'Athenian Men's Relations with Their Wives Were Dominated by Fear' How Much Do You Agree?

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‘Athenian men’s relations with their wives were dominated by fear’ (30 marks) Women would’ve caused many fears for men as they played a major role in the upkeep of the oikos and furthering the family line. On top of worrying about betrayal or falsified sons, men would have to stay wary and alert in case any passing bachelors decided to seduce their wife. However many of the sources are court cases and the sheer purpose of them is to expose domestic problems, this means we need to be careful when generalising to Athenian men. They are all also written by males which may mean the sources could just be overly paranoid and lack credibility. And as always with ancient texts you need to take into account what time may have done to it. Such as things going missing or being lost in translation. Legitimacy is one of the most important things to Athenian citizens and if a child is found to be illegitimate it can cause great problems for the kurios. This could be one of the main reasons men would be afraid of their wives, as without a legitimate heir they may not be able to inherit property. This can be shown in the ‘Proof of Marriage’ source as the phratry must accept that a child is legitimate, otherwise property will not be given to the son. However it can also be said that it is in fact wives who fear their husbands and not the other way round. In the Eurastophenes’ murder case, Euphilites laughed at his wife when she suggested he ‘mauled the maid which could indicate women were in fear of how sexually controlling their husbands could be and how they could still get away with it. In the Naerea source is also shows men can be abusive to women with little to no consequence as Phrynion gets away with his abuse towards Naerea. You could also view the violence as a cry of fear and other controlling behaviour could emphasise that. The seclusion of women being one example.

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