guardians. Female captives taken in war were not usually treated with any degree of respect or tenderness : thus we find Hecuba complaining that she was chained, like a dog, at the gate of Agamemnon. Alexander the Great formed an honorable exception to this rule, and in his treatment of the royal Persian prisoners imitated the noble example of Cyrus.
Women were not allowed to attend the Olympic games; but this prohibition could not have existed at all periods; for we are told that Cynisca, daughter of Archidamus, king of Sparta, was the first woman who won the prize in the chariot-race at Olympia. Perhaps the Spartan women alone partook of these masculine diversions; those of more feminine habits would probably perceive the propriety of not attending games, where the combatants wrestled without clothing. In commemoration of her victo. ry, Cynisca sent a chariot and four brazen horses, to be dedicated to Olympian Jupiter.
* A small coin, about the value of a penny.
In the earliest ages, Greek women had a right to vote in the public assemblies; but this privilege was taken away from them. They were never allowed to be present at banquets, and it is not supposed that they ever ate in the same apartment with the men.
The restraint of female influence being thus removed, it may be presumed that the outward forms of decency were less scrupulously observed than they would have been under a different system. A fine of one thousand drachmas was imposed upon every woman who appeared in public without clothing; and the necessity of making such a law does not speak well for purity of manners.
That women were not always entirely passive and subservient, appears by the example of Xantippe, so famous for her household eloquence; and by the dispute between Agamemnon and his wife, concerning his wish that she should absent herself from the wedding of her daughter Iphigenia : Agamemnon. “Without more reasonings, my demands obey! Clytemnestra. "By Juno, that o'er Argos bears the sway,
“Sooner would wretched Clytemnestra bleed,
“ 'Tis fit that I should manage things at home.” Themistocles used to say, “My little boy rules Athens; for he governs his mother, and his mother governs me.”
The women of Lemnos, finding themselves slighted