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Q: women ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: women
Category: Relationships and Society > Romance
Asked by: psych50-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 05 Mar 2003 12:44 PST
Expires: 04 Apr 2003 12:44 PST
Question ID: 172262
What was western woman's life like prior to Christianity and/or catholicism? 
historically, socially, politically and ESPECIALLY SEXUALLY.
Subject: Re: women
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 05 Mar 2003 13:41 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello psych50~

Previous to Christianity, modesty was little known in most cultures.
Women of ancient Crete went around bare-breasted, and both the Greeks
and the Romans saw little wrong with nudity in general.

Prostitution flourished in most ancient cultures, whether it was for
religions sake (as in "shrine prostitutes") or as a means for women to
make a living. According to one website:

"Rome had always been a city where prostitution flourished, fed by the
appetites of both men and women. There were many different grades of
this ancient profession and the women who practiced them were by no
means all from the lower levels of society. The highest grade was that
of the Delicatue, the kept women of the wealthy and prominent men.
Next were the Famosae usually the daughters and even the wives of
wealthy families who simply enjoyed sex for its own sake. Then there
were the Dorae who habitually went naked even in the town and by
contrast the Lupae, or she-wolves, who plied their trade under the
fornices or arches of the old temples, bridges, and the Colosseum. It
is from this word that we get 'fornication' as an expression of
debased sex...Copae were the serving girls in taverns and inns who
could be hired as bedmates for the night by travelers, and the
Noctiliae were the nightwalkers. Add to these the Bustuariae,
Blitidae, Forariae and Gallinae, and you will get some idea of how low
Rome sank." ("Sex In Ancient Cultures," by by Dolores

Prostitution in Rome, however, was not unique. Greece, for example,
had an active sex trade. Similarly, the culture of rape was so common
in Greece that much of Grecian mythology centers around it. (For
example, The Greek god Zeus is isdepicted raping many women.) Some
scholars have stated that rape was the ancient Greek man's "right of

The ancient obsession with male sexual anatomy lead one writer to
conclude: "Far from bringing people together sex kept them apart,
dividing those penetrating from those penetrated, while at the same
time erasing distinctions on either side of the phallic equation.
Penetration, moreover, meant power. Those who had the phallus and used
it were the dominant citizen males. Those who had been born without
one or who had lost theirs somewhere along the way were the
disenfranchised Other: women, slaves, foreigners and men who enjoyed
getting shafted." ("Ancient Cures for Impotence," by Dr. Chris
Steidle, ) So while
women were sometimes free to have sex outside of marriage, it by now
means meant they were "free" or somehow less dominated.

Greek women often married at 14 or 15. They didn't share social
entertainment with their husbands, and were not allowed to walk the
streets unescorted. Greek philosophers (with the exception of Plato)
felt women had inferior minds. Before the Trojan war, Grecian women
voted, but they eventually lost the vote; it seems men thought they
were politically irresponsible. For a look at Grecian women and
politics, visit

"Respectable" Grecian women didn't show much flesh; even in art,
married women having sex with their husbands are depicted well clothed
(although their husbands are naked).

In nearly all ancient cultures, the role of women was to marry and
produce legitimate heirs. In ancient Rome, a "respectable" woman
remained chaste, and did not participate in premarital sex. Her sexual
reputation was something to be guarded if she wished to marry well
(which she often did by age 14). The less often a Roman woman was seen
by men in general, the more honorable she was thought to be.

Except for certain religious ceremonies, "proper" women didn't mix
company. Women did not vote, attend political meetings, or go to the
theatre. They did not eat in the company of men (except family).
Friendships among men were considered more noble and satisfying than
any love a man might have with a woman. Women who were slaves could
not marry and were often used as prostitutes by their masters.
Athenian women never legally came of age; her status was that of a
minor until the day she died. For an excellent article on Roman women,
For an extensive look at women in the ancient world, see

For additional information, you might enjoy this peek at women in
ancient art:

And this site, full of links about ancient women:


Keywords Used:
women sex* ancient
ancient Greece women 
ancient Rome women 

ancient world women 

Request for Answer Clarification by psych50-ga on 06 Mar 2003 12:11 PST
Great, but any ideas on the attitudes of these sexual bombshells, has
attitude toward the females sexuality, bought sold or otherwise, has
it changed today from ancient times? How were such woman viwed in
society, by men, other women, etc...was this sexual behavior legal?

Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 06 Mar 2003 12:34 PST
Except for adultery, which in almost every culture was punishable by
death if you were a woman (usually there were less harsh results--or
no consequences at all--if you were male), promiscuity and
prostitution were legal in the ancient world.

In ancient Rome, women were put into two categories: prostitutes and
wives. Neither group was held in the highest esteem, but wives
certainly had more honor in society. Roman men saw women mostly as
chattels, in either case...despite the fact that Roman wives could be
educated. In ancient Greece, the male view of women was probably
lower--they were considered childish chattels. In other words, there
were few Grecian men who thought women intellectually capable. Again,
women of ancient Greece were put into two categories: prostitute or
wife. Wife was of higher status, in most cases, although being a wife
gave a woman less freedom to do as she wished. And, as in any time and
place when rape isn't criminal or even considered especially bad
morally, you can imagine that women in general were considered more in
terms of property than in terms of human beings.

In all cases, ancient wives and potential wives held themselves far
above prostitutes. For although prostitution didn't have the stigma it
would later develop, society generally considered wives "honorable"
and prostitutes "dishonorable." No doubt many prostitutes laughed
bitterly at this, for although society viewed them as without honor,
they had far more freedom than any wife had.

At first blush, one would answer that attitudes about women have
*definately* changed since ancient times; however, at the core, don't
we still look down upon prostitutes and other "loose" women, while
upholding virtuous women as "better?" And like many ancient cultures,
the vast majority in our society do not necessarily consider
premarital sex a bad thing. (Some ancient cultures did, however, and
in those cases, our ideas about what is "virtuous" has changed.)

In addition, today we certainly do not consider prostitution a viable
way for a woman to earn a living. In most ancient cultures, it was the
most readily available work for a woman. And, unlike ancient cultures,
of course prostitution is no longer legal in most instances.

Hope this helps further! :)
psych50-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: women
From: icarus8-ga on 12 Mar 2004 02:29 PST
Whoa! I'm not sure where "kriswrite-ga" gets his information, but his
answer does provide some insight into the dangers of a member of one
group deciding what really happened {"history"} to another group of
people,in this case,women.
{As an example,ask Native Americans their version of American
history!}Historians can only guess at what went on in the past, but
not surprisingly,
they are most likely to be off the mark when they are guessing about
the experiences of those they could not possibly identify with.
   The question asked here is an interesting one; there has been some research
done in Merlin Stone's "When God was a Woman" concerning women's
sexual lives in pre-christian times {interesting stuff!}, but given
the sparse information available,we can also look at what we know of
human behavior.
   Kriswrite says women were seen as property, and apparently the men were all
sex offenders-that's bizarre,because it's obvious that most men, no
matter what their cultural background, seem  to derive some of their
pleasure from pleasing women sexually.The idea is,back then,most men
in ancient Greece had  almost no conscience,but a society full of
psychopathic rapists would be rather rare.Add to this all the
revenge-killings from lovers,anyone's mother,sister,daughter,the women
themselves,things would fall apart,it makes no sense.All of which is
not to say that women were never enslaved,just that it is rather
rare,for obvious reasons,to keep large numbers of people down,and that
for every 10 slaves,there was probably at least one Loreena
Bobitt{!}All of which is just no fun for the rulers and far too much
     An interesting number of male historians talk about rape in
European history as being quite common during invasions,and how else
would you explain all those blue-eyed children....I mean....unless
after a lifetime of short,dark-haired men,you see this gorgeous, tall,
blonde guy ride into town-it's not like you would, you know, ditch the
old man and go with him voluntarily....I wouldn't do
something like that.....????I know if I were a man, I
wouldn't want to think of it that way.It's easier to believe that the
women were forced.
     I think sometimes there is this underlying assumption, often
among christians,that people in pre-christian times were
blood-thirsty,generally frothing at the mouth,looking forward to the
human sacrifice of the day,etc.,and then when Jesus came,eveything was
so much more civil, {although he apparently didn't think those Godless
Native Indians needed to hear the good news {he was right} so...he
sent..all those Europeans over instead, centuries later, deliver
the good news...}
     It doesn't always matter what the laws are-people find ways to do what they
want.The world is loaded with practicing catholics:and if they only
have two children,they are using birth control no matter what the
church says.There are
more nerve-endings in the human female clitoris than in any other part
of the body,male or female.You better believe we find a way to use it.

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