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Word Count: 249
Compared to the women of Sparta the status of an Athenian woman in Greek society was minimal By comparison to present day standards Athenian women were only a small step above slaves by the 5th century BC From birth a girl was not expected to learn how to read or write nor was she expected to earn an education On reading and writing Menander wrote Teaching a woman to read and write What a terrible thing to do Like feeding a vile snake on more poison Other authors and philosophers had similar quips about women Athenian women can be classified into three general classes The lowest class was the slave women who carried out more of the menial domestic chores and helped to raise the children of the wife Male slaves held the task of working in the trade arts pottery making glass working wood working etc or to educate the sons of a house The second class was that of the Athenian citizen woman The third class was known as the Hetaerae The hetaerae unlike the slaves and the citizens were much akin to the Geishas of China Hetaerae women were given an education in reading writing and music and were allowed into the Agora and other structures which were off limits to citizen and slave women Most sources about the Hetaerae indicate however that their standing was at best at the level of prostitutes and the level of power they attained was only slightly significant
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