Immigrant Women in Athens

Gender, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in the Classical City

By Rebecca Futo Kennedy

© 2014 – Routledge

178 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415737869
pub: 2014-04-28
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

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.


"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." -Tristan Samuels, University of Toronto

“[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." -Serena S. Witzke, Ohio Wesleyan University

Table of Contents

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’

About the Author

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).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Ancient History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
HISTORY / Ancient / Greece
HISTORY / Historical Geography
HISTORY / Social History