Ancient Greece´s View on Women

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Pericles’ statement, “A woman’s reputation is highest when men say little about her, whether it be good or evil,” reflects a common attitude towards women’s activities in ancient Greek society. Ancient Greece fostered a demeaning role for women restricting their level of education, choice in marriage, and enforcing strict social norms. However, persuading shreds of evidence suggest that some Greek females did participate in athletic competitions alongside men, primarily at religious ceremonies as they advanced toward maturity. Women’s participation in sports is a somewhat recent social phenomenon, and acceptance of that participation by cultures worldwide is an even more recent phenomenon.
Ancient Olympic games were created with the primary purpose of developing physical strength and skills for men, while women were forced to follow the path of inequality and predestination. The fact that modern women compete in athletic events such as the Olympics is in many situations the motivation thousands of women have to pursue a new sport or activity. The inclusion of women in the ancient Olympic games as athletes can be seen as a stepping-stone to modern day equal opportunity in sport. The actions of our female ancestral athletes have further liberated women worldwide; providing female role models, health benefits due to increased physical activity, and challenging age-old stereotypes.
“It is universally accepted that 776 B.C. was the year the festival at Olympia, in honor of Zeus, became known as the Olympics, and the period of four years between celebrations became an Olympiad (Zimmerman 1984).” Yet the precise circumstances surrounding the creation of the ancient Olympics are still shrouded in mystery. Several myths encompassin...

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...c competition. Men maintained their power over women through wealth because, without men, women wouldn’t have the possibility of attaining an education or job outside of the household. As new Roman laws eased restrictions on women from upper classes, heroines like Kyniska of Sparta and competitors in the Heraia games with the means to do so, blazed a trail of female identity in sport. Without the actions of courageous ancient women willing to risk life and death in the name of tolerance, the comparable participation of women and men in sports we see today would not exist. The inclusion of women in sport is certainly a critical development in the progress of women away from a position of inferiority in terms of physical ability, social status, and biological destiny to become more self-confident and to share the same positions of influence as men.

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