Saturday, July 9, 2016

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?


You’d think they hated women. Well, they didn’t trust them anyway. Or more like those wealthy Athenian men who ran things didn’t trust themselves. They didn’t trust themselves not to fall in love, or lust, or infatuation.

The evidence? Look at all those plays with their powerful female characters organizing a sex strike like Lysistrata, killing their husband like Clytemnestra, taking revenge on their husband by killing their children like Medea (above), or just disobeying orders and screwing things up like Antigone. All powerful, passionate women.

The men must have been scared of that, so they shut the women away and kept them uneducated, so that the women accepted it. Men (wealthy men anyway) didn’t marry till they were 30. Away fighting in wars before that and lots of brothels to let off steam, no chance of meeting citizen girls of their own age and falling in love.

When they did marry, it was to inexperienced girls of 14 – that way virginity was guaranteed - that’s gotta be my son not some other guy’s. It also meant more wives died in childbirth, unfortunately.

And then the wives were kept locked up in the house, allowed out only for funerals and a few religious festivals. The husband or slaves did the shopping.

The wife was there just for procreation and to bring up the kids. No real relationship.

To keep that danger at bay the husband went to dinner parties with male friends where slave girls offered entertainment and more or he kept a slave girl himself to entertain friends and keep himself amused. And there were always the brothels.

Generally, husband and wife slept on different floors of the house not just different rooms. Who could blame a teenage wife who responded to the blandishments of a handsome young fella met at a funeral?

What were they really afraid of? I think it was fear of losing control. Fear of acting irrationally, of excessive emotion that might lead them to do something they would regret. Rationality, thinking things through and acting on the conclusions, that is what we prize about our inheritance from ancient Greece. But it can’t have been much of a life for the women. Like Philia in my novel Death Come by Amphora which is available on Amazon kindle with this handsome new design.

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