1st Edition

Immigrant Women in Athens Gender, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in the Classical City

By Rebecca Futo Kennedy Copyright 2014
    178 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    Many of the women whose names are known to history from Classical Athens were metics or immigrants, linked in the literature with assumptions of being ‘sexually exploitable.’ Despite recent scholarship on women in Athens beyond notions of the ‘citizen wife’ and the ‘common prostitute,’ the scholarship on women, both citizen and foreign, is focused almost exclusively on women in the reproductive and sexual economy of the city. This book examines the position of metic women in Classical Athens, to understand the social and economic role of metic women in the city, beyond the sexual labor market.

    This book contributes to two important aspects of the history of life in 5th century Athens: it explores our knowledge of metics, a little-researched group, and contributes to the study if women in antiquity, which has traditionally divided women socially between citizen-wives and everyone else. This tradition has wrongly situated metic women, because they could not legally be wives, as some variety of whores. Author Rebecca Kennedy critiques the traditional approach to the study of women through an examination of primary literature on non-citizen women in the Classical period. She then constructs new approaches to the study of metic women in Classical Athens that fit the evidence and open up further paths for exploration. This leading-edge volume advances the study of women beyond their sexual status and breaks down the ideological constraints that both Victorians and feminist scholars reacting to them have historically relied upon throughout the study of women in antiquity.

    Introduction 1. Metic Women, Citizenship, and Marriage in Athenian Law 2. The Ideology of the Metic Woman 3. Aspasia, Athenian Citizen Elites, and the Myth of the Courtesan 4. The Dangers of the Big City 5. Working Women, not ‘Working Girls’


    Rebecca Kennedy is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at Denison University, USA. She is author of Athena’s Justice: Athena, Athens, and the Concept of Justice in Greek Tragedy (2009) and co-author of Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World: An Anthology of Primary Sources in Translation (2013).

    "Kennedy here presents a full study, the first, of immigrant – metic – women in Classical Athens, seeking to delineate their legal  status, their vulnerabilities and their work. In so doing she must also identify and strip away the prejudices with which these women were viewed, prejudices so powerful and widespread that most previous scholars have taken them as statements of fact. In this effort she has been, in my judgment, very successful. This book, brisk and clear, makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of both metic status and the position and perceptions of women in Athens." - Journal of Hellenic Studies

    "This book certainly raises many questions about metic women, who they were individually as well as their identification as a group. By bringing metic women to the foreground of analysis, it successfully highlights the ancient ideological biases, allowing modern scholars to see the evidence with fresh eyes." - Polis, The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

    “[Kennedy’s] interpretation breaks down Athenian ideological constraints that have over-influenced modern scholarship on metic women. By distinguishing metic women from citizen women and prostitutes, this book does an important service to studies of women in Athens." - The Classical Journal Online

    "This book is an important contribution because studies of gender in Graeco-Roman antiquity rarely account for racial or ethnic difference. Throughout the book, there is a great deal of source criticism and, at the same time, an excellent self-reflexive perspective on classical scholarship…an insightful analysis on the complexity of difference in classical Athens." - Rosetta

    "With clear and punchy prose, Kennedy provides a helpful overview ofthe experiences of immigrant women and the structures that emerged to classify them. Her key concerns are to demystify the idea that they were all prostitutes, and to unpack Athenian social prejudices affecting female metics and our (mis)perceptions of these women." - David Roselli, Scripps College, Classical World