Private Life

In Classical times, men and women's lives within the family were governed by a number of rules that endorsed the wife's inferiority and subordination. In Hellenistic times, when Classical values started to decay, women gained more freedom and a recognised social role, although they were still subject to male power. Men who had previously been totally absorbed in political activities now discovered a private dimension and became more emotionally aware - a change fuelled by women's new social standing and increased freedom. The woman played a more active part in the life of her husband and within his circle of friends. Theocritus presented the Idyll 28 with the gift of a distaff to the wife of his friend Nicias, a poem and a gift inconceivable in previous times.