Men ran the government, and spent a great deal of their time away from home. When not involved in politics, the men spent time in the fields, overseeing or working the crops, sailing, hunting, in manufacturing or in trade.
Greek women had very limited freedom outside the home. If they had their husband's permission, they could attend weddings, funerals, some religious festivals, and visit female neighbors for brief periods of time. But without their husband's permission, they could do none of these things. They could not leave the house, not even go to a temple to honor their gods, without their husband's permission.
In their home, however, Greek women were in charge! Their job was to run the house, make the clothes, and bear children.
Slaves were very important to the ancient Greek way of life. Slaves cleaned and cooked, worked in the fields, factories, shops, in the mines, and on ships. Most slaves lives were not that different from a poor Greek citizen's life.
There were things slaves could not do. They could not go to school, or enter politics, or use their own name. They were given a name by the citizen who owned them. They were the property of their owner, not citizens of ancient Greece.
People became slaves in many ways. Some people became slaves when captured in battle. Some were the children of slaves. Some were Greek infants, abandoned on a hill or at the gates of a town, left to die, or to be rescued by someone passing by. Some children were sold into slavery by poor families, and some children were kidnapped.
Slaves were so important to the culture of ancient Greece, that some historians believe there were as many slaves as citizens!
Greek houses, in the 6th and 5th century BCE, were made up of two or three rooms, built around an open air courtyard, built of stone, wood, or clay bricks. Larger homes might also have a kitchen, a room for bathing, a men's dining room, and perhaps a woman's sitting area.
Although the Greek women were allowed to leave their homes for only short periods of time, they could enjoy the open air, in the privacy of their courtyard.
Much of ancient Greek family life centered around the courtyard.
In their courtyard, Greek women might relax, chat, and sew. Most meals were enjoyed in the courtyard. Greek cooking equipment was small and light and could easily be set up there.
On bright, sunny days, the women probably sheltered under a covered area of their courtyard, as the ancient Greeks believed a pale complexion was a sign of beauty.
One favorite family activity was to gather in the courtyard to hear stories of the Greek gods and goddesses, and the adventures of the many Greek heroes. These stories were told by the mother or father.
Greek clothing was very simple. Men and women wore linen in the summer and wool in the winter. The ancient Greeks could buy cloth and clothes in the agora , the marketplace, but that was expensive.
Most families made their own clothes, which were simple tunics and warm cloaks, made of linen or wool, dyed a bright color, or bleached white. Clothes were made by the mother, her daughters, and female slaves. They were often decorated to represent the city-state in which they lived.
Now and then, they might buy jewelry from a traveling peddler, hairpins, rings, and earrings, but only the rich could afford much jewelry. Both men and women used perfume made by boiling flowers and herbs.
The term acropolis means upper city and many of the city-states of ancient Greece are built around an acropolis where the inhabitants can go as a place of refuge in times of invasion. It's for this reason that the most sacred buildings are usually on the acropolis. It's the safest most secure place in town
The Greek alphabet is over 2500 years old! Even though it is very old, it still works. People living in Greece today use this alphabet to make words, just as we use our alphabet to make words.
The Greeks borrowed their alphabet from the Phoenicians. When they saw the Phoenicians writing things down, they thought that was very clever. The Greeks loved cleverness. The Greeks could easily see the usefulness of a written language.
Most European languages, including English borrowed ideas from the Greek alphabet.
Try to spell your name using the Greek Alphabet
Religion played an important role in the daily life of the ancient Greeks. They believed in many gods and goddesses.
Each of the gods and goddesses were in charge of a different aspect of life.
They thought the gods created disasters, made people go to war, or even helped people fall in love.
Myths were tales of the lives of the gods. Ancient Greeks lacked today’s scientific knowledge, so myths were often created to explain the mysteries of nature. Myths also were written to teach lessons to be learned
The 12 main Greek Gods and Goddesses: The Olympians who made their home on Mount Olympus Zeus – King of the gods Apollo – god of the Sun, light, and music Aphrodite – goddess of love and beauty Demeter- goddess of the harvest Hera – queen of the gods Artemis – goddess of hunting Poseidon – god of the sea Ares – god of war Athena – goddess of wisdom and war Hermes – messenger of the gods Hestia – goddess of the home Hephaestus – god of fire